Moving to the UAE expat guide

Moving to the UAE expat guide – that will be the topic of today’s article.

Before introducing this article, if you are interested in our core services which are expat financial, insurance and mortgages, you can contact me here.  

The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.


In today’s digital world, moving to the United Arab Emirates would be a fantastic experience like no other. In fact, this country is home to a range of nationalities and zero tax payments. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to move to this country. Would you love to explore the world around you? Interesting!

There are plenty of things to recommend about life in the United Arab Emirates. Before we proceed to explain what it entails to relocate to this beautiful land, let’s quickly walk you through the best reasons to start living in this country.

  • The weather and beaches in this country are unique compared to the Western world. Besides, UAE aims to become one of the five happiest countries in the world. So, why not try your next relocation plan as soon as possible?
  • If you love following a day of work, checking amazing beaches with fantastic weather, the UAE is the perfect country for you.
  • The country has one of the largest continuous sand deserts in the world. In fact, everything here is gorgeous, from the man-made islands off the coast of Dubai to the world’s tallest tower known as Burj Khalifa.
  • While the United Arab Emirates population is around 10 million, research revealed that more than 80 percent of this population comes from abroad. This means you can expect a huge variety of mixed cultures and traditions.
  • No tax payment in the United Arab Emirates. However, as of 2018, the government introduced VAT on most goods and services. But, there are no taxes, and you can save enough money while in the United Arab Emirates.

Ultimate Checklist in Moving to UAE

Just like how moving to other countries can be extremely difficult, UAE is no exception if you didn’t follow the proper steps. It’s an increasingly popular destination for emigrants around the world. With a good salary, standard of living, plenty of job opportunities, and many others, the benefits of relocating to this country cannot be overemphasized. To help make your move easier, below is our checklist.

Make Good Research

Before you move to any country of your choice, it’s pretty essential to do your research. For many expats, the UAE represents a whole way of life. This is why it’s vital to know whether the culture and tradition are exactly what you’ve been looking for. To give you an idea of what to expect, try and understand an introduction to the country’s climate, wages, political system, and many others.

Proper Visa Arrangement

It’s no doubt that a visa application is one of the first things to consider when you’re planning to move abroad. More so, ensure to know the requirements for you and your family. Aside from this fact, check that you have all the documents before you leave to avoid any inconveniences in your new home.

Financial Management in UAE

When moving to the United Arab Emirates, you must have enough money to support yourself and your family. This implies that you have the short-term money needs and the long-term financial management strategy as explained below:

  • Bank Account Research – Bank account research is among the things to know. Check whether your bank account meets the stated agreement by the United Arab Emirates immigration services.
  • Insurance policy – Ensure your family has the protection they need by sorting out different insurance premiums before leaving your home country.

Find a Good Place to Live

Do yourself a favor by finding the best apartment to live in. In this article, we’ve come up with the latest price list of accommodation in this country. With this in mind, you’ll know what to expect. Whatever your housing need may be, UAE has the right one for you.

Entry Job Opportunities

Many expats moving to this country will already have a job. Also, it would be better to have a job offer and later change your plan when getting to the country. This is because; the UAE has experienced economic growth in the last few decades, so there are plenty of opportunities to select before relocating.

Learn the Language

While this country is suitable for Muslims, people practicing other religions can still relocate to the UAE. So, whether you’re a Muslim or not, start learning the Arabic language for effective communication in this country. For more insightful tips about the language, check more details on Arabic learning.

Schooling Options and Useful Resources

Relocating to a new country with your children can be challenging. Take some of the stress out of the first week you relocate to UAE by researching the available school options for your kids. Aside from that, take valuable resources as an essential guide to help you throughout your stay in the United Arab Emirates.

National Public Holidays in UAE (2021)

  • New Year’s Day in UAE – Every first of January
  • Arafat Day – 19th of July 2021
  • September Equinox – 22nd of September 
  • Commemoration Day – every first of December
  • Prophet’s Birthday Holiday – October 21st, 2021
  • UAE National Day Celebration – 2nd of December

Benefits of Moving to the UAE

With the country’s over 70 percent young and professional population, Dubai seems to be an expat paradise with everything you need for a successful vacation and fun time living abroad. However, thousands of foreigners are currently enjoying the country’s lavish lifestyle, good weather, desert nation, and many more, to mention a few. If you’re considering enjoying this opportunity, we have compiled the benefits of relocating to the UAE.

  1. Endless Leisure Possibilities

Lifestyle and leisure, especially in Dubai and other cities, cannot be overemphasized. From camping under the stars in the desert to skiing around the city, UAE is fantastic. Besides, the city’s shopping malls are well renowned, and there are even cinemas, play areas, and many destinations that’d be of your interest to relocate to the country.

Out of respect to the country’s Islamic, consumption of alcohol in a public place is restricted. That being said, there are beach parties, club nights, and many social events that make the country unique in today’s twenty-first century. Also, if you’re a sports fan, you can enjoy some fantastic international events in the country.

