Sunday, June 6, 2010

the compound run-down

Another long information post. Here are my general impressions for those expats in the planning stages.

"LUXURY"
Arizona
I've blogged about this one before. I think most people agree that this is the most attractive looking compound to stay in, with its lovely 'ranch' style decorations, a beautiful resort style central pool, and its golf course and driving range. And its horse. It's really one of the best compounds with a pleasant atmosphere, but it has a matching price tag for pockets that run deep.

Cordoba & Al Hamra
Sister compounds with a common owner, Cordoba and Al Hamra are very large compounds. Cordoba is supposed to have some of the most spacious villas in Riyadh, with beautifully maintained grounds and a very good maintenance team. Cordoba can sometimes feel a bit cold as there is less of a community atmosphere there than on other compounds and it has a truly terrible compound restaurant.

Kingdom
Kingdom is famous amongst women for its coffee mornings. It has a wonderful looking central pool with fake rocks and boulders everywhere, a nice cafe area and restaurant, and even has a birdcage on display full of parrots and budgies. I've never been in a villa but they are supposed to be quite nice. This compound has the longest waiting list in the Kingdom because its prices are reasonable for the quality of accommodation.

Eid
This is a smaller compound in comparison to others on this list, but still sizeable. Grounds are well maintained, and Eid boasts a wavepool and a fairly decent restaurant. Villas tend to be on the smaller side compared to other compounds in this price range, but what people tend to like about Eid is the friendly atmosphere.

Jadawel is supposed to be another nice compound that has very spacious residences. I've never been there but I hear it's great. One drawback about Jadawel is its location twenty minutes from the edge of the city.

"MID-RANGE"
Arab Investment Compound
A smaller compound near the diplomatic quarter, this one is quite nice and cozy. The villas we've been able to visit are comfortable and residents seem content with it, but you don't see the same kinds of sprawling set ups as in the luxury compounds. A lot of people like its location, that is relatively central for a Western compound.

Al Yamama
There's actually three Yamama compounds now, but I've only been to Yamama 2. These compounds are large and seem to have a decent number of amenities too. The villas I've seen in Yamama tend to be fairly simple bungalow type houses made of concrete blocks but they are generally spacious enough.

Wadi
A smaller compound, this is a decent looking place, and has enough amenities to make your stay reasonable. As with others on this list, this compound is well kept with all the amenities you would need and our friends there seem content with it.

Arabian Homes, Nadj, and Villas Rosas are also smaller compounds that are well maintained from what I hear.

"BUDGET"
Seder Village
Ahh...Seder Village. This is a compound that everyone knows and talks about and you'll see why when you get here. Housing is bungalow style, but it's a notch below Yamama; the construction of homes is nowhere near the Luxury compounds. The thing that sets Seder apart from others is its fun & social reputation - it is supposed to have a solid community of expats that are plugged into events in the region, and is a popular choice for singles.

Ranco
Ranco's residences range from motel-style apartments to larger villas. Not much to say about their rec center or amenities, just that they're there, and they get used. Their prices are fixed at very reasonable rates.

Fal
I understand that Fal is a military facility that has been converted to a compound. The rooms are very small and sterile, however the place is cheaper than most.

HERE are some recent prices of some of the compounds that I've mentioned.

IN SUMMARY...
In a luxury compound, you can expect resort-style surroundings and extra amenities on large compounds, beautiful villas, ever-increasing prices, and lengthy waitlists. To get into these highly sought-after compounds, you usually have to have a friend living at your preferred compound that is willing to vouch for you and introduce you to management. Many long-timers have left them in recent years because the pricetags have doubled within the span of the last 5-10 years.

Mid-range compounds usually have most of the necessary amenities on their compounds to make living there comfortable and easy, well manicured grounds if not sprawling ones - maybe no wavepool or bowling, but a hairdresser and a nice gym. On the budget end, you'll have the basic amenities that are convenient in a compound, but not necessarily the nicest looking houses or grounds.

When it comes to demographics, each compound is different, and you have to make a visit to the compound in question to really get a feel for what types of people live in each one. Many Westerners feel uncomfortable in compounds that have large arab populations because of the cultural clashes that can occur. If your housing is not provided by your employer, the best thing to do is to take colleagues & acquaintances up on their offers for you to go visit them at their compounds, and plan a stop at the manager's office. Phone calls and emails will generally not get you into any of the higher end compounds.

Good luck to you all, and hope this helps!

26 comments:

Tara Umm Omar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Orchidthief said...

thanks Tara! I always get lots of emails about this topic...so I tried to answer most of the questions I've gotten in one posting. Glad you think it's useful.

Tara Umm Omar said...

You're welcome. I've seen a Yamama compound and the Seder compound. There is also a nice compound by Granada Mall that looks like a piece of Paradise. Is that the Granada Mall?

Tara Umm Omar said...

Oops I meant the Granada Compound lol

Stacy said...

The villas at Jadawel are immense, however, due to some unfortunate circumstances back in Dec/Jan I do know that the residents are a little annoyed at the changes to the rules about inviting visitors onto the compound.

I haven't seen a lot of the place and I've only really been there at night but it is big and the houses are huge. Just make sure to get a full run down on the rules and regulations they're currently enforcing. I think it mightn't be too bad for families but for single occupants it was very harsh.

All the other compounds I have been to have been company-specific (ie, Salwa, Yamama 3 and Eskan). Though I'm bound to think every compound is great compared to the shithole I live in :).

Orchidthief said...

actually Tara there are quite a few compounds right near Granada mall. I think the closest one is Al Hamra, but Cordoba, Arizona, Eid, Najd, and Granada compounds are all located within a five minute drive of Granada mall.

