Saudi Arabian Cities Most Affordable in the Middle East for Expats: EIU Survey

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A series of larger than life lanterns by Spanish artist Julio Lafuente are a well-known landmark in Jeddah

Sometimes we wish we were birds. Flying to innumerable places, seeing the world through eyes unencumbered by boundaries and restrictions. But where our idealistic dreams of being birds and soaring across the world map may be left short-changed, there are many other ways in which a part of our dreams can be realised and brought to fruition.

As social animals, we crave to explore the world and look at alternate destinations to live and settle in. Some countries and cities, we don’t even conceive to think about on account of cost of living expenditure exceeding our personal affordability. But quite often we do give in to our hearts and imagine ourselves living as expatriates in some foreign city, enjoying all that it has to give us, making us a part of it – by way of our hearts, if not inherently.

Just recently, an analytical study carried out by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) revealed that Singapore, one of the prides of South-east Asian countries, was the costliest city to live in. The half-yearly study considered the cost of living that potential expatriates would have to bear across a wide variety of services and products offered.

But where many of us may have lost out hopes to making it to Singapore, thanks to exorbitant cost of living, the Middle-east once again stole the show with two of its prime-time cities – Jeddah and Riyadh – featuring as the two of the lowest expensive, and as such, most affordable cities in the world for expatriates as per the EIU study.

Analysts have pinpointed several reasons for these two cities emerging as the front-runners of affordable living for expatriates in the Middle-east. The aspect of economic stability has been cited as the foremost reason with the main focus of such economic stability attributed to the way prices was controlled by the authorities overlooking the nation’s economic progression.

In addition, the factor of reduced petrol prices as compared to other costlier cities – including Singapore – has also been referenced as a significant contributor to Jeddah and Riyadh’s status as expat-friendly cities to live in. According to quoted statistics, where the global pricing of petrol – which was exercised as an important indicator of cost of living in the study – has substantially increased in the span of a decade, in Saudi Arabia, the prices have actually gone down by US$ 0.09 in the same time-span accounting and ensuring their consistent economic stability.

This feature of economic stability and better affordability in these two cities has also translated to some of the most essential food items like groceries and breads. For those who are unaware about Jeddah and Riyadh, the former is a port-city on the country’s west, by the Red Sea and is a very well-known tourist destination, attracting swelling crowds during the summer season. While Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital and its largest city is located plumb on the central Saudi Arabian oasis and as such a well-known crowd puller too.

Apart from these two regions, several other Asian cities have also made the list of highly affordable destinations for expatriate communities including Indian cities, Mumbai and Delhi.

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