My First Month Living in Maldives: 10 Survival Tips

living in Maldives


The first couple of weeks living in Maldives was difficult- just small things that end up feeling like big things when you’re all alone in a foreign country. My first night I had no internet connection, I arrived during a half-term holiday so hardly any expats were around, my first nights dinner was a pathetic plate of peanut butter sandwiches, my air-con remote ran out of batteries and my sheets were drenched in sweat, my apartment had an ant infestation and I was bitten throughout the night by god knows what was in my bed. There’s not a huge amount of info on the net about life in Male’ for an expat, so I’m going to give some tips about important stuff I’ve learnt so far.
Male’ – the 5th most densely populated island in the world





Maldives capital city is Male’ (pronounced Mah-leh or at least I do anyway) which is the nucleus of Maldives, hence it’s translation: “Islands of Male’”. At first it can feel far bigger than what you imagined, with all the hidden side streets and gazillion motorbikes and it taking forever to get anywhere because some Maldivian’s walk so slowly, but now I’ve come to realise it really is small. Small, congested, overcrowded and humid- but I love it. I’ve lived in Asia before so most things don’t bother me, things like the spitting in the street, the non-existence of bins, paths only so wide you almost always bash shoulders with someone going the opposite way, the complete absence of motorbike helmets or suitable clothing, etc, but then as the weeks past I started to adapt (the most important thing when you move abroad!) and the initial culture shock began to fade. Mostly I think I was just lonely.

1. Majedhee Magu:

  • the main road that’ll help get you from A to Z. It boasts a range of shops selling items such as clothes, shoes, mobile phones, kitchen utensils etc, as well as general hardware stores and a couple of supermarkets. This road really seems to have been built around the tourist, since shop windows advertise “great deals” next to fake branded items. I find the better shops and restaurants etc are further away which I’ve heard is because all new businesses start off on Majedhee Magu until they move further out to make room for new businesses. 

2. The artificial beach

  • The most picturesque part of the city. I have sat here reading books and watching the sun set, but don’t expect to sunbathe here. Bikini’s are strictly forbidden and will get you arrested. You can have a swim of course but cover up- I’ve seen women in full dress burka’s having a swim but you can just wear knee length shorts or leggings and a top that covers your shoulders and stomach. I believe men are free to swim topless and in trunks- no comment.



3. Travel

  • Easy enough once you know where you’re going. I find the app Foursquare very helpful for finding known destinations such as restaurants or supermarkets, or google maps for making your way back home. I travel everywhere on foot but I have friends who cycle or even ride a motorbike (there’s a little driving school you can learn in) however I’m far too wimpy right now, plus it’s my excuse for not taking those morning runs that I said I would.
  •  There’s quite a few taxi’s around, just lift an arm out until one stops. They have a fixed charge of 25 Rufiyaa (approx $2/£1.30) wherever it takes you. Bare in mind that cars have to travel extremely slowly to dodge all the motorcyclists and pedestrians that just walk into the road without looking, so don’t take a taxi in a hurry. I was really surprised that there aren’t any motorbike taxis, I used to take them all the time in Vietnam.
  • Crossing the road: Hesitation kills. Decide you are going to cross and just go for it. Careful crossing side roads because bikes can come out of nowhere way too fast.


4. You fly into Hulhumale’ (the island to the right of the blue dot on Male”)

  • a 20 minute jetty ride/ 5 minute speedboat from Male’. At the airport there was a really long wait at the Work Visa desk, from this moment onwards you will need to learn patience. I quote my American friend, “here the customer is always wrong”- remember this whenever you’re in a bank, or trying to set up internet, or anything that involves customer service of any kind. From Male’ to various other islands you’ll travel by sea but there are also sea planes, although I have yet to ride one.
  • Hulhumale’ is in stark contrast to Male’. It’s quiet and peaceful. The roads are massive and the few cars and bikes drive very slowly. There’s a beautiful beach too- but remember, no bikinis as this island is “inhabited”.


5. Currency:

  • I made the mistake of changing my GBP to USD before leaving England and taking just USD with me (plus a £1 for a trolley at the airport). I did this because the internet suggested that everyone accepted USD so it wasn’t a problem. It is a problem. It’s a problem because the exchange rate local shops and businesses will give is 1 USD to 15.4 MVR which means you’ll be paying more for everything. I managed to change my USD at a money exchange place I found which was actually just some Sri Lankan guys apartment… and he gave me a rate of 16.2 but I’ve heard you can get 16.5 – 17 on the black market.
  • I don’t know much about the whole thing but it seems everyone wants the dollar. Rufiyaa are worthless once outside of the country so do NOT take home with you. I’m currently looking into how I’m going to get money into my British bank account to avoid the accumulation of too much Rufiyaa and the best bet seems to be using Money Gram (as oppose to facing the charges of using Western Union or bank transfers from a Maldivian bank account), but I haven’t used it yet as I haven’t been paid yet- will let you know!



