Dubai has experienced a drastic transformation since its small beginnings. Now with a population of 3 million, the city is building a more commercial and financial reputation for itself.
Dubai is smaller and more populous than its neighbouring UAE cities but offers a more liberal lifestyle. The urban atmosphere is not for everyone, however, the thriving hub of developing tech provides a dynamic and exciting life for those that can withstand the intense heat. If you’re considering moving to Dubai, the information we have pulled together for you here is the perfect start to planning your move. To ensure you’ve thought of everything and to ease your relocation worries, get our guide to international relocation.
Welcome to Dubai
The dynamic and international atmosphere of Dubai makes it a great home for innovation and development. Having earned a reputation as the commercial capital of the Gulf, Dubai attracts many businesses in the financial sector and is aiming to become a global hub for tech innovation. Parted in two by Dubai Creek, the different banks have different personalities. On the east bank, Deira is characterised as the more business and commercial side of the city, compared to the more residential and historical Dubai Town on the west bank.
What documents are needed to move to Dubai?
Living in Dubai as an expat is not without its bureaucratic challenges. Documents needed to relocate to Dubai can be overwhelming at first and are a factor that can put a lot of people off. To live and work in the city, you will need to be sponsored by your employer to get a work and residency visa. Without a national health system like the UK’s, healthcare insurance is mandatory in the country and you will need this to gain a residency visa.
There will also be a few shocks to the system when arriving in Dubai from the United Kingdom. First of all, the heat. UK residents moving to Dubai may find it difficult to adjust to the summer temperatures, averaging around 40C in the central areas. A language barrier shouldn’t be a problem as English is spoken in large areas of the city, meaning living in Dubai as an expat is simpler than you might think, however you will find that you pick up some Arabic words.
Is it expensive to move to Dubai?
The cost of living in Dubai is high, equating roughly to that of central London, so you will need to ensure that your income can cover all the costs involved in relocating. With the level of activity in Dubai’s economic and technology industries, there are still job vacancies to be found. Recently, there have been changes to allow a remote work visa in Dubai but as of July 2021, this process is in its early stages and may not apply if you’re living in Dubai as an expat. As of August 2022, Dubai is offering a remote work visa as part of its virtual working programme. This means you can keep your current role and live in Dubai if your employer allows but beware, a London salary may be required to keep up with the cost of living.
Can I Move to Dubai?
You can move to Dubai from many countries around the world but if you are moving with family you will need a minimum income of 10,000 AED a month or the equivalent of roughly £2,000 monthly income. You will also need a sponsor and a residency visa if you are moving to Dubai for a long period. You can find out more about immigrating to Dubai here.
Moving to Dubai Without a Job
The best way to gain a long-term visa for living in Dubai is through employment so we recommend seeking a job before you decide on moving to Dubai. However, you can receive a 3-year temporary residence visa through investment into the country. You may also be eligible to live in the country and work remotely depending on your income level. If you are thinking of moving to Dubai but don’t currently have any employment then there are other options available to you.
Finding accommodation in Dubai
There are many high-quality apartments, villas and houses available in the centre and suburbs of Dubai. The majority of rental properties are unfurnished with few kitchen appliances included; however, there are many luxury apartment complexes in Dubai that are popular with expats. Areas such as Crowne Plaza Apartments, the Galleria and the Golden Sands residential developments are among the most sought-after in the city as they include excellent facilities, parking and more. There are also plenty of facilities for children for those moving to Dubai from the UK with family.
South of the city, there are suburbs that follow the coast, such as Bur Dubai and Jumeirah which are also popular among expats. Despite not being as central, downtown Dubai is reachable within 15 minutes from these areas. Bur Dubai is popular among couples and singles, offering a more historic atmosphere whilst being near to the city. Jumeirah offers a variety of villas alongside excellent facilities and parking, making it the perfect place for families. If you are relocating to Dubai for work, we can assist you and your employer with finding short-term accommodation.
Transportation in Dubai
As in most cities, lots of people own cars in Dubai and as a result, traffic can become difficult to deal with. This can be especially difficult if you are moving to Dubai from the UK with family, and the school run creates a new rush hour in the city. When moving to Dubai, it is only possible to buy your own car once you have a native driving licence, however, you can hire cars with your own country’s licence. Taxis in Dubai are clean, cheap and reliable, with a minimum fee of the equivalent of just over £2. They run 24 hours a day to the busy Dubai International Airport, which is a 10-minute drive from the city itself.
Alternatively, when living in Dubai as an expat you can make use of Dubai’s excellently funded and clean public transportation service, run by the RTA. With reasonable prices, you can access the majority of the city via tram, bus, metro or ferry.
Living in Dubai
Dubai is known for providing a high, though relatively expensive, quality of life for its residents. Living in Dubai is also famously easy, meaning that there are a high amount of expats from western countries living here compared to other cities in the UAE. High-quality facilities for shopping and restaurants are commonly found in residential complexes as well as in the city centre.
The urban atmosphere should not deter you from moving to Dubai with your family. For families with children, the quality of education in Dubai is very high and there are plenty of activities for kids as well as adults to get involved with, including sports, theme parks and safari parks. Parents can have peace of mind too, as Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world. If you need help deciding on schooling for your children in Dubai, read our blog: Relocation tips: How to choose the right school for your kids in a new country.
Interested in information on another country? Take a look at our other International Relocation guides.
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