  1. Economic Growth

UAE’s economic growth may not be quite good at first, but as of this 21st century, it has continued to flourish at a steady rate. This, combined with the country’s GDP of around 5 percent, make the country one of the most financially stable nations in the world.

More so, this economic growth relies on a large international workforce. Meanwhile, Dubai businesses are well aware of this economic growth. This is why the company in the UAE pays generous salaries to anyone willing to make the leap and relocate to the United Arab Emirates.

  1. Tax-Free Salaries

For most expats, this is one of the reasons to relocate to the UAE. It’s a tax-free nation, and this could allow you to boost your savings, enjoy little luxuries, and have a wonderful time with family and friends. Also, as there’s no tax to pay on goods and services, you may spend less if you can resist the designer shops.

  1. Weather in UAE

In UAE, the year-round sunshine and temperatures rarely drop below 20˚C, making the nation a sun-lover’s paradise. For example, in Dubai, you can expect to enjoy an average of 342 sunny days every year. Conversely, when the weather gets a little too warm, you can visit any tourist attraction or restaurants for food. This way, the weather is predictable compared to the unpredictable weather in the UK.

  1. Reliable Health and Infrastructure

Huge government investment has ensured UAE infrastructure remains one of the best in the world. The healthcare system, education, and transportation standards rival many in the world as of today. In fact, there are excellent private international schools where children can follow the British or American style.

  1. Unique and Affordable Luxury

UAE high-end designer shops and seven-star hotels are legendary and unique. If you enjoy splashing the cash on the best food, entertainment, and clothes, this is the best country to visit. Especially it majorly known city, Dubai, here, you can enjoy excellent street food from around the world for just a few pounds.

Like any other famous city, the Dubai apartment seems to be one of the most expensive in the country. However, even those on a low budget can find affordable, chic accommodation at a low price. All you’ll need to do is compromise on size, location but not luxury because accommodation is of a high standard.

  1. Multicultural Thriving Community

UAE has the highest proportion of foreign-born citizens. In Dubai, you can live an expat-friendly lifestyle without disturbance from security agencies or government parastatals. You can easily make friends, as over 70 percent of the city’s population is dominated overseas.

  1. Safety and Security Measures

Completing our top eight reasons to relocate to UAE is the city’s enviably low crime rate, just like Qatar. Also, Dubai is one of the largest cities in the world with a low crime rate. Aside from this fact, you are free to practice any religion or none as many Christians, Buddhists, Jewish, and Hindu residents dominate the country.

Few Cons of Moving to UAE

While there are many reasons to relocate to the United Arab Emirates, you should be aware of the little cons as well. Though not all aspects of life will be the same, but the differences in cultures and traditions can as well contribute to some cons overseas. Without further ado, let’s quickly walk you through the cons of moving to the United Arab Emirates.

UAE High Cost of Living

The cost of living, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is high compared to the United States of America and the rest of the world. The expensive spending by foreigners backs up this issue. Aside from that, many of the goods in this region are imported. So, you’ll have to pay for a premium product of your choice.

Few Non-Western Rules

UAE is more tolerant of western culture than other neighboring countries. This doesn’t mean that everything in this country is the same as the United States. One rule that expats say is about the night scene.  In this case, you can only drink in certain areas, and alcohol in your system is a punishable offense.

Intense Weather in the Country

When it comes to summer days in the UAE, very few people can walk the streets. This is because of the stable temperatures greater than 100F. During these days, you can only enjoy only when you’re used to the Arizona heat. Moreover, a plus is during the winters; the temperature hovers around 60-80F.

Average Cost of living in UAE

As aforementioned, one of the most intriguing facts about the UAE is the overwhelming blend of cultures. In some ways, the country is ultra-progressive such as giving its police the best car, and others. In other ways, the government is rooted in Islamic customs. Now, let’s take a look at the average cost of living in the country.

Have you been wondering if the UAE is expensive to live in or not? Well, the answer is YES! Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have slipped in the global ranking, thereby making this country one of the most expensive ones for expat. In addition, the most costly emirate is Dubai, while Abu Dhabi is the second and the cheapest emirate in UAE is Ajman.

Emirates in DubaiCost of Living (Single)Cost of Living (Family of four)
Abu Dhabi (Emirate)Up to 8,500 AED20,500 AED
Ajman (Emirate)Up to 10,500 AED13,500 AED
Dubai (Emirate)Up to 9,420 AED23,100 AED

Living Expenses in the Country

Living expenses in the country are not astronomical compared to rent prices. The average cost of living in the UAE for four families is about 13,000 AED as of 2021 (per month). However, a single person can expect to pay up to 3,500 AED.

