I have no idea how to budget here in Dubai, for starters we have no idea what our actual salary is going to be. Yes there is a contract but there have been additional costs involved in our relocation that have been unexpected in the way that a relocation works. So until we get in our house and start daily life, food shopping, utilities, going out etc we don't know what is cheap, what is reasonable and what is expensive.
A full tank of fuel for a BMW 5 series is AED 103, which is the same price as 2 and a half glasses of wine in a restaurant.
Forget the exchange rates, that doesn't matter when you're paid abroad in local currency, although you do have to keep an eye on them when you need to send money back to the homeland for things like school fees and house maintenance.
When we moved to South Africa in 2011 the exchange rate was R11 to the £, which meant when we left SA at R18 to the £ we lost an awful lot of money in regards to the sale of my car and the house rental deposit refund. But we only lost out because we were leaving and not reinvesting in SA.
It took me a long time to stop comparing prices to the UK, at first things were very expensive compared to the UK and now with the exchange rate things are cheaper. But when you are paid in local currency it's a slow plod uphill. We noticed that as the exchange rate altered so did the cost of living in SA, fuel, food in the supermarket, the price of cigarettes, still much cheaper than the UK but not cheap when you're paid in Rand.
The Rand went much further in SA than the £ did in the UK.
For example £10 = R175
For £10 in the UK you could buy a packet of cigarettes and a bottle of coke
The same items in SA would cost you R43, therefore making the cost of living in SA much cheaper than the UK, or was it? That was only if you were spending £'s in SA.
I now need to work out the buying power of the AED, I find the daily cost of living is similar to the UK, but rent is twice as much as the UK and 3 times as much as SA.
I bought a Macdonalds Happy Meal, a global product that is not regulated by tax, like cigarettes, alcohol and fuel. It cost AED 11 which converts to £1.95 in the UK and R34 in SA. The same meal in the UK is around £2.40 and SA is R24, but if you convert £2.40 to Rand you get R43 and back to AED is 7.5.
It will take me a while and I will get there, but until we have the first months salary, paid the first months bills we have no idea how much it actually costs to live here.