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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
urrent background:
US citizen
US licensed Pharmacist
married no kids yet,may consider soon
my salary $110,000/yr, after taxes only- probably get around 65k
wife: $70k/yr, after taxes around 45k

I'm seriously considering a position as pharmacist in one of the hospitals in abu dhabi. My friend got an offer for $110k +$60k housing and travel allowance in 2014 which he declined. I have not received any offer but I'm preparing ahead to even out the playing field. I think I may have accepted the offer, Wife is in IT field so I think she may find something to suit her profile but has not tried yet.

I have some friends in UAE and tax free income and my love to experience new culture and food has me thinking trying out UAE :)

I would love to hear your thoughts and highly appreciate any help you can provide.
-How much is "good money"in dubai? Avg income in US is $60k/yr, I make decent here
-Cost of living? I understand its based on lifestyle, would like to rent or buy 2-3bed apt/condo/villa, enjoy food/drinks 1-2x/week and save some money. My friend has a maid and driver there! . Child care,maid service, chauffeur is just a dream here lol
- Would you pull the trigger if you were in my shoes?
An old analogy that I believe in:
" its better to be a big fish in small pond than small fish in big ocean/sea"

Thanks in advance!
 

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urrent background:
US citizen
US licensed Pharmacist
married no kids yet,may consider soon
my salary $110,000/yr, after taxes only- probably get around 65k
wife: $70k/yr, after taxes around 45k

I'm seriously considering a position as pharmacist in one of the hospitals in abu dhabi. My friend got an offer for $110k +$60k housing and travel allowance in 2014 which he declined. I have not received any offer but I'm preparing ahead to even out the playing field. I think I may have accepted the offer, Wife is in IT field so I think she may find something to suit her profile but has not tried yet.

I have some friends in UAE and tax free income and my love to experience new culture and food has me thinking trying out UAE :)

I would love to hear your thoughts and highly appreciate any help you can provide.
-How much is "good money"in dubai? Avg income in US is $60k/yr, I make decent here
-Cost of living? I understand its based on lifestyle, would like to rent or buy 2-3bed apt/condo/villa, enjoy food/drinks 1-2x/week and save some money. My friend has a maid and driver there! . Child care,maid service, chauffeur is just a dream here lol
- Would you pull the trigger if you were in my shoes?
An old analogy that I believe in:
" its better to be a big fish in small pond than small fish in big ocean/sea"

Thanks in advance!
Obviously we did the move so this will be a biased group. Really only you can decide this. You should insist on a reconnaissance trip for both you and your wife to Abu Dhabi to check it out. If the employer won't pay for it, you should pay for it yourself. The UAE is VERY different to what you are used to and a lot of people do not adapt. If either of you will be miserable, you both will be. Also, don't come here unless you plan to live here at least 3 years. I haven't seen anyone be happy here who has arrived with a calendar on which they are already marking down the days.

A big question is how comfortable you both are with being so far from home. The UAE is a 14 hour flight away from NY/DC. That is as far from London as Philly is from London. You will most likely not be taking casual hops home to see the family the way European expats here often do and the time zone shift is also double - 7 to 8 hours. This may make you feel much more isolated than a typical European expat would. You and your wife are the only ones who can evaluate whether that will be an issue for you.

Also, you will rarely encounter other Americans here so there isn't a big American community to give you a feeling of being home. You will probably find you have no or almost no American friends. You will therefore be cut off from more cultural touchstones than you realize right now. Most Americans I know who are here already have one foot in another country. If your and your wife's family is all in the US and the two of you have spent your entire lives in the US, you may find life here more jarring and isolating than they do.

There is a sticky thread on offers that will help you evaluate the financial aspects. I assume you know of course that you will not be tax free. However, you will benefit quite nicely from the income tax exclusion. You will still need to file and will likely need to engage an accountant experienced in expat taxes for Americans. That can be expensive.

Moving and getting established will entail lots of hidden expenses like that - especially in the first year or so. You should be prepared for that. Also, things like return trips to see family really add up.

