Saudi rental costs collapse as expat exodus hots up

Published:  12 Mar at 6 PM
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The six-month old trend of declining rental charges is being attributed to an expat exodus of workers’ families since the dependent levy was introduced.

Although the elites of the Saudi expat community aren’t leaving as yet, those on less than generous salaries are being forced to send their families home due to the recently-introduced dependent levy. The resultant exodus is now causing decreases in rental charges for residential units as well as real estate prices in general.

March is the end of the Saudi school year, with holidays following exams, but expat children born and brought up in the kingdom are now being forced to leave permanently. Both private and community schools are set to see class number decrease by at least 50 per cent, with some private schools expected to shut down as a result.

Others are demanding up-front annual fees rather than the usual monthly payments, resulting in even more children leaving as their parents can’t pay in this manner. The majority of expat children now forced to leave with their mothers have never known any other life and are totally unfamiliar with their countries of birth.

Saudi buy to let property investors are feeling the pinch, as family homes are now empty and breadwinners now only require small apartment in which to live alone. Rents are also being lowered as a result of increases in the price of electricity and water, two utilities usually paid for by landlords who are now reducing rents if tenants agree to take on utility payment of utility bills. As demand shrinks still further and the expat family exodus continues, the market for investment property may be heading for collapse.
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