Common woes of expat workers in Maldives: Pt. 1

Maldives brilliantly flaunts the “sunny side of life” to all foreigners who find themselves here, whether for vacation or work. However, this doesn’t mean there are no dark clouds here and there.

Yes, it rains in paradise most especially for us, the working expats.

Compiled below are the common grievances of foreign employees according to level of severity and what you can do when faced with these problems.

Yellow Alert issues are slight inconveniences that can easily be solved by research and strong will.

1. No accommodation provision

Normally, employers provide decent housing for its expat workers. If they do not have an apartment for their staff, an accommodation allowance not less than 4,000 rufiyaa and separate from the salary must be given. That’s not a government-mandated rate, but considering the hefty apartment prices in MalĂ© it would be hard to find a good room for less than that amount.

Firmly negotiate with your employer to supply your lodging needs without cutting a chunk from your salary.

2. High bank charges

All expat workers are required by Maldives Monetary Authority to open a bank account, either for personal or payroll use. Each bank in Maldives has its own policy surrounding expat accounts. For example, Bank of Maldives charges 5 USD monthly maintenance fees for USD accounts and 75 MVR for rufiyaa accounts. Commercial Bank of Maldives, Bank of Ceylon, and State Bank of India don’t have monthly maintenance fees but they require high maintaining balance (more than 100 USD) and no ATMs except BOC which has 1 in-house ATM. Mauritius Commercial Bank also has monthly maintenance fees and no ATM but queues are not long and service is impeccable.

3. Unregistered overseas employee

This item is particularly for Filipinos. Plenty of OFWs in Maldives left the Philippines as tourists (including me) for various reasons. At first, I was scared I can’t approach the Philippine consulate in case something bad happens. Fret not!

Within the year, the consulate would pass around Overseas Filipino Registration Forms to be filled out and submitted with a copy of your passport. Join Filipinos in Maldives FB group to be updated on the next schedule of registration.

When you go back to Philippines for vacation, you can officially register as Balik-Manggagawa with POEA. Make a BM-Online account, set an appointment to submit your supporting documents (red ribbon’d visa, employment approval, etc.), and then get your OEC for your next departure.

4. Expiring passport

Passports need to be renewed within 6 months before expiry to avoid airport issues and to renew your work visa. Your country’s embassy or consulate in Maldives would definitely have a mobile passport renewal service. Check with them for the schedules.

5. Homesickness

For someone who was out of the nest for more than 7 years already, I thought this will not be a problem. But boy, the completely strange culture and the unfamiliar food made me want to go home.

On those gloomy days, I cook my comfort food (nothing beats sinigang), chat with my family, or entertain myself by having a walk along the beach or reading. An idle mind is a devil's work.

6. Zero savings

Maldives is not cheap. If you find yourself scratching your head every month-end, then re-evaluate your spending. Does a big slice of your pay go to food? Cook your meals; you'll save up to 80%, I swear! Cut back on the Hulhule trips, eat outs, and expensive coffee and you'll thank yourself once you go home for your annual leave.

Remember, you're here to work and save. Being an expat worker cannot be a permanent plan. Think of the bigger picture.

This is Part 1 of the 3-part series about the common problems that expat workers in Maldives face. Check out Part 2: Orange Alert and Part 3: Red Alert.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi! Thank you for reading. Part 2 is now up: :)


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