The big one is if you have kids and stay here long enough to school them, then life will become a lot more expensive. There is no free public school down the street to send them to.

Finally, if you do move, talk to your accountant about severing your tax ties to Pennsylvania and establishing domicile in a state with no state income tax. That may not be so easy.

Good luck.
 

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Your wife may struggle to get a job unless she's in a senior position in the IT field. Your wife would need a salary of AED 25k per month to be "on par" with her US salary (assuming your job covers the housing aspect).

You're going to need at least AED 35k per month plus at least AED 200k housing allowance to be "on par".

I think the usual ballpark calculation is 110% of your current gross salary plus housing (that is for fairly senior employees who need to be "tempted" to leave their comfortable life at home to move to Dubai - does not apply to everyone but I think it applies to you).

Cost of living in Dubai is way, way higher. I'm not sure what the housing prices are like in your state, but I know compared to Texas, what I am paying in rent for a small 1200 sqft 2 bedroom apartment for 5 years could buy me a 4/5 bedroom house in the suburbs over there.

Clothes you'll see in places like Macys tend to be at least double the price here - so much so that I don't bother buying any here any more, I just wait for my next business trip go with a half-empty suitcase.

That's all money stuff though. If you're truly happy and content where you are, you'd be better off staying put.
 

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I like the UAE, and so does my partner. It was an eye opener when we first moved here. I came here with a 2 year plan, and as Simey said don't do that. I started to look to escape when things weren't going my way.

If you can handle everything you've read, the good and the bad come most of it is true (no smoke with out fire).

This isn't a country you come to settle down and have kids. This is definitely a selfish move, more money (yay) more partying (yay) but lots of long hours and hard work.

Work hard, play harder!
 

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What city do you live in?
I am going to guess, and i will pick a random city out of USA

My guess is.... Philadelphia. What do i win?

Ps. It's in his profile ;)

PPS. If you want to watch the Eagles play, or any other USA sport (if your into that) think of the time zone difference. Trust me its impossible, unless you record and watch not live.

As a Packers fan, this is devastating to know that we will win the 50th Superbowl and I won't be able to watch it the season unfold as much as i used to.
 

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Another consideration that I did not think about earlier is OP should consider the impact on his career when he returns to the US. How will US employers view this little sojourn to the UAE? I would not assume it will be treated with much understanding.

It's quite likely to be treated as a career break unless OP can figure out how to make it into a plus that someone who has probably never considered becoming an expat would recognize.
 

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Another consideration that I did not think about earlier is OP should consider the impact on his career when he returns to the US. How will US employers view this little sojourn to the UAE? I would not assume it will be treated with much understanding.

It's quite likely to be treated as a career break unless OP can figure out how to make it into a plus that someone who has probably never considered becoming an expat would recognize.
What???? I know the old age of joke of Americans that don't have a passport...but seriously?

In my profession its seen as a GOOD thing to gather international experience, and in many cases job adverts ask for 3 years International experience.
 

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What???? I know the old age of joke of Americans that don't have a passport...but seriously?

In my profession its seen as a GOOD thing to gather international experience, and in many cases job adverts ask for 3 years International experience.
You are English, correct? The attitudes are very different. Britain has a tradition of empire and working overseas and now of course with the EU it's easy to work "overseas" in a country that isn't far away. The US is a vast continent, the land of opportunity. It's somewhere traditionally that people emigrate to, not emigrate from. In fact, I have had Americans tell me that "emigrate" is incorrect - the correct spelling is "immigrate". I.e. they aren't aware of the other word and the perspective of leaving a country, not moving to it. It's that ingrained.

When you go off to seek opportunities, it's supposed to be to go west, not fly off to another country. The exceptions are mainly the oil and gas sectors, the military, and the diplomatic service, and perhaps heavy engineering. Outside of those industries, it's a bit weird to go live overseas.

This is changing a bit but trust me, this is still by and large the case.
 

