Help and Advice when Relocating to Dubai, Abu Dhabi or UAE


I am writing to offer my help and advice to anyone relocating to Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

I have a relocation agency in the region[moderated: no free advertisement thanks]. We appreciate how stressful a move to a new country and culture can be and that sometimes there are simple questions or niggles you have in the time before making the leap.

If I can help you by answering you questions, then drop me a line. There is no charge and no obligation to use my companies services.

Good Luck!


I am a married man with 2 children (Only 1 is school going). I have a job offer in Dubai which is paying approximately 20,000 dirhams. Is this sufficient? What is the cost of relocating from South Africa to Dubai?

What costs am I looking at for general expenses?
Entertainment (Moderate)?

I would be extremely grateful if you could give me some information about moving to Dubai.
I will be looking to move out in July and need some information on Rental prices, good areas and also need to know if it is possible to live with your partner (we are not married) also I have only held my UK driving licence since September 2007,could this be transferred or would I have to do another test?

I would be very grateful if you could help me!!!


Samantha, I posted this on another forum:

Unmarried couples

"My boyfriend's been offered a job in Dubai & I'm planning to go with him. Can we live together.

The answer is in two parts and the second is the most difficult to solve.
Firstly, it is illegal for an unmarried couple to live together in Dubai. Having said that, many couples do and they have no problem. However, you need to be sensible about it; for example don't attract the attention of the authorities by having noisy late-night parties that cause the neighbours to call the police!

The second thing is much more difficult. To live in the UAE you must have a Residence Visa. To get a Residence Visa you must have a sponsor - for example, your boyfriend's employer will be his sponsor. But your boyfriend will not be able to sponsor you. Only legally married people can sponsor their spouse, and the paperwork to prove you're married is daunting.

To live here you have to get around this problem, for example by finding a job yourself so that the employer will be your sponsor. Or of course, you could get married which would solve all the problems :-)

Cost of living

Whether Dubai's cost of living is expensive or not depends on where you come from. What do things cost in your home country, what are your living standard expectations? I think taxis are very cheap, Brits think they're incredibly cheap, Indians think they're expensive.
People from some countries will share accommodation or rooms, even beds, people from other cultures won't.

The big expense is rent, which is rocketing higher. School fees, water, electricity, internet, schooling are also expensive as is alcohol and clubbing. Private health insurance is a sensible purchase - cost is about the same as Australia, others may think it's cheap or expensive depending on their home country. Food, petrol, cars, clothing, are all cheap.

Examples: rent will vary enormously depending on the location, quality, views, facilities. From Gulf News, figures for 3rd Quarter 06:
1 bedroom Dh48,000/Dh95,000
2 bedroom Dh60,000/Dh130,000
3 bedroom Dh78,000/Dh200,000
Villas Dh140,000 upwards.
(Check out for classsified ads. for Dubai & the other Emirates).

For electricity/water for a two bedroom apartment budget an average of Dh500/month. For internet Dh149 - Dh349/month. Pay TV Dh150 upwards.

Hi there, my husband has been offered a job he hasn't accepted it yet as i don't know anything about this 21st century city, but i am learning. I have 2 children aged 8 and 3, we live in Australia.

What is the schooling age?
Is there a shortage in primary school teachers in dubai?
Is my 3 year old eligible for prep school?
Is there quality child care facilities there?
Are all the schools private?
Has the fall in the American dollar affected the economy and cost of living in dubai?
I have a full/open australian license - how easy is it to change it over so that we are legal drivers in dubai?

My husband was told at the interview that the cost of living in Dubai is a little cheaper than the cost of living in Australia. And new cars are 50% cheaper than new cars in Australia So i'm happy about that - 2 points for dubai!!!

We pay $1.38 AUD for petrol on a high day (yes the petrol companies put it up when the weekends are approaching. What is the petrol rate there?

How much salary would my husband need to be on to have a comfortable lifestyle and support myself and our 2 children? right now we on approx $150, 000 AUD  and that's considered a good salary - not great or excellent just good! lol.. converting aud to dh it's $514, 200Dh - is that good?

Appreciate any answers to my questions... thank you!!

