Riyadh Housing Shortage

A serious issue facing not only expats who may be coming to work in Saudi Arabia but for the residents as well is the severe housing shortage. This is particularly noticeable in Riyadh where the demand far exceeds the available supply. This housing shortage is attributable to several reasons:

  • Rising inflation and cost of living making affordable housing prohibited to many Riyadh residents.
  • The majority of Saudi Arabia’s population is under 20 years of age. As these individuals start to join the workforce and marry, leaving their family homes, there is a new influx of citizens seeking affordable housing.
  • There has been an increase of large contracts and projects being awarded to international firms who are exporting more workers into the Kingdom adding to the housing shortage.


The housing shortage is particularly noticeable for the expat who has accepted a job in the Kingdom but responsible for finding his own housing. He will likely acquire a copy of “Riyadh Today” pocket-size book and start culling through the pages of compounds. But he will find after calling each and every compound most are either not even taking names for a waiting list or have a minimum of a two year waiting list. All compounds are full.


Many compound owners are also taking advantage of the housing shortage and raising rents exponentially as leases expire. I know of one individual whose rent was raised from 200,000 SAR (per year) to 300,000 SAR (per year) and is now among those trying to find more affordable housing. Sadly due to the shortage compound owners can demand and receive such rents.


So what does one do when accepting employment in Riyadh? My advise is to make sure that the employer will provide housing. It is never an enjoyable experience to interact with realtors and compound managers in Riyadh. There are language barriers, lackadaisical attention spent to clients needs, punctuality issues let alone having to face negotiating and enforcing lease agreements and commitments on the part of the landlord. Don’t forget, when signing a lease in Saudi Arabia, in most cases the full years rent must be paid upfront in advance which leaves a landlord little incentive to see to needed repairs or problems.


If you are responsible for acquiring your own housing make sure to have adequate lead time for this endeavor. Be willing to take a temporary place at a furnished hotel/apartment which allows you to rent month-to-month while you take your time and find the right place for your needs. Don’t be shy in asking anyone and everyone about housing leads. Drive around In the area you would like to live in. Ask security guards if they are aware of any vacant dwellings or ones soon to be vacant.


And following is a good publication prepared by Colliers International with a comprehensive review of the Riyadh real estate market:


Riyadh Real Estate 2007 Overview produced by Colliers International: http://www.colliers.com/Content/Repositories/Base/Markets/UAE/English/Market_Report/PDFs/RiyadhMarketOverviewQ42007.pdf


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,277 other followers

%d bloggers like this: