Before I discuss how you will be negotiating your salary and benefits with your future employer, I think it’s key to discuss how the city and lifestyle really is in Dubai. It’s vital to spend time researching the purchasing power of your paycheck. No doubt Dubai is a beautiful city and is expanding exponentially but you have to know how to keep yourself happy once you are living and working there.

First, apart from your basic monthly expenditure, you have to consider occasional shopping, dinner, taking the bus or taxi OR car payments and insurance, just to name a few. No doubt in a luxurious city like Dubai, it is very hard to numb yourself from the glamour that Dubai has to offer. So, you have to make sure you find a job that not only covers your basic expenses but your lifestyle as well.

For example, if you will be living by yourself, you can consider living in a hostel or hotel apartment instead of renting out a villa. Instead of renting a car, you may want to take the bus to work. Once again, you really don’t know how all this will affect you ahead of time but it helps to make a list and just jot down your daily expenses. This will give you an idea of what your additional monthly expenses really are. When you are making this list, think hard and be true to yourself. Don’t NOT ADD expenses when you know that you will end up spending money on shopping and entertainment! It’s also useful to use your social skills and start NETWORK-ing!

Use any contacts you have in Dubai such as friends or family and get as much information as you possibly can about how much expenses, other than basic accommodation, cost. It’s also useful to find out how much food would cost per month. Most single expats find they live comfortable on Dhs.1000 a month only if they cook at home everyday. The number varies considerably if you will be going out for dinner every other day! It’s also useful to know where your job will be based out of so that you can do some research on accommodation within the area. Dubai is also a very busy city and if you live far away from where you will be working, you can spend anywhere from 1-2 hours of commute, one way only. Once again, you may want to use your networking skills and find more information about finding accommodation in the area which you will be working.

So, before you think about negotiating your salary, get a better understanding of the lifestyle first. For example, depending on the country which you are from, you feel as though you are getting a very good deal but then don’t forget to consider the lifestyle in Dubai and how it’s different from your native country. Will it really be worth it to move from the comfort of your home, your friends and family, to live in a cramped apartment taking the bus to work?

Also, don’t forget that it’s not easy to switch jobs in Dubai. First off, you are in a contract with the employer for a certain amount of time. Second, it’s not easy to switch your visa. The only exception is if your title is found in the list of professions exempt from the ban as indicated by the Dubai Immigration Department, then you will be able to switch jobs with some ease. In most cases, it is very difficult to switch your job and if you do break the contract with the employer, you’ll probably get a six month ban. In which case, you will have to return to your home country.

Keep in mind that you have to make sure you get a package which is decent enough to support you and, most importantly, keep you happy while you are working. With that in mind, you may want to support your negotiations with information on what job is worth at market value keeping in mind your salary history.

Once you know what you should be earning, how do you go about getting it?

First, be very patient. Don’t bring up compensation until the employer makes you an offer or mentions it himself. It is common for the employer to ask what your salary expectations are. You don’t have to answer right away. Most job seekers would usually ask the employer to provide more details about the responsibilities and challenges of the job before discussing the salary. Another useful option is to provide a salary range to the employer only after you have done some research for the industry or profession you are targeting.

Keep in mind that the employer may have a budget or established salary structure for you; in this case, it’s really up to you if you are willing to settle for a lower salary. At this point, you may want to ask if there is possibility of a raise in the future because if won’t be included in your contract, you will be stuck with the same salary for two to three years.

Unlike employers in Canada and USA, you would want to avoid telling the employer you will think about the offer and get back to them because it will be very difficult for you to get in touch with the same person who interviewed you or offered you the job. Unless the employer has told you that they will get back to you in which case you’ll have to wait till the employer approaches you the second time.

Overall, be positive! Whatever stage of negotiations you are at, remember to be positive and reiterate your interest in the position. If you feel that the position sounds like the perfect job, consider whether the company culture, benefits and flexibility and the job itself is worth it to you – regardless of the salary.

After discussing the salary and benefits, if you are absolutely sure that you do not want to continue with the offer, feel free to say “No” However, don’t expect the employer to come back to you. Expatriates are flocking to Dubai daily and employers there do not have a lack of prospects to choose from!