Notes made up 500, 100, 50, 20 (which I didn’t have for the pic sorry), 10, and 5. Small change 2 and 1 Rufiyaa, 50, 25, and 5 laari (there is 100 larri in 1 Ruffiya).


6. Maldivian Law = Islamic Law 

Last week I heard this from someone thinking of moving to Male’: “Is it all Muslim or are there parts that aren’t?”. The easiest way to describe it would be to say that to be Maldivian is to be Muslim, no arguments, or face complete shame and ultimately, deportation. Male’ is one of the hundreds of “inhabited islands” where Islamic Law applies universally. The laws, norms and values that apply to inhabited islands do not apply to foreigners in uninhabited islands (I.e resorts), but do certainly for Maldivian’s.

  1. Consumption of alcohol or pork is strictly prohibited. On one of the children’s worksheets I had to teach the word “bacon”. You should have seen their faces. I believe it’s something to do with them believing pigs are dirty and disgusting, which makes sense.
  2. Hulhamale’ International Hotel (HIH) has a licence to serve non-Maldivian’s alcohol and is only a 5/10 minute jetty ride from Male’. The hotel provides the ride free of charge I guess to make up for the extortionate prices. I tend to go for the bucket of beer: buy 3 cans of Lion get 1 free. The cans will come out already open to ensure you don’t try and smuggle them into Male’. The atmosphere is nice on the terrace and about 6pm we have a great view of the sun setting. They also have a pool with sun loungers (about $20 to spend the day) where bikini’s etc are accepted and drinks are served all day- although the deal on the Lion beer only comes into action at 6pm… hence why we always catch the sunset).

      You can even see all the trash being set on fire in the distance over on Thilafushi!


  3. Don’t go to Male’ drunk. I’m guessing it really isn’t worth whatever trouble you’ll get into.
  4. Anything that goes against Islam is forbidden (e.g pornographic material, The Bible). Best to just stick clear of religion altogether.
  5. Non-Muslims are restricted from becoming citizens and therefore do not have any rights in things like voting etc. Muslims of alternative nationalities to Maldivian tend to practice alone. I’m not really sure why but I am noticing that the expats of Sri Lankan, Indian or Bangladeshi races are rarely treated equally to Maldivian’s or Westerner’s. I think that a large majority of Bangladeshi are working here on wages as little as $200 a month.
  6. Dress code: dress modestly or look like an Idiot Abroad. Seriously though, the amount of tourists I see with mini shorts and strappy vests, you look ridiculous in a country so conservative! I’ve seen a couple Maldivian’s spit at these women.. not nice.. However, even dressing modestly will get the attention of some men and you’ll be stared at quite a lot, mostly in the breast region.
The most embarrassing moment I’ve had so far was bending over to mark a couple of 13 year old boys English work and not realising they all had direct view into my cleavage. If they had told their parents I probably could have got fired or god knows what. Pack your case with that in mind!!

7. Social life: um…..


  1. Get a Facebook account, search “Expats in Maldives” and join the group, post something short and sweet about yourself and you’ll get some friendly replies and ads from other expats. Search also for “Go out and make some memories” which a friend recently created. There are many other groups depending on your interests, e.g photography in the Maldives, Muslims in Maldives (of course), Brits in Maldives, healthy eating in Maldives… etc etc.
  2. Tuesday night expat meal, each week in a different location. Really good opportunity to meet new people while trying out new places to eat. This goes on in a Facebook message which new expats are frequently added into once they join the “Expats in Maldives” group.
  3. Friday boat trip! I’m new to this but I’ve been on two so far and both have been wonderful. From 9am – about 5/5.30pm (leading firectly onto HIH bucket of beer..) is a great escape from the noise and dirty air of Male’. We surf and snorkel in fabulous clear waters and either bring lunch on board or stop off at a local island. Big range of expats come and I’ve made good friends through this. I also saw dolphins for the first time ever!
  4. There’s a couple of decent gyms around. I go to some great evening yoga classes 3 times a week at Empower Fitness for a tiny 550 MVR a month ($35/ £20). Each session focuses on different skills and I really love it. Me and my friend usually go for a snack after or do some grocery shopping… come join! Although, it is held in the “woman’s only” part of the gym- sorry boys!When: Saturday, Monday, Wednesday at 8-9pm

