This blog is supposed to be all about Bulgaria, but for five years we were in Shenzhen, in southern China. That is the reason for the weird title, "Bulgaria with Noodles". In June of 2018, Irena and I left China and retired to Bulgaria, to our villa 60km north of Sofia and to our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. This blog is really all about some comparisons and contrasts between China and Bulgaria, two very different countries.
Why Dubai? Part 2
My post about The World's Fastest City seems to have attracted a lot of views. Recently I had yet another e-mail from a teacher, via TES, asking me about what it is like to teach (and live) in the UAE, so here is one of my replies. This time I have included a few photos from our time in RAK.
Lunch at the excellent "Green Valley" Indian restaurant
Quite a lot of teachers have written to me
recently, to ask me about teaching in the UAE. I have put several posts about
this on my blog, bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com
In a nutshell, I would say that salaries
for teachers in the UAE have more or less stagnated in the last six or seven
years. During this time, the cost of living in the Emirates has definitely gone
up quite a bit. Yes, some schools do still pay quite well, but not that many.
This means, of course, that there are relatively few teaching posts available
at the better schools and there will be a lot of competition for the posts that
do appear. Many schools are looking for ways to cut costs and to shave off some
of the benefits that they have given to their teachers in the past.
At the Hiton Beach Club
Another problem that you need to consider
is the matter of school fees. Yes, some schools do give two "free"
places to their teachers, but many give only one and then they offer a
percentage reduction on the second child.
The very LOUD mosque that was close to our apartment
Secondly, you should also bear in mind
that "free"school places might not be actually free. You might find
yourself paying for all kinds of unexpected and outrageous "extras",
such as registration fees, testing fees, school uniforms, lunches, stationery,
textbooks, transport etc., etc. Even if you are only paying 30% of the school
fees, this could still be a lot of money.
The road from Dubai to RAK
In the TES, I have written quite a lot about what has euthemistically been called "comprehensive medical insurance" in the UAE. Yes, it is true that you might be covered by the school's
medical insurance, but your children probably will not be. At an interview, the school's principal will no doubt make encouraging and positive noises when the subject of medical cover is mentioned, but anyone teaching in the UAe must understand that the medical insurance company will actually go by the terms of the contract, not by what was said (or implied) at your job interview. When I applied for a teaching job in the UAE, I was told that the insurance cover was "comprehensive" and "very good". It was nothing of the kind. As a teacher, the
school should provide you with flights to the UAE and back, but I doubt if they
will also pay for your children's flights.
The road to Oman (the best thing in the UAE!)
On top of these little problems, there is
also the matter of becoming "non-resident for the purposes of
taxation". As I understand it, if you are not a non-resident, then the UK
Taxman can tax you on any income, whether it was earned in the UK or not. On
the other hand, there might be some serious implications for you and for your children
if you decide that you do want to become "non-resident". Well, I am
not an accountant or a lawyer, so really you need to get some professional
advice on this one.
After the fish, you sit in the chair
I am sorry if all of this seems to be a
bit negative, but I think that it is better and more honest to paint a picture
that is a bit too dark, rather than one that is rather rose-tinted and too
really enjoy going back to England any more. Last year it was RTD’s memorial
service and last month I went back to try to sort out what to do with my lump
sum from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
Well, why don’t I enjoy going back to my
own country? First of all, I think that it is because I just do not belong
there. Bulgaria is my home and therefore, more and more, I feel that my roots
are in my adopted country. Bulgaria is “home” now. Secondly, there are the
practical issues of going back, as I have no place of my own in the UK, no car,
no nothing. My old friend Peter Adams was very hospitable, as usual, and we
certainly enjoyed some splendid scoffing: lots of roast beef, roast potatoes,
Yorkshire pud and all the trimmings! This was then followed up with the
inevitable crumble and custard. Then we also had a good lunch with Peter’s mum
(fish and chips), followed by a delicious Chinese meal. But food leads on to my
next anti-British moan: the outrageous cost of just about every…
Even though we left Qatar more than five years ago, many teachers still contact me through the TES and ask me what it is like to teach there. Hi Hippo
I hope you don't mind me pre-emptively sending you a conversation about my job
GEMS Wellington Qatar have offered 13.5k which I think is reasonable for three
years' experience qualified (five including unqualified experience).
However, they are not offering medical insurance for my family nor are they
covering flights for them. At the interview, the Director intimated that my
family might even have to stay here in the UK while stuff like permits got
sorted out. My gut instinct tells me not to accept the offer as a result.
Also, I've heard Qataris can be quite racist towards non-white people. How true
is this? I've always fought against this sort of thing in the UK as an Asian
man and don't want any trouble when I go out to work.
Is the cost of living higher than Dubai or London? Obviously, I'd not have to
In many ways Veliko Tarnovo, also known as V.T., is a much nicer city than Sofia. It is smaller, less polluted and the traffic is nowhere near as bad as it is in the capital. Every year, we go and spend a week or so in our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. For I don't know how long, Irena and I have been saying, "When you retire, we will move in V.T. and that is where we will spend the winter, as it won't be much fun spending the winter in Kalotina." The main problem with this plan is that we have not retired yet. Well, I was retired for six months, but then I started working again and now we have started to put down roots in Sofia, not in V.T. This trip to V.T. was rather different, as it was dominated by the presence of Tina. Yes, it was a lot of fun to have her delightful company, but she was also seriously ill. Several trips to the Vet were needed, along with quite a few injections and a course of antibiotics. First she was vomiting and had bad diarroheia, followed by …