Dubai City Information Site

12 Great Tips on Moving to Dubai



Hi, Sunil here to talk about a handful of tips on moving to Dubai

I put together this quick list of things to consider before your move to Dubai after speaking with two good friends who moved there (between 2008 - 2012).

This small discussion on helpful tips is particularly helpful if you don’t know much about Dubai or don’t have many established contacts there yet. You may have questions about expectations, companies to hire to help you relocate, etc.

Whether you are single or are moving to Dubai with your family, I am sure you will find these tips valuable in your preparation process. They are arranged somewhat sequentially to make sense.


Moving to Dubai Tip #1

Educate Yourself About Dubai

You must study Dubai before you make a move out there. I would recommend this for anyone looking to move anywhere. Some people handle moving better than others, but for others it can be a hectic and scary event for many.

Learn as much as you can about where you are about to set up your new home. If you haven’t yet, I recommend you read this website in its entirety and come back to this discussion once you are ready to make that move to Dubai.


Moving to Dubai Tip #2

Be Reachable and Reach Others with Ease

I recommend you arrange for a communication device (cell, blackberry, whatever) that works overseas. Most devices today are at least tri-band if not quad-band. Make sure you give this number out in every Dubai related correspondence.

You want to do this so that you can remain in touch with all important parties involved in your move. Once you get to Dubai, you can apply for a permanent SIM card which will allow you to use a Dubai cell phone.

Once you have your local phone you can put your expensive roaming device to rest until you need it again in the future. This is very important to ensure a smooth transition and that you don’t have any difficulties communicating. Can you imagine not having a cell phone today or being unreachable?


Moving to Dubai Tip #3

Administrative Tasks

You might be stressed about getting a driving license in Dubai, buying a car, getting insurance, renting a place to stay etc. There is no reason to worry about any of this. Dubai is designed for the expatriate like you and there are many facilities all over the place set up just to help you.

Aside from arranging for a Dubai Visa, which you need prior to entering the Emirate, you really don’t have anything else to worry about. If you speak English you will be just fine as you will find many people and small agencies available to help you.

They charge a small fee for “running errands” or helping you get “stuff” done. However, it is not necessary to hire them. I believe you can easily take care of everything (most things at least) on your own. It’s also a great learning experience you can use to help a friend or family member down the road.

Remember to use the Internet to your advantage as much as possible. There are a ton of coffee shops with free Internet in Dubai (just like the USA). In fact the Dubai International Airport has free wireless Internet the minute you land. Use it as much as you can to your advantage. There is not much you can’t find on the web today.


Moving to Dubai Tip #4

Arrange for Transactions

One of the first things I recommend you do upon getting to Dubai is to open up a bank account. In fact try to arrange this as much as you can before moving to Dubai. You can at least get the legwork done.

It is very important to have a bank account as you can imagine. Order some checks, get a local ATM card, apply for a local credit card and that should be all you need for banking and cash purposes.

Take some cash with you (ask the airport officials how much you are allowed in advance) to Dubai when you first move to use for cabs and other expenses until you get your local finances set. Most US issued credit cards work internationally as well so take it if you have one.

If you don’t live in the US call your credit card company and ask them if the card would work in Dubai. Speak to your local bank as well prior to moving to Dubai and ask all the procedures involved to transfer your funds to your Dubai bank account.


Moving to Dubai Tip #5

Negotiate How Much “Stuff” You Can Haul With You to Dubai

Airlines are a bit more lenient sometimes when it comes to international travel. They know you are paying a premium fare and often they can go just the extra length you need to make your transition as convenient as possible.

Call the airline you are flying in advance and ask them if you can increase your baggage allowance at no charge. Speak nicely and clearly and if they agree, get them to send you a confirmation via fax or email. At the very least write down the name of the agent, their badge or ID number and when you spoke to them. Most calls are recorded these days.

I strongly recommend you take Emirates Airlines no matter where you are flying from. They have the best and most lenient customer service terms I have ever experienced. Trust me, I am someone who travels almost every week and I have experienced it all.

I also recommend that you read this discussion on Dubai flights prior to making your reservations.


Moving to Dubai Tip #6

Hotel Reservations

After you book your flight, book yourself in a hotel for a week or so. It may sound like a lot but you will need at least a week to arrange for a place to stay, a car to drive, your bank account, insurance matters, etc.

Don’t forget about the Dubai hotel apartments which can also be a great alternative for you especially when you are traveling with your family. You can find very good deals on hotels if you book in advance. I suggest you read this detailed discussion on Dubai hotels prior to booking one.


Moving to Dubai Tip #7

Do a Garage Sale

If you are not familiar with a garage sale, it is simply trying to get rid of your belongings. Put them on ebay, craigslist, out in your parking lot or wherever else you think you can sell them.