  5. Make sure you either bring your mobile unlocked or enough cash to buy a phone here and get yourself a Maldivian SIM. I went with Ooredoo and it seems OK- oh, a hint, all of the dozens of shops selling mobile phones actually don’t sell SIM cards which was really weird for me I don’t know about you- but anyway Ooredoo was easy enough to find. DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT. They take down the number I’m not really sure why. I paid 19 MVR for 500 SMS texts to Maldivian numbers and I paid something else for 2GB of data- don’t remember but it was cheap. International texts cost about 1 Rufiyaa which isn’t too bad either. Note: the texts and data expire after 30 days and you must go back in a reload.
  6. I’m still pretty new around here so I’m still figuring it out. DVD shops come in extremely handy, especially when you’re waiting an age for the internet in your apartment to get up and running. I’ve found my favourite DVD shop because it’s close to City Bakery so Saturday morning I can grab a croissant and the next season of something and spend the day recovering from the day/night before. (Oh, the working week is Sunday- Thursday and weekend Friday/Saturday). At most DVD shops you can give them your USB or external hard drive and they just whack it all on there instead of giving you a load of discs (wish I had realised this before accumulating dozens) which is also very handy for those without a disc drive in their laptops.
  7. Apparently there is a cinema? Anyone know about this?
  8. I’ve also heard there is a swimming pool in Trader’s hotel but I’m yet to use it. You can also swim lengths in the sea in tailed off areas in Male’ and Huhamale’ but I’m not sure about that either… any tips?
  9. Usually everyone heads for the resorts on half terms/ long weekends, and some resorts offer a day price to use their facilities… maybe including alcohol? Still figuring this out.There’s a long weekend May 1st and I’m looking forward to a short trip out of Male’… I don’t think you could stay here and enjoy your time if you didn’t indulge now and then. The good news is the majority of resorts offer an expat discount! But this is by showing your work permit card… hopefully your employer will be on that.

8. Compulsory medical examination


  • for the right to work in Maldives (as it is required for your work permit). There are two hospitals, one public and one private I believe. I heard the public one managed to give HIV to a pregnant lady so I went for the other one, called ADK (en route to the Artificial Beach). You go in and pull a ticket, when your number is called you go up to reception. I would speak English a little slower just to save repeating yourself, ask for a Medical Examination and hand over the 200 MVR ($12/£7), which gets your blood pressure taken, an x-ray of your chest (to look for TB I think?), and your blood tested for HIV.
  • 24 hours later (REMEMBERING YOUR PASSPORT AND A PASSPORT SIZED PHOTOGRAPH – or be like me and have to walk to the hospital and back about 3 times in 35 degree heat), you can pick up your results plus a souvenir of your chest x-ray! The experience in all wasn’t really one I would ever like to be repeated. There’s quite a long wait and none of the doctors or nurses converse with you. I hate having my blood taken and I’m used to the nurses being all sweet and giving me pineapple juice to stop me from fainting, but here you’re pretty much invisible. When I got up to leave I said to the nurse “You’ll let me know if I’m dying?” but she didn’t so much as crack a smile.



9. Food and other stuff:


    1. Agora is a great store for general stuff like bottled water (been told not to drink from the taps because it’s basically sea water with things added), milk, fruit juice, cereal etc. It’s also good for kitchen utensils, bedding, cleaning stuff etc. The fruit and veg is very hit-or-miss so don’t rely on it.


      2. Fantasy is a nice clean food store with almost anything, except balsamic vinegar for some reason? They, like everywhere, imports everything so expect to pay more. Supermarkets include the 6% tax or whatever it is in the price but restaurants/ cafes add it on the end (as well as a 10% service charge). I like Fantasy a lot, but once you find other smaller local stores to buy your fruit, veg and meat and start eating a more Maldivian diet (rice, tuna… uh.. spices?) it becomes less necessary.


    1. A brand new supermarket has just opened up this week on Majedhee Magu called Red Wave Mall, right next to Agora. Their opening night they boomed tunes down the main road such as “Where is the Love?” and “Drop it Like it’s Hot” which certainly attracted attention! I had a wander around and I’m very happy! The fruit and vegetables are much nicer than Agora’s, and there’s way more variety of brands etc.

    2. I get my tuna fillets and chicken breast from a little Maldivian store down a tiny side road from Fantasy- It’s called Le Finn- and it’s super cheap- I got 3 big steaks of tuna which I could cut in half, giving me 6 fillets, and a bag of chicken breasts for about 100 Rufiyaa ($6/£3).
    1. Fish market / fruit and vegetable market. I’ve only been once and unfortunately it was too late so the good stuff had gone. The good news is you’re free to haggle, but you might want to make it clear that you live here because they might assume you’re a dumb tourist who’ll pay $10 for a coconut.


    2. Restaurants/ cafe: there’s quite a handful around Male’. Service isn’t usually great, but if you can’t be arsed to cook or wash up then it’s definitely worth it. I’ve been to Seagull Cafe which does a great coffee, the Olive Garden, Breakwater, Shell Beans, a little hole in the wall called Cinnamon Garden for a chicken burger a bit like KFC, City Bakery, City Garden, Jazz Cafe. Note these are all particularly western, which is my own downfall…

I haven’t eaten many authentic Maldivian meals but that’s mainly because I don’t feel overly welcome in the locals, which tend to be full of men who glare at me. I’ve heard if the windows are blacked out then women aren’t allowed in at all. It’s like their equivalent of a Gentleman’s club. I have tried a variety of their ‘short eats’ (savoury snacks) including deep fried fish rolls and a pancake, all involving dried fish and spices in one way or another and they’re surprisingly good and extremely cheap- about 1/2 Rufiyaa each.

