Dubai is fast becoming the most desired location in the world for expats. With its modern infrastructure, tax-free income, and comparatively lower cost of living than major cities like New York, London, and Paris, many people are considering a move here.
Moving to Dubai need not be stressful. Here are a few tips to make your move as stress-free as possible.
Living costs in Dubai are manageable due to tax-free salaries and competitive pricing of goods and services. The city provides a luxurious lifestyle and high quality of life without the burden of heavy taxation. However, it can be easy to get carried away. Research the cost of groceries, school fees, accommodation, utilities, running a car, and average costs of meals and entertainment before you move. And then add at least 20% to that amount.
2) Decide where you will live
Research the different neighborhoods and what they offer, and be realistic about what you can afford. Popular areas like the Palm, Marina, and Downtown may offer you less for your money than other communities. Consider how many bedrooms and how much space you want, and whether you are open to house sharing with a roommate, or whether you need accommodation for a family. As a rule of thumb, your rent or accommodation costs should be no more than 30% of your monthly salary.
In Dubai, it is common that you will pay your rent annually, or bi-annually. Four rent cheques or even six are becoming more common. But paying rent monthly is almost unheard of. Remember to factor in the high upfront cost of renting, and paying a deposit. It is likely very different from your home country.
3) Compile a checklist of necessary documents
Arranging your visa and Emirates ID can take several weeks and you will need these before you can open a bank account, and therefore before you can rent and open utility accounts. Many entities will require a passport photo or copy of your passport so it's also a great idea to have copies made and some passport-style photographs to hand.
4) Appreciate and respect the culture
Dubai is a welcoming city to expats from all over the world. With its beachfront living and all-year sunshine, it can be easy to fool yourself into thinking you're on a constant vacation. Dubai is a Muslim city so you should always be respectful of the city you have made your home.
Remember to be mindful of dates of cultural significance when expectations around dressing, eating, and consuming alcohol will be different. While Dubai can feel like a 24-hour party, the city and the neighboring Emirates and countries have their own history and cultural sites to explore, that you would be mad to miss out on.
5) Start saving as soon as possible
With a tax-free income, it can be easy to splash the cash. But many expats regret not saving money sooner rather than later. Saving can help you plan for unexpected expenses, enable travel experiences you may never have had before, build a nest egg for your future retirement, or help towards saving a deposit on your property either in Dubai or in your home country.
Top tip: Use a mortgage calculator in Dubai to understand how much you could borrow and how much of a deposit you would need to make any home-owning dreams a reality.
As you ready yourself to move to Dubai, plan to put your foundations in place first. Be mindful that things at home that you are used to being straightforward, may be very different here or done differently. Researching before your move and being prepared will help ease any culture shock, smooth any stress, and leave you free to explore your new environment, have fun, and build the life you want!
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