Expats in UAE face huge costs for their children’s education

Expats in UAE face huge costs for their children’s education

Expats in UAE face huge costs for their children’s education

If you and your family are planning a long-stay future in the UAE, planning ahead for your children’s education is a priority.

Emigrating to a strange land is all part of today’s upward career path, but when there’s a family involved it’s harder to plan for the future. Even nowadays, many employers include an education allowance in expat relocation packages but, as international schooling gets ever more expensive and companies cut corners financially, it’s an uninformed guess as to how long this will continue. One thing’s for certain, your kids’ education up to and including university level is going to be very, very expensive. It’s possible to plan a rough chart of educational costs, although projecting potential increases in annual fees depends on the chosen providers rather than their pupils’ parents, coming either as a pleasant surprise or, more often, as a nasty shock.

Given that salaries in the Gulf States are still generous compared with those in the home country, it should be possible to make savings against the future as well as paying for your kids’ primary level education. Many expat parents prefer to opt for international schools, mostly due to their English language curriculum, although some local private schools are more affordable and give a more rounded version of schooling in the UAE. They also insist on learning Arabic, which may sound daunting but will be absolutely necessary in the far future should your graduating offspring wish to get a job in the emirates.

One recent study by HSBC related to UAE education for expat children estimating the full cost from primary school to university at around $99,000 – a scary sum, even spread over some 18 years or so. In the real world, especially its Gulf State region, predicting parental employment in one place for that length of time seems an impossible task, even if the breadwinner wants to commit his or her life to one place along with the family. Obviously, wanting the best for your children is going to involve regular savings, a problem in itself due to interest rate fluctuations and economic/political fallout.

The UAE is crawling with financial advisors offering this, that and the other savings plans, but careful, preferably private, online research as to what’s available is absolutely essential in order to avoid an expensive mistake. Many products touted as regular savings plans don’t take into account periods between jobs or other changes of circumstances, and pulling out before the due date 18 years in the future can cost almost every penny saved. At worst, as your carefully squirreled cash doesn’t just stay there and earn interest but is reinvested offshore by the advisor in various financial products, guaranteed returns are a myth although the advisor’s generous commission is a certainty.

Another financial crash or an ill-advised move by your IFA can also result in major losses, even if made with the best intentions. Finding a registered, qualified and experienced advisor in favourite expat locations is a little like finding the Holy Grail, but expats contemplating saving for their children’s long term education needs should be very careful as regards taking advice as there’s no safety net for mis-selling outside the home country.

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