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I agree. It all depends on the industry you are working in. In my line of work (consulting), international exposure is seen as a very big advantage. When I worked in the US, there were people from my firm who go to another country for a couple of years and return with a promotion and a hike in salary.

The OP, however, is a pharmacist. The US healthcare industry is very insular when it comes to hiring. There is very little in terms of qualifications and/or experience from outside the US that is recognized and accepted as equivalent to what is gained in the US.
 

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If I were the OP I wouldn't do it... You'll still get taxed after the first 100k, you already have good jobs, for your wife the IT sector here is very difficult unless you are Director or above which her current salary doesn't suggest so.

Plenty of places in the US with different landscapes. If change is what you're after, pick a different state. Also not sure how old you are and what your long term plan is... The 1st 2 years you won't save that much money between the relocation, set-up, going out, experiencing things, traveling etc. 3rd year you'll get into a normal routine and will save much more.

That's just my opinion and you'll get dozens of others. It's all up to you and what you're really after.
 

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On the tax front its 100k plus the housing allowance.........which is circa 57k USD from memory , then you will get taxed.

Double the 100k if your wife is working, so could add up to 250k before a cent is taken out.

On the state front each one is different in some will recognize foreign earnings and others wont.

I would suggest giving an expat tax consultant a call for an informal chat before moving, I did and it answered a million questions that I had. If you need a recco for one I use then I will only be too happy to pass this one on privately so as not to advertize.

P.S They are not cheap...but neither is a run in with the IRS.

All in all though its part of the overall piece of the overall jigsaw in the do I move here or not puzzle that you have to work out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Obviously we did the move so this will be a biased group. Really only you can decide this. You should insist on a reconnaissance trip for both you and your wife to Abu Dhabi to check it out. If the employer won't pay for it, you should pay for it yourself. The UAE is VERY different to what you are used to and a lot of people do not adapt. If either of you will be miserable, you both will be. Also, don't come here unless you plan to live here at least 3 years. I haven't seen anyone be happy here who has arrived with a calendar on which they are already marking down the days.

A big question is how comfortable you both are with being so far from home. The UAE is a 14 hour flight away from NY/DC. That is as far from London as Philly is from London. You will most likely not be taking casual hops home to see the family the way European expats here often do and the time zone shift is also double - 7 to 8 hours. This may make you feel much more isolated than a typical European expat would. You and your wife are the only ones who can evaluate whether that will be an issue for you.

Also, you will rarely encounter other Americans here so there isn't a big American community to give you a feeling of being home. You will probably find you have no or almost no American friends. You will therefore be cut off from more cultural touchstones than you realize right now. Most Americans I know who are here already have one foot in another country. If your and your wife's family is all in the US and the two of you have spent your entire lives in the US, you may find life here more jarring and isolating than they do.

There is a sticky thread on offers that will help you evaluate the financial aspects. I assume you know of course that you will not be tax free. However, you will benefit quite nicely from the income tax exclusion. You will still need to file and will likely need to engage an accountant experienced in expat taxes for Americans. That can be expensive.

Moving and getting established will entail lots of hidden expenses like that - especially in the first year or so. You should be prepared for that. Also, things like return trips to see family really add up.

The big one is if you have kids and stay here long enough to school them, then life will become a lot more expensive. There is no free public school down the street to send them to.

Finally, if you do move, talk to your accountant about severing your tax ties to Pennsylvania and establishing domicile in a state with no state income tax. That may not be so easy.

Good luck.
Thanks for your great input. Culture change is a challenge that I'm willing to accept. I will definitely have to put more thought into the decision
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Your wife may struggle to get a job unless she's in a senior position in the IT field. Your wife would need a salary of AED 25k per month to be "on par" with her US salary (assuming your job covers the housing aspect).

You're going to need at least AED 35k per month plus at least AED 200k housing allowance to be "on par".

I think the usual ballpark calculation is 110% of your current gross salary plus housing (that is for fairly senior employees who need to be "tempted" to leave their comfortable life at home to move to Dubai - does not apply to everyone but I think it applies to you).