                      7. Tips involving food in your apartment:

      1. Buy loads of plastic tupperware to prevent ants/flies getting into your food.
      1. Freeze your rubbish – food waste, fruit peels, tea bags, anything that will attract unwanted guests. When I first moved in I had my rubbish bag on the floor which gave way to a million ants all in a line which was totally gross. After spraying them all to death I invested in a large plastic bin with a lid but then I found when I opened it up a swarm of flies would come at me which was even more gross. Freezing it all in a plastic bag and disposing of it when you throw out all your rubbish is the ultimate win.
      1. Put a clean cloth or something over your kettle. A friend found cockroaches in his.


      2. Tin openers- my worst enemy. Does anyone have any idea how I use this? I managed to get inside eventually but it was some bloody effort. Wish I had brought a normal tin opener from home, haven’t seen any here…

5.  Don’t eat in public with your left hand like I do- they think it’s really gross because they all wash their bits with their left hands using what we like to call a “fanny hose” attached to the loo.


6. The opening/closing times can be annoying. I guess things start opening about 9, but then they shut around 12-2pm because everybody goes on lunch and it’s like has no-one heard of alternate shifts? Guess not. Everything also shuts down between 6-8pm. Best time to shop would be around 9 maybe where the weather is cooler, but the streets become extremely congested. On top of this, shops seem to close throughout the day “for prayer”(….. or for a quick cigarette and a gossip).


10. 20 things to bring from home

    1. Mosquito spray
    2. Bite cream
    3. Diarrhoea tablets
    4. Aloe Vera
    5. Sun-cream
    6. Room spray / perfume something with a nice nostalgic scent to cover up the random and gross smells that arise now and then. I use Hollisters Seacliff Beach and it’s wonderful.
    7. Photos from home/ travels/ friends/ family to decorate the room maybe some posters too. (Getting stuff sent over is SUPER expensive and takes weeks – sometimes months)
    8. Snorkelling equipment or even just a pair of goggles at least. It’s very expensive to buy the stuff over here, over 1000 Rufiyaa for the set.
    9. If you can vacuum pack your bedding or even just a blanket or something I would because it’s crazy expensive, over $100!
    10. Books/magazine or something to keep you occupied if the net breaks (mine took a month to fix. I recommend a sweet collection of travel stories “Better Than Fiction”, based on true story “Into the Wild” and of course Kerouac’s “On the Road”.)
    11. Something you take for granted when you’re home. For me: 240 box of Yorkshire Teabags. Best thing I brought I reckon!
    12. Sports leggings/shorts to wear when swimming on an inhabited island / or when surfing
    13. RUFIYAA!
    14. Waterproof camera. A friend of mine has a “Go Pro” thing on a stick which takes absolutely stunning shots underwater.  
    15. A normal tin opener!
    16. A USB/ external hard drive
    17. Tampons. (Better safe than sorry)
    18. Sea-sickness tablets (if required)
    19. BB cream / creams with foundation rather than heavy make-up, which will just drip off of you.
    20. Ear plugs. Building works, traffic noise, random yelling in the street – you name it- most hours of the night even after the shops close around midnight. Just last night I was woken up at 4.30am by prayer songs blasted through the towns speakers. They also sing at midday. There’s usually loud music at night too. So pretty much 24/7 noise noise noise.

Thank you for reading My First Month Living in Maldives. I hope it satisfied any questions or worries, do get in touch with any feedback or extra info- remember I’m new so advice is really appreciated!


Love Sarah @ Expat of the World


Hi! I’m Sarah. I dropped out of university tired with the mundane life I was living in England. Now I’m an aspiring ex-pat of the world, having already lived and worked in Vietnam, Italy and Maldives. I’m using this blog to document my experiences and hopefully inspire others!


  1. A great read, Sarah ! 🙂

    A few replies –

    – the cordoned off swimming area is called the “swimming track” – there’s one in Malé (near the Stelco powerhouse) and in Hulhumalé. Not sure what tips you’re looking for. They are used for training and competitions, but if there’s nothing much going on there, then they’re OK to use. And normal dress restrictions apply, of course !

    – bed bugs – leave your mattress out all day in the full sun every few weeks.

    – “jetty ride” – the jetty is the wooden pier thingie. So I think you mean the local boat or “dhoni”.

    – I LOLd at your money exchange place ! Some Sri Lankan guy in his apartment = the “black market” ! But there’s no ripoff at all – 15.4 is the proper exchange rate, it’s just that many expats are desparate for dollar notes so will pay more (a few years ago, the exchange rate was only 11 or so).

    – expat Bangladeshi workers – I’m not sure that there’s a “large majority” of illegal workers, but there is supposed to be a lot. And monthly salaries of $150-250 per month are common at the lowest end for *legal* workers, both expat and Maldivian (labourers, waiters, maids, checkout girls).

    – there are 2 cinemas, but this is apparently the best. Not cheap though @ mrf120 – – it’s in the ‘port’ area of the island, not far from the market and STO Electronics.

    – your cheap tuna/chicken place sounds good – let us know when you find the name (and post a photo of the place !)

