The Money

‘Herself and the boyfriend are out there now making an absolute fortune. They’ll be home in three years to buy a house. Sure they’ll probably buy it upfront in cash, the lucky feckers’

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We’ve all heard something along these lines when the topic of teaching in the Middle East comes up, and it’s undoubtedly a big pull for a lot of people paying massive rent and struggling to get by while living in Dublin straight out of college.

Now, when I was looking into coming out here last year, I remember wishing that someone would cut through all the vague comments and hints about saving, and just tell me how much damn money they were making. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

Last year in Dublin, I was in my second year out of college, on my second fixed-term contract, so my salary was €35,876. This translated into 26 x €1,110 paychecks, which is €28,860 take-home pay for the year.

This year, I’m paid by the month. My salary is 11300AED, which today is €2,755 a month. 2,755 x 12 = €33,060. That’s €4,200 more than last year over twelve months, but bear in mind that I’m not paying rent of €525/month in Dublin this year either. I’m on a rolling contract too, which means I probably won’t get paid for the summer the year I leave (on the other hand, I can leave whenever I want to).

So yes, I am able to save this year, but it’s nothing extraordinary, especially when you factor in the cost of living over here, which can be staggering.

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Again, there are a lot of factors that come into play here, the two main ones being location and teaching experience. I was offered 12,375AED (€3,017) a month for a school in Al Ain, but that’s the best part of a two hour drive from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so I made the choice to be closer to the action. Your experience (or lack thereof) also counts for a lot here – if you have seven years experience and a Masters, you’re going to make a lot more than an NQT like me.

As I said yesterday, schools are run like a business here, so it’s not a case of getting a job and then being paid by the Department. The best schools with the best salaries are naturally the hardest to get jobs in, so just because you’ve heard of one person making a fortune out here, doesn’t mean you’re going to walk into it yourself!

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There are other opportunities to make money out here. Plenty of teachers take on tutoring, although it’s technically not allowed, as it counts as paid work outside of your contract. A blind eye is turned to it though, and a lot of people do it for 150-200AED an hour (€40-50). That’s a pretty nice tax-free bonus to your wage, particularly if you get 3-4 grinds going on a weekly basis. If you read yesterday’s post, however, you’ll know that the school day can run from 7.30am-4.30pm. Add in travelling to grinds and teaching for a couple of hours and you can pretty much cross that day off the calendar – you’ll be lucky to have your dinner and half an hour of Netflix!

Again, it depends on what your priorities are, and how serious you are about saving.

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So, will you make a fortune out here? If saving is your priority, you have plenty of experience, you’re willing to be in a remote location (if necessary), and you’re happy to settle down for 3-5 years (you’ll get a bonus of roughly 1 months pay for every 12 months completed), and even take on some private tutoring – well then yes, you should be able to come home with a significant amount of cash. If you’re fresh out of college and want to come over for a year to live in Dubai and live the high-life while travelling the world, then don’t expect to make an easy fortune. Choose your sacrifice!

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Thanks for reading! Check out yesterday’s post to get an idea for what the teaching itself is like out here, and  come back tomorrow for the next post in this series, ‘Lifestyle and Culture’.