If you can’t sell them and you don’t want them call some charitable organization so they can come and pick it up from your home. But before you do all this think about what you really need and what you don’t. What do you want to drag to Dubai with you?

You can get pretty much anything and everything in Dubai, and a lot is also much cheaper over there if you are coming from Europe. It is probably more expensive if you are coming from the USA, but just a bit. Electronics and some other things are much cheaper in Dubai no matter where you are coming from.

Transporting goods can cost a lot of money in shipping, customs declaration and what not. So the less you take the better. Transporting goods can also take time. You might not get them for weeks or days depending on how much you pay for shipping.

I recommend selling as much as you can and taking the cash with you. Cash is always king. You can use the same cash in Dubai to purchase brand new things that you need. It’s an opportunity in disguise to clean up your closet and start from scratch.


Moving to Dubai Tip #8

Know the Work Week

The City is mostly shut on Fridays as it is the official religious day in Dubai. The typical work week is Saturday through Wednesday, though most places are open on Thursdays. Actually now with the expat surge, many places are opening up Friday afternoons as well to meet the demands of the Dubai residents.

Why is this important to know? Well if you are moving to Dubai, you must try to schedule your move around the work week to make the most of your “settling” time. The last thing you want to do is arrive on late Wednesday, recover from your jet lag on Thursday and find the most of the city shut on Friday.

Read more about Dubai Holidays and the Dubai Culture for more information.


Moving to Dubai Tip #9

Know Your Transportation Options

You can either rent your own car in Dubai or hire one while you are settling in. Rental rates are comparable to the rest of the world I’d say while hiring a car by the week is often cheaper. You can even hire a driver for a short term period. Your hotel can arrange all that for you.

I recommend you do this as the local drivers would hopefully know the roads and driving style much better (don’t assume this and ask the driver or the company you hire them from). I have been with some that almost got me killed on many occasions lol.

The cheapest option by far though is to take a cab. I was impressed by how cheap my cab fares where. This is mostly because of gas being cheap in Dubai (or relatively cheaper at least). But if you want a cab, don’t ask your hotel to reserve one for you.

Hotels work with certain companies that often charge more. A lot of the overage in charges is because the hotel collects a commission for every appointment they book. There are a ton of cabs in Dubai and they are everywhere. Just go outside and raise your hand and you should be on your way wherever you want to go.

Read more about Dubai Transportation in this section.


Moving to Dubai Tip #10

Shopping in Dubai

When you get to Dubai and begin shopping for “new stuff”, consider going to the local souks (markets) rather than the larger department stores. Things are much cheaper at the smaller stores.

Better yet, drive a few hours away to nearby Emirates like Sharjah where quality furniture, appliances and household goods are much cheaper. You can put in an order and they will deliver it for you.

A good place to go to is Dragon Mart located in Dubai International City. This place has a ton of imported furniture from China and you can even negotiate with the merchants. You cannot negotiate in big department stores where everything sells by the price tag.

Read the comprehensive discussion on shopping in Dubai if you haven’t yet.


Moving to Dubai Tip #11

Renting a Place to Live In Dubai

You must now be ready to go house hunting in Dubai. You can find rentals everywhere. Keep your eyes open for signs that say “to let” and contact a few reputable rental agencies to make the process as smooth as possible.

When you find a place you like at a good price, try to lock in your contract for as long as possible. Dubai rents can kill and they have gone up over 70% in the past two years alone (2008).

The government has a cap set on rental rate increases, but very few landlords abide by it. I mean why should they? Rents are also paid a year in advance. In some cases they are payable in two installments (once prior to moving in and once at mid-year)

Read more about Dubai Villas here.

Read more about Dubai Apartments here.


Moving to Dubai Tip #12

Get High Speed Internet & Satellite TV

You are almost all set and ready to live in Dubai! I recommend “getting connected” immediately. We live in the communication age and there is not much that is not available on the Internet.

Get yourself a reliable Internet connection and begin to go about your day to day life. Also get satellite TV installed. The local TV channels are mostly in Arabic. Dubai TV has progressed as rapidly as the Emirate. You can access the world in your own home. Learn more about Dubai TV in this discussion.

- - - - -

Moving to Dubai doesn’t have to be stressful. Just take things one at a time and give yourself ample time to think and plan your move. Once you have committed to living in Dubai, all else should fall in place as long as you take your time, learn, plan and act.

These 12 tips should help you make your transition as painless as possible. Remember, education and awareness is usually half the battle. So be well prepared.

Trust me, I have moved a lot in my life and these tips can be customized to fit any moving experience. Once the process is all said and done, you will be amazed at how smooth and easy it would seem.


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