Last updated on Jan 10, 2023
Summary: Dubai, UAE is a modern, vibrant, and luxurious city. Expats love the city's diverse culture, excellent job opportunities, and tax-free salaries. The weather in Dubai is generally hot and sunny, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-90s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living for an expat is around $2,500 to $3,500 per month, depending on lifestyle. The cost of a one bedroom apartment in Dubai is typically around $1,500 to $2,500 per month, while a two bedroom apartment can range from $2,000 to $3,500 per month. The population of Dubai is estimated to be around 3.3 million people.
What do I need to know about living in Dubai?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Dubai, they said:
"Remember your purpose of coming to the city, many cases you earn lots but also spends lots," said another expat in Dubai.
How do I meet people in Dubai?
When we asked people living in Dubai about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"From sailing to golf to sky diving to horseracing, Dubai is an emerging market that has it all. Wafi City is a great place for various activities such as Sport club, various bars and restaurants, mall and the newly opened Raffles Hotel. Dubai festival City housed some of the most prestigious hotels, mall and residential area as well as golf club. There loads of clubs (each country usually has their own) and activities from charity to commercial events, although you will miss nature's beauty - summers are very very hot (4-5 months)," commented one expat who made the move to Dubai.
Where should I setup a bank account in Dubai?
We asked expats in Dubai what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:
"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 another expat in Dubai.
Will I be able to find a job in Dubai?
When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Dubai, they reponded:
"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," added another expat who made the move to Dubai.
"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," explained one expat living in Dubai, UAE.
What is life like in Dubai?
When we asked people living in Dubai what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"People (expats) work hard and play hard, live revolves around malls and shopping, socialising, attending events/concert, some major sports events are happening during the winter season, Rugby 7, Dubai Horserace, Dubai Duty Free tennis, etc," explained one expat living in Dubai, UAE.
What do expats in Dubai appreciate most about the local culture?
"Although I don't like modern architecture, you just can't help but marvel over the buildings and beautiful water fountains. The Burj Khalif is out of this world and the fountains below are better than the ones in Las Vegas - (Designed by the same guy) Everything is over the top in style and beauty," remarked another expat who made the move to Dubai.
"As a woman, not many. Living in Dubai, we live in another culture but that culture is very closed to expats. You're living in a foreign country without any of the benefits of living in a foreign country...for example, the national population is very small, many transients, everything's in English," explained one expat living in Dubai, UAE.
What do expats find most challenging?
"The heat - by far the heat. And there is dust on everything especially after even the smallest dust storm. My deck off my apartment is like a beach most of the time," added another expat in Dubai.
"This one specifically has a very different view of females and males. Was not use to a man thinking I'm interested in him only because I smiled a polite acknowledgment type of smile. Also, giving up rights as a woman to husband is very foreign," remarked another expat who made the move to Dubai.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Dubai accepting of differences?
"75% of the populations are of expat, Asian/ subcontinent. People lives in harmony and the city are considerably safer than any other cosmopolitan city in the world. Although UAE is a muslim country, alcohol are served in licenced restaurants/hotels to non muslim. An alcohol permit could be applied through various alcohol stores (MMI or African eastern) - to be issued by Dubai Police upon approval - which allows you to purchase alcohol from the stores. UAE is also a tax free country," remarked another expat living in Dubai, UAE.
What are the schools in Dubai like?
"If you can, enrol for DESS, JESS, JEBEL ALI and a few others. This school is very much so business run....parents are treated with disdain by the Principal and Management. There are quite a significant amount of children with learning difficulties/ special needs so if your child does have SEN then this is the school for you but ONLY because you will get in...there is no achievement/support centre so any supposed extra help you child will get will be in the mainstream classroom. The foundation section of this school is good though.....its as the years go up that the many negatives become apparent," remarked another expat living in Dubai with children attending Star International School Mirdif.
"Pay the school a visit. The students are great and the staff are getting better year on year," said another expat in Dubai with children at The Sheffield Private School.
What are the pros and cons of living in Dubai?
Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Dubai responded:
"I love Dubai. I it a safe clean city. Goof for kids. Education, health, housing all services are great. It is a great city for Muslims and non- Muslim," commented one expat who moved to Dubai.
"Here in Dubai life it's totally different because there is people from all over the world living and working here, so Dubai it's 100% tourist city," said another expat.
What type of social life can someone expect in Dubai?
When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in Dubai, they replied:
"as the majority are expects so it's difficult to maintain a long term relationship," mentioned another expat living in Dubai.
What are medical services in Dubai like?
When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Dubai, they replied:
"I am a mental health patient and I got a relapse episode here. The medication provided to me has massively improved my life," remarked another expat living in Dubai.
Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Dubai?
"Health insurance is covered by the company we work for. We pay a minimal fee per doctors visit but thats it," mentioned another expat inDubai.
"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," commented one expat who moved to Dubai, UAE.
Is the cost of living in Dubai high?
We asked people about the cost of living in Dubai, they wrote:
"The cost of living is fairly high. Schools are expensive, as is housing. A housing allowance is often included in an employment package though, and depending on your level of employment and the company you work for school can be included too. As far as groceries go, it depends on where you shop. There a lot of shops that cater to expats and hold imported products from the UK and the USA. There are certainly a lot of options. Expats make up the majority of the work force and so they are catered to very well," mentioned another expat inDubai.
What are the visa & residency requirements in Dubai?
"In order to get a residency visa, you need to be sponsored, either by an individual, or most commonly, by your employer. The employer will apply for the residency visa on your behalf. You will have to have a medical examination and police clearance etc..," commented one expat who moved to Dubai.
Why do people move to Dubai?
When we asked people why foreigners move to Dubai, they responded:
"Work. There are a ton of job opportunities and most companies provide really favorable employment packages," said an expat in Dubai.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
- What do I need to know before moving to Dubai?
- What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Dubai?
- What is the average cost of housing in Dubai?
- How do I meet people in Dubai?
- What do I need to know before retiring in Dubai?
- What should I pack when moving to Dubai?
- Where should I setup a bank account in Dubai?
- Will I be able to find a job in Dubai?
- What is life like as an expat in your area?
- What do people like (and dislike) about Dubai?
- What type of social life can someone expect in Dubai?
- What is the social scene like in Dubai?
- What advice to expats in Dubai have about housing?
- What are medical services in Dubai like?
- Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Dubai?
- Is the cost of living in Dubai high?
- What are the visa & residency requirements in Dubai?
- Why do people move to Dubai?