Moving to Dubai from the UK: The Most Important Things to Know

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Are you considering moving from the UK to the sunny and popular city of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates? If the answer is yes, you’ll want to keep reading this!

Relocating to a new country can be both exhilarating and challenging, so in this post we’re bringing you everything you need to know to make your move happen smoothly. Here’s the most important things you need to know when moving to Dubai from the UK.

About the UAE Work Visas

Before you pack your bags, it's crucial to understand the visa and residency requirements for your move to Dubai. Most UK citizens can get a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival. However, you will not be able to work with this visa. Those planning to live and work in Dubai long-term will need to obtaining a residence visa. This usually requires a Dubai-based employer hire and sponsor you.

It becomes much easier moving to Dubai when you come with a job offer and a work visa already approved. This will allow you to then complete the process of getting your Emitrates ID when you’re already in Dubai to become a full UAE citizen.

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Learn more about the process of getting a UAE Work Visa

The Cost of Living in Dubai

Dubai's reputation for expensive lifestyles can lead to misconceptions about its cost of living. While luxury can be found across the city, it is also very possible to live on a budget, but it’s important to understand what your costs will be in advance.

Housing costs tend to be the highest and can be substantial, especially in popular areas such as JBR and The Palm, so be prepared to allocate between 25% to 50% of your monthly income for accommodation.

Groceries, dining out, and entertainment can also be pricey, but there are options to suit various budgets. Depending on your lifestyle, you cost of living in Dubai will vary a lot. Check out our Cost of Living Calculator, to help you get an approximation of your monthly costs in Dubai.

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Try the Cost of Living Calculator for Dubai

Health Insurance in Dubai

Dubai is home to world-class medical facilities and professionals, and the city offers a large range of different medical centers and hospitals. However, unlike the UK, there is no National Healthcare System for Expats, meaning you can’t just walk into a Hospital an be attended for free. In fact, the Dubai Health Authority has made it compulsory for all residents in Dubai to have at least a basic level of medical insurance coverage. If you move with a company who sponsors your visa, they will be required to provide you with a healthcare insurance policy.

About the Cultural Diversity of Dubai

If you’re moving from the UK, specifically from London, then cultural diversity is nothing new to you. Dubai is a melting pot of cultures, with people from all around the world calling the city home. In fact, it’s estimated that over 80% of its population is made out of Expats.

While the city is huge and diverse, it's still essential to respect local customs and traditions. For instance, dressing modestly in public places, especially in more conservative areas, is a sign of cultural respect.

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The weather in Dubai

Dubai's climate is characterized by hot and dry weather, especially during the summer months. Be prepared for temperatures that can soar above 40°C (104°F). To adapt, wear lightweight, breathable clothing and stay hydrated. Fortunately, most buildings and transportation are air-conditioned to provide relief from the heat.

Opening a Bank Account in Dubai

As soon as you have your UAE Work Visa, you should be able to open a resident Bank Account, in which you can receive your salary - so it’s important to get this done as soon as you can to avoid issues. You will need a number of especific documents to open your account. Make sure to read the list in our Banking Page on your Matutto Account.

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Learn more about opening a Bank Account in the UAE

Finding Housing in Dubai

Finding the right place to live in Dubai will be at the top of you priority list of things to do. Luckily, finding a flat in Dubai is much easier than in London nowadays, and there are various options, from high-rise apartments to suburban villas. It’s important to consider factors such as proximity to work, amenities, cost and transportation when choosing your new home. We always recommend choosing your neighbourhood carefully prior to renting for the Long term, as prices between different areas vary a lot.

👉 Take me to Dubai Neighbourhoods

(Families Only) Choosing the Right School for your Kids

If you have children, I’m sure that education is a top priority for you. Luckily, Dubai has a wide range of international schools that offer different curriculums, including British, American, Indian, and IB systems.

When you are ready for your move, get started by researching schools in advance - Popular Schools may have waiting lists. There is no public school system like in the UK for Expats, so expect to pay a yearly fee for Education. Prices can vary a lot from school to school. Reach out to an advisor on Matutto if you need help with transferring your kids from a UK to a Dubai school.

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Driving and Transportation in Dubai

Dubai's public transportation system is well-developed, and still growing, but many residents prefer to have their own vehicles due to the city's vast layout. It’s also worth emphasizing that the cost of petrol in the UAE is much lower than in the UK, which contributes to the high number of cars on the streets.

If you plan to drive, be sure to obtain a UAE driving license, by transfering your UK license in the right government office - but know that certain procedures need to be followed.

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Learn more about transferring your Driving License

Social Life in Dubai

Dubai is known for its vibrant social scene and diverse entertainment options. From world-class restaurants and shopping malls to cultural festivals and desert safaris, there's something for everyone. Because the city is full of Expats and there’s constant new-comers, it’s very easy to make new friends. Embrace the opportunity to explore the city's offerings and make new friends from around the globe.

In conclusion, moving to Dubai from the UK can be a life changing experience filled with new opportunities. By understanding the visa requirements, cost of living, healthcare system, cultural nuances, weather, financial setup, housing options, education, transportation, and local leisure activities, you can start the process of making a transition to your new life in this dynamic city. Remember, proper preparation and an open mind are key to ensuring a successful move to the dazzling oasis that is Dubai.

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