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WHILE it needs to be said that not all ex-pats are getting housing allowances these days, and a lot of companies have been phasing them out, they remain common in the Middle East, far more so than in, say, Singapore.

Recent research carried out by the 55 members of the Maritime HR Forum reveals the levels at which housing allowances are being paid to expat staff in shipping (owners, managers, trading houses and oil majors).

In Singapore fifty percent of those expats who do receive a housing allowance received SGD36,000 (USD29,000) or less, that being the median figure, with the lower quartile at SGD30,000.  There is a big jump to the upper quartile however, at SGD71,000 (USD57,000), meaning that for those lucky ex-pats who do still receive housing allowances, one-quarter of them receive more than this.

We should add the caveat that the market in Singapore is far from uniform.  Having grown so rapidly in recent years, the Singapore market has developed a sporadic approach to expatriate packages.  Foreign workers, both OECD and non-OECD nationals, receive a complete mix of packages, from truly ‘local’, to ‘local plus’ (which itself can mean a variety of things, but we think of it as an enhanced look-after-yourself base salary), to ‘expat’ and ‘true expat’, the latter being workers seconded from their home location for a fixed period.  So, whilst the data reported is accurate there are others out there who receive an inflated base salary with no formal housing allowance.

In the Middle East the market is more uniform; old-style expat packages are much more the norm.  In the UAE, the median housing allowance figure for expatriates is AED150,000 (USD41,000),  AED90,000 (USD24,500) at the lower quartile and AED200,000 (USD54,500) for the upper quartile.  Home country location and seniority both have their part to play in terms of where employees sit in the range.

The Maritime HR Forum is a membership association open to shipping employers globally who benchmark salaries, bonuses and benefits for shipping centres around the world.   For an information pack, contact [email protected].

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