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First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

Old Dec 27th 2015, 6:28 pm
  #1  
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Default First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

Hello everyone, Merry Xmas.

Have been offered a contract in Riyadh for an excellent role with a large company.
I was approached for the role was not looking for it specifically but it come at a good time both career and personal wise as my kids are 6 and 8 and fairly portable. As a family we were also looking for a foreign assignment with my current employer as a next career move.
I visited Riyadh in December and had a whirlwind tour of the city and the Fal and Ranco compounds.

Anyway long story short I would like to ask some advice - apologies in advance for the amount of advice I need and how daft some of the questions probably are !:

General
  • Any recommendations on tax advisors in Bucks area ?
  • Where can I get relocation advice ? Am looking for a company or someone I can speak to about the practicalities of relocation.

Living
  • I have an accommodation allowance of 220k SAR/yr
  • Have narrowed down the compound choice to Al Hamra, Al Bustan, Kingdom and Ranco. Any thoughts ? Bringing wife and 2 kids along so need some entertainment/schooling.
  • Speaking with them when I was in KSA the first two have 3 bed villas at 300k+ p.a. ! I know they are open to negotiation but what "discount" is normal ?

Work
  • To help me sort out the package, can anyone give me a ball park monthly budget for a family of 4 living in Riyadh ?
  • I have been offered an annual contract w/3 month probation. Is this normal practice ? Any advice (save for "don't screw up" that I should heed to get kept on post 3m when there?)
  • Should we go as a family straight away or should I go first for the probation in case it doesn't work out ?
  • my wife is a teacher would she need a special visa to work in the UK or US school ?
  • what "return to UK" planning do we need to do before we go ?

Thanks. Am sure I will have more questions !

Last edited by t1nners; Dec 27th 2015 at 6:31 pm.
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Old Dec 28th 2015, 8:27 am
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Default Re: First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

just some bullet points to consider/in response to some of your questions
  • are you sure the compounds have vacancies? The best ones often have waiting lists. Perhaps your company has some reserved for you. Aren't they helping you with this? They should be.
  • waiting lists for schools, esp good ones, can be very long with some filling up over a year in advance. You might want to confirm places for your kids before you remove them from UK schooling. I would imagine that the best schools will already be full for the Sept 2016 term. They are in Khobar but maybe Riyadh is different.
  • the 3 months probation is nothing special at work. It usually passes without anyone commenting on it.
  • Has your company said your family can accompany you from the start? Even if they will do this for you, it might be a good idea to leave wife and kids in the UK while you find your feet. Saudi is quite a leap for the whole family to make at once esp if you have no ME experience already.
  • Depends on the school as to whether your wife needs any paperwork to get a job there. Technically, she needs them to employ her separately from you so that they can issue her with her own iqama instead of you being her sponsor. In practice, this hardly ever happens and she'll find herself working cash in hand without the legal right to work. This is very common and, only very occasionally is there a bust. Getting a job in a decent school is a matter of having the right contacts and not so much about her quals and cv - although a good one won't hurt. So, be prepared for her to be patient if she is determined to work. It may take time to land a decent opportunity. Bear in mind that if she does, she'll need a driver to ferry her to/from work.
  • if I were you, I wouldn't give a thought to returning to the UK at the moment. Getting out to Saudi is going to be enough to deal with for now. And you have no idea if the whole thing is going to work out nor how long it may work out for, so there's really nothing you can do to plan for all the unexpected that Saudi will send your way. Think of it as a great way to learn what insha'allah is all about!

that's about all I can comment on
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Old Dec 28th 2015, 8:13 pm
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Default Re: First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

thanks sicklyman some v good advice there.

I only received the offer on xmas eve so not spoken with the company or agency since then about the logistics will be picking up next steps 4/1.

Spoke with the British school they have vacancies for both of the children currently. I have spoken with 2 of the 4 compounds on email but like I said their "quoted" prices seem very expensive and keen to understand what a realistic negotiated cost would be.
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Old Dec 31st 2015, 9:53 pm
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Default Re: First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

Hi t1nners, Firstly congrats on your new job and hope you had nice Christmas holidays.

I have few questions as well, hope we help each other on the forum.

Could you please help me in some areas, I would like to get some idea about what kind of package can be negotiated with KSA employer for high management position.
Example
do they negotiate with a good salary with addition of other benefit or they just give good salary package to a British national.
as you said that they might give house allowance of some SAR ???k
Do they give
relocation allowance
flight tickets +for family of 4
Car allowance or Driver allowance
children education allowance for British schools which are expensive
Club membership
Bonuses or Pension etc

Any idea who negotiates the salary or package. (HR or main interviewer manager).
Sorry for the trouble. I could not send private message and so have to type here.
Cheers
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Old Jan 1st 2016, 3:40 pm
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Default Re: First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

a lot will depend on your passport as to what they will offer you. Best comparing like with like i.e. don't compare what a Brit and a South African will be offered for the same job.

Always negotiate. Be willing to walk away. Never accept the first offer. Never accept an offer you're not happy with. Have a figure in your head that you will not go below. If certain benefits are essential for your family's well-being, don't accept unless they give them to you. Life's too short to sell yourself short.
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Old Jan 7th 2016, 9:31 am
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Default Re: First Expat Adventure in KSA - Questions galore

Housing:

That budget at Al Hamra will probably get you a 2 bed apartment, but as has been mentioned, there might not be any vacancies. Al Hamra would be good if your kids are going to the British School, which is literally on the same grounds, so it's 5 min walk to school.

Probably a better bet at Ranco which will be a little cheaper. Beware though, the management at Ranco will probably want a little 'sweetener' to seal the deal, could be anything up to 5k SR.

Kingdom is always popular, so again, check on availability. Al Bustan with it being the newest, will still be high demand.

Work Life:

*]To help me sort out the package, can anyone give me a ball park monthly budget for a family of 4 living in Riyadh ?
Depends on your lifestyle really, but 4-6k SR per month should cover the basics.
[*]I have been offered an annual contract w/3 month probation. Is this normal practice ? Any advice (save for "don't screw up" that I should heed to get kept on post 3m when there?)

Saudi Labour Law (SLL) has a mandatory 90 day Probation Period, so this is perfectly normal. SLL now has the option of extending Probation to 6 months.
[*]Should we go as a family straight away or should I go first for the probation in case it doesn't work out ?

You won't be able to all go together. You come first, get your residency permit ( Iqama ) and once you have this, you then apply for a family residency visa for the family to come out to join you. Should be done within around three months, by which time you're probably due for a trip back home anyway.
[*]my wife is a teacher would she need a special visa to work in the UK or US school ?

No. She will be under your sponsorship and so will be able to secure work as "Local Hire". Her visa will state "not allowed to work" but most schools in the City employ wives of expat workers.
[*]what "return to UK" planning do we need to do before we go ?

Somewhere to live, and money to live on until you get another job.
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