Hi again,
check out these school sites … id=&ex=yes
My friends child started school at 4 here, just as in the UK.
There is a shortage of Primary school places, so that may translate to teaching posts.
Everyone has a nanny/maid - except us my children tell me - make sure you go through a reputable company as the maids who have left their sponsor have left for a good reason and you don't know why or what they have been up to since they came here. My friend went through 2 maids and some horror stories, before they went with an agency. Maids wages are low, about 800 - 1000 AED a month! Yip, that's not a mistype. Just remember, this person is alone with your children in your house most of the day, you need to have one you feel safe with.
Go with a private school, you will find a great mix there and they are worth the money.
Yes, cars are cheaper and we fill our tank from empty for 50 AED - £7.
A loaf of bread is about 5 AED or you can buy a pack of 12 mini french sticks (about 10 inches long by 2 wide) for 6.50 AED.
Eggs are 15 for 10 AED.
Breakfast Cereal is 11 AED for Kellogs Rice Crispies
Herb, spices, flour, rice is really cheap, clothes are cheap (even designer). We go even cheaper by shopping for clothes at 'Gift Village', my daughters school shoes were only 18 AED there, they were 300 AED at the school store. School clothes are a little cheaper than the UK, but not much as I'm sure the store gives the school a sub! In the UK a school polo shirt is about £8.50, that would be 60 + AED, i think they were less than 50 AED.
If that is the wage you'l be on here, you will live like kings! We are on half of that and still pay a UK mortgage and manage to do things though, are only struggeling a little because our tenants back in our home have stopped paying the rent.
Things go up a couple of Dirhams, then come back down again with no explaination on a weekly basis, so I'm not sure how much the $ fluctuations affect us.
The internet is expensive compared to the UK, it worls out at £30 a month, but the utilities are much cheaper than the UK, though we don't pay them, my hubbies company does, but other folk tell me its much cheaper.
What else, well my son is off to India on Sunday with the school, it has cost 1000 AED only for the week, he wouldn't be getting chances like that back in the UK.
Its a different world here, the shop assistants call you maam, fall over themselves to pack your bags or just help you to your car with the trolley. If you try and do it for yourself, their faces fall, so we go with it and say thank you a lot!
Eating out is cheap too, but the price shoots up with alcohol added. All the usual fast food outlets are here, its 69AED for a huge mega bucket at KFC, less than £10, in the UK it would be over £20. Pizza Hut meal deal for less than £3. You get the picture.

Good Luck


Goldcoastie, Jackie has given you some great answers. As Oz is much cheaper than the UK I can relate to what you think is expensive (whether Dubai is expensive or not depends entirely where you come from and what you're used to paying).
Your specific questions:
Unleaded petrol is 50 Aussie cents a litre.
When you have your Residence Visa you go to the police licensing department with your Aussie licence and after the inevitable paperwork (which we drown in here!) they simply give you a UAE ten year licence.
The AED is pegged to the US $, so it does affect us, but mainly with inflation which is high.
Yes, cars are much cheaper. List price for a new Holden Commodore (called Chevrolet Lumina here) is from AED85,000, which is about A$25,000.
If you eat out at non-hotel restaurants, as we usually do, we have an excellent meal for less than A$30 for the two of us.
The salary question is difficult. I know people living here on AED1,000 a month and others on 60,000 a month with everything such as accommodation and school fees also paid by the company.  For you it depends what the package includes. The big expense is accommodation and ideally that should be paid by the employer. The next big one for you will be school fees, and again some employers will pay those for senior employees.

Thank you Jackie and Seabee. I'm a whole lot more informed. All the items listed are WAY cheaper in Dubai, than here in Australia, except for eggs - we pay like 2cents less and internet we pay $60per month for ADSL2 or broadband - that equates to AED 200 per month. However, you can't have everything i suppose.

Hi there. I have a question. What is normally included in an expat package for a married female to move to Dubai working as Human Resource Specialist? Anybody can share with me? Thanks alot. :proud  I'm from Singapore.

Does anybody know of any Dubai headhunters for nurses or agencies in Dubai that recruit nurses for hospital staffing. I am thinking of relocating to Dubai this summer.

Merlion, there really isn't a 'normal' package, it varies company to company and person to person. As the biggest expense is accommodation you should negotiate to have that supplied by the employer, or at the very least an accommodation allowance.
The labour laws also give you air ticket back to S'pore each year, the employer has to provide and pay for all visa work, and soon Dubai employers will have to provide medical insurance.

I am preparing to move from California to Abu Dhabi in about 6 weeks.  My husband is currently already working in Abu Dhabi.

