An Expat Guide to Moving to Dubai from the UK

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With the popularity of Dubai steadily on the rise, more Brits are making the leap-of-faith and moving to the region. Although moving abroad can provide excitement and a drastic change in lifestyle, it can often be challenging, fraught with paperwork and overwhelming. However, if you prepare early and carefully consider all aspects of the move, it can be immensely rewarding and worthwhile. Here are a few top tips to help you plan your move.


Before making the move, it is important that you have spent enough time getting to know the city as you should move feeling like you know it well already. Make sure to spend time immersing yourself in Dubai’s rich culture, as many expats experience culture shock within their first year. You must remember that it is a Muslim country, and so the laws might not be the same as what you are used to back home. Ensure that you know the legal dos and don’ts so that you can settle in smoothly and understand the Muslim culture. Furthermore, make sure to try the local food as you will certainly be delightfully surprised.


Another essential thing to do before making the move is ensuring that your finances are in order. There is a lack of a support net when it comes to social services, and so it is important to make sure that you have sufficient funds built up to cover any emergencies. Try to build up enough money to cover your living costs for three months. This typically varies depending on individual preferences but expect to spend anywhere between AED 15k-25k a month once you have moved in.

Opening a bank account will also be useful, but you can only open a local one once you have a residency visa. Refer to the “Legal Documents” section to ensure that you can obtain one easily. In the meantime, consider transferring to Dirhams using the US Dollar as the rate is pegged at 3.67 Dirhams to the Dollar.


As stated in the previous point, there is a lack of social services such as healthcare. It is therefore vital that you have some insurance policies in place. The insurance market in the region is quite complex, and so we recommend that you talk to an advisor before moving. They will be able to assist you in preparing your finances and sourcing the relevant insurance.


A large majority of companies will advertise jobs online, so this is a good place to start. Obviously, the best scenario would be to have a job sorted before you move to Dubai, but this is often not the case. Instead, it is possible to look for a job while on Dubai’s three month visit visa. This usually provides enough time to find a job and allows you to get to know the city better.


As you will most likely be leaving friends at home, it is important to develop a new social network. One of the first steps will be to source a mobile phone and a SIM card. The two providers are Du and Etisalat, both providing very similar deals. On top of this, consider joining a social club, or engaging in communal activities. Dubai has an incredibly large expat community, and you will undoubtedly find people just like you.

Driving License

It is often best to get to know a city by walking round and seeing the sights. However, districts in Dubai are spread out over a relatively large area, meaning that the city is not very pedestrian friendly. There are buses, trams and metro systems, but the public transport hardly rivals its European counterparts. For this reason, most people use cars to get around.

In the initial settlement period, it is possible to use an international driving permit that you have obtained from your home country. Once you have your residency visa, your UK driving licence can be converted to a UAE one. This is because the UK is one of the 33 countries allowed by the UAE to transfer their licenses.


Organising a temporary place to live should be one of the first things that you do before making the move. Consider renting in areas such as the Marina, JLT and Downtown as they are well connected to the tram and metro. This will help in the initial period when you don’t have access to a car. Make sure the accommodation is suitable for you whilst looking for a more permanent solution.

Legal Documents

Once you have settled in, it is time to obtain your residency visa. This will allow you to open a local bank account and remain in the city whilst you are employed. To apply, you will need a passport with more than 6 months validity and a completely stamp free page. You will also need the following attested documents:

– Birth certificate

– Driver’s license

– Marriage certificate (if applicable)

– Qualifications

– Certificate of good conduct

Thankfully, obtaining a residency visa is often handled by the employer, so they should be able to help you through the process.

Dubai’s unrivalled weather, luxurious lifestyle, and idyllic location provide plenty of reasons to move to the region, and by following this guide, we hope that the transition goes as smoothly as possible. Moving to Dubai will be a decision that you never regret.

Finally, when youre moving countries, consider speaking to a qualified UK adviser on your finances to plan the best course of action whilst you move.