Moving to Dubai can often be a good boost to your income and savings, especially if you are coming from a country with income taxes.  However, the cost of living can be equally as high, so look out for some of these key benefits outside of your basic salary to help ensure you are getting the most of what UAE packages can offer:


1) Housing

For newcomers to the UAE market, the Dubai pricing and process may come as a bit of a shock as you try to get settled in.  It is customary for companies to provide either an expat ‘allowance’ that they will contribute to your housing, or for there to be a percentage adder on top of your basic salary to use towards housing in the Emirates.  Most landlords also require payment upfront, and sometimes this requires enough cash on hand to pay 1 check for the full year of rent.  If your company is not paying the landlord directly, they may offer to give you an advance for the full year of rent … it is important to know this before signing the contract, or plan to have a way to transfer a good amount of cash into local currency to cover this steep cost.


2) Children’s schooling

International school options in the UAE rank amongst some of the most expensive in the world.  If you have children, this is certainly a key expense to keep in mind as it can range anywhere from 20,000AED – 100,000AED per year, per child depending on the school you choose.  If you have a few children and your company does not provide this benefit, it may be cost-prohibitive to live in Dubai.


3) Transportation allowance or company car

This may not be a guaranteed benefit in the UAE, but it is still quite common for many companies to provide outside of your basic salary.  In case you’re not able to get this benefit, there is a competitive second-hand car market where you can get reasonably priced used cars from other expats leaving the country.


4) Medical insurance

This is a legal requirement, so you will certainly be provided some level of minimum coverage from your company, but ensure to find out of what is covered, how the package works, and if you’ll be able to avail of services outside of the UAE if you need to travel back to your home country.


5) Home leave ticket

This is one of the smaller benefits financially, but it is important to know that they are a relatively standard offering for the region due to the high number of expats.  Depending on the company, this benefit could range from a company purchased economy or business class ticket home for you and your dependents, a cash contribution towards your tickets, or a 13th-month salary.


Good luck with your contract negotiations and remember to try to get all these benefits included!


Kelly Nobles is an Executive Finance Leader, Coach, Mentor, working-mom, millennial, and Champion of Diversity & Inclusion with over 12 years of multinational experience in leading teams and driving organizational transformation and process excellence spanning 50+ countries and cultures. Kelly is continually learning & loves to share her experiences to help others on their personal professional journey.

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(Disclaimer: This article contains information for your reference and explains options you may have, but it is not intended to be specific advice or a personal recommendation. exists to provide general guidance and education, but your situation may vary from the one discussed here, so please seek a licensed professional for tax, legal, financial planning or investment advice.)


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