If you’re planning to work and live in Dubai, that’s one of the basic questions you need to ask and find the answer to. It’s the fundamental information you need to know before you actually go hunting for a job. Unlike in some countries, there are no minimum wage rates or standardized salaries in Dubai. What you would receive as compensation is largely dependent on how well you negotiate. Salary expectation is a basic question employers ask of applicants. It’s best to report to an interview with one specific figure, expressed in AED, in mind – the lowest monthly salary package you are willing to accept for any job you’re applying for.
Although this economic concept might involve a combination of many other factors, the quality of life you would have in Dubai is largely a factor of three things: your cost of living, lifestyle and your purchasing power. Since purchasing power is anchored on future earnings, it’s important to know what to expect in cost of living to give you a base figure for salary negotiations.
Factors in Dubai’s Cost of Living
In Dubai, cost of living revolves around three basic factors. Let’s examine each in the context of living in Dubai.
This is perhaps the largest single expense you would need to seriously take into consideration. Real estate is a thriving industry in Dubai as it becomes even more New York-like. Competing with commercial development, costs of residential buildings have gone up considerably in recent years. With the surge of businesses, the influx of foreign workers in Dubai has raised the demand for living spaces. Flats, villas and living quarters have become a scarce resource in Dubai because of the surge in demand. Therefore, rent is a huge consideration.
Although Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority or RTA runs a very smooth operation, the number of passengers Dubai buses serve daily is just too much. The vehicle volume in Dubai’s main thoroughfares, particularly along Sheikh Zayed Road is overflowing at peak hours. Traffic is usually heavy, making it even more difficult for buses and taxis to turnaround quickly. Transportation is an issue in Dubai because many of Dubai’s business centers are located nowhere near residential areas.
This is probably the least of your concerns. Despite the inflation and the state of the world’s economy, food has remained affordable in Dubai across all salary levels. Eating out is another story. But that’s an experience even laborers at construction sites in the Industrial Areas in Al Quoz can afford from time to time.
So, what are your options if you want to live in Dubai? How much should you make? That’s a question you need to answer yourself. Salaries in Dubai vary within a wide range depending on what you are selling (your qualifications) and how you are selling it (negotiation skills). It’s not unusual in Dubai to find an executive secretary making more than a sales representative in the same company. Even two secretaries working the same jobs can have different compensation packages.
Let’s take a look at your cost of living factors with respect to your options.
Your Options in Dubai
Depending on location, there are studio-type flats in Dubai that rent for under AED 3,500 a month. You’d find these in Deira or at Bur Dubai and in similar places. The high-end living options available at places like the Dubai Marina or Jumeirah start at AED 8,000 a month. Some people decide to share living space and split the cost. Other high-end compensation packages normally have company-provided villas or flats.
Dubai bus fare is AED 2 per ride. Taxi fares start at AED 3. In Dubai, however, aving your own car is the cheapest, fastest and the easiest mode of transport. People with international driving licenses have a definite edge as jobseekers. But all drivers are required to obtain a UAE driving license in due time. If you have neither a car nor a valid driving license, you have another option besides taxis and Dubai bus: car lifts. People who have their own cars usually ferry friends and officemates to and from work.
Food is a wonderful, cultural experience in Dubai. Since the world is represented in this small community, you’d find all sorts of exotic and delectable options. Chances are, you’d even find your favorite dish, whether that’s Indian Beryani or Italian pasta. Cost is not an issue. People in Dubai are blessed in that respect. Everyone can afford to eat anything they fancy. Whether you feel better cooking your own meals or you prefer ordering it from Dubai’s vast selection of restaurants, you’d find what you like here.
A Hint for Dubai Jobhunters
A key housing point to remember in interviews is to ask your employer if they provide their staff with free accommodation. There are companies in Dubai that offer free accommodation in staff houses even to their rank-and-file employees. Especially for job hunters that would fall in the low-income range, it is always good to join companies that provide free accommodation because the housing always comes with food allowances and transport service. As part of salary packages, cost of living allowances given in the form of free accommodation and transport service is a better option. It frees you from making these necessary arrangements yourself.