Today I got a forward from one of my friends, about the nitty gritties of life of a working individual in UAE, or Dubai, as it is popularly known. It was a truly insightful one, and it has inspired me to write this article. This should be of help to people from the subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Srilanka, Philippines) who decide to come here.
Dubai is a lovely place to live. Dubai is a wonderful place to shop. Dubai is a great tourist destination. Dubai is a melting pot of all cultures and traditions. Dubai is a major travel hub.
All the above statements are true.
The inflation is 15%. The average rent without family is AED 2000 per month at least, and with family, it is a cool 3-4k minimum. If you choose to live in Sharjah or Ajman, deduct 25% from the above figures, and add at least 3-4 hours of transportation every day to your workplace in Dubai. And if you work in Jebel Ali, may god save you if you don’t live there!
The above statements are also true.
If you are multiplying your salary by 13-14 rupees and that forms the prime criteria for your decision to work here, think again! Firstly, nowadays you get roughly 12-12.5 rupees per AED at max. Secondly, the money is useful only if you manage to save. That brings me to the main point, Savings!
The average salary of a decently educated and experienced person in Dubai is around AED 4k-8k. Most of the subcontinent expatriates who are well educated and have 3-5yrs experience fall in this bracket. There are companies that pay you more than that, but then there are ones which pay lesser than that!
40%-60% of your salary would go in rents, which, by the way are mostly unregulated. Today if you are paying 30k annually, next year you might be asked to pay 45k for the same flat, and you would be mostly helpless! For example, I used to pay 18k during 2003-2004, which was increased to 24k during 2004-2005, furthermore to 30k in 2005-2006, and I am currently looking at paying 38k.
Take out a further 20% for your food, electricity and water. Basically, 70% of your salary goes for your basic living amenities. And if you are unlucky not to be provided transport by your company, shell out another 10% for that. In effect, 75% of your salary is going towards living in the most reasonable fashion! And if you decide to buy a car, or other such luxuries, well manage your calculations yourself. That leaves you with 25% savings. But wait, I haven’t talked about entertainment, child education, credit card payments, etc etc. Does that make the picture clear?
The traffic situation is worse and deteriorating further. Until the Metro is completed by 2009, there is no hope of improvement there. The authorities are trying their best with new projects and expansion of current road network, but the results are yet to show. 4 years ago, it took me 30 minutes to travel to my college. Last time I went to collect my certificates, it took me 1.5 hours, that too, with not “much” traffic.
But if you are offered 5 figure salaries per month, and have a lot of Experience, the picture is rosy. And if you decide to let your family stay peacefully in your motherland, and prepare to slog it out here, you can manage well. But not with a meager salary like 3k-5k. Any decent individual needs that much to survive here.
So next time, before you jump onto this bandwagon, think about it deeply. The quality of life here is extremely good, and you get proper facilities for your bucks. But then again, if you convert and see, some facilities are expensive too. For example, calling from UAE to India is around $0.65 normally, and $0.50 off peak. The rates for the other way round are $0.23 roughly! (AED 2.4 / 1.9 vs Rs.10). VOIP is banned too! Internet facilities are good compared to India, but costly again compared to most developed countries.
To sum up, an individual without family having a salary of 6k all inclusive can manage pretty well, with minimum savings. If there is family, you will be hardpressed. If you are looking for good life here with family you need a minimum of 8k-10k.
That’s my analysis after 4 years of life here. Having said all this, I would still prefer to live and work here as long as I can, since there are no Taxes, the people are great, the infrastructure is proper (except transport!), crime is almost nil, no religious tensions, and no dirty politics. However, you will always be an “expatriate” here!