10 things to consider if you’re moving to Saudi Arabia from the UK

10 things to consider if you’re moving to Saudi Arabia from the UK

Relocating to a new country is an exciting and life-changing experience. If you’re considering moving from the UK to Saudi Arabia, there are several important factors to consider. From understanding the cultural differences to navigating the visa process, managing your finances and settling into your new environment, this comprehensive guide aims to provide you with the essential information and guidance for a smooth transition.

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1. Culture and lifestyle

Saudi Arabia has a unique cultural and social landscape shaped by its rich history and Islamic traditions. Research and familiarise yourself with the local customs, etiquette, and values to ensure respectful and smooth integration into Saudi society. Learn about local dress codes, religious practices, and social norms to adapt quickly and show cultural sensitivity.

2. Visa and work permit

Before moving to Saudi Arabia, you’ll need to obtain the necessary visa and work permit. The most common visa for employment is the work visa (iqama), which your employer usually sponsors. Begin the visa application process well in advance, as it can involve various documentation, medical examinations, and background checks. Consult with the Saudi Arabian embassy or consulate in the UK for accurate and up-to-date information.

3. Housing and accommodation

Finding suitable housing is a crucial aspect of relocating to Saudi Arabia. Determine whether your employer provides accommodation or if you need to secure your own place. Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam are popular cities with a range of housing options, including apartments and villas. Consider factors such as proximity to work, amenities, and local infrastructure when choosing your new home. When moving from another country, you need to consider how to pay your deposit and rent, potentially before your new local bank account is set up. Many people take advantage of solutions like CurrencyTransfer to get the best exchange rate and set up their initial payments in an easy and convenient way.

4. Cost of living and financial considerations

Saudi Arabia offers a relatively low cost of living compared to many Western countries, but expenses can vary depending on your lifestyle and location. Research the average prices of goods and services, housing costs, healthcare, education, and transportation to estimate your budget accurately. Familiarise yourself with the local currency (Saudi Riyal) and banking options to manage your finances effectively.

5. Healthcare and insurance

Understanding the healthcare system in Saudi Arabia is vital for your well-being. Expats are generally required to have health insurance, either provided by their employer or obtained independently. Research healthcare facilities and services available in your area and ensure you have appropriate coverage for yourself and your family.

6. Financial management and international payments

Managing your finances effectively is crucial when moving from the UK to Saudi Arabia. Consider the following aspects for sound financial management:

Currency exchange

Familiarise yourself with the exchange rate between the British Pound (GBP) and the Saudi Riyal (SAR). Research reputable currency exchange services or banks to ensure you get competitive rates and minimise transaction fees when converting your funds.

Banking and accounts

Open a local bank account in Saudi Arabia to facilitate day-to-day financial transactions. Research various banks to compare their services, fees, and accessibility. Consider factors such as online banking options, ATM availability, and customer service. Some international banks, such as HSBC and Citibank, operate in Saudi Arabia, which might provide a familiar banking experience.

International money transfers

If you need to transfer money between your UK and Saudi Arabian accounts, explore the available options for international transfers. Banks, online payment platforms, and money transfer operators offer different services, fees, and exchange rates. Compare the costs and convenience of each method to find the most suitable option for your need, such as online platforms like CurrencyTransfer, which allows you to transfer sums of money at the best exchange rates and without hassle.

Tax considerations

Understand the tax implications of living and working in Saudi Arabia. Determine whether you will be subject to taxation in both countries or if there are any tax agreements between the UK and Saudi Arabia that could affect your financial situation. Consult with tax professionals or seek advice from relevant authorities to ensure compliance with tax regulations.

7. Education and schools

If you have children, exploring educational options is essential. Saudi Arabia has a wide range of international schools offering various curricula to cater to different expatriate communities. Research and visit potential schools, considering factors such as curriculum, accreditation, facilities, and extracurricular activities to ensure a smooth transition for your children’s education.

8. Transportation and infrastructure

Saudi Arabia has a well-developed transportation infrastructure, including modern highways, airports, and public transportation systems. Depending on your location, you may choose to drive, use public transportation, or rely on ride-hailing services. Familiarise yourself with local traffic regulations, public transportation options, and driver’s license requirements.

9. Language and communication

Arabic is the official language in Saudi Arabia, and while English is widely spoken, learning basic Arabic phrases can enhance your experience and ease communication with locals. Consider enrolling in language classes or using language learning apps to improve your language skills.

10. Safety and security

Saudi Arabia maintains a strong focus on security, and it’s essential to keep up to date with the local laws and regulations to ensure your safety and comply with the country’s legal system. Stay informed about any travel advisories and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.

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Moving from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia presents a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. By understanding the cultural nuances, navigating the visa process, securing suitable accommodation, and considering financial management. Effective financial management is essential when moving from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia.

By understanding currency exchange, opening a local bank account, managing expenses through budgeting, considering tax implications, ensuring adequate insurance coverage, and seeking professional financial advice, you can navigate the financial aspects of your relocation with confidence and achieve your long-term financial goals. Let CurrencyTransfer take the pressure off and help you on your new journey.

Florence Couëdel