Cost of living in Dubai is way, way higher. I'm not sure what the housing prices are like in your state, but I know compared to Texas, what I am paying in rent for a small 1200 sqft 2 bedroom apartment for 5 years could buy me a 4/5 bedroom house in the suburbs over there.

Clothes you'll see in places like Macys tend to be at least double the price here - so much so that I don't bother buying any here any more, I just wait for my next business trip go with a half-empty suitcase.

That's all money stuff though. If you're truly happy and content where you are, you'd be better off staying put.

Thank you for the financial perspective, it sounds like US has lower cost of living compared to uae. As they say grass always seem green on the other side. I have been told that babysitting, maid services,driver,cook are almost standard in every home
who wouldn't want to live Donald Trump lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am going to guess, and i will pick a random city out of USA

My guess is.... Philadelphia. What do i win?

Ps. It's in his profile ;)

PPS. If you want to watch the Eagles play, or any other USA sport (if your into that) think of the time zone difference. Trust me its impossible, unless you record and watch not live.

As a Packers fan, this is devastating to know that we will win the 50th Superbowl and I won't be able to watch it the season unfold as much as i used to.
hahaha.....I 'm definitely not moving if direct TV sunday ticket is not an option in UAE. High hopes for Eagles this year!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You are English, correct? The attitudes are very different. Britain has a tradition of empire and working overseas and now of course with the EU it's easy to work "overseas" in a country that isn't far away. The US is a vast continent, the land of opportunity. It's somewhere traditionally that people emigrate to, not emigrate from. In fact, I have had Americans tell me that "emigrate" is incorrect - the correct spelling is "immigrate". I.e. they aren't aware of the other word and the perspective of leaving a country, not moving to it. It's that ingrained.

When you go off to seek opportunities, it's supposed to be to go west, not fly off to another country. The exceptions are mainly the oil and gas sectors, the military, and the diplomatic service, and perhaps heavy engineering. Outside of those industries, it's a bit weird to go live overseas.

This is changing a bit but trust me, this is still by and large the case.
this is true!! Mentioned it to my friends, they all said I was crazy. One of them never heard of UAE, Dubai was easier for her to comprehend. The prospect of going abroad for work is crazy thought here, unless of course your in military.
 

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On the tax front its 100k plus the housing allowance.........which is circa 57k USD from memory , then you will get taxed.

Double the 100k if your wife is working, so could add up to 250k before a cent is taken out.

On the state front each one is different in some will recognize foreign earnings and others wont.

I would suggest giving an expat tax consultant a call for an informal chat before moving, I did and it answered a million questions that I had. If you need a recco for one I use then I will only be too happy to pass this one on privately so as not to advertize.

P.S They are not cheap...but neither is a run in with the IRS.

All in all though its part of the overall piece of the overall jigsaw in the do I move here or not puzzle that you have to work out.
But if he gets $60k housing in cash that will wipe out that deduction. I was able to pay no tax on the first $111k in 2013 but they got me for everything above that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I agree. It all depends on the industry you are working in. In my line of work (consulting), international exposure is seen as a very big advantage. When I worked in the US, there were people from my firm who go to another country for a couple of years and return with a promotion and a hike in salary.

The OP, however, is a pharmacist. The US healthcare industry is very insular when it comes to hiring. There is very little in terms of qualifications and/or experience from outside the US that is recognized and accepted as equivalent to what is gained in the US.

true...being a pharmacist in another state in US is hard enough let alone another continent. Career advancement is my ultimate goal and I appreciate you bringing this view. Lot of decisions to be made, I will keep you guys posted.

Thanks
 

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hahaha.....I 'm definitely not moving if direct TV sunday ticket is not an option in UAE. High hopes for Eagles this year!
No Sunday ticket, but Gamepass instead, which is actually pretty much the same thing. It's freaking awesome, and I didn't miss a single game last year......

BTW - I'm an Iggles fan too, was worried about all the players that left the team, but now it's all settled down, and some great pick ups in FA, I'm much more confident (but not Vince Young "dream team" confident haha)
 
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