Relocating from the UK to Dubai: A Comprehensive Guide

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Vadim

Living as an Expat in Dubai

Dubai is a thriving city known for its high standard of living, tax-free income, and cosmopolitan lifestyle. It attracts many British expats with its excellent weather, high salaries, and vibrant social scene. The city offers a safe, modern environment with world-class amenities, shopping, dining, and nightlife. Over 240,000 UK expats live in Dubai, enjoying its clean, safe streets and easy access to beaches and outdoor activities. English is widely spoken, making it an accessible destination for English speakers.

Visa Requirements for Moving to Dubai

Types of Visas

  • Tourist Visa: Ideal for short stays up to 90 days within six months. Available through travel agencies, airlines, or online portals.
  • Job Seeker Visa: Allows individuals to look for employment without a sponsor, valid for 60, 90, or 120 days.
  • Work Visa: Sponsored by an employer, valid for 2-3 years depending on the sector.
  • Green Visa: For skilled workers and freelancers, valid for 5 years without the need for a sponsor.
  • Golden Visa: For individuals with exceptional talent or significant investments, valid for 10 years.
  • Residence Visa: For those planning long-term stays, includes various categories such as employment, dependent, and retirement visas.

Application Process

  • Gather required documents: passport, proof of accommodation, financial means, medical records, and security clearance.
  • Apply through the UAE embassy in London or a sponsor in Dubai.
  • Undergo a compulsory health check and obtain an Emirates ID.

Cost of Living in Dubai

Dubai offers a relatively high standard of living, which can come at a significant cost. However, the lack of income tax on salaries helps offset these expenses. Here’s a comparison of typical costs in Dubai versus London:

CategoryDubai (in AED)London (in GBP)
Rent (1-bedroom apartment in city centre)AED 5,000 – AED 10,000GBP 1,500 – GBP 3,000
Transportation (monthly pass)AED 400 – AED 500GBP 100 – GBP 200
Groceries (weekly)AED 500 – AED 1,000GBP 200 – GBP 400
Healthcare (monthly)AED 500 – AED 1,000GBP 200 – GBP 400
Education (annual)AED 10,000 – AED 20,000GBP 5,000 – GBP 10,000

Finding Accommodation in Dubai

Renting Property

  • Popular areas for expats include Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, and Arabian Ranches.
  • Register with local estate agents and browse sites like Property Finder, Bayut, and
  • Be aware of additional costs such as security deposits, agency fees, and DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) fees.

Buying Property

  • Non-citizens can purchase freehold properties in designated areas like Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina.
  • Work with a registered estate agent and understand the legal requirements and costs involved.

Healthcare in Dubai

Dubai’s healthcare system is a mix of public and private services. Expats can access public healthcare but must apply for a health card. However, public services are often in high demand, so many expats prefer private healthcare, which offers higher standards and quicker access. Employers often provide health insurance, but expats must ensure they have comprehensive coverage.

Education in Dubai

Dubai offers a variety of international schools catering to different curricula, including British, American, and IB. School fees can be high, so budget accordingly. Expats can continue contributing to UK pension schemes for up to five tax years and should explore options like QROPS for longer stays.

Transportation in Dubai

Dubai boasts an extensive public transport network, including the metro, buses, and trams. However, many expats prefer owning a car. Be aware of costs associated with purchasing, fueling, and maintaining a vehicle. Consider getting an international driving license until you can convert it to a UAE license.

Banking and Financial Considerations

Opening a Bank Account

  • Required documents include a passport, visa, proof of employment, and proof of address.
  • Visit the branch of your chosen bank for identity verification and document submission.
  • Explore digital and mobile-only banks like Liv Bank, Neo, and Yap for online banking options.

Financial Planning

  • Consult with financial advisors experienced in the UAE market for investment opportunities and tax planning.
  • Understand the tax implications of your income in both the UAE and the UK.
  • Secure comprehensive health insurance and consider life and property insurance for added security.

Moving Your Belongings

Shipping Options

  • Obtain quotes from shipping companies and decide between sea and air freight.
  • Consider the cost-effectiveness of shipping versus purchasing new items in Dubai.

Cost Estimates

  • Shipping the contents of a 3-bedroom house from the UK to Dubai can cost around £2,220.
  • Used household goods are typically duty-free, but new items are subject to duty tax.


Q: Is Dubai completely tax-free?

A: While Dubai does not have personal income tax, there are other taxes like VAT on goods and services.

Q: Can I buy property in Dubai as a non-citizen?

A: Yes, but only in designated freehold areas.

Q: What are the healthcare requirements for expats?

A: Expats must have private medical insurance and undergo a health check for visa processing.

Q: What documents are required to sponsor my family in Dubai?

A: You will need passports, photos, medical clearance, employment contract, salary certificate, marriage certificate, tenancy contract, and a utility bill.

Q: Can I drive in Dubai with my UK driving license?

A: A UK driving license is not valid in Dubai. You will need an international driving license until you can obtain a local UAE license.

Key Takeaways

  • Dubai offers a high standard of living and tax-free income, making it an attractive destination for British expats.
  • Understanding the visa requirements, cost of living, and accommodation options is crucial for a successful relocation.
  • Expats should also consider healthcare, education, transportation, and banking and financial considerations when planning their move.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about relocating to or within the UAE, here are some essential articles that cover various aspects of the topic. These resources will help you navigate the complexities and make informed decisions.

  1. A Comprehensive Guide to Tawtheeq: Lease Contract Registration in Abu Dhabi
  2. Closing a Bank Account in the UAE: A Step-by-Step Guide
  3. How to Apply for a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) in the UAE
  4. How to Relocate from Egypt to Dubai in 2024
  5. How to Relocate from Germany to Dubai in 2024
  6. How to Relocate from India to Dubai in 2024
  7. How to Relocate from the US to Dubai: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)
  8. Leaving Dubai for Good? 8 Essential Tasks to Complete Before You Go
  9. Moving from Pakistan to Dubai: A Comprehensive Guide
  10. Notarising Your Chinese Academic Degree for UAE: A Step-by-Step Guide
  11. Relocating from China to Dubai: Complete Guide for Expats
  12. Relocating from China to the UAE: Your Top 5 Questions Answered
  13. Relocating from London to Dubai: Your Ultimate Guide
  14. Relocating from Manchester to Dubai: Complete Guide for Expats
  15. Relocating from the UK to Dubai: A Comprehensive Guide for British Expats
  16. Relocating in the UAE? Here is a Detailed Guide on How to Find the Best Movers
  17. Tax Residency in the UAE
  18. Traveling with Pets: A Comprehensive Guide to Relocating Your Furry Friends Out of the UAE
  19. UAE Overstay Fines: A Simplified 6-Step Online Payment Guide
  20. Ultimate Guide to Pet Travel in UAE: Airline Rules and Tips [2024]