I am in the process of packing the items we need to take to our new home and storing the rest for 3 years.
I would love to hear some from you regarding advice you wished someone had given you before you had left your home country.

We currently have a home that we are preparing to rent out for 3 years. Any advice?

1.    What you personal items to bring?  (Tips on the items that you wish you had brought or items you wish you left at home.)
2.    How did you handle your mail from your home country to be forwarded to Abu Dhabi?
3.    Tips on banking.   
4.    My husband and I are very active... we love to run, rock climb, surf, and are willing to explore new fun activities.  Should we bring our gear over?
5.    Storage of your important documents.

Any suggestions on resources on preparing for this transition would be much appreciated.

Suzy  

Hi Suzy,
We did the same thing, from Australia.
We packed up all personal items and most of our furnishings etc and shipped them over here.
Our house back home is managd by a property agent. We gave everyone we could think of, private and business, our new address so that they could mail to us here direct. The tenant drops any stray mail into the agent every so often and they forward it to us.
Banking is the same as anywhere, just open an account - we have local and international banks here.
You can do all the activities here, so pack your gear in the container too.
We left some documents with our layer back in Oz,  others we hand carried on the planes, and keep them here.

Hi, I am Singaporean and my husband Canadian. I am in negotiation for a job in Dubai and need some advise from you all of you.
1. We do not have kids but will like to know where are the good areas (not too expensive in rental) to live, we are looking at AED100,000 for 2 bedrooms. (any idea if that is feasible?
2. we were looking for a house but realized that with AED100,000 it is almost impossible.
3. Would you recommend driving in Dubai?
4. I notice in some forum, it states that "in a bus or restaurant, there are areas meant for women and men". Do any of you follow that at all?

Thank you so much!

Hi Monaco, you said you ahve an relocation agency?
I am planning to relocate in Dubai, just wondering if you have vacancy in accounting dept?. I am working here in Qatar with same business, but I want to transfer in Dubai.
Hope you can help me

Jan, it'll be difficult to find a good 2 bedroom apartment for Dh100,000 in Dbai. The high rents are why so many people live in the northern emirates (Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain) and commute each day. Check out the classified accommodation ads at for an idea of rents.  Because of the traffic ou deally want to live as clse to your workplace as possible, but the rents may not allow that.

Driving in Dubai is not easy because of the appalling traffic and driving standards - but you may have to if you need to commute into work.

The restaurant/bus thing means that buses and some little neighbourhood cafe/restaurants have lady-children sections.

Hi- brand new here.
My boyfriend is thinking about a job in Dubai. We do not have to worry about the marriage thing because I have another year to get my degree and during that period we will be getting married. So that is solved.
I guess I'll give a little history of us in order to help answer our questions.
We both are young U.S. citizens. Zach (boyfriend) is finishing his last year to get his degree in diesel mechanics. I am going to be getting an associates degree in business to become an event planner. We do not have any children, but do have two dogs.

I have a few questions before determining whether we should look more into relocating.

We have two dogs about 7 months each. Are we allowed to bring them over? If so, what is the process we have to go through before bringing them over?

Are there many job opportunities for event planners? If so, what are good companies to look into?

We want children one day. Is Dubai a good place to raise kids?

Should we ship over our cars or should we buy one over there? Is it even neccessary to have one?

Are we allowed to drive with our U.S. licenses or do we have to get a Dubai license? What is that process?

Where are inexpensive yet livable places to live? It is just the two of us and our dogs. We don't need a lot of luxuries. Just basic necessities.

I will probably will think of more questions. But that's all fro now.
Thanks in advance for the help!

I relocated from New York to Dubai just recently, and it wans't easy at all... luckly I had a big help of the NYC moving companythat packed and moved my stuff away.once I got to dubai I hired the local moving company

can anyone help me to know about the average of school costs for KG1? and what are the top 5 schools in Dubai?

Hi Tonithexpats - better if you posted a new query, rather than following up very old posts which are unrelated.  Will provide some response there.

Thanks, done

Hi there..

I am currently working in Qatar and planning to relocate to DUBAI. coz the cost of living is very high in Qatar & i heard its much cheaper in Dubai. my query was.. how much salary is sufficient for a couple ( Husband & wife)

and also can you plz advice a an approximate salary for a Sales Engineer with 3 yrs of exp in oil & Gas Products. it would help me setup my mind.

Thanks in advance

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