UAE expats face rising childcare costs

12 November 2012

Moving to a foreign country with children in tow can be very difficult. Expatriate parents are usually concerned about the living costs, safety, health and wellbeing of the family.

For many expatriates in the UAE, relocating to the country means spending more on childcare costs. According to the 2012 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, the majority of expatriate parents in the UAE (77 per cent) are most likely to spend more out of pocket on childcare since relocation, as well as those in Saudi Arabia (70 per cent) and Kuwait (67 per cent).

Nearly nine out of ten expatriate parents (86 per cent) said the cost of children’s education in the UAE is more expensive compared to their home county. Almost the same number of respondents (87 per cent) said the overall cost of raising children in the UAE is higher than in their home country.

The survey interviewed more than 5,000 expatriates from nearly 100 countries around the world. It looked at expats’ perceptions of childcare costs, quality of education, safety, health and wellbeing, among other parameters.

Despite negative perceptions about expensive childcare costs, the survey showed that the UAE is still the fifth best country in the world for foreigners to raise a child, ahead of the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Overall, Canada, Netherlands and Hong Kong proved to be the top three choices for expatriates. The survey covered 5,339 foreigners from 97 countries worldwide. When asked where they would consider moving to after their current location, expatriate parents chose only those locations that made it into this year’s top list.

The UAE particularly fared better than other countries in terms of children’s safety, standard of education and quality of childcare, but it scored poorly for health and wellbeing, and social integration.

UAE-based respondents reported that their children have most difficulty enjoying their life in the Middle East.

In Saudi Arabia, six out of ten expat parents said that the social integration of their children has become worse since relocating, as well as those in Kuwait (40 per cent) and the UAE (34 per cent), all of which is well above average (26 per cent).

Considering the limited social integration, expat children in the region tend to spend more time playing video games and watching TV. In the UAE, 44 per cent of children clocked in more video game time than they did back home. The same story is shared by 47 per cent of children in Saudi Arabia and 33 per cent in Kuwait.

“A possible explanation for this may be the severe temperatures that are common in the Middle East outside of the winter months where temperatures can often reach 40 degrees Celsius. The need to keep children indoors and away from the scorching heat could be a factor in the increasing likelihood of watching TV and playing video games,” the report said.

Source: Gulf News

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