UAE expats happy but have concerns over cost of living: new survey
ABU DHABI // Expatriates are generally happy with their life in the UAE but are concerned about the high cost of living here, a study has found.
The World Through Expat Eyes 2014 survey, conducted by community website Internations, surveyed 14,000 expats in 61 different countries to find the most desirable location to set up home.
By rating the countries on a number of indices — including quality of life, ease of setting in, family life, personal finance and costs of living — the UAE finished 33rd out of 61.
With regard to quality of life, the UAE ranked much higher, coming 19th.
Safety and leisure activities were big plus-points in this area, with 90 per cent saying they felt very safe here and 68 per cent saying there were plenty of things for them to do.
The country also rated reasonably highly for ease of settling in, coming 21st out of 61. A total of 22 per cent found it easy to settle down, compared to a global average of 17 per cent.
A majority — 63 per cent — also said the local population was friendly towards foreigners, but 67 per cent said they only ever socialise with other expats.
As for family life, more than four in five participants (82 per cent) felt there was a friendly attitude toward families, and roughly the same number reported that they believe their children were safe and healthy (81 per cent) in the UAE. Only 16 per cent, however, believed education was affordable.
The country came 24th out of 61 in the working abroad index, but many expats complained they were overworked. Only 55 per cent said they were satisfied with their work-life balance.
However, the UAE fell sharply behind global averages in terms of the personal finance of expats, with the country coming 49th out of 61.
Only 26 per cent rated the affordability of housing as good and only 38 per cent found the cost of living was reasonable.
“Continually finding a place in the upper half of our survey, a poor display in the personal finance index brings the country down to the 33rd position overall,” a spokesman for Internations said.
Martin Mueller-Karera, 52, a German who works for a government company, agreed that the cost of living was one of the country’s drawbacks.
“Housing costs are far too high in comparison to my home country. That is something I don’t really understand,” he said.
“But the UAE is a melting pot of different people and cultures. It makes living here very interesting.”
Nabeel Zuberi, 41, a project manager from the US, said he did not regret relocating here to raise his family.
“We moved here for our kids to get better Islamic teachings and for the world-class quality of living,” said Mr Zuberi, a father of two school-age children.
“My career might not have progressed as much as it would in the US... but me and my family are happy here and we prefer living in the UAE anytime.”
Faraz Waqar, 35, a Pakistani, said he found this country much more liveable that Qatar, where he previously lived.
“The UAE is a great place to raise a family in a safe and international environment. It has all the conveniences and advantages of the West in a setting that is closer to home,” said Mr Waqar, who works as a marketing professional.
A total of 14,000 expats were interviewed around the world for the poll.
For each category in the survey, a minimum of 50 people needed to be interviewed.
Overall, the top expat destination was found to be Ecuador, followed by Luxembourg, Mexico, Switzerland and the US.
Kuwait came bottom of the poll, followed by Saudi Arabia then Greece, Qatar and Ghana.
Updated: October 7, 2014 04:00 AM