An HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer 2014 global survey ranked the UAE to a surprising 15th in the best expatriate destination list, below Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
The survey, involving 9,300 respondents from over 100 countries, ranked Bahrain 5th, Qatar 13th and Oman 14th worldwide.
Up to 71% of the respondents said that despite the significant challenges of the UAE, they earn more and because of the increasing job opportunities, they have more disposable income than in their home countries.
However, six out of 10 expats stated that they would consider moving away from the UAE because it is too expensive.
Rising rents pose the biggest threat to the financial well-being of expatriates in the UAE, according to 58% of the respondents.
With inflation in the country rising to its highest level in five years this April, reaching 2.2% by the end of year, and possibly hitting 2.5% in 2015, 75% of expats said that they spend more on accommodation and 62% spend more on groceries.
It is noted that 85% of expats with family said that the overall cost of bringing up a child is higher than in their home countries, with 86% spending more on education than they did previously.
“The high cost of living is an understandable source of concern, and we see that this is being compounded by 58% of expats stating that their finances have become more complex since they moved: HSBC adding
“This is especially true for high earners who face difficulties in managing their finances across multiple countries and in various currencies. While there certainly are aspects that are out of people’s control, such as the cost of utilities or household goods, you can cut back your expenses in other areas through better financial planning”.
“With better cars, higher quality accommodation and domestic help being most often cited as some of the benefits of living in the UAE, people here are often tempted to spend beyond their means”.
But the report also found that expats view their stay in the UAE as transitory, with the majority likely to consider moving out for retirement.
However no more than 13% keep most of their retirement provisions in the UAE, with 53% of UAE respondents transferring their savings to their home countries and as expats tend to view their stay in the UAE as a short-term venture, it is observed that many put off saving for this stage of life.
“Instead they should be looking to take advantage of the financial benefits offered by a career in the UAE in order to start building a retirement pot early. Consequently, people need to also consider portability of their investments and ensure their savings are not hindered by relocation”: HSBC.