Dubai Lifestyle Guide: What Expats Should Know Before Relocating to Dubai

Everything You Need to Know About Relocating to Dubai: Costs, Tips, and Expat Advice

Everything You Need to Know About Relocating to Dubai: Costs, Tips, and Expat Advice

Relocate to Dubai
Relocate to Dubai
Relocate to Dubai

For many, it is no wonder why Dubai attracts so many expats: the high-tech, futuristic, and luxurious Dubai lifestyle offers grand opportunities for comfortable living.

Since the 1970s, when oil was discovered, the then-recently established city has grown rapidly by leaps and bounds, with extensive development efforts showing no sign of slowing until even today.

Thanks to its endless sunshine, glamorous shopping venues, global appeal for investment, and incredible job opportunities, Dubai has become a popular destination for international expats, who now make up 85% of the city's population.

Consequently, Dubai has become one of the world’s top global hubs, boasting both a diverse culture and a unique lifestyle.

In this article, we’ve put together a list of everything you need to know about the Dubai lifestyle, including pro tips from long-time Dubai expats.

We’ll cover:

  1. Pros and cons of the Dubai lifestyle

  2. How much does the Dubai lifestyle cost?

  3. Jobs, salaries, and wages in Dubai

[Working and living in Dubai is a great opportunity to build a brighter future, make more money, and send money back home. For cost-effective and fast international money transfer, download Hubpay on Apple or Google play store and register for a free account.]

Pros and Cons of the Dubai lifestyle

The benefits associated with living in Dubai attracts job seekers, investors, travel enthusiasts, and others from around the world.

Yet, despite its many pros, the Dubai lifestyle also has some cons. So here we’ll aim to list both from a neutral point of view.

Pros of Dubai lifestyle

  1. Good weather

The weather in Dubai is comfortably warm and sunny for eight months of the year. Dubai residents are able to easily enjoy the sunny outdoors with its famous cloudless blue skies, the nearby open beaches, and warm blue sea water.

  1. Diverse community

As one of the top expat destinations in the world, the Dubai community is highly diverse and consists of people from almost every nationality. You will be exposed to people from different backgrounds, allowing you to explore many cultures and traditions. Wherever you're from, you will find a community of people who are just like you.

  1. City of opportunities

According to Alarabiya, an international Arabic television news channel, the UAE’s economy will be growing faster than many other MENA countries over the next year, with governmental aims to double the economy by 2031, as stated by the minister of economy in an interview with Reuters.

International corporations like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and many others have offices in Dubai. Also, Dubai provides an advanced business incubation environment that helps startups get on their feet, thereby opening doors for many job opportunities.

  1. No income tax

Dubai is a tax-free nation – you won't pay tax on any income you earn. No matter how much you make, you can keep it to yourself and use it to save, invest or send to family.

  1. Vibrant social life

Social life is a big concern when arriving a foreign country but with Dubai's multicultural society, expats have nothing to worry about. Dubai's diversity and the variety of available amenities will provide endless opportunities to socialise and cultivate friendships.

PRO TIP from Chelsa Fernandes, a fraud analyst at Hubpay who has spent 25 years in Dubai

“Help your community. Just like it is always great to have a helping hand when arriving in a new country, it is also great to lend that helping hand to others. Offer your delivery drivers water, give off extra food to your laundry guy/grocery guy - a lot of people are shy to do this but trust me, they appreciate it!".

PRO TIP from fro Vana Sprott, CX lead at Hubpay who has spent 5.5 years in Dubai

“Sign yourself up for sports or social activities. It's the best way to socialise and gain friends that can turn into family.”

  1. Lots of entertainment options

Living in Dubai isn't only about work; a lot of fun is included.

The Dubai lifestyle offers limitless entertainment options, such as the amazing public beaches, parks, cinemas, etc. Also, Dubai never sleeps; the nightlife is amazing and intense, with so many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. When you relocate to Dubai, you’ll realize it’ll be hard to get bored.

