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Article Details



Compound Life, Apartment Life


by Expatguru - 01/18/2010


"This article describes the lifestyles in compounds and apartments in Saudi Arabia"


When an expatriate signs a contract with his employer, housing if usually part of it. Usually, a housing allowance, which is a certain percentage of the basic salary, is provided and the employee is left to find out a house for himself/herself a suitable home. Some employers also offer housing instead of an allowance.

There are two types of residences in the kingdom - one which is enclosed in a compound, consisting of villas and the other which is an apartment in a building. The lifestyles in both of these are entirely different. Apartments do not have the comfort and luxuries offered in compounds. But they are always cheaper.

Compounds have certain amounted of restricted freedom as compared to apartments in that women need not wear abayas, the all-encompassing black gown. Again, I am referring to western compounds and not those company-owned townships. Most compounds are expensive, but are safe for westerners in terms of security as well as a decent lifestyle, with the available resources. As a minimum, compounds have a swimming pool, a library, a small shop and most important, a recreation hall. The recreation hall is the place where most of the social activities take place and since compounds have a relative immunity from the muttawas or religious police, even non-residents sometime eagerly wait for an invite from their compound friends for attending cultural events.

All utilities such as electricity and water and maintenance of the compound are included as part of the annual rent, usually paid by companies. Most villas in compounds have a small garden in the front, a refreshing change from the desert atmosphere outside.

Apartments, on the other hand, do not offer any of these luxuries. Women need to wear the abaya the moment they step out of the house. Expats usually prefer to move into apartments where their own fellow-citizens reside. Rents have to be paid in advance, either annually or twice a year. If you leave the apartment in the middle of a contract, you will have to pay for the remainder of the contract to your house owner. Birthday parties and prayer meetings by non-Muslim families do take place in apartments, but are all low-key affairs, taking care not to create any noise outside. Despite this, there are expats who prefer apartments than compounds, as they offer a more economical option.

Most westerners choose to stay in compounds as they have armed security, made mandatory by the Government. It is a matter of personal choice whether one wishes the comfort of a compound or is keener on saving money.


(12 Votes)

Views: 5239

16 comment(s)


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