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Moving to United Arab Emirates? A Guide to UAE Living, An Expat’s Guide

Why Expats Choose the UAE

While many people wonder over the UAE’s booming expat population, the explanation is quite simple. For one, the UAE offers a lifestyle with a high standard of living and no taxes on international wages. What’s more, the UAE’s ample educational, entertainment, and leisure facilities make it an exciting, interesting, and unique place to live and work. As if that weren’t enough, the UAE’s temperate weather and pristine beaches also draw people from around the world.

Moving to the UAE: Visas and Paperwork

As goes with all overseas moves, you’ll need to research and secure the correct visa before you land in the UAE. If you are a resident of one of the following 33 countries, however, you won’t need a visa to enter the UAE: 

If you come from one of the above countries, all you’ll need to do to get into the UAE is arrive with your passport. Upon your entrance into the country, your passport will be stamped, and you will be granted a 30-day visa. While this permit doesn’t allow you to secure work in the UAE, it will enable you to get a feel for the area before you apply for a long-term visa. If you’re not from one of the countries listed above, you’ll need a long-term visa to enter the UAE. This will allow you to live and work in the UAE for three years, at which point the permit will need to be renewed. Keep in mind that, to obtain this visa, you’ll need to be sponsored by a business you own in the UAE or an employer with whom you’ve secured a job in the UAE. While this section of the article lays out the bones of the visa application and retrieval process, it’s critical to ensure that you have all of the paperwork and qualifications needed to move to the UAE before you commit. With this in mind, visit the UAE Government website before planning your big move.

Finding Housing in the UAE

As one of the most popular expat destinations in the world, it’s easier to rent an apartment in the UAE than it is in many other places. This works for expats. To start you’ll rental search, you’ll need to have a good idea of what you’re looking for. In the UAE, you’ll find rentals ranging from homes to apartments and villas of all different price points, so it’s critical to compile a list of “must-haves” before you dive into the rental market.

Once you do dive in, however, here’s what you’re likely to find:

Keep in mind that renting property in the UAE is different than it is many other places in the world. For one, the grand majority of rental contracts are a one-year rental minimum. For another thing, you’re legally obligated to renew your lease for the following year if you fail to notify a landlord that you’re moving out at the end of your term. Keep these things in mind as you search for rentals in the area.

Removals United Arab Emirates

The 5 Best Places to Live in the UAE

1. Dubai
Dubai is a place where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with ultra-progressive glamour. The largest city in the UAE, Dubai sits on the Southeastern shore of the Persian Gulf. Once an important trading hub between Western and Eastern populations, Dubai is home to artifacts that have been found to date back to 7000 B.C.E., shining a light on the city’s ancient roots. Today, Dubai is a world power in the areas of business, transportation, aviation, real estate, financial institutions, trade, and tourism. Known for its glamorous, glistening buildings (such as the Burj Khalifa), the city is known first and foremost for its nightlife and numerous cultural attractions. From dance clubs to music to sheesha lounges and small community theatre events, Dubai has it all, and things get even more exciting when it comes to the city’s cultural attractions. An incredibly diverse city, Dubai has residents from around the world. While Islamic tradition rules here, newcomers from all walks of life can find groups to blend into and traditions to adopt. Add to this Dubai’s position as a global leader in shopping, dining, and art, and it’s tough to imagine why any expat wouldn’t want to live here.

2. Abu Dhabi
Where Dubai offers glittering nightlife and upscale glamour, Abu Dhabi is all about culture, history, and heritage. The second largest city in the UAE, Abu Dhabi has a population of roughly 1.5 million residents. Historically, the Abu Dhabi has been everything from a critical location in the pearl trade to an oil and gas superhero. Today, however, it has settled into a quiet existence as the seat of the UAE’s federal government and the country’s other political establishments. While Abu Dhabi is one of the most expensive cities in the world for expats to live in, it’s also one of the best. Offering good jobs, ample nightlife and cultural attractions, natural scenic beauty, a gulf lifestyle, and tours enough to help anyone understand the complex and fascinating history of the area, Abu Dhabi is one of the best cities the UAE has to offer.

3. Sharjah
For expats who want to live in an emirate that’s slightly less expensive and glitzy, Sharjah is the ideal place. Known for its reverence of UAE history and culture, Sharjah has earned the title of “The Cultural Capital of the Arab World.” While the outskirts of the city are bustling with traffic, the inner reaches of the area slow to an almost sacred pace. Ideal for expats who want to immerse themselves in the history of the region, Sharjah offers ancient attractions, a quiet pace of life, world-class museums, and heritage sites. Keep in mind, however, that Sharjah has strict decency laws that will influence the manner of dress for both men and women, and that the city is dry – meaning no alcohol is sold in cafes or any other establishment in the emirate.

4. Ras al-Khaimah
Known for its rugged, arid mountains, natural hot springs, sandy beaches, exotic desert, and beautiful beachfront, Ras al-Khaimah is a dream spot for anyone who loves the outdoors. While the area has always been popular among people who like to recreate, it’s undergone a revival in recent years and is now also a hub for tourism and trade. Residents and visitors to the area will enjoy the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the promenade that offers space to walk, bike, run, or enjoy any of the beautiful Creekside restaurants the emirate has to offer.

5. Fujairah
The business and commercial seat of the UAE, Fujairah is home to major oil manufacturers, stately mosques, a large shopping center, and the highway that takes visitors and residents to Dubai. While it’s one of the quieter parts of the UAE, this emirate is popular among expats moving to the UAE to work in its ample industries and provides a quiet pace of life surrounded by beautiful scenery and historic attractions.

Emigrating to the UAE

Cost of Living in the UAE

While there are many nice things about the UAE, it’s an expensive place to live. Dubai and Abu Dhabi both rank among the most expensive cities in the world. While Dubai offers low taxation, many expats still find the price of amenities, goods, and services to be exorbitant. Not to mention housing. While housing is prevalent in the area, it can be cost-prohibitive, so new expats will need to be sure they can afford it before making the big move.

Pros and Cons of Living in the UAE

To make a wise decision about moving to the UAE, you need to understand fully the benefits and cons of deciding to do so. Here’s a breakdown of each side.

The Pros


The UAE: A Desert Oasis for Expats from Around the World

Masked in mystery, glamour, opportunity, and diversity, the UAE is an incredibly vibrant place with opportunities for virtually every expat. What it doesn’t have in affordable housing and amenities, it makes up for in attractions, culture, history, excitement, and innovation. As one of the largest expat destinations in the entire world, the UAE boasts robust international communities, a welcoming persona, and plenty of festivals, attractions, and heritage events to make expats from all walks of life feel comfortable. As exotic as it is innovative, industrious, and powerful, the UAE is quickly becoming a leading world power, so it’s no wonder that expats from around the world are flocking to the seven emirates that make up this unique, beautiful, and dynamic part of the world. 

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