The ultimate guide for Moving to Dubai

Everything you need to prepare for your move to Dubai, UAE

Moving to Dubai can be a life-changing experience, but it doesn’t come easy. There’s a million things you need to think about before moving to the city, and it can quickly become an overwhelming task.

From finding a place to live, to opening a bank account, understanding the transport system and even the costs of living - there’s lot you will need to sort out during your move.

Matutto makes it easier to navigate this journey. Get started right here, with our ultimate guide for moving to Dubai.

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Step 1: Calculate your cost of living in Dubai

Dubai is known for being an expensive city, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what your living costs will be, in order to plan your new life in this UAE city. If you don’t know yet how much money you will need per month, we recommend to use our Cost of Living Calculator to get an idea of your monthly expenses, and start preparing your finances.

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The cost of living in Dubai will widely vary based on your living circumstances. For example, if you have kids, you will incur schooling fees, which tend to be relatively high. If you drive, you will have to account for transportation costs, which are much higher than taking public transport. If you rent a luxury apartment, you will spend significantly more in rent… And so on.

But the biggest expense of all, will almost always be your accommodation. Renting an apartment in Dubai can cost you anywhere between AED 45k to AED 250k per year, depending on the level of luxury you want to have access to. This will also depend on which area you decide to live in and the type and size of house you want - One thing is for certain, the neighbourhoods you decide to rent in will determine your price range, as there are some more expensive and some less expensive areas.

Make sure to check out our Dubai neighbourhood guide to access average prices of each area.

Step 2: Lock in your Dubai job and Visa

Irrespective of your nationality, you will need a VISA to live and work in Dubai, and more often than not, this is done via the employment of a UAE-based company. Some exclusions apply, such as family and student VISAS. Naturally, one of your first priorities should be to get a job in the UAE.

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If you’re at the stage of looking for a job in Dubai, here’s some tips to help you with your job search:

1. Research the market: Familiarize yourself with the job market in Dubai to understand what type of roles are in biggest demand for hiring. Match your skills and qualifications to relevant roles - This will maximise your chances of getting a response. Banking

2. Network: Reach out to people in your field and attend networking events - Nowadays there is loads happening online. Look on LinkedIn for hiring posts, and connect with Recruiters who work in your professional area. A lot of hiring for the Middle East happens on Linked, so make sure you have a strong presence on the platform, meaning a good profile and lots of relevant connections.

Step 3: Make a list of everything you need to do before your move

Moving to Dubai is no smooth sailing - there’s a lot you will need to prepare ahead of your move, from documentation to shopping. At Matutto, we have prepared a checklist to help you navigate through the process and help you organise yourself.

Here’s an initial list of things you may want to consider looking into, to add to your moving to-do:

Here’s an initial list of things you may want to consider looking into, to add to your moving to-do:
Phone Plans
Things to pack
Organise travel
You can find a detailed list of everything you’ll need to do when you move to Dubai in your free account when you sign up.

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Access our Moving to Dubai Checklist when you sign up for free

Step 4: Find a place to live

There are many different neighborhoods to choose from when it comes to finding a place to live. The cost of living in Dubai is relatively high, so it's essential to find the right area that fits your budget and lifestyle. Most expats prefer to live in areas like Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, and Jumeirah Lakes Towers. These areas are popular among expats, and they offer a mix of apartment buildings, villas, and townhouses.

When choosing a place to live, it's important to consider factors such as proximity to public transportation, schools, your office and shopping centers. At Matutto, we provide a comprehensive guide to Dubai's neighborhoods,including average rental prices per zone, which you can find here.

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Related Article: Finding the perfect neighbourhood in Dubai

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Step 5: Understand the transport system in Dubai

Dubai has an excellent transport system that is well-connected and affordable. The city has a reliable metro and bus network, as well as so many available taxis. The Dubai Metro is a convenient way to get around the city, and it connects most major areas. The buses in Dubai are also reliable and very affordable, and they cover most areas that are not connected by the metro.

If you prefer to drive, it's essential to have a valid UAE driver's license. If you are moving as a resident, you will need to get a local license. Depending on where your license is from, you may be able to exchange it for a UAE license for a fee. You can sign up to learn more about what countries are included in this rule. Dubai has an extensive road network, and the city is well-connected to other emirates in the UAE.

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Step 6: Open a bank account

Opening a bank account in Dubai is easy as long as you have all the required documents. Most banks require a valid UAE residency visa, a passport, and a home address, which you may not yet have as soon as you land. You may also need to provide a minimum deposit, which can vary depending on the bank, as well as proof of earnings, so they know how much money will be entering your account on a monthly basis.

Sign up to to learn our tips for how to start a bank account opening process without all these documents.

All in all, Dubai is known for its resilient and ever-evolving banking system, and most banks offer a wide range of services, including online banking, credit cards, and personal loans. It's important to choose a bank that suits your needs and offers the services that you require.

When you Sign up to Matutto, you can discover what the biggest banks in the UAE are.

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Step 7: Get a SIM Card

Getting a SIM card in Dubai is straightforward, as there are only a few providers to choose from. You can purchase a SIM card at the airport or any of the many mobile phone shops in the city. Most providers offer a range of plans and packages to suit your needs, including data plans and international calling. However, you may not be able to get a SIM card without an Emirates ID. Sign up to Matutto to learn more about your options for Mobile Data when you first arrive in the country.

Step 8: Understand the schooling system (For Families)

If you're moving to Dubai with children, it's essential to understand the school system prior to your move. Dubai has a wide range of international schools, and the education system is mainly based on the British curriculum - although you can find American, India and French curriculums in certain schools. Generally, the school year in Dubai starts in September and ends in June, with breaks for Christmas and Easter, but this depends on the school you choose.

Most international schools in Dubai offer an excellent standard of education, and they have a diverse student body. However, the fees can be quite high, and it's important to budget accordingly.

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Step 9: Make new friends in Dubai

Dubai is a city that is full of opportunities to meet new people and make friends. There are many different social events and activities to get involved in, including sports clubs, book clubs, and volunteer organizations. Expats and locals in Dubai are generally friendly and welcoming, and there are many different expat groups that you can join to meet like-minded people.

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In conclusion, moving to Dubai as an expat can be a life-changing experience, but it's important to do your research and prepare yourself accordingly. By following our guide, you can navigate the process of finding a place to live, understanding the transport system, the school system, opening a bank account, getting a SIM card, meeting new people and much more!

At Matutto, we provide a comprehensive guide to all aspects of life in Dubai, so sign up today to get started on your journey of moving to one of the most exciting cities in the world.

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