The Real Living Conditions of Filipinos in Dubai (and it’s not luxurious!)

It isn’t at all fancy like most people think. This is the real life situation here and before you even try to turn into that green-eyed monster with that relative of yours who went on vacation in PH showing off all his gadgets, new watch, new car, new bling etc etc, bear in mind that this individual worked hard just to buy all these material things. Before you even ask for money, bear in mind that we Filipinos who have experienced working abroad don’t fart millions.

In fact, we fart blood and sweat.

Due to poverty and the lack of available jobs in some parts of PH, some of our fellow Filipinos are forced to work abroad in order to support their family. For middle-class Filipinos though, they consider working abroad experience a change of scenery, a different life in another country and prefer earning in a different currency. If you visit Dubai, you’ll see a lot of Filipino Millennials all looking for jobs in the hopes of achieving their dreams. There is always this Filipino mentality that if you work abroad, you’ll easily get rich because the country you’ll be working for has higher 
currency conversions. But let’s not disregard the fact that working outside our country doesn’t always give you the guarantee of being “rich” and successful. So many factors need to be considered, like the cost of living (flat rent, food, transportation, etc.), the portion of the salary you’ll have to send back home, and the kind of lifestyle you want. There are those who definitely want to show off and try to live a lifestyle which is beyond their means.

In Dubai, temptations are everywhere. Credit card applications are being offered and even personal loans with very low interest entices a lot of newcomers, making them easy bait and falling for the deadly trap. It’s a very dangerous path to tread and you don’t want to drown in a quicksand of debt. Believe me, I have heard so many heartbreaking and depressing stories of people working in Dubai, most of which involves getting imprisoned because of unpaid debt, non married couples getting jailed because they were caught sleeping together in one flat, sexual harassment for Filipinas, slavery in the hands of cruel employers (like not giving their salary on time and for some, not giving their salary at all) and other horror stories circulating the Filipino community. I would love to share my personal horrible experience with an employer but I am not emotionally ready yet.
It was a bit traumatizing, but it made me ruthless and heartless in some ways. It made me wiser and more watchful with behaviors of people around me. I have learned to put on different mask depending on who I am dealing with. For me, this is the only way to discern a person whether if he/she is a potential threat to you or not. I play the chameleon if necessary.

I remembered my Pakistani friend told me that in order to survive the dirty and evil city of Dubai, I need to learn how to be ruthless. I need to learn the skill of licking ass, figuratively speaking. As long as you get what you want and you’ll benefit from it in the end you’ll be fine. It will save you from either getting kicked out of your flat, or getting kicked out of UAE. You should learn how to be patient in a deceiving way. Learn to mask your emotions. Learn to play dumb and play smart at the same time. The whole masquerade.

What’s the real life like in Dubai? Well, I asked my friend’s help on this one and she took a photo of her flat to show that, not everyone is living in “luxury” for Filipinos working abroad. In fact, it’s even worse than what we know of.


In Dubai, renting an entire flat can cost AED 100,000 to 200,000 AED per year depending on the location. Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Barsha Heights, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Business Bay and Dubai Marina are some of the expensive areas while International City, Deira, Satwa, Burjuman and some parts of old Dubai offers affordable flat rent for a year. But for most Filipinos, they do the “Flat sharing” as it is much cheaper. The costs range from 600 AED to 900 AED per month, including DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority). If you are willing to give up the luxury of privacy, then sleeping in bunk beds would be a cheaper alternative. If you want privacy but want to pay less, you may also rent a partition, which usually costs 2k to 4k depending on how big the partition is and the location of the building. You can also rent a room that costs 5k to 7k. Again, New Dubai costs more, old Dubai less.

Luckily in my case, my sister and her husband has their own rented flat in Barsha Heights (part of New Dubai) and I get to live with them. I sleep in the living room and created a space for myself there with my Ikea bed, my cute barrels for storing stuff, my mini cabinet for clothes and a mini bookshelf for my books. No privacy, unfortunately Barsha heights is an expensive area compared to Deira and Satwa, where most of the Filipinos live. So, with the high cost of living, I need to contribute to the expenses also.

Our flat blessing
We had our flat blessing last 2017 and some Filipino friends attended the little gathering.


Barsha Heights is a stone’s throw away from Jumeirah Lake Towers and neighboring Al Barsha. We are close to Internet City where Google, CNN, Facebook and Oracle offices are located. I was working for a French Digital Marketing Company (under Google) so it was a convenient thing for me to commute from our flat as it is just one Metro station away. The daily commute isn’t as toxic as Manila. A very peaceful area where everything is also accessible. Carrefour is just walking distance across our flat. If we feel like going to the mall, we have Dubai Marina Mall and Mall of Emirates as options.


The question is, what category of lifestyle do you fall under?

If you are alone working here without any relative or friends, it is advisable to rent bunk beds instead. A little sacrifice on privacy won’t hurt you. You can just put curtains on your space or maybe if you really feel the need for privacy, a partition would be an option.

Bedspace: Top bunk usually cost cheaper from 500 AED to 800 AED. Bottom bunk bed is 700 AED to 900 AED (depends which area you want to live. Old Dubai is cheaper)

Partition: From 1000 AED to 4000 also depends on the area.

Room: 5k to 7k AED

Entire flat: starts from 100, 000 AED up depends on which part of Dubai you live. My Egyptian friend lives in international City and his rent only costs 50k AED a year. However, that area is far from everything and there’s always traffic. My sister and her husband pays 100, 000 AED a year.


Before considering to work abroad, keep in mind what your main objectives and goals are. You have to be ready financially, emotionally and spiritually. You have to be ready to swallow your pride, be ruthless and learn hardcore hustling. If you are not the type, then might as well stay in our country and work as efficiently as you can.

I left Dubai because my time there wasn’t too perfect. I came there unprepared. I’m still thinking if I should still return this 2020. Dubai Expo sounds promising.

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