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Moving to Dubai: Your Complete Guide

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Let’s be honest, moving to a new country can be pretty daunting.

It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to even begin. We often hear questions like, "Is it even possible for me to make this work? Where do I start? Where should I live?"
It is a huge step moving to Dubai, but it is also an opportunity that you shouldn’t really miss out on!

Firstly, we want to tell you that you absolutely can and should consider making the move to Dubai! With the UAE government implementing significant visa changes and simplifying the process, it's easier than ever before to make this exciting change in your life.

Dubai offers an unparalleled quality of life and has earned a reputation as one of the safest and cleanest cities in the world. Over the weekend we took our friend from home to the beach and had breakfast at a busy café. It wasn't until an hour after we left that he realised he had accidentally left his phone on the table. Without hesitation, he rushed back to the cafe to retrieve it. Of course, the phone was right where he had left it. This experience is not uncommon in Dubai, where safety is a top priority. Imagine living in a community where you can leave your personal belongings without a second thought! (And now our friend wants to live here too).

So, whether you’re still debating a move here or you’ve secured a position and wondering what’s next, here’s our handy guide to help you move to this amazing country!

I remember my ‘golden call’ as it was called at the company that I joined in Dubai, in 2014. I was living in Manchester, UK and in the middle of brushing my teeth. I noticed my phone flashing a +971 number. Dubai yes! This was the call I’d desperately been waiting for! They informed me that I’d be flying over on the 22nd of August. It was the 15th of July. Just over a month to organize years of belongings. Yikes! I remember the overwhelming feeling of having so much to do in so little time and wished I had someone who could break it down for me.

So, let’s do that right now!

Before we run through the process it’s a good idea to get to know people before you make the move. It doesn’t hurt to have some familiar faces here for when you arrive! See if you can talk to some of the team at your new office and get the low down on the city, culture and what they like to do in their downtime. Our Discovered office likes to welcome the new lads by challenging them to a game of footie on a Monday night. There are many Facebook groups to join too like ‘Brits in Dubai’ for general info and ‘ATB x Dubai’ for the ladies. You’ll find that is extremely easy to meet people in this country; everyone is in the same boat and looking to connect! If you start your research early, you’ll probably notice the community feel before you even land.

You’ve secured a position in Dubai and have a date of joining

Once you have secured a start date with your company you will be able to book your flight. This will be paid for by your employer (it is always worth checking this as each company varies). If you are starting on Monday, aim to get here one week before (latest) so it gives you a weekend to settle in and be fully prepared, most companies will have started your visa process so this will be a good time to go for the medical (see below). Some of our team came over 2/3 weeks before to set everything up and have some free time to explore Dubai. Some companies will also give you a few weeks in a hotel to help you with your move.

Visa application

If you have secured employment prior to your move, your company will sponsor your visa application and handle all the paperwork upon your arrival in Dubai. Typically, all you'll need are your passport details and passport photographs. You may need to get your degree attested too for certain roles out here.

It's worth noting that your passport must be valid for at least six months. Before you arrive, most companies will start the visa process from home so that you will have a temporary Evisa when you get here. If not, once you touch down in Dubai, the process for obtaining your residence visa will begin. You'll be provided with an employment contract, which you'll need to sign and an Evisa will be issued. The Evisa is a temporary visa that enables you to undergo a medical exam, which is a mandatory requirement. Your employer will inform you of the medical centre location. The medical fitness exam is usually quick and straightforward, consisting of a blood test and chest X-ray that will take no more than 1-2 hours. It's important to bear in mind that this process is standard for anyone seeking a visa in the UAE. Once complete you will need to do biometrics for your Emirates ID and complete the application for insurance. All that’s left is for your visa to be issued (which is now attached to your Emirates ID) and boom, you are good to go! It may sound like a lot, but it is a very simple process.

Other visa announcements

The government are ever-changing the process and making it so much easier for people to find jobs in the country without a sponsor you can have a look here at the current visa options.

Opening a bank account here

Typically, your HR Executive will have a preferred bank to work with, but if you have a particular bank in mind, the process is straightforward. After obtaining your residency visa, all you need are your passport, proof of address and a letter of employment from your employer, and voila! You're all set to open your account. While it may take a couple of weeks to finalize everything, having your documents ready can help streamline the process. There are many banks available but some of the most popular include Emirates NBD, FAB and international banks such as HSBC and Citibank. Agents from the bank will come to you to help get the documents signed so you don’t have to worry about locating the bank and travelling to it!

Driving license

If you plan to drive out here there’s a list of countries that are eligible to convert their driving license to a UAE one, all you will need is your current license, Emirates ID and an eye test. You can check if you are eligible to swap right here.

Schools in

It’s good to do some research about schools before heading over. Families from around the world are increasingly choosing education in Dubai, with a great selection of top-quality schools, globally praised amenities and curricula across a range of fees. Twenty private schools in the UAE were rated as outstanding by KHDA. You can check out school options here.

Health insurance

With world-class public and private systems, you can expect top-notch facilities and high standards of care. The best part? Your health insurance provider will have specific hospitals and clinics that you can use and will cover basics and more depending on the plan they have in place.

Where to live

It's true that rent will be one of your biggest outgoings living in the UAE, but that will also be the case in many major cities worldwide, and this can be made cheaper depending on the area that you decide to stay in. Starting from the top, the most popular locations are typically The Palm, Dubai Marina, Downtown and Business Bay. Annual rent for a one-bedroom will range from AED 60-85K ($16-$23K) depending on quality.

If you decide to rent just outside of the city 15/20 min drive away in JVC, Sports City or Silicon Oasis you’ll be looking at approx. 40-50K AED ($11-$13K) and usually, you will get more value for money.

For more info check out our blog on the Cost of Living for Expats in Dubai including groceries, utilities and more click here.

Tying up loose ends

If you don’t have ties- lucky you! You are free to go!

But if you do, here’s a list of things to think about before you move:

•Mortgage/Rental – you will be classed as an overseas resident so it’s worth checking out what your options will be

•Bank Loans/Credit cards

•Mobile phone plans

•Pets! It can be an expensive cost for people bringing their pets over here, on the plus side there are lots of dog-friendly places in Dubai

•Local memberships

•Have a big clear out of things you don’t need/want to take with you

•Create a budget – bringing some savings will help a lot here

•Mr Taxman – make sure you sign the right forms when you leave the country

Living your best life

The quality of life in Dubai put simply is exceptional. The pinch-me moments are very real here, with endless sunshine, pristine beaches, plenty of activities and dining options you'll never run out of things to do. On top of this, a tax-free income and high earning potential make it a top pick for career-driven individuals.

We hope you feel more at ease about the move but if you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to contact us – (we have decades of experience between us)!

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