    – tin openers – the Agora shops sell the usual types, as well as the ‘local’ hardware stores.

    – LOL @ your “fanny hose” ! The correct name is ‘muslim shower’.

    – Shops : 12-2/6-8 – many are closed, but corner shops and most food shops are usually open.

    – bedding – didn’t realise it was so expensive – have you tried upstairs in Agora ? But blanket ?? If you need a blanket, your ACU is set too cold, so prepare yourself for a big electricity “current” bill !

    – tampons – available at Fantasy

    – be careful with your cleavage ! 🙂

    Hope that helps.


    1. the tampons- do you know if they are they applicator ones?! Makes a big difference 😉

      It’s not that I *need* a blanket but I just really like having a sheet or something over me to snuggle XD

      The Sri Lankan guy had a proper money exchange sign thing outside of the building so I assumed it was all legit…… my bad

      Thanks so much for your tips :D:D Gotta go out there and get myself a proper tin opener before I hurt myself.

  2. Sorry – I’m no tampon expert (!) but I think they are Tampax branded, if that helps. A quick google tells me it’s a common question with lots of answers –
    The locals seem to prefer pads, so that’s why not many shops stock tampons.

    Money exchange – if he has a sign then maybe he is legit, or certainly not shy about being discovered ! Can you post a photo & directions to Brits ?

  3. Hi Sarah, I’m a UK girl hoping to move to Malé in the next year or two, I’d love to exchange emails or facebooks so we could chat a bit as I’m super nervous about going over!
    Fran x

    1. Hi Fran sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you, I wasn’t notified of your comment! Sure, that’d be lovely! My email is and you can also find me on Facebook with that email, I’m Sarah Harvey. Chat soon!

    1. Hi Lauren, sadly not- I left Maldives in December last year. In my personal opinion, I preferred living in Hulhumale and working at LLC’s sister school situated on that island. It’s just 10 or so minutes from Male but isn’t as crowded and has a nice beach and swimming area. On the other hand, it was sometimes difficult to buy decent food so I often had to go over to Male to stock up. Maldives was a great country to live in, weekends were full of boat trips, watching dolphins, relaxing at resorts, scuba diving etc. I’d say, go for it!!! Sarah xx

  4. Hi, I was wondering where I could get more information of ‘Friday boat trip’? Sounds very interesting and would love to join one as I am currently living in the Maldives.

    1. Hi- if you check on Facebook for “Expats in Maldives” groups, there you should find information as people tend to post boat trip details there. When I lived in Maldives, it was something a group of friends organised and made open to everyone as there are so many boat companies. We would do something like go to a sandbank or do some snorkelling, bring our own lunch. Or we might have a boat where you can buy alcohol and have a little party. One of the best boat trips probably has to be with ScubaSpa, who did ‘Expat parties’ with the option to sleepover on the boat and have an excursion the following day. Enjoy!

      1. Hi Sarah ,its ayoub from algeria , i just wanted to know if life conditions there are good , i have the idea of traveling to the Maldives to find a job and live there , after your experience , what do you advice , Thanks alot and Best regards

        1. Hi Ayoub! Life conditions are very good in the islands I lived and visited, I mean, Male of course is more congested and noisy, but it’s a ‘big’ city so is to be expected. The local islands are fresh and beautiful. The locals themselves are competing for jobs, especially since the recent rise of women’s empowerment, so I would think about what job it is you want to do there. Would you want to work in the service/tourism industry on one of the resorts? If so, it’s often a 6-day week and long hours. Would you want to teach at school? Or in watersports? Maldives isn’t the kind of place you can just rock up to and pick up a job working in a bar (there are no bars! hahaha)

  5. hi Sarah That’s a nice article I came across. I am thinking of moving to Male to teach in LLC as well (Hi, Lauren:).
    It would be nice to chat with you ladies to know more about the country and to get to know my future colleagues, if it’ll work our for us.
    My e-mail address
    It would be very nice to exchange some e-mails, if you don’t mind.

    1. Hi Tatiana! When would you be moving to Maldives? All I can say is congratulations! I had a wonderful time in Maldives. If I could go back I would remind myself to stay present, make the most of the beach a few minutes from my house and to try and see more of the country (as well as hopping over to Sri Lanka!). You will be blessed with so many public holidays, lovely children to teach and a great working environment. If you have any specific questions, ask away! Sarah

  6. hello sarah.nice work done here in article.iam a dentist and just got a jot in flights only anxienty is the cmpany of gud frnds which iam goin yo leave behind.i will definetely need some company as iam a party guy wud have been grt if u were in male but i guess its not a good time as u r nt there.the best u can do is to guide me to a gud company company of frnds if any over there in male.thanx regrds

    1. Hi Dr Shehzad! Try not to be too anxious. Fly there with an open mind and you’ll soon integrate into the community. There’s an airport bar in Hulhumale with a pool and a beautiful terrace with sunset views, I often met loads of new people there. It’s important to try not to be too shy and just to get out there, join clubs and go out in the evenings making friends even if you’re feeling a little tired. I made many friends through diving and other water sports, we’d regularly go over to Villingili as they offered great deals for expats and we’d have massive BBQ’s together. Good luck and enjoy!!