  1. A developed public transport system

Dubai has well-developed public transportation infrastructure that includes trains, buses, cabs, and the Dubai metro. They are always available and connect to different corners of the city, which means you won't have to worry about getting anywhere in Dubai.

  1. No need to learn complex Arabic

Arabic is the official language in Dubai, but English is widely spoken and all locals speak English without exception. So, you don't have to learn Arabic, which is quite complex (especially in writing).

  1. Excellent healthcare system

The Dubai government has established an excellent healthcare system. Health insurance is mandatory for expats, and you have to pay for it. However, medical institutions are well equipped, and the country has hundreds of hospitals, pharmacies and experienced specialists.

  1. High-security level

Security is one of the primary concerns among migrants, especially for families and women traveling alone. The good news is that Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world.

Police patrol the city around the clock to sustain the highest level of security.

Based on the safety KPIs of Numbeo, the global database of quality of life data, the crime index in Dubai is 16.23, which Numbeo classifies as VERY LOW, compared to a safety index of 83.77, which is classified as VERY HIGH.

  1. High quality of life

The Dubai lifestyle can be a luxurious one, and everyone can get the chance to enjoy Dubai regardless of what kind of work you’re doing. The living standard is extremely high for both citizens and expats, allowing them to create good careers and build successful businesses.

Cons of Dubai lifestyle

  1. Intense heat

The other side of Dubai’s climate is the glazing heat. It can get extreme in the summer months, from May to September, with temperatures rising to around 40 degrees Celsius, which can be very uncomfortable for expats.

Fortunately, air conditioners are available everywhere in Dubai – offices, cars, malls, and homes. Therefore, get ready to spend quite a lot of time in air-conditioned interiors when relocating to Dubai.

PRO TIP from Punit Ghumra, a VP of Finance at Hubpay who has spent 3.5 years in Dubai

"The summer months in the UAE are much warmer than most people can imagine, but there is lots to explore indoors, which makes it bearable. Always carry a bottle of water.”

  1. Learning to adapt to local traditions and legislation

Although Dubai is the most tolerant city in the Middle East, Islamic rules are followed here and expats are required to respect them. Also, local laws are strict, and some activities such as adultery, drug distribution, and even taking photos without permission are prohibited and can include severe punishment.

However, though adjusting to these laws may require a learning curve, you'll be able to get comfortable with them in time.

PRO TIP from Chelsa Fernandes, a fraud analyst at Hubpay who has spent 25 years in Dubai

"If you don't mess with the police, they don't mess with you. Pay your bills on time, never miss your loan payments, and ensure you have never bounced cheques. The UAE is safe because of all its stringent rules; you do not want to be on the other side of the law. If you end up in a blunder with loan payments, make sure your case is cleared in all Emirates, not just Dubai. Believe me, many people I know learned that the hard way."

  1. Traffic jams

Dubai is crowded, with many cars on the streets, making driving a living nightmare sometimes and traffic jams a routine. Also, traffic rules are strict, and traffic cameras are everywhere. You might pay a lot for even the smallest violation of these rules.

  1. Inability to obtain citizenship

While visas and residencies are easy to get, citizenships aren’t. Even after ten years of residence, you can’t become a Dubai citizen. You'll still need to renew your residency permit regularly; moreover, the children of expats born in Dubai can't become Emirati citizens.

However, with recent regulations, residents are able to apply for a 10-year Golden Visa. You can check your eligibility here.

How much does the Dubai lifestyle cost?

Whether relocating to Dubai for a better job opportunity or establishing a new business, knowing the costs of living there can be very helpful.

Below are the typical costs of living in Dubai:

1. Housing

The second concern after getting a residency permit is finding a place to stay in Dubai. There is a great variety of residences available in Dubai, from luxurious villas to affordable studios.

Most expats look for rentals, which can be particularly challenging for those with limited income. To get the best deals, you need to spend some time researching the best places to live in Dubai.

