A Step by Step Guide to Moving to Dubai

Posted Country Guides / June 2, 2017
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

If you’re looking for a fresh start and planning on moving abroad and you got your eyes on Dubai, then you’re in the right corner of the Internet as here you’ll find a step to step guide to moving to Dubai. From getting there to living there and the city itself – everything you need to know on How to move to Dubai? – we’ve boiled it down for you.

Moving across the world is exciting and scary at the same time. Whether you are moving to another country for love or a thrilling job opportunity, you’re bound to wonder How to live in another country? If UAE is your destination, we’ve got you covered, so read on.

Step #1 Before Moving – It’s Time to Get a Job

If you are relocating to the UAE, chances are you’ve landed yourself a job that pays much more than a job in the States, which is an excellent benefit of relocating there. Tax-free salary, good weather year-round, and the glamorous lifestyle make this a popular destination for many expats, which in turn makes it one of the largest expat communities.

While there have been some changes due to the coronavirus crisis, the job market remains vibrant and in need of foreign expertise, and Americans keep moving to Dubai from the USA.

The job offers usually come in packages with accommodation, food, and healthcare, so feel free to negotiate the best one for you. There are also some relocation questions to ask the employer before signing a contract, relocating to a new city, and making a commitment.

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Can You Move to Dubai Without a Job?

Let’s just put it this way – if you are thinking of moving overseas without a job, Dubai might be the best place to move out for the first time due to its thriving job market. But that doesn’t mean you’ll find a job the next day, and the city is expensive and has a way of burning a hole in your pocket. At least some checking of the job market first is preferable (especially if moving with kids or planning to live on your own) and shouldn’t be a hassle as most deals are sealed online these days, so you can explore LinkedIn from the comfort of your home.

Step #2 – Make Sure You Can Afford the Cost of Living in Dubai

While the metropolis boasts ample job opportunities and high salaries – it also has a high cost of living, which is an apparent downside of relocating to a big city. If you’re not careful, you could get caught short! The biggest expense is rent, and the prices might surprise you, depending on which part of the US you come from. If you’re from New York, you’ll find the rental fees rather affordable.

Landlords are big on paying in advance – up to 3 months, so factor that in when planning a budget. As for grocery shopping, meat, fruit, and vegetables are expensive – you can find yourself paying up to $20 for apples, not to mention the prices of beer and alcoholic beverages. On the plus side, bottled water and soft drinks can be up to 300% cheaper.

What Is a Good Salary to Live in Dubai?

So, how much does it cost to live in Dubai? Generally, around 8000 AED (around $2,200) for a single person and 15,000 AED (around $4,000) for a family should be enough for a decent life, but of course, a lot depends on your spending habits and what kind of a lifestyle you’re seeking. And since the biggest expense is the rent, if your employer provides you with a place to stay, you’ll be able to live comfortably, and most expats do.

Step #3 Getting Ready to Go – Documentation

American citizens are entitled to a visa on arrival which is valid for 30 days after entering the country. However, if you are looking for a long-term stay, you will need a residence visa. Just be mindful of the fact that your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months after the visa is issued. For more information and changes regarding the requirements, contact your closest UAE consulate.

List of Most Common UAE Residency Visas Amongst Americans

  • Work or Employment Visa – issued to you by your sponsor company that should also take care of all other arrangements like the residency permit
  • Dependent Visa – issued to spouses and children of those working in Dubai; to be a sponsor for your family, you need to earn at least 4,000 AED (around $1,100)
  • Investor Visa – issued to those looking to invest, usually valid for 3 years

Step #4 – Establishing a Place of Residence

While most employers provide some kind of accommodation for their employees for the initial period, at some point you’ll have to find a place of your own, and then you’ll have two options – buying or renting. While the first one is somewhat cheaper, most expats choose to rent.

The city offers various types of housing options – from studio apartments to luxurious villas, and the prices vary accordingly. The prices in sought-after neighborhoods in the downtown area like the Marina or Arabian Ranches are higher than residences in pocket-friendly suburban areas like Silicon Oasis or Mildrif. The good news is that the city is well connected and safe, so you won’t have to worry about that when making your decision.

Step #5 Get to Know the City – It’s Popular for a Reason

Once you’ve settled in, adjusting to a new country might take some time – getting used to the climate, working style, breaking the language barrier – so many differences and changes, especially when it comes to a country so far removed from your own.

Many people are of the opinion that UAE is a conservative and religious corner of the world, and while that is true to a certain extent, it’s definitely not close-minded or limiting. In fact, it’s a very diverse country, with people from different nations and all walks of life living and working together.

And because of that, English is a common language spoken by a lot of people, so you don’t have to be troubled with learning Arabic. If you still want to give it a go, we have some tips for learning a new language.

Foreign residents enjoy a vast amount of freedom here. The city is known for its safety, so you won’t have to worry about things like someone breaking into your home, stealing or damaging your car, or violence. The place and the people are extremely child-friendly, so it’s a perfect place to raise a family.

It’s Time to Have Some Fun!

If you are more interested in the nightlife and leisure activities, you’ll be happy to know there’s plenty of that, too, as the city is full of attractions for people of all ages. From visiting the biggest mall in the world, enjoying the view from the top of Burj Khalifa to the indoor ski slope, and swimming in a tunnel that passes through an aquarium filled with sharks – Dubai has it all waiting for you to enjoy. Check out what the indoor slope looks like in the video below.

Step #6 Learn the Don’ts to Avoid Trouble

Here’s a list of some things to avoid doing when moving internationally:

  • Don’t be drunk in public or drive under the influence – While drinking is allowed in restaurants, hotels, and at home for foreign residents, public disorderliness is banned for all
  • Don’t display affection in public – anything other than hand-holding is considered offensive
  • Don’t take drugs – or be in the company of anyone taking drugs; it’s strictly prohibited
  • Don’t take photos of government buildings or people – especially women
  • Don’t eat or drink in public during Ramadan – do it at home, instead, or in one of the restaurants and bars that stay open during this time; they know how to go about this

Hope that helps. And if you’re looking for ways to reduce the moving stress, consider getting international moving services from an overseas shipping company that can even ship your car to the UAE.

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