Whenever people think of working abroad, one of the first things (if not the first) they’d like to know about is the salary. Naturally, a person’s salary will depend on several things such as the type of your job, your work experience, and credentials, among others. But for OFWs, there are also economic factors such as the value of the currency and the cost of living in their host country. That said, the salary of an OFW, by default, is not always incredibly huge – also, at least not when they start.
In this post, we share the experiences of a Pinay OFW based in Manama, Bahrain, Melody Capas, who has been working in the Gulf state for 9 years now.
Disclaimer: This post is for information-sharing purposes only. If you’d like to know more about the life and work of the featured OFW based in Bahrain, you may subscribe to her channel to get notifications and the latest updates on her content.
How Much is the Salary of an OFW in Bahrain?
Many Filipinos back home think that OFWs earn a lot more than they do. Well, this is not to say that they don’t, but it’s important to understand that OFWs are not offered a ton of cash right away when they start out. A lot of them earn much less than the fees that they loaned or pay first so that they can work overseas.
According to our featured OFW vlogger, Mitchygabz, this is a reality check that every Filipino needs to have. Because most of the time, instead of helping our loved ones, having misconceptions such as this can create an unnecessary burden on them, creating unnecessary expectations that they should be earning a whole lot than they do, amid the sacrifices and challenges that come along with working abroad. But for most (if not all) of them, they only want to get a positive experience from working abroad to support their families, as well.
According to Mitchygabz, in her nine years of working in Bahrain, she’s only worked for two companies. Her first job when she arrived in the Middle East, was as a cashier at a supermarket. Her starting monthly salary was BD 170 (Php 23,000).
Of course, as a starting OFW, you need to set aside funds to pay for the loans you took out just to get started working abroad. That is on top of your living costs. For her, these mostly went to paying off rent where she shared an apartment with three other OFWs. It cost her BD 40, and then her daily transport which amounted to BD 20 per month.
So with her first job, her take-home pay was BD 110 (Php 15,000). It doesn’t seem much, right? Because her other expenses like food and utilities still aren’t deducted from her salary yet. That said, Mitchygabz emphasized that OFWs need to be extremely good at budgeting. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard to make ends meet, especially for someone who’s living alone in a foreign country, and worse, not even allowed to come home for at least two years, depending on the circumstances, too.
But it’s not all sacrifices and hardships, because one good thing about working in a Middle East country is that they don’t get taxed for their earnings.
In her next job as a visual merchandiser, still in a supermarket, but under different management, Mitchygabz shared that her salary increased to BD 230 (Php 31,000). This wasn’t due to a promotion yet. It was just the basic salary package that they had for the position. So, again, deducting the living and transportation expenses, her take-home pay was BD 160 (Php 17,550).
And after two years in the sales department, Mitchygabz has been promoted. And with it, her basic pay has gone up to BD 350 (Php 48,000).
Of course, according to Mitchygabz, you can also decide to look for another better-paying job or company – that’s actually one of the best things about working overseas: there are lots of jobs that Filipinos can apply for, as long as you are hardworking and diligent enough to take on the role. This is also one way how Filipinos earn more. Contrary to what some people might think that OFWs are living the “dream life”, the sad reality is, they are working twice, thrice, or even more, just to save up money to send back home for their families.
But with her hard work and determination, Mitchygabz can now afford to buy so much more than back when she started. Despite this, it’s not a good reason to splurge on buying things more than you can afford. Instead, the smarter way to go about it is to make investments, such as a house, a business venture, insurances, and savings for your family.
Catch the rest of Mitchygabz’s vlog here:
When you do these things, not only are you using your money wisely but are securing your future, as well as your family’s. This is especially important right now that we are all living amid a pandemic, without any certainty as to when things will go back to normal or if they will.
As a reminder to all of us, let us not look at OFWs as “cash cows” or just someone who pays the bills. Let us try to go deeper and understand the struggles and sacrifices they had to go through to provide a better life for themselves as well as their loved ones. Let us not devalue their dreams and hard work by merely looking at them as “someone who earns a ton of money abroad”.
We could all use a change in perspective right now, especially since many OFWs are struggling in life overseas, apart from their families, with no choice to come home whenever they want to.
So if an OFW family member supports your needs to this day, make sure to check how they are doing at work and always be grateful for whatever they can give. Unless extremely necessary and within reason, never demand for more than what they can give you at the time. They might be saving up for something big for themselves, as well. A little respect and consideration will go a long way. Their sacrifices will all be worth it if they know that you all of their hard work is put into good and meaningful use.