Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Report of what it's like to live there - 11/07/15

Personal Experiences from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 11/07/15


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

We've been in several places in Europe and the Middle East.

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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 you stop in Frankfunt

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year and 6 months

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

EFM American consulate

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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

A little bit cheaper than in the States; you can find imported stuff but it's very expensive. We prefer to order some stuff from walmart or amazon.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

scuba diving stuff, mosquitoes repellent, sun block, light clothes, dog food.

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

Most of them but more expensive than in the States.

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

mosquitoes, a lot of them...

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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 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?

Another issue, it is VERY difficult to get a full time nanny here. You have to be her sponsor, and no one can be here without a sponsor, so you have to wait until someone is ready to go to transfer the sponsor. It is a big deal.

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

In the compound they have aerobics, yoga, zumba, core, personal instructors, aquaerobics, tennis, classes for the kids; a lot of activities for a very reasonable price, around US$7 per class or even free.

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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?

the ATMs do not charge commission and there is one in the compound.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Only Islam is allowed here.

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

i do it OK most of the time with English, most of store employees are from the Philipines, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

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

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

THis is another issue here; we are not allowed to take public transportation and women are not allowed to drive. The consulate do not provide private drivers, They have drivers there and you have to call them but when VIPs visit you have to be grounded because there are no vehicles available.
Now we have a small supermarket in the compound, as so as the school, gym, and extra activities for the kids, but in the new consulate's compound we will not have this, so this is going to be a problem.

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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?

People like to bring 4*4, to camp in the desert.
Gasoline here is the cheapest in the world.

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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?

The internet here is terrible!

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?


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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?

There is only one vet who attends to dogs.

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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?

in the American school maybe.

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

Women have to wear abaya and believe me, in the middle of the summer this is inhuman.

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Health & Safety:

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

this is an issue, threats to 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?

Corona virus and dengue. There's terrible 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 bad

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

From May to October it is really hot, I've never experienced that hot and humid weather in my life - you get out of the A/C and feel like you can't breathe. From November to April it is great, but mosquitoes are a problem during these months.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American school is OK; there's a British and French school as well.

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

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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 reason to not come.

The American school is unaffordable, they charge around US$4500 for capital fees per year plus around US$1000 per month. There is a nursery in the Sierra that people says is OK and is affordable, but again, they are going to move families to the consulate's compound where the American school is located.

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

Not to much at school but at the compound they have soccer, basketball, they can take tennis, swimming, gymnastic,ballet, zumba, tae kwan do.
The Consulate's marines come once per week to the compound to give boot camp to the kids, and they love it.

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Expat Life:

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

It was OK, but now that they took the danger pay so the EFMs are kind of disappointed.

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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?

On the compound there are expats from all over the world, so there is a lot of social life in the compounds.

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

Now it is good for families with elementary school kids, with PreK kids it may be difficult since it's so expensive to find a nanny and the international schools are unaffordable. For teenagers it's hard as dating is illegal and there are no movie theatres.

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

It's illegal here.

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

Religious - yes, you can't even wear a cross.

And gender is a big issue here: women cannot drive, have to wear the islamic abaya (black long dress with long sleeves) the mutawa can be nasty if you don't wear a scarf to cover your self. In the restaurants, banks and some other places there is an entrance for women and families and an other one for men.

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

The life outside is kind of difficult. The best part here is the life in the compounds, the families are now in Sierra, and it has a gate to the American school, so the kids just take their bikes and go to school. Trips to marina sleh, Taif. and go to the beach but the beach is not free, you have to pay around US$37 per person.

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

No to much to do.

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

Living in the compound is nice for the kids and money is the reason that most of us came here. how ever, they are not paying danger pay anymore. And they are going to build the new consulate; most of the families are going to live there.

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9. Can you save money?

I guess, there is nothing to do here, you have everything you can need in the compound.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not in a million years

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2. Do you have any other comments?

It is a difficult place to be, the only thing that makes this place a good place is the compound life, and the money, but they took off the danger pay and they are going to move to the consulate to most of the families, so this place is going to be a nightmare.

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