PRO TIP from Vana Sprott, a CX lead at Hubpay who has spent 5.5 years in Dubai

“You can opt for your own apartment but be ready to write a few cheques apart from the actual annual rent, including a 5% security deposit, agency fee (usually 2-5% of annual rent), Ejari fees, DEWA deposit fee, and chiller/refrigerator fee (look for a chiller-free apartment instead)."

"Newbies usually say they would only stay here for 1-2 years. That's rarely the case!" Therefore, you’ll need some furniture, and according to Vana and other expats, Shopping Informer, a market for online deals in the UAE, is a good option.

PRO TIP from Punit Ghumra, a VP at Hubpay who has spent 3.5 years in Dubai

"Don't pay any real estate agents an upfront fee for securing a property – it’s likely to be a scam. Additionally, read the official government forums for real estate fees; they clearly guide fee structures."

PRO TIP from Chelsa Fernandes, a fraud analyst at Hubpay who has spent 25 years in Dubai

"If you can afford to stay by yourself (or rent together with a roommate), look for apartments on Property Finder, Bayut, etc. You can also walk into a lot of buildings and ask their security guards if they have empty apartments available for rent."

"As a fraud analyst, I have to say this: BEWARE OF SCAMS. Many scams involve asking for a DHL delivery, whether buying or selling, so be careful. Always go to see the piece before purchasing. And never settle for full price; always bargain."

  1. Transportation

Dubai is the land of crude oil, so the petrol prices are comparatively cheaper to other parts of the world. As much as it's tempting to own a car, it can involve a large upfront cost, and the monthly fees can vary depending on the driving distance.****

Living in Dubai without a car isn't a problem thanks to affordable and advanced public transportation that includes taxis, the Dubai metro, and buses.

PRO TIP from Punit Ghumra, a VP of Finance at Hubpay who has spent 3.5 years in Dubai

"The metro is your friend; it's the best way to get around quickly and economically."

According to Dubai Metro's official website, the ticket pricing for a distance less than 3 KM is

  • 4 dirhams for Standard Adult Ticket (Red)

  • 3 dirhams for Pre-paid Standard Adult Ticket (Silver Nol)

  • 1.50 dirhams for Concessionary (Blue Nol Card)

  • 8 dirhams for Gold Class (Red Ticket)

  • 6 dirhams for Gold Class (Pre-Pai)

  1. Driving

Driving can be challenging in Dubai, which can suffer from many traffic jams. However, whatever the vehicle you drive, a car or motorcycle, you must get a driving license; that involves registering in a verified driving school, providing documentation such as your Emirates ID, valid passport, and visa copy, and passing some tests.

According to [Bayut]( IS THE COST OF,the driving institute you choose.), a leading property website in UAE, the Dubai driving license fee varies between 4,500 AED to 7,000 AED depending on your chosen training institution and learning package. Try not to fail the first road test; otherwise, you’ll have to pay for some extra classes before you can repeat it.

  1. Healthcare

Health insurance is mandatory in Dubai for all residents. For expats, the employer provides the insurance as a part of the contract, and in some cases, it includes their family members. However, if that's not available, you have to get it by yourself, which means extra expenses that you must consider.

According to [Internations]( premiums range from around,17%2C000 AED (4%2C630 USD).), an international online expats hub, health insurance premiums can vary depending on the required coverage, from around 5,500 dirhams annually for a thirty-year-old expat on a comprehensive plan to approximately 33,500 dirhams for a family of four.

  1. Education

Dubai's education standards are high, and most schools adhere to the British educational system. The schooling system is advanced and it is also varied to provide high-quality education for all budgets. The fees depend on the kid's grade, and there are added costs to consider such as uniforms, school transport, notebooks, exam fees, and school trips.

  1. Entertainment

Dubai offers the ultimate entertainment experience, from fine-dining restaurants and extreme sports to world-famous tourist attractions. Additionally, many facilities like parks, beaches, and shopping malls are entry-free or pretty much affordable.

PRO TIP from Chelsea Fernandes, a fraud analyst at Hubpay who has spent 25 years in Dubai

"Have fun! Dubai is a GREAT place to make friends from all over the world, and contrary to popular belief, it is not that hard to save money once you know where to spend it."