  7. Sarah, it was nice to get a hands on view about the country and i know that though it’s a bit late yet just wanted to tell you that being a Muslim country, there are dedicated prayers time during the entire day wheen everybody prays together. Thus afternoon and evening time you would see people going together for lunch or at evening without alternate people filling their shifts.

    1. Hi Shabbir, luckily this post was from a 20 year old girl just a month into staying in Maldives. I left after 9 months and certainly learned a lot more about the country and the people 🙂

  8. Hello Sarah! My name is Lora from the Philippines. I will be working in Maldives by the end of March. This is a very helpful article by the way and I am also getting the anxious feeling since I will be leaving my country 2 weeks from now to work in Maldives for 2 years. I also need some new friends. Please email me:

    1. Hi Lora! Try not to be too anxious, I made so many friends in Maldives from all kinds of backgrounds. Sorry I won’t be there to meet you!

    1. Hey Syed– well it mostly depends on your skill-set and what kind of job you want! For example, teaching, engineering, medicine, tourism, diving, construction.. Think about what you could bring to the country.

      To find job opportunities (particularly in tourism) I would have a look on there is also The best thing you could do is Google “*job you are looking for, e.g teaching positions” + in Maldives” and see what you find! Good luck!

    1. You won’t find clubbing and bars etc on local islands, but of course there is nightlife on the resort islands. When I lived there, resorts and liveaboards were always throwing parties at the weekends.

  9. Hi Sarah, names James, will be moving to Maldives soon, pls how much monthly salary on an average do you think is good enough to hold on to as a single gut???

    1. Hi James. It depends on your lifestyle I suppose! I found $1000 a month with accommodation included was fine for me to live comfortably and do something most weekends. However I didn’t drink much, perhaps once or twice a month, and there are always expat parties and resort trips etc. I just spent most of my money on diving and exploring! Good luck 😀

  10. Hi! I am looking forward to work also in Maldives. My agency said that they will forward my CV to the employer. I really hope I get the job. ☺ How is it going there? Also, do you think there’s a Catholic Church where I can go to mass? Thank you and I hope to hear from you. You’re so far the only Pilipina I’ve seen to comment hear.

    1. Hey Beverly! Good luck with the position! Be sure to do lots of research about the country and its culture, for example, there will be not be Catholic mass available on any local island. Of the resorts I’ve visited, I never saw a church there either- maybe next century!

      I’m actually from UK! And I’m not living in Maldives anymore (regrettably!)

  11. hi to all fellow Pinoy who want to work in Maldives and who are in Maldives… I’ve work there from 2008-2010… I get to go home every year for a month… life is simple in Maldives. not much shopping but you can get the basic stuff. you can save!

  12. Hi,
    I am looking for short term housing in Male. The Airbnb appears to list only hotels. Can anybody make any suggestions? I appreciate any thoughts.

    1. Hi Piotr. It’s a little odd to us but it seems like it’s still against the law or at least not the norm for locals to rent out a room or an apartment for tourists. You need a special license to open a guest house. Perhaps in a few years tourism will open up to everyone, but for now it’s restricted to resorts and guest houses. My friend Siraa over at Travel Lodge Maldives may have rooms available on Hulhumale (10 minutes from Male) with a shared kitchen/living space. Good luck!

      1. Thank you Sarah for the specific answer and for the engaging blog in general. I have seen the website, but do not see Siraa’s e-mail. If you happen to have it and could possibly share, that would be wonderful. Indeed kitchen access would be very, very useful. Is it equipped? Would the ferry also circulate on Fridays and on the weekends? How much would a ferry to Male be? If you prefer you may also answer me directly: Once again many thanks for the very useful blog.

        1. You are welcome. The email on travel lodge Maldives website is the receptionist, he and Siraa work together. I’ve let him know what you’re looking for and hopefully he’ll be in touch soon.

  13. Hey Sarah… Thank for sharing your experience here. I’m about to get a job in malé. Can you tell me few more things about what kind of attire is allowed for female over there for work and do we have any online shopping conveniences likes eBay, Flipkart and soo

  14. Hey Sarah… Thank for sharing your experience here. I’m about to get a job in malé. Can you tell me few more things about what kind of attire is allowed for female over there for work and do we have any online shopping conveniences likes eBay, Flipkart and soo.. and please do let me know about monthly expenses like rents, groceries n all.
    Thank you in advance

    1. Hello Bhavana. Definitely dress moderately, like you would around grandparents. Skirts no shorter than knee length. No cleavage. Just be respectful 🙂 I’m sure you can order things online just be sure to check the sender will deliver to Maldives if outside. Rent is quite expensive, so families tend to live together. Groceries can be cheap if you go to local markets etc rather than modern western supermarkets and limit buying western imported products. Good luck!!

  15. Hi, I’ve been approached about a job in Maldives working for one of the airlines. So doing all my research now. What are the accommodation options open for expats? Will probably be just me initially, my partner might join me later.

