Bism Allah wa as salaamu alaykum.
Location, location, location!
There are two sections of Madinah: inside the Haram area and outside. The area within the Haram is for Muslims only. No non-Muslims are allowed to live there. That is a big incentive for Muslims to live within the Haram boundaries. The area outside of the Haram tends to be further away from the big stores, malls, and supermarkets. It is also where you can get incredible deals on accommodation. However, what we learned is that it pays to ask around. Real estate agents may take you to nice places, but the SR500-1000 service fee is hefty. They do not secure the best deal for you either, as it isn't in their best interest. However, many buildings can be found by simply walking around and looking for empty air-conditioner holes and signs saying in Arabic, lil ajaar (for rent). In addition, once you ask around, people will inform you of all manner of apartments available in their area, which is usually the best way to find something nice, inexpensive, and avoid any service fee.
An example of prices and accommodation is this. The Aziziyah area, outside the Haram but close to Taibah University and the Islamic University of Madinah, is abounding with new construction. DH saw an apartment that was palatial with 6 bedrooms, 3 or 4 bathrooms, self contained maid's quarters, kitchen, a couple of living rooms, and high quality finishing for SR 25,000 per year. It was more rooms than we even knew what to do with, but was a serious consideration if we were to settle for a place outside the Haram. The location was the biggest drawback for us. For a large family however, who planned to get a vehicle quickly, it would be incredible. A two bedroom apartment in the same building cost just SR 16,000. For beautiful accommodation at low prices, this is a great area. It is peaceful, there are enough shops to get groceries, fresh bread, clothing, and household items, and it is less polluted.
Within the Haram, a two bedroom apartment which could be made into a three bedroom by converting one of the sitting rooms, was being offered for SR25,000 with everything to be bought – even the kitchen sink. However, spacious apartments between 2-4 bedroom are easy to find, and there is a choice around the SR 20,000 – 29,000 range that would suit most.
Compared to the UK, rooms and homes are bigger. Floors are tiled, so cleaning is easy. Utility costs are low and if you live in an apartment, then you won't have to pay a water bill.