Living in Dubai: What to Expect When You Call the Desert Home

This article discusses living in Dubai, UAE – the most well-known emirate in the UAE.

We will discuss the quality of life in Dubai, its best neighborhoods, the cost of living, and other important factors like expat life and safety.

Dubai is the ultimate expat hotspot, with expats making up over 80% of Dubai’s population

So, why is Dubai so popular?

The most enticing draw is the lavish lifestyle you can enjoy in Dubai. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the creme de la creme of apartments in some of the best skyscrapers in the world, yacht parties, extravagant nightlife options, and more.

Life in Dubai is very high-tech – futuristic even – and definitely luxurious.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the country of the United Arab Emirates.

However, it usually stands on its own on the global scene. If you want to live in one of the safest, low-tax, and ultra-luxurious places in the world, you’ll love Dubai. You may find more appealing than the lifestyle and economic opportunities in America.

Note, however, that the UAE doesn’t usually hand out citizenship to foreigners.

You can’t live in Dubai permanently as a foreigner, but you can obtain long-term residency through specific visas or property investments.

What Is It Like to Live in Dubai

Dubai, a modern city with iconic landmarks like Burj Al Arab, is cosmopolitan with a diverse population. The majority are South Asians, followed by Filipinos, Westerners, and Arabs from various countries.

Schools in Dubai cater to various curriculums, but all are private and expensive. The city offers numerous recreational options like parks, cinemas, and beaches.

Residency in Dubai is tied to employment, with no permanent residency or citizenship options.

You might felt unsettled due to the temporary nature of living in Dubai and a lack of personal connection to the city. They acknowledge issues with human rights and labor abuses, particularly in construction.

Job satisfaction and conditions vary, with government jobs paying well but reserved for locals. Private sector experiences depend on the employer