PRO TIP from Punit Ghumra, a VP of Finance at Hubpay who has spent 3.5 years in Dubai

“One of the most entertaining times is Ramadan. Many people from around the world assume Ramadan is a very quiet period in Dubai, but actually, it's probably the most welcoming festivity on the calendar."

  1. Utilities

Tenants are responsible for paying utilities such as gas, electricity, water, and internet. It can be paid in advance when renting a place. Utility costs could be higher than in other countries, but it seems just fine compared to Dubai's salaries.

Another added cost is groceries, and supermarkets in Dubai vary from affordable to high-level imports.

According to [Bayut]( monthly utility bills in,as low as AED 550.), a leading property website in UAE, the average utility costs (Electricity, Water, Cooling & Garbage) for a 900 Sq. Ft. apartment is AED 607.96 monthly.

PRO TIP from Chelsea Fernandes, a fraud analyst  at Hubpay who has spent 25 years in Dubai

“Make use of all the offers available here. ShopInformer is a GREAT place to get all the current supermarket deals in the UAE."

Jobs, salaries, and wages in Dubai

  1. Working in Dubai

Dubai is a land of opportunities; you might find a dream job that could improve your lifestyle significantly. Working hours are 9am to 5pm and range from 40 to 48 hours per week, depending on the company.

Additionally, some businesses operate 24/7 using a shift system, while others separate working days into two shifts from 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm. In Ramadan, the workday is only six hours long.

For many years, Friday and Saturday were the weekend days here. But by the beginning of 2022, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates in general, switched to a Saturday-Sunday weekend and adopted a four and a half day workweek (Monday to Friday midday).

  1. Banking and Money Transfers

There is no individual credit scoring, and the banking process tends to be bureaucratic. Direct debit is also new, with pre-dated cheques and standing orders still the preferred methods.

Many companies such as Hubpay provide mobile app solutions.

PRO TIP from Vana Sprott, a CX lead at Hubpay who has spent 5.5 years in Dubai

"Don't use an exchange house! Download the Hubpay app, which will change your life! And regarding a bank account, there are some conditions to know about. Opening a bank account usually requires a minimum salary of 5,000 AED, or you will be charged a certain maintenance fee every month."

Another trick is to get the full benefits out of credit cards. According to Vana, "All banks offer free-for-life credit cards! Read the fine print, so you know how to use the points and get freebies. Never pay only the minimum balance!"

  1. Work requirements in Dubai

Relocating to Dubai is the same as any other country.

It requires issuing documentation such as visas and working permits. Here are the documents required to work in Dubai:

  • Valid passport: The UAE requires six months and three months validity for business travellers and tourists, respectively.

  • If you got the work already, you’ll need a contract copy

  • Travel Insurance

  • Copy of the sponsor's passport

  • Visa

To start working in Dubai, you need a resident visa and a labour card, which can be obtained after a medical examination in Dubai. However, if the employer issues the visa and you leave the job for any reason, you have thirty days to find another job or risk deportation.

Also, Dubai recently launched the "Remote Work" program to attract online workers and freelancers from around the world. The visa is for one year and can be renewed. A remote work visa offers the same rights as a working visa, except that you work online from Dubai.

PRO TIP from Chelsea Fernandes, a fraud analyst at Hubpay who has spent 25 years in Dubai

“Be aware of the documentation and keep it with you all the time. Your Emirates ID is more important than the hair on your head, and always have it with you, no matter where you go."

[Hubpay is a mobile app that provides free and easy international money transfers with multiple additional services such as bill payments and airtime recharge. You can join for free on Apple and Google Play.]


  • Dubai is one of the most attractive destinations for people from all around the world with expats making up around 85% of the city’s population.

  • Dubai has advanced housing, public transportation, health care, entertainment, and education infrastructure.

  • Working in Dubai requires a visa, residency, and labour card.

  • Salaries and wages depend on education level, skills, and experience.