Most Western expats who relocate to Riyadh have their accommodation needs taken care of by their employer. As such, they will usually be housed in a Western compound in the northern or eastern suburbs of Riyadh within close proximity to their place of work.
The decision of which neighbourhood in Riyadh to choose is therefore out of most expats' hands. Compound living tends to be a self-contained affair as many expats rarely venture out beyond their compound. Many compounds come equipped with a range of facilities such as gyms, grocery stores, laundry facilities, cafes and shops.
Here is a brief overview of the Riyadh neighbourhoods that host a large expat population.
Expat areas in Riyadh
Al Olaya and Sulaymaniyah
These areas are part of Riyadh’s business district to the north of the city. For those with offices in the centre of the city, the manageable commute is the major advantage of living in Al Olaya and Sulaymaniyah, although the housing in these areas tends to be smaller and the surroundings less spacious. This type of accommodation is most suitable for young professionals who want to live close to the office and are less interested in having access to large recreational spaces. Living here also offers residents access to a number of shopping malls which offer a good escape from compound living.
This is a prestigious neighbourhood in Riyadh. Accommodation within Al Muhammadiyah's Western compounds tend to be sought after. Properties are usually spacious and luxurious, and compounds here have great facilities which give residents little reason to leave. However, the surrounding area is also home to a number of good top-end restaurants which are excellent for residents who are looking to treat themselves.
Al Nakheel is another popular expat neighbourhood in Riyadh. There are lots of luxury complexes in this area and it is particularly popular with families due to the presence of a number of good international schools. Most complexes in Al Nakheel have lots of housing options suitable for families with larger properties with gardens. Some compounds here even have preschools on site.