Teaching packages and accommodation
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Teaching packages in the Middle East always provide accommodation, either in the form of an actual apartment (or villa if you have a partner and children) or a rent allowance. This means that you do not spend your salary on rent (unless you rent a place that costs more than your allowance). Click here to read my article about the financial advantages of this.
In many teaching packages in private for-profit schools, your accommodation will be provided free-of-charge as part of your contract, especially for the first year.
- It is usually a furnished one-bedroom apartment in a block/ area with other staff members from your school.
- It may or may not include bills (electricity, water, internet), so double-check that in your contract.
- In the second year of your contract, you usually have the choice to continue living in the staff accommodation or take an allowance and find your own place.
- It seems these schools prefer you to live in their provided accommodation as they either own or lease the accommodation & probably don’t want it to go to waste. This may be the reason why their monthly rent allowance isn’t enough to pay for a one-bedroom apartment in a central expat area of the city. However, it is very popular to have housemates here so you could rent a room in an apartment in a central popular expat area of the city.
Some schools offer shared apartments or villas, but this does not tend to be the norm.
In other teaching packages, you will receive a rent allowance. The private not-for-profit schools tend to offer higher rent allowances than for-profit schools here. To learn more about not-for-profits vs for-profit schools, read here.
- This allowance can sometimes stretch to live on your own in a one-bedroom apartment in the city but not necessarily in the most expensive expat parts of the city in question.
- You will also be responsible for paying an agency fee, also known as a finder’s free (anywhere from 2%- 7% of the total annual rent). If you find a place on sites like Property Finder, you are more likely to pay this agency fee, which could cost up to $1,000. If you find a room on a FB group, you are likely to avoid this fee. Another way to avoid this fee is to ask your colleagues where they live and either popping into their reception to ask if they’ve free units or ask your colleague for their landlord’s number and ask him/her directly. You should also join area-specific residents Facebook groups because landlords often advertise their properties there and you can communicate directly with them. Try to avoid that ridiculous fee if you can!
- Don’t rule out hotel apartments. Yes, some are ridiculously expensive but in cheaper areas of a city (e.g. in the Al Barsha area of Dubai, which is very central but cheaper than places like the Marina), you can find great deals. I live in a hotel apartment in Al Barsha, so I don’t pay a monthly housing fee plus all my bills (water, electricity, air con, internet AND TV) and cleaning are included in my rent. It definitely works out way cheaper than renting an apartment.
- You will be responsible for monthly bills (including a housing fee (5% of rent per month), electricity, water, internet).
- When you arrive to the Middle East, these schools should pay for you to stay in a hotel/ hotel apartment (for up to a month) while you are sorting out your visa (needed to sign a rental contract) and house-hunting. Many offer advice about where to look and find accommodation and your colleagues can help you with this as well!
- If you know this in advance, you can research places to live and get an idea of the price of rent too!
- Zoom Property have a really useful “Guide To Renting and Leasing Properties In Dubai” as well as a host of other helpful articles on their blog.
- Here are 2 great articles that give more details about hidden costs of renting in Dubai:
To find accommodation in the Middle East:
United Arab Emirates
UAE Facebook groups where members share details of rooms for rent
https://www.facebook.com/groups/propertyuae/ (called Brits in Dubai Property but open to all nationalities)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/alainswapshop (Al Ain Swap Shop- for accommodation in Al Ain)
Helpful guide to renting in Dubai:
Qatar Facebook groups where members share details of rooms for rent
http://www.expatwoman.com/oman/monthly_oman_guide_Where_To_Live_In_Oman_9497.aspx (Thank you to a kind EET member for sending this in!)
General information on living in different countries in the Middle East
Join our supportive Empowering Expat Teachers FB group here where I share tips and resources to help you become a personally, professionally and financially empowered expat teacher!
Know of other sites to find accommodation in the Middle East? Please add in the comment section below!
P.S. On Tuesday 12th February 2019, I eventually released my labour of love… My first book! It is called, “How to Be an Empowered Expat Teacher: Personally, Professionally, and Financially.” Click here to download Chapter 1 for free!