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Moving to UAE

Moving to UAE

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: If you're thinking about moving to UAE, expats there have a lot to share about moving to UAE - deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in UAE and more.

Boats on Bay Creek in Dubai, UAE
Boats on Bay Creek in Dubai, UAE

If you're planning a move to UAE, expats there offer advice about what they wish they had know before moving to UAE - topics covered include deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in UAE and more.

What to Bring When Moving to UAE (and what to leave behind)

When we asked expats living in UAE what they wish they had brought when moving to UAE and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"I would definitely bring some shampoos from Europe as the quality of them over here is doubtful unless you buy them in salons. I would take many of my own language books to read - however one can easily find English good literature. I would take hair color as I am blond and the choices of blond hair colors in shops is poor. I would take plenty of patience over here especially while driving. Leave clothes, shoes, bags and cooking pots home," said one expat who moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"Bring: Another voltage converter, more garden tools and gardening supplies, and hair color Leave home: bicyles, blankets, winter clothes," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to UAE.

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Advice for People Moving to UAE

"Make sure you negotiate with your employer to cover your accommodation or include high accommodation allowance. Living in a compound in a villa is the best choice - one can find many European expatriates to be among with," said one expat who moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"You will need to make a trade-off between living "on-island" at a higher cost for a smaller place, or "off-island" for more space and a yard. Since social isolation is a big hazard, I would put a very high priority on living "on-island" rather than out in the boondocks where you need to drive long distances for amenities," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to UAE.

Typical Housing for Expats

When we asked expats in UAE about the type of home or apartment they life in and whether that is typical for expats, they replied:

"Villa; no. Most live in apartments or townhouses; some live in villas (equivalent to a single family house)," said one expat who moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Housing Costs in UAE

"Much Much higher. A four-bedroom house or apartment in a convenient area can cost $100,000 a year. Most expats negotiate a relocation package where their employer pays for their housing," said one expat who moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Banking in UAE

We asked expats which banks in UAE they use and their experiences. They said:

"There are many offshore banks which are appropriate for most expats (be careful if you're US). Local banks, even branches of larger, international banks, are really just locally-owned franchises. Don't expect the same type or level of service you might get back at home or you may become frustrated. There are different values here regarding "customer service." Offshore banks based out of the Isle of Man and other offshore centers often have accounts explicitly focused on the international expat. These will include features like international debit cards, domestic and international payments, multi-currency accounts. They're especially appropriate if you travel a lot. You should always check what type of insurance cover they carry for your deposits. Local banks offer local and international accounts with most of the features you'd expect from a bank. They're not very different from what you might expect at home in terms of services they provide. However, the laws regarding debt are different here. See below," said one expat who moved to Dubai, UAE.

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Finding a Job in UAE

If you're searching for a job in UAE, expats talk about popular industries and how expats find employment.

"Tourism is the main industry and career opportunities in hospitality and tourism are most commonly available. The entertainment industry is booming, and a lot of places are opening up in preparation for the 2020 summit so jobs are available. It seems to be possible too to get in at entry level and move up through the ranks of a company if you get in with a good company," said one expat who moved to Dubai, UAE.

"It depends really. The Oil & Gas give the best opportunities based on the salary and benefits offered, Real Estate / Construction were also main industries before the economic crisis. There are always job openings for the hospitality industry but usually do not pay as much, but these jobs are always the best entry jobs if considering to move to the UAE as the companies usually provide the accommodation, so it is easier to make a move from them rather than coming on a visit visa and then hunt job. Newspapers and websites are reliable and great tools in finding new jobs," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to UAE.

"I think the main players would be Oil and Gas, Hotel Industry, And slowly rising up again is Real Estate and Banking. Health care is a constant though and there can never be enough health professionals in this city," commented one expat who made the move to UAE.

"You need a job BEFORE you get here. You cannot come to UAE without an employer sponser. Jobs are usually oil, construction, nuclear or academic related," remarked another expat in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"I.T., engineering, education, nursing, and the big cheese: petroleum company execs. If you aren't in one of these occupations, you can pretty much stay at home. There are a few sideline occupations that do well here like media and advertising, but by and large, it's limited in those fields," said another expat in UAE.

"It seems to get a job here (that pays anywhere near a decent wage) you must have a degree (minimum) qualification. Usually you will apply for a job from outside the country and come in under the sponsorship of an employer. If your spouse or partner wants to find work it is available, but you won't have the selection of jobs that you will have in the West.And there is no job advertising so word of mouth is how you will find one. You really have to talk to a lot of people," remarked another expat who made the move to UAE.

Work Permits

"Most companies provide the work permit upon hiring you. It is part of the contract usually and the employer is responsible for applying and providing it," said one expat who moved to Dubai, UAE.

"Obtaining work permit in Dubai is taken care of by the HR department. You just have to provide them your originals which will be returned back to you after the entire process," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to UAE.

"The HR department did everything for me. I just brought all my originals, gave it to the HR department, when they were finished with the visa they gave back my certificates to me," commented one expat who made the move to UAE.

Health Insurance in UAE

"Like most places, you pay for what you get. My company had our family on a health plan but it continually changed with the company trying to save money every year," said one expat who moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"Our health insurance was provided by the company I worked for. We had to pay about $10 (30AED) for a doctors visit. The process was very smooth and seamless," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to UAE.

For more information about healthcare, read our article, 7 Important Tips about Healthcare for Expats in the UAE.

Expat Health Insurance in UAE

Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Join our UAE Expat Forum

Visit our UAE Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in UAE.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: May 23, 2019

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