Wow stacy tell me how you really feel! lol...I can't believe some of the headaches you've had to put up with at yours. Thanks for the info about jadawel - I hear Granada compound also has some strict policies regarding singles and having parties with single guests.

Mike said...

Just wanted to say thanks for following up regarding the compounds. I found your posting very helpful. I am still waiting for my work visa, should not be much longer. I hope to see a lot what you have been blogging about soon. I also have a blog mikerockssaudi.blogspot.com feel free to stop by.

Orchidthief said...

happy to help mike and way to go joining the blogging community. I'm following you now ;)

fingers crossed for your visa!!

Laylah said...

hi!
great post, very informative :)

I would add one more to the midrange, Romaizan compound next to Imam university! It's really relaxed, villas are spacious, they have nice gardens, and the best thing is the restaurant!!The food is delicious and the atmosphere is nice. they have two pools, one indoor and one outdoor, a shop, tenniscourts and a recreation centre. I hear they have a long waiting list though!

Visit my blog sometime @ blueabaya.blogspot.com

-Laylah

Orchidthief said...

thanks laylah for the tip. Stopped by your blog and it looks very different, keep it up!

Stacy said...

Looks like they heeded my threats and now might give me an allowance to find somewhere else to live.

Unfortunately, the next step seems to be to muster up all the wasta I can find to even get into a reasonable compound. Its no wonder they can charge such astronomical prices for villas.

You just can't win! (Oh woe is me.. etc)

Orchidthief said...

Stacy I would love to help you but our compound is not really even in our budget. We have been thinking about moving for a while now. I hope things work out for both of us!

Christophe said...

Very fond memories of Romaizan (circa ten years ago), the compound was rather poor in amenities especially compared to the luxury compounds you mention and even compared to many of the others in the same kind of range, but there was something about it that definitely felt different and nice.

Arizona was lovely, used to play hockey there. Don't know if that thing is still going... Kingdom was still my fav.

Orchidthief said...

thanks for the tips christophe!

Christophe said...

Guess that's probably all changed now though :(

Orchidthief said...

well definitely atmospheres evolve at compounds and do depend a lot on the manager and recreation director, but I can say with fairly high certainty that as far as how Romaizan looks, everything is the same, right down to the furniture. Because it seems to me that most of the compounds built in Riyadh have never been (and never will be!) updated.

sambabes said...

Hello there, I am new to your forum but have spend several days reading all your posts. I found it really interesting and truly from a housewife perspective. I must thank you for the wealth of info on this forum.
I am a Canadian from Newfoundland and recently my husband accepted an offer with SABIC research and Technology center in Riyadh. His package include accommodation in a western compound. However, knowing that Sabic R&T is located in the outskirt of Riyadh in the industrial city area, we were wondering if you could suggest a compound this is within reasonable distance to this area which is also not too far to American school. As I am two kids (3 and 6 yrs) I learnt from previous posts that compound would be most suitable.
Any info of close by expat compound with reasonable distance to americam or another good school would be highly appreciated.

Hana N said...

Hello ladies,

We're moving from Khobar to Riyadh hopefully just before Ramadan and I need help!!

We're Muslim Arab Canadians and looking for a quality compound that's conservative. Can you steer me in the right direction?

Also, which schools have high academic standards where Arabic and Islam is offered on a daily basis?

Thanks a million!!

Nadine said...

Seder village is no longer a social hub and in fact in recent months has been very quite due to a recent fire at the rec center, completely destroying it. Until a new rec is built I don't recommend people moving on to it. Currently its too expensive to rent with the lack of a rec center.

However saying that I lived on Seder during its hay day and I can say without a doubt it was probably the best socializing compound in Riyadh. Everyone knew everyone, there was always something going on during the week and weekends. Not only was it a good compound for singles but was a great compound for kids as I had grown up on it myself.

Such a shame though that its turned into the empty shell that it is now compared to what it used to be.

CD said...

I am lookinf for a 1/2 Bedroom accomodation in compound. My budget is SR50-80K per annum.If anybody can give any helpful clue about availanilty please mail me at chandandasdelhi@gmail.com

hello said...

Our family just moved out of Seder Village and have to agree with Nadine - stay away!
The new manager rules like an old fashion boarding school head master, he has no respect for residents (especially women) and the social life and community spirit are dead.
The prices keep going up and up even though there are damaged facilities.
A real shame! :(

HenryGale said...

Hello!
To the Blogger: If I may ask what job do you do in Riyadh? You of course aren't an Engineer nor a Economist, then what is it. Secondly would you prefer Saudi Arabia over UAE or Qatar or Kuwait or Bahrain?

eyad alshaer said...

this site is very good ..i really like it.
and by the way, i have a good idea to own a house inside a compound if u wanna know something about it just feel free to call Mr.eyad at 0502214836 .
here is my www.cayan.net (layaly compound).

Reem Alshaer said...

i am a canadian living in riyadh and i would like somebody to get me into any compound because i wanna see my friend and because she is a girl i cant meet her in any place here in riyadh except in a compound so if anybody can help me plz here is my email amro_alsha3er@hotmail.com

Fred Haentjens said...

One compound I don't recommend is Ishbilia Compound. The houses might be big and nice. But you live in a prison. The security guards disrespect residents and visitors. They secure a gate and that's it. They clearly didn't get customer service training and are ex prison or military guards.

Sameer Information Port said...

I would suggest to drop by Al Bustan Village which is the biggest and most modern compound so far in Riyadh. The compound also has the biggest western community consisting American School, German School, and private pre school.

contact at rentals@al-bustan.net.sa or visit their Facebook page Al Bustan Village