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I’ve been working as a sales executive for a small business shop in Dubai in the last 11 months. My current salary is more than what was initially offered to me which made me accept this job with a limited contract. After finding out the common salary bracket of sales employees inside the mall, I realized that I was lucky enough to have this pay.

Related Article: Difference Between Limited and Unlimited Contract in UAE Labor

With the cost of living in Dubai rising, it was a big question for me if a Pinoy can save in the UAE. I had to ask how much is the monthly expense of an average Pinoy here? By the way, I categorize myself as “Average” for the sole basis that my salary bracket is not that low nor that big. I would supposedly categorize myself lower since my salary expectations were not met, but I’m still new here so I can’t demand for much.

dubai money

Dubai money – easy come, easy go

How Much is the Cost of Living in Dubai for Overseas Pinoy?

Much has been said about the extravagant life that Dubai offers. Especially when you might see posts on social media about various projects still being built, and with the luxurious set-up that is prevalent online, you would think that all residents of this emirate have hit it ‘BIG TIME’. But such is not the case. Plenty of workers and expats are trying to make ends meet by sacrificing some of their basic needs in order to save enough money to still send some for their families back home.

1200 AED – Partition Rent
150 AED – DEWA Contribution (Electricity and Water)
200 AED – Metro Transportation
900 AED – Food (at 30 AED per day)
xxx AED – Miscellaneous (Gym, Whey Protein, Toilettries)
xxx AED – Money to Send to Philippines
xxx AED – Monthly Savings

Tallying my expenses, it somehow proves that Dubai is an expensive city to live for Pinoys. But a lot of people have made it. It’s a matter of spending money wisely.

Cheaper Option

I can find a bunk bed rental (commonly known as a bedspace) where I will only pay around 600 AED a month and would save me more money. However, I don’t want to compromise privacy so that leaves food as my variable when equating my expenses with my salary.

Given that I have miscellaneous expenses like buying Whey Protein, or additional taxi transport, it just goes to show that my finances are screwed. hehe.

Can Filipinos Save in Dubai?

With the rough draft above of the expenses one can incur in Dubai, it makes me wonder if Filipinos can really save money in the UAE. Well the answer is YES, but…

Yes, but… you will have to sacrifice the first few years of employment to establish yourself in your chosen field. Gain experience and seek employment with better pay. By then, you can charge a better rate.

You can also save on expenses by stocking food & preparing your own lunch instead of paying ready-made meals. Using a car-lift service when there’s no more bus or metro available. Not going out often is also another option.

Taxi Conversation about Life in Dubai

One insightful conversation I had with a Pakistani taxi driver the other day was an eye-opener. We were discussing about how it is to live in Dubai and how it’s a great that there are plenty of opportunities that it offers for many skilled workers and those that have ambitions. The taxi driver said that we sometimes don’t get the same opportunity in our home countries. But more often, many people come to Dubai and take ‘whatever job’ is available. Accept whatever job that is offered to you. Stay and finish your contract, but while in your current job, you can start searching for the next one.

Although this may not be the best advice, this is definitely a reality that a lot of people face. Of course, when he says “Whatever job” — it doesn’t mean that you have to accept the first opportunity along the way. Make sure that it also is within boundaries and budget you’ve set for yourself. Understand the set-up before agreeing to the job offer to make sure that you survive working and finishing your employment contract.

Yes, not many expats are lucky as our first world counterparts. But we also should not settle for whatever salary is offered to us if it’s not something that we can work with.

Sideline Income

That’s why on my spare time, I do my best to work on other projects that help me earn an extra buck or two. These earnings keep me sane so I can still cover my other expenditures. If I did not have other modes of income, I know I wouldn’t have the bit of comfort I’m getting. I would have to sacrifice my partition space for something else.

desert pinoy dubai
Desert Safari Experience

Plight of Pinoy “Kabayans” in the UAE

I noticed there’s a range of jobs in Dubai for Pinoys and if you’re a professional (nurse, doctor, engineer) who works in big companies, most likely you’ll have a better salary. Otherwise, if you work in Sales or the Food & Beverage industry, chances are you will start with just a basic salary of, let’s say, 2000 AED (some even, lower).

I am thankful for having a slightly better pay compared to other Pinoys in the UAE. I can only imagine those who’ve started with lower salaries and are persevering to stay in their contract for 2 years until another opportunity comes along. There are Filipinos who say that it’s only in the beginning and you only need to wait and have more “tiyaga” before you can demand for something better.

The great thing about Filipinos is our close-knit culture where we help fellow kabayans in dire need. Most have families and friends to lean on to ask for temporary help when the need arises. As for me, I am holding to the notion that I’ll only gain more time and more experience in Dubai as a Pinoy OFW before I can set a better bargain for myself, career-wise.

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