What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The vast majority of expats live on compounds, though of course non-compound apartments and single-family homes exist. If you're a Westerner, or otherwise non-Muslim, you will definitely want to stick to a compound, most of which are set up similarly to small vacation resorts, complete with pools, restaurants, shops, children's activities, playgrounds, tennis courts, bowling alleys, shuttles to popular shopping destinations, etc. Some compounds have more amenities than others. All usually offer apartments or houses, and serve a very international community. They are also very safe; we let our elementary-school son run/bike around the compound freely. Everyone knows everyone, so there's elements of living in a fishbowl, but it's a pretty big and varied fishbowl. However, that was before the new American consulate location opened. My understanding is that all new incoming US diplomats are going to be required to live in the new compound space, where the only options are apartments with very small windows. There is no store, no children's activities, no restaurant, no bowling, only one pool that isn't safe for small children, no playground or sports areas, and no regular shopping vans unless the CLO arranges it. - Oct 2019

U.S. Government housing is townhomes/villas in gated communities. Security at the gated communities (barbed wire, jersey barriers, crew-fed weapon) will surprise people new to the region. Inside the communities there are a mix of expats, including diplomats and non-diplomats, Americans, and other nationalities. We have two kids and got a four bedroom villa. The commute is not horrible; maybe 30 minutes each way, depending on traffic. Drivers can be erratic and traffic can stop, but I have definitely seen worse. Compounds tend to have a lot of pools, tennis courts, etc and activities for the kids. The Consulate will, someday, move to a new facility where there will be housing on compound. These will be new, furnished apartments. Right now there are no amenities installed at the currently-vacant apartments, and though there has been a lot of talk about things to add nothing has been started yet, so it's a wild card. The housing was designed when this was still an unaccompanied post, so while they have made some adjustments the Consulate will almost certainly need to retain some housing in the city, especially for larger families. - Mar 2019

Housing is one of the best parts of Jeddah. There are two housing compounds and when the new consulate opens, there will also be housing available on the compound. Our housing compound has a lot of green grass, several pools, playground for children, playroom, a burger restaurant, etc. It's a great place for people with children and most people live their back door unlocked so kids can run around freely. - Jan 2019

Two nice apartment complexes. Large apartments with nice amenities. Commute time is over an hour to/from Consulate. - Apr 2016

This is maybe the best part of this post. The homes we live in are the 2 best compounds in Jeddah: La sierra and Basateen.The compounds are great, la sierra has several pools, tennis courts, bowling alley, sauna, restaurant, spa, clinic, supermarket, ATM, park, etc. Anything you need and a gate to the American school, so your kids have lots of freedom. The kids just go out and play, swim, have tennis classes - everything is on the compound. The homes in the compound are not the best; some are small and the barrooms are the smallest I've ever seen i my life; there's no storage, small bedrooms, horrible closets, but living on the compound is great. Remember that a new compound and consulate is being built. - Nov 2015

La sierra and Basateen, in the mornings you can take around 45 minutes to the consulate. the homes are small, no storage, the smallest bedrooms, barrooms,and closets you've seen in your life, but the compounds are great, is like live in a five star SPA.In Sierra the compound has a gate that goes directly to the school, the kids take their bike and they are there in 5 minutes. Basateen has a gate to the british school. But again, this is not going to last to long, We are moving to the new consulate. - Oct 2015

Some houses are in the U.S. Consulate compound, and the rest are in two different compounds: Sierra, near by the American School, and Al Basateen, near the British School. - Oct 2015

2 compounds - Al Basateen Village and Sierra Village - both in North Jeddah. The compounds are both very nice, maybe a little dated, but have great pools, tennis courts, beach volleyball, playgrounds and restaurants. The British International School is attached to Al Basateen Village, and the American International School is attached to Sierra Village, so most families with school-aged children live in Sierra. In the future Consulate, which is supposed to be finished in 2016, the majority of staff will live there. - Aug 2015

We live in Sierra compound. The American school is on compound as well as a supermarket( you can find pretty much everything here), a restaurant that is bad and expensive, a beauty salon, a taylor, a few boutiques, a gym, a bowling alley, a dry cleaner, lots of kids activities (some free), one pool for every 5 or 6 little town houses, tennis courts, basket ball courts, soccer field, big playground with a little nursery for pets, and a little pond with ducks. The new Consulate is going to be ready in about 3 years, and there is going to be a new compound with the American school set to move there. Some other families live in al Basateen compound that is attached to the British school. This compound is not as nice as la Sierra but is nice, has just one pool, a restaurant and grocery store as well. Again, the homes in la Sierra are not the best - they are small town homes with 3,4 , or even 5 bedrooms, but they are all the same size (no matter the number of rooms). The rooms are generally small and there is no storage at all. There are also about 3 homes in Catalonia that are bigger and better. - Feb 2014

A lot, if not most, Westerns live on Western compounds. I'm only familiar with a few such compounds, but the ones I know are equipped with decent security, grocery stores, and all types of sports and fitness facilities (i.e. tennis and squash courts, gyms, bowling alleys, etc.) and restaurants. Some expats only very rarely need to leave their compounds (which in my opinion is a bit of a shame, but to each their own I suppose). I live in the newer, northern portion of Jeddah and commute between 20-40 minutes to work in the southern, older part of the city. My sense is that most Western expats live in the same general area as I do, though I suspect that many do not work as far from home as I do. Traffic is unpredictable but almost always less than good. Saudis and third-country nationals almost universally drive abhorrently, which only worsens the traffic woes caused by really, really poorly planned roads and intersections. - Dec 2013

Most expats (and even some Saudis) live on compounds. Westerners who live in apartment buildings save money but often feel very isolated. I suppose this could depend on your personality and social circles. All USG employees live on secure compounds. Commute time to the consulate is 20 to 45 minutes. However, a new consulate is under construction, so this will change within a year or two or three. - May 2013

Some are large and comfortable, some v. small apts, it's the luck of the draw - shortage of housing as of the time this report was written. - Nov 2010

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