Relocating to Saudi Arabia: A Guide for Australian Expats – For many Australians seeking adventure and a change of scenery, the idea of relocating to a foreign country often crosses their minds.
Whether it’s the allure of a new work environment, the desire for fresh experiences, or the promise of higher incomes, the prospect of living abroad and immersing oneself in a different culture can be undeniably appealing.
Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf nations like the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain, has been a magnet for expatriates for over two decades.
In this article, we’ll provide some essential insights into life in Saudi Arabia that any Australian expat should consider before embarking on this exciting journey.
Can an Australian move to Saudi Arabia?
Yes, they can! Saudi Arabia is home to a population of around 35 million people, with approximately one-third of them being expatriates.
In recent years, an increasing number of Australians have chosen to call Saudi Arabia their new home. Part of the attraction lies in the major infrastructure invesment and tax incentives.
Among the Australian expat population, most choose to reside in either Riyadh, the capital city, or Jeddah, the port city however the Neom development is also becoming a large hub for Australian expats.
Working in Saudi Arabia
If you’re considering working in Saudi Arabia, there are some important rules to follow. You will need to obtain an Iqama (residency permit) to work. Your sponsor usually processes the Iqama within 3 months of your arrival in Saudi Arabia.
It’s illegal to work without your sponsor being noted on your Iqama, and your sponsor will normally hold your passport while you retain your Iqama.
You can’t change your job or transfer your sponsorship without the agreement of your current sponsor, so it’s important you seek legal advice before accepting a new contract.
Healthcare for Australian expats in Saudi Arabia
Unfortunately Australian expats cannot access the country’s public healthcare system. Therefore, your employer should arrange private health insurance for you.
With over 160 private hospitals staffed by English-speaking professionals, Australian expats can expect high-quality medical care.
Finding a home in Saudi Arabia
The majority of Australian expats in Saudi Arabia choose to live in the capital, Riyadh, as well as Jeddah, Dammam and Neom. Most prefer gated compounds and apartment blocks isolated from the local population.
These compounds often offer amenities such as swimming pools, restaurants, and parks, providing a comfortable environment for expats to socialize without concerns about the country’s strict laws.
Renting an apartment in Saudi Arabia is relatively affordable compared to other Gulf countries like Qatar and the UAE though it has become increasingly expensive of late due to the popularity of Saudi Arabia as a destination with expats.
It’s essential to register your rental agreement on the Ejar electronic system to avoid complications with renewing your work permit.
Taxation in Saudi Arabia
If you plan to move to Saudi Arabia, understanding the tax implications is crucial. Saudi Arabia does not have an individual income tax system, and income earned in the country through employment is exempt from income tax.
However, it’s advisable to check if you may still be liable for taxes in Australia. Since there is no income tax on earnings or capital gains in Saudi Arabia, individuals are not required to file tax returns with the Government Authority of Zakat and Tax.
Navigating tax matters can be complex, and inadequate preparation may lead to financial losses. Therefore, seeking the assistance of fully qualified and experienced financial advisers is highly recommended. The Atlas Wealth Group can help you understand and minimize your tax obligations, ensuring a smooth transition to life in Saudi Arabia.
Visiting Saudi Arabia as a tourist
Saudi Arabia has not only become a destination for expats but also a burgeoning tourist hotspot in recent years. The Saudi government has simplified the process for visitors with the introduction of the Saudi eVisa.
Travelers from 49 countries can use this streamlined online application to explore Saudi Arabia and experience the warm hospitality of its people.
With a multiple-entry visa valid for a year, visitors can stay in the country for up to 90 days. The cost for the Saudi eVisa is 480 Saudi Riyals which is approximately AUD$200.00.
How Can The Atlas Wealth Group Help?
From our regional headquarters located in Dubai, UAE, we are the only Australian company in the region that can assist Australian expats located in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Our on the ground experience combined with our long history of providing tax, financial advice and mortgage solutions to Australian expats in the Middle East region ensures that if you are considering making the move to Saudi Arabia then we can help you make the most of your time there.