I am starting a new role with Aramco at the beginning of October 2019 and will be re-locating from the UK to Dhahran as a Bachelor (GC12). I have been advised by my relocation rep that I will receive on compound bachelor accommodation but this is yet to be confirmed. I have read through the FAQs and other threads on what to bring with me for re-location but these seem to be a few years old. I would be grateful if anyone could provide some general tips/advice on the following:
1. Is compound accommodation typically furnished and does it include large household appliances e.g. fridge freezer, microwave, washing machine? I will initially be re-locating by myself so will opt for cash-in-lieu as opposed to shipping for re-location allowance. I only want to take absolute essentials from the UK and happy to purchase the rest when I arrive in Saudi even if its more expensive as I will be by myself. I am assuming that I will have to bring smaller appliances like kettles, irons, toasters etc?
2. I have read that majority of compound accommodation is being converted to 220V does this mean that standard UK electrical appliances (100 - 240V input) can be used without any conversion? Also is it best to bring some plug adaptors with me and if so which ones are most useful?
I will also clarify these questions with my re-location adviser but it would be great to hear the perspectives of those actually living on compound.
When you get to the apartment, it should be furnished with Aramco supplied basics. Cooker and fridge freezer will be supplied, but you probably will have to rent a washer and dryer from the furniture warehouse. Top loaders are the norm here, if you want a front loader then you will need to buy it yourself. For some reason these are about the only thing that is more expensive in KSA than the UK. Laundry is ridiculously cheap compared to the UK, so not a major problem.
Microwave, toaster etc. you will have to buy yourself. You should get a welcome pack of basics, including towels, pots and crockery and some groceries.
I cant comment on Dhahran bachelor accommodation but generally the apartment (for now at least) will be 120v with one or two 230v sockets in the kitchen and living area.
Electronics all work just fine whether it's on 230v or 120v. For things like TV or laptop you can buy 120v plugs in the souq and change the plug which reduces the reliance on adaptors. Standard sockets in Aramco housing is 120v US style, with 230v sockets being UK style 3-pin.
Anything electrical for the kitchen or house that you need you can pick up in Saco, Extra or the big supermarkets in town. Either get a colleague to take you or take the Aramco bus down and a Taxi back to camp.
A dual sim mobile is handy, or bring an old mobile for your UK sim. Messaging apps like whatsapp, skype or messenger sometimes dont work well for calls on a saudi phone without a VPN. Until such time as you get your Iqama you can only get 1 sim card so you will need calls + data on it as PAYG.
Thanks for the comprehensive advice, much appreciated! Another question, I have submitted pre-authorisation for a Saudi bank account and I assume the re-location allowance is paid in the first month's salary. Is it advisable to bring Riyals or USD and change when I arrive for initial living expenses until my first salary?
For the first few months my salary went direct to a UK current account, and I took 2000 or 3000 SAR using the UK card (to minimise the hit from the banks fees). When that ran out, I took some more.
Obviously depends on your bank and how relaxed they are about card use abroad, but I have never had a problem with RBS whereas Lloyd's can be a pain.
Some SAR to tide you over for a few days for food and groceries (2000 maybe?) would be wise and you will need to arrange a SIM card anyway. There is an STC shop in Mujamma where you can get that using your passport till your Iqama is issued (a few weeks usually).
There are also phone shops after you exit arrivals at Dhahran if you need to fix it immediately.