How Expats Can Survive In the Midst of an Increasing Dependent Fee and VAT in Saudi Arabia

By: Wonder With Gil

The authority made it clear that the worker should pay SR100 for every dependent or companion starting from July 1, 2017. It also gave notice that the fees would be doubled from July 1, 2018, and would reach SR300 by July 1, 2019. According to the same announcement, a single dependent’s or companion’s fees will hit SR400 in 2020.

Arab News

Last year, Saudi Arabia required all expat employees to pay for all their dependents. During the first year, 100 SR per dependent is to be paid. In our case, my husband has 4 dependents including me so that was 400 SR a month for all of us.

During the 2nd year (this year), it was doubled. So 200 per dependent. In our case, 800 SR per month should be paid. That’s 9,600 for the whole year. Can you slightly feel the weight now?

3rd year (yes, there’s a 3rd year!!!), 300 per dependent for every month. A whooping 1200 SR per month for our family. That’s heavy for us. That’s already a full month salary for some workers here in Saudi Arabia and a monthly tuition fee for 2 kids! 14,400 SR for the whole year.

So how do we cope up with these kind of changes in Saudi Arabia? That is, with the mindset of keeping the whole family here, because many expats have already sent their kids back to their homeland to avoid paying the fees.

So for those who have chosen to stay, what are the ways that you can do to beat VAT, DEPENDENT FEE as well as the other changes in this country?

There are 2 major ways. One is to INCREASE the amount of money coming in our pockets, and the other is to DECREASE the spending by focus on what the family the needs.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash



So how do we increase our income? We work. For some, you might say “I’m taking care of the kids at home. Getting a babysitter and all the other expenses accompanied with working would just cost the same as the salary I’m going to get. “The solution then is to work at home (for women). Is it possible? Yes! There are literally so many ways to work at home. You just have to start and assess the skills you are good at. You can start from there.

Interesting home-based business ideas:

  • Baking cakes and cupcakes
  • Cooking packed lunch for employees
  • Jewellery making
  • Photography business
  • Tutorial lessons
  • Sewing clothes, curtains, abayas
  • Cooking for parties/catering
  • Event planner
  • Writing for online sites
  • Vlogging /blogging
  • Online teaching
  • Creating courses
  • Teaching special lessons like Arabic, guitar, voce lessons, computer programs, swimming lessons, etc.)

If you want to view the other existing home-based business ideas of some of the women here in Jeddah, check out my post 2 years ago and be inspired at home these women are actually earning from home:

Check out this: 21+ Ways To Have Extra Income In Jeddah I’ve written on my blog


Sell items you are not really using or you have used ones. Sell those pre-loved items before buying another. This way, the money you get from the items you sold will be the money you can use to buy new ones that you need. Where can you sell? You can do it by creating a Facebook Page where you can post all the photos and prices of the items you are selling. You can also post on and .

Photo by Niels Steeman on Unsplash



NOW, if you feel you are not yet ready to venture on those entrepreneurial skills, then decrease your spending. How? By spending money wisely.


If you go out like 6-8 times a month, decrease it slowly. Sometimes, we just feel like going out, but the problem is there will always be riyals coming out of our pockets once we go out of the house whether we like it or not. Plus, the gas. It’s no joke that the full tank used to be 30-35 SR and now it is around 70 riyals. That really doubled! Was that just inflation? That was a super sudden rise of the price of fuel that everyone did not expect.

Anyway, if you really love dining out, better download THE ENTERTAINER app on your phone. It costs 145 riyals, but you’ll have HUGE discounts for almost all the main restaurants here. Most of the promotions are buy one take one. So if you go to Friday’s and order a meal, you’ll have another one free. It’s like you are always eating 2 but paying for one. For buffet, we just pay for one and kids eat for free. Still, a great way to save if you can’t avoid eating out.


Check your lifestyle. Stick to the basics for the meantime, at least for the time being that the dependent fee is still there.

When buying, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need it now?
  • Do I have other clothes or accessories that’s almost the same?
  • Do I have items/appliances that does the same work?
  • Does this gadget/item bring extra expenses or possible income? (If it will bring possible income in the future for you, go for it) An example is, if you are buying a laptop because you are planning to write, work as a social media manager, or sell online stuff at home, then that would be a good investment because it will help you be productive and it will help you earn.
  • Will this product last long?
  • Is there the same product that costs lower but is of the same quality?

These are just examples of questions we need to ask ourselves before spending another halala. The savings we get from these may not be the whole payment for the dependent fee, but at least we were able to save some that we can use for the daily expenses.


There are now ways to check on supermarkets’ brochures so we can compare ahead of time where we can buy. DOWNLOAD the apps from Danube, Panda, Sarawat, Manuel or visit their Facebook site where they post their brochures. You can also shop online in where they always have promotions even for grocery items.


FOOD WASTE is such a problem in Jeddah. That’s also one of the reasons why the Feed the Need Jeddah fridge are everywhere. Most people here buy more than what they can eat and not finish them. So, when you buy from restaurants be sure to order only what you are likely going to eat. When cooking food, buy vegetables enough for one cooking or just for the week so they won’t get rotten.


Have you seen the latest electric bills?! They doubled before our very eyes. Like “hey, that’s too much!” Unfortunately, since we still want to stay here, WE ARE THE ONES WHO NEED TO ADJUST. So what can we do with our consumption?

  • Do workouts and other activities instead of watching TV or online streaming.
  • Let kids play toys or other activities like Scrabble, Monopoly, Connect 4, and other family games instead of always using the computer for games.
  • Watch only those that are important or at least limit the times you are on screen or using electronic products.
  • Lights out as much as possible especially in the morning and just move the curtains (this is not applicable to all since some houses can get so dark without lights even in the morning)
  • Turn off the AC if you can. If it’s too cold and you think you and the kids can tolerate the room temperature for some time, then do so. If you are staying in one room, turn off the other AC’s. For us, we stay in the living room in the morning for all the activities and then I just turn on the AC in the bedroom if it’s time for my baby to sleep.
  • Go to public libraries (here’s the link from jeddahmom) or corniche and have a walk in the new Jeddah Waterfront.

In decreasing our spending, we don’t want to deprive ourselves of the things that we like or we love doing. We still continue on them but we learn to limit them. By doing so, it helps us to become wise on how we handle what we have and make use of it in a very productive way.

There you go- INCREASE YOUR INCOME or DECREASE YOUR SPENDING. Choose which way suits you best. If you can do both, better.

How about you? What are the ways your family did to adjust to the changes in Saudi Arabia? Share them below for others to learn. 🙂

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  1. Jeddah Mom
    Jeddah Mom says

    Love these ideas! it is really sad that so many families are going back.

  2. MAKE YOUR 2019 PRODUCTIVE - Pathways Community

    […] one of my previous articles here in Pathways, I’ve discussed How Expats Can Survive In the Midst of an Increasing Dependent Fee and VAT in Saudi Arabia, and by now many expatriates have […]

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