Food and Alcohol Prices in UAE

Grocery items in UAEPrice (AED)Price (USD)
Milk price in UAE (Average)62
Loaf of bread (1)52
One Dozen of Egg124
Chicken Breast (1)3010
Tomatoes (1kg) and Apples (1kg)73

Due to the country’s Sharia law, alcohol is only sold at selected restaurants and hotels. Read more about this in the crime section we will explain in the long run. Besides, one bottle of alcohol will cost nothing less than 58 AED, while beer is about 17 AED.

Utility Cost in UAE

On an average level, utility costs for electricity, water, and even gas will run for about 700 AED. Meanwhile, much of this cost will go towards electricity while the price for internet in the country should only run for about 300 AED per month.

Cost of Education in UAE

No matter whether your child goes to public or private schools in UAE, you’ll still need to pay. Although the public schools are free for Emirati nationals and the annual cost for government schools is about 6,000 AED while the international schools should expect nothing less than 27,800 while the prices depend on the school.

Healthcare Cost in UAE

Just like the educational cost, healthcare cost applies to both private and public sector. In the UAE, it is compulsory to have health insurance. In fact, you cannot receive a residence visa without proof that you’re covered. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, employers are required to protect their health insurance.

Moreover, a reasonable comprehensive health insurance policy in the country will cost about 10,000 AED per year, while the primary coverage for a family of four is about 17,000 AED.

Travel and Transportation Cost in UAE

Transportation Type in UAEPrice (AED)Price (USD)
Minimum fare for Taxi in UAE123
Metro price (depending on distance)2.50-7.502-3
Long-distance bus in UAE8-353-10
1 liter of gas in UAE32

UAE Cultural and Social Etiquette

As stated earlier, UAE is governed under Sharia law which is heavily influenced by Islamic culture and traditions. While moving or relocating to this country, expats should be familiar with their with the country’s taboos and customs that are associated with the Islamic Region.

Crime and Punishment in UAE

Besides the luxury and wealth of this country, UAE is also known for its strict laws and punishments. Therefore, as an expat, make sure you understand the dos and don’t in the UAE before committing a crime. This is because; creating an offense against the Islamic religion can have severe consequences in the United Arab Emirates.

Also, offenses such as swearing can result in fines or even jail terms. At the same time, alcohol consumption in a public place can lead to flogging. This way, expats should know that the punishments for a crime are usually jail time, deportation, or flogging.

Relationship between Men & Women in UAE

Just like the Islamic tradition, it is against the law of the country for men and women to live together when they are not legally married. Meanwhile, many emigrants can live with coed roommates without facing any legal implications. The problem will only arise if you call people’s attention to yourself.

That being said, you’ll need to be aware that public displays are prohibited throughout the country. For example, kissing in public, holding hands, and many others are not allowed.

Driving in the United Arab Emirates Today

Driving in the United Arab Emirates is daunting for many expats. This is because; the country is known for fast, reckless driving and six-lane highways. So, the best advice we can give you is to be cautious and expect to encounter dangerous driving experiences among other drivers.

Getting a UAE Driving License

If you’re entering the country for the first time, you shouldn’t plan to get a driving license; instead, wait for a while. You can only drive on a foreign license or IDL if you’re a tourist in the country. However, if you hold a driving license from any of the countries listed below, you only need to convert it to the UAE. So, you’ll need to bring a letter from your country indicating your driving test. The counties are:

  • Australia, Finland, Poland, Oman, France 
  • Germany, Ireland, Japan, Greece, Kuwait
  • Turkey, United Kingdom, Romania, United States

Required Documents for a Driving License

  • A valid visa card and one copy of your passport
  • Health certificate from your country of residence
  • An eye test arranged by the country’s driving center
  • No objection letter from a sponsor in either your country or UAE
  • Five passport-sized photographs with a clear picture

Driving Rules and regulations in UAE

Driving rules in this country is quite similar to the European countries and the United States. In UAE, if you’re caught driving without a license, you may face an acceptable charge of up to 5,000 AED. Similarly, talking on the phone when you’re driving in the country is prohibited. Penalties for drinking and driving in UAE include a 20,000 AED fine and jail time. Besides, you may be suspended license for a year.

Age for Driving in the Country

You can quickly drive in UAE if you’re up to i8 years. More so, you can even start the training at 17 years and complete it in the long run. In the past, the country rules require every foreigner to have an international driver’s License (IDL), but now, visitors may drive on their home license if it’s not expired.

Other Considerations When Moving To UAE

Upon arrival to the UAE, travelers holding a passport can obtain a visa on arrival indicating that he/she can stay up to 30 days in the country. On the other hand, visitors should also receive a permit before traveling to UAE unless they come from visa-exempt countries.

Furthermore, your nationality and purpose will determine the kind of visa to apply for. Some of the visa types are transit visas, long-term visas, tourist visas, and many others, to mention a few.


It’s no doubt that the guide to life in UAE will help you plan your relocation and enjoy the environment. Dubai is a city known for its luxury shopping and ultramodern architecture. So, relocating to this country could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made this year. Nonetheless, read this guide to understands what relocating and living in the United Arab Emirates entails.

Leave a Comment

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content