Posted Dec 11, 2008
I think that you're AED200k rent expectation is still on the low side - especially for an expat family from the UK. Supply of housing units in AD will likely be contsrained for another two years, and you can expect a substantial rent increase next year if you decide to move appartments (even if you stay you may have to pay an increase as the newly introduced rent cap can be easily exploited by experienced land-lords).
If you're not already aware, you will also need to factor in that rent is paid for the full year in advance!! This is normally through '1 cheque' (i.e. you'll need to have the full years rent at you're disposal) or through '2 cheques' (i.e. you'll need to have 6 months rent at you're disposal, and have the remaining 6 months in the account at the due date). Do not forget that 'bouncing' a cheque here is against the law and there is a very good probability that you wouyd end up in jail if the cheque was dishonoured!!
In the current economic environment also consider the consequences of being made redundant with potentially only one months notice - no 'right' to reclaim unused rent, cancellation of your 'UK Tax Free Status' (you'll need to be out of the UK until April 2010, i.e. one full UK Tax Year, to not pay UK tax on any over-sea earnings). There is little job security or legislation here - you're employer can hire and fire as they see fit, and can also be obstructive when employees try to change employers.
On setting up over here, you can't do anything without a bank account, you can't get a bank account until you get a labour contract (and probably now an Emirates ID Card - another typically well thought through UAE idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) - so you will have a tranisition period to fund from cash savings. Allow at least two weeks, and more realistically a month.
Schooling and nureseries are in very short supply all over the UAE, but especially in AD. It may not be easy to find a nursery place near where you live. On costs, in Dubai it's costing me AED6,800 per ten week term for 3 mornings a week for a nursery place. Its worth asking your employer if they will contribute to nursery and schooling costs!
You will probably need two cars - one for you to get to and from work (unless you're walking distance), and one for your wife and child to get about in! (Get the largest 4x4 for your wife and child - the quality of drivers is very scary!! "The more metal surrounding your family the better" - was the best advice I received before I got here). Petrol is so cheap you don't need to factor this cost in.
A salary for a single UK professional of AED40-45k is okay - but for a young family you may struggle to make 'any savings'! The costs of living over here is not cheap, and entertaining is as expensive, if not more so, than the UK (although AD is slightly cheaper than Dubai). A second income will make a huge diffence to your life style and saving plans.
On the positive side, the current exchange rate will work in your favour when moving money back to the UK, and the outlook for the Pound / Dollar over the next year is it staying at the 1.50 level, with some banks estimating it dropping to 1.20!!!! Do not under estimate the consequence of the exchange rate (I get paid in sterling and in the last year have experienced a reduction of 30% in my buying power!!)
Haggle as hard as you can at the outset, as future pay rises and benefits are not guaranteed! If you're good they'll want you.
All the best