Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Report of what it's like to live there - 10/25/15

Personal Experiences from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 10/25/15


1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, We've been in Europe

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

California: 24 hours, We fly from here to Frankfurt, wait around 4 hours in the airport, then we travel to the States
We have 3 R&R's in this post

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3. How long have you lived here?

17 months

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?


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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The fruits and vegetables are not the best, but they are okay. You can find some imported ones, but they are very expensive. No organic ones.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All of them, but they are more expensive here. There is nothing to do outside the compound, so going to restaurants is the only activity that you can do.
Be prepared to gain weight.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes. a lot, specially during the winter, is when you can be out, but then the mosquitoes bother you a lot

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO and Diplomatic Pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is difficult to find full-time help. You have to be her sponsor and wait until her last sponsor transfers her to you.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

They have gym classes at the compound for a very reasonable price, around 6 USD per class.
I went once to Gold's gym and asked about the fees. It was ridiculously unaffordable.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We used them often, but they are not accepted in many places.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can survive with English.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I don't think so

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1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Mobility is a big deal for women here. We are not allowed to use public transportation or to drive. We depend on the motor pool, and have to call and ask them like they are doing a favor to you. And often they just tell you to wait because they don't have vehicles available. and you have to wait sometimes even an hour for them to come.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?


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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet service is bad here.

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1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

This is expensive. There is only one doctor who treats dogs, and I heard that he charged almost 1800 USD for a dog's surgery.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are some jobs for EFMs in the American School. There are also some jobs for EFMs at the U.S. Consulate.
But they took away the danger payment, so be prepared to work for very little money.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are some.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Abaya for women.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

A lot, threatens to the consulate, the american school, etc..

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There is no good medical care here.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

not too bad

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Lots of dust and sand storms, bad for allergies.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

HOT!!!! the summer here (From May to October) is a hell, and is can not even swim because the pool is to hot
The winter is not to bad. but cold, you will never be.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

American school, We like it so far, kids are so happy, The only problem that we see is that they don't have sports programs and they have a lot of free days.
British school, they say that is good, but is very difficult for the americans to enter.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I heard that they have help for special kids at the american school, they have extra support with speech therapy in english and some other services.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

This is a problem here. The american school charges for PK 4500 usd of capital fee, and around 1000 usd of monthly fee. There is a little nursery at the compound, but again, We will not live at the compound anymore, so if you have PK aged kids, this is not your place.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Within the compound there are private tennis classes, swimming classes, zumba for kids, gymnastics, ballet, and tae-kwan-do classeA for very affordable prices.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

During the past year it was okay. But now that they have removed the danger pay and we are going to move to the new compound ... who knows?

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Expat parties at the compounds. Going to the beach.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a great post for families with elementary-school kids now. I am not sure about the future when we move to the new consulate/compound. Families with preschoolers may find it difficult and expensive to have a nanny, and there will not be pre-school when we move from the compound. unless you want to pay a lot of money at the American School there will be no options for the pre-schoolers.

For teen-agers it is difficult for lots of reasons. Alcohol is prohibited, so they have parties with fake alcohol, which is worse, because you don't know what is being consumed. Dating outside the compound is prohibited, and there are no movie theaters, or anything else, so some teenagers have problems with drugs. This is also n a good place for singles.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Defititely not, but I've seen a few.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes! I've heard that sometimes people of African or Philippine or Hindu heritage are not treated well.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The compounds.
You can go to the beach, but is not free, you pay around 40 usd per person.
you can travel to the emirates

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Just scuba diving. But you can have a lot of social life in the compounds: they have groups, such as the Korean speakers, the French speakers, Spanish speakers, Russian speakers, etc.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Travel, restaurants, going to the beach.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Now is nice because We are living in Compounds, the kids just take their bikes and go to school, they have a lot of activities here at the compound for the kids, they have bowling, tennis, basketball, soccer, lots of swimming pools, a big park. The kids are really happy here.You have the gym, the supermarket, the restaurant here, getting out from the compound is difficult, you have to call motor pool, they take around 40 minutes to arrive,When they have vehicles available, from 4-5 you can not ask for any vehicle because is shuttle time,in addition you have to calculate the prayer time, is every 3 hours but it last for around 40 minutes.And you have to wear an Abaya( islamic black dress long and with long sleeves) And believe me, with 120 degrees, wear this is really uncomfortable.. But you don't have to leave the compound a lot, We have everything here.
However they are building the new consulate, and most of the families are going to live there. This is going to take the best and only advantage of living here.

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10. Can you save money?

I guess so, if you don't travel. However, there is no danger payment anymore, so it is not as attractive as it used to be.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No way! This is a difficult place to live in, and now that we will not be in compounds, this is going to be hell on earth. And without the danger payment there is no reason to make this sacrifice.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Hair treatments. The water has really bad quality; they take off the salt of the ocean with lots of chemical substances, so you are going to loose a lot of your hair, and your skin will be dry as paper. You are going to look older and fatter when you leave this post.

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