    1. Well accommodation is the same for everyone, expat or not! I’ve stayed in ‘studio flats’, guest houses, and shared a 3bedroom apartment with another expat. Try looking on Expats in Maldives kind of sites/Facebook groups and asking if anyone is renting or looking for a flat-mate. Theres a website called Ibay which deals with accommodation I think but it night not always be listed in English. Good luck!

  16. I have just returned from the Maldives and would like to add one tip to all travelers, based on the question I had had prior to my travel. The Maldivian currency is pegged to a U.S. dollar. The simple story is that if you exchange 100 USD the banks will pay you 1538 MVR. The more nuanced story is that what you will get will depend on: (1) how much you will change; (2) what banknotes you will change: (3) where you will change.

    Maldivian banks are likely to apply 15.00 or lower (as low as 10.00) rate if you bring in banknotes of 10, 5 and especially 1 USD, regardless of the total amount you want to change. If any of those notes are not crisp and unmarked, they may reject them. If you want to change small or imperfect notes, it may be more convenient to do it in any shop. You will likely be paid 15.00 per 1 usd. If you want to change more and are in Male, you are likely to get a higher than a bank rate from the money changers. In November 2016 banks offered me 1500 MVR for 100 USD while money changers on Roashanee Magu 1700 MVR.

    Locals in the Maldives pay in MVR, not in USD. If you shop where locals do, you can pay in MVR or USD, but the USD option will usually be based on a 15.00 or lower exchange rate. For instance a bus from the airport to Hulhumale costs 20 MVR or 2 USD.

  17. Hi think that you are a fucking idiot.
    You are supposed to be teaching the English language yet you, as evidenced by your writing, are not proficient in the language
    There is a famous saying – ” the English have only two natural enemies. The French because they won’t speak English and the Americans because they think they can.” You have proved it.
    Further your ridiculous posting just highlighted the you people should stay in America instead of attempting to compare the norms of living to those of the “not so great US of A.” If you are going to be an expat then you should travel with a completely open mind and not expect parallels with you home country. Why do you feel you need to advice people on how to live an American life in a foreign country?
    Stop posting – you are plainly an imbecile and, please, do not visit England because you never will be welcome.

    1. Hi David. Thanks for your hilarious comment! I really must have said something to grind your bones. Anyhow, what makes you think I’m American? I was born and bred in lovely Essex, England.
      I completely agree with you about traveling with an open mind. I wrote this post when I was only 20 years old, and traveling and living abroad was still a completely new thing for me. Since then I’ve lived in Italy and now Spain and have grown up a lot. Did you travel and live abroad on your own in your early 20s? I now speak Italian and am learning Spanish. Which languages do you speak? I’m sure you’ll know that proficiency in English is pretty darn hard, especially when other languages are in your head! Have you read A Year In The Merde? A character in the book couldn’t even remember English as he spoke French for so many years.
      I also think you should take some of your own advice. You really seem to hate Americans. Such disrespect is not welcome on my blog, gracias.

    2. David, I am offended by the assumptions you make, your bigotry, vulgar language and egregious grammar. If you have found this blog preparing a trip to the Maldives, I advise you to refrain from traveling there, because both locals and tourists will find your misanthropy offensive. Also, have the courage to show your face each time you express an opinion. Perhaps you have too many to show.

  18. Hi Sarah, wanted to know about the attitude of people and house owners in general, about entertaining visitors- esp of the other gender, who might come and stay for a weekend / week top see the place. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jo. Well I would often go round my friends houses for dinners etc, and it never seemed an issue at the time. I suppose it depends where and who you live with/near. Do you live in Male??

  19. Sarah, You’ve written well about the Male city and things to do here, I came across this post and had to keep reading it, It was informative and an amazing post 🙂

  20. Hi Sara.. Please is there possibility of one sending money from Maldives to his home country while working in as an expat in maldive

    1. Absolutely! There are services in Male like Moneygram if you have cash. But if you have a bank account there, you can just do a transfer. Otherwise I would convert it to USD and take it home.

  21. Hi Sarah. ..I am planning to move to the Maldives coz I have appliedone for the post of a dentist…hope I get it…just wanted to know if there are a lot of people from other backgrounds .Are there a lot of Indians?

    1. Yes absolutely! People from all over the world come to live and work in Maldives. A lot of my Indian friends worked in Medicine or at the airport in engineering or as pilots. Good luck!

  22. hello Sarah,thanks for the nice article. I found it very useful.
    I’m a computer engineer and i have a security background too. I really want to spent the rest of my live in Maldives, I am really tired of civic life.
    So i’m panning to visit Maldives next month, alone, in order to find a job and settle. Any tips to start looking for jobs easily? I really don’t want to spend much time and money doing this. I can speak English and Arabic only, so is there any chance for me to live there?

    1. Hi Refaat, I’m glad you enjoyed it. You should be able to find work as a Computer Engineer in Maldives quite easily, especially since you speak English and Arabic. There are a couple of job board websites you can find online. Good luck!

  23. Hi Sarah!

    I started looking/searching for articles regarding Living & working in Maldives and I found your article is giving me even more excitement to go to Maldives asap. hehe
    Currently, I’m here in Qatar working in a construction company, but recently I was consulted by our HR if I’m willing to be assigned in our Maldives Project, and just right there and then I agree (imagining the beaches haha).
    Bye city life for now, Hello Maldives……!

    I think I’m already well-informed about the basic Maldives life by just reading through your blog.

    Thanks a lot.

    God bless you more!

    1. Hi Eugene!! Thank you so much for your comment, it made my day! Will you be living in Male? Hope you have plenty of free time to explore other islands and the gorgeous beaches 🙂 Best wishes!!!!!

  24. Sounds like hell, who would want to live in a conservative Muslim third world sweat house like that anyway?

    1. Hi Ken. I wouldn’t call it that conservative, is it conservative to cover yourself when you enter a beautiful Catholic church in Italy? No, it’s respectful. The islands are theirs, and we should respect the culture as mere guests to a country.

      As for 3rd world, im not sure what you mean. Of course there is some poverty, just as millons are under the poverty line in London, England, but everyone has a roof, running water, electricity, a good quality of life and happy, healthy lives. If your judgement is about Male specifically, then the issues there are the same with all capital cities, especially one that is so densely populated.
      If visiting stunning local islands and gorgeous resort islands in your free time, snorkelling and diving, eating fresh fish, coconuts and fruits and seeing sparkling blue uncontaminated seas and bright white sand is your idea of hell then theres not much I can say!

  25. Hi sarah it’s Bharat from Gurgaon India 🇮🇳 I am coming in Maldives 🇲🇻 after getting a job offer as a civil engineer on a salary 1760 dollars 💵
    Including free accommodation offered by HDC housing development corporation
    Is that good and decent salary to survive over there?????

    1. Hi Bharat! Congratulations on the job. I don´t know how much civil engineers normally get paid, but 1760 USD plus free accommodation is certainly enough to survive, explore and save each month. I survived, explored and saved on only 1000 USD a month! Good luck 🙂

  26. Much will depend on your allowances and whether you travel solo or with dependents. I have just returned from Maldives. If you want a broad picture, let me know your Skype.

  27. I’m about to go for a job in North Male, at an atoll. Thank you for this insightful, I can honestly say I’m legit scared. All this Islamism and sneaking out of a city to grab a couple of beers.
    My fingers are crossed.

    1. Hi Rishabh, whats the island called? Don´t be scared, it soon becomes normal the same as not finding pork in the supermarkets. You don´t really need to ´sneak´ anywhere, theres a bar in Hulhumale (the airport hotel) where alcohol is served, and every resort island will serve alcohol. Enjoy all Maldives has to offer!

  28. Hi. Sarah, Iam from Sri Lanka, your article is very informative. I got a job in Male , with 1,500 $ & sharing accommodation + 2000 Rufia food allowance, do you think this 2000 rufia is enough to eat out , & what about smoking , is it allowed in sharing room

    1. Hi Sarathk, I think you emailed me already, but just incase I would say I’m not sure about the budget for eating out as it depends where and what you eat etc. I think it’s best to smoke outside or on a balcony at least. Congrats on your job in Male!

  29. Hello Ms Sarah, thanks for this article its really informative. I plan to work as a nurse in Maldives its makes me anxious to work there. Just some few questions, is there any asian products available in there? How about make up, is there a store selling some brand of make up? Make up is part of my daily routine. How about the cost of the food are expensives? And its safe to roam alone in Male? Hope to hear from Ms Sarah. God bless and more power!

    1. Hi Marian! You sounds very anxious, what are you so worried about? Male is a lively, bustling mini-city. Of course you can buy makeup! If you have certain brands you prefer, I´d recommend buying them before you fly, or online. It´s really hot so most of your makeup just sweats off. BB creams can be good.
      Sometimes the cost of food is expensive, it depends where and what. For example, if you buy fruits in season, such as mangoes, from a local store, it´s cheap. But if you buy strawberries, out of season, which have been imported from Europe somewhere, in the air-conditioned supermarket, it´s more expensive. You´ll work it out. 😉
      Yes it´s safe, especially in the day. After 12AM (night) I prefer not to walk alone.

    1. Hi Amaro, you´re very welcome. I´m not entirely sure on the demographics of nationalities in Maldives- I definitely know there is one South African living there as she is a friend of mine haha!

  30. Hi Sarah, I’m so glad I came accross your blog. My boyfriend is moving to Hulhumale for his job next year. And I’m planning to follow him. However I have so many questions! I’d love to exchange emails or facebooks so we could chat a bit if that is OK for you.

    Thank you a lot !


  31. Hello sarah, i am ilakiyaa from india.. your article is very useful.. i got an oppurtunity to work as teacher in maldives from ministry of education there.. what about the attitude of people there towards people from other countries.

What do you think? Let me know!

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