Employees who are entitled to housing allowances have a choice of securing their own apartments or of sharing an apartment with others. Housing allowances are generally 25% of the employee's basic monthly salary.
There are two types of apartments: those for bachelors and those for families. Bachelor flats may range from SAR 8,000 to SAR 12,000 a year while adequate family flats may go up to around SAR 14,000 to SAR 16,000 a year. Bigger flats for those who require them may go as high as SAR 20,000 or more a year.
Most apartments are generally bare, with only kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures already installed. A tenant can generally make improvements within the flat, depending on the arrangement with the landlord. Some may choose to live in furnished apartments that already feature modern furniture and amenities. Some employees may also qualify to live in Zamil Village, which is an enclosed compound.
Apartments are leased for three-, six-, or 12-month periods. An employee must present the following documents:
- Residence Permit (Iqama)
- Employment certificate with Company seal issued by Personnel
- Proof of family status (for those leasing family accommodations)
The employee must then pay the advance on the lease for the period specified in the agreement with the landlord. Similar arrangements also have to be made as regards payment of water and electricity, as well as installation of a telephone, satellite TV, and broadband Internet services.
Expatriate employees may get an advance of up to six months of their housing allowances during the first year of service and may get an advance of the amount for the entire year on subsequent contracts. This amount, however, shall be deducted from the employee's salary should he terminate his employment with the Company before the end of the specified period.
In furnishing his flat, an employee may seek the assistance of other employees who have used or excess furniture and household appliances and equipment. In order to avoid excessive spending, an employee can also go to the "haraj" or flea market in Khobar or Dammam and get bargains on furniture, appliances, and other household sundries. Bulk purchases on household items are also available in many major stores.
It is advisable to take note of the electrical and safety specifications of the flat and the building. Voltage in the Kingdom can be either 110 or 220. Before purchasing and using any appliances, users should check and match voltages accordingly. A surge protector is highly recommended for computers and other electronic equipment.
Ensuring Privacy and Quality Home Life
It is prudent to be mindful of regulations in one's home while in Saudi Arabia. In order to preserve harmony, one should be sensitive to the needs of the people in the vicinity. If an employee has family living with him, he should also take care to remind his family members of some of the regulations within Saudi Arabia as well as within his particular apartment building. This becomes even more important when one is sharing an apartment with other people, whether bachelors or families.
Many people have remarked about the safety they feel for their children. There is a "protected" atmosphere with regard to the temptations and complexities of Western life.
Searches of homes are considered illegal in Saudi Arabia if the authorities cannot present written authorization or good reason for such a search. Any citizen or expatriate may resist unlawful search and refuse entry to police or religious authorities.
Before leaving for Saudi Arabia, arrangements for schooling of the children should be made. There are various international schools operating under the respective ministries of education of their countries. Employees should check with their local government authorities on accredited schools under their educational system before leaving. Embassies of their home countries within Saudi Arabia should also be able to provide assistance.
There are also international schools that are accredited according to standards from the US or the UK. Employees can visit the International Schools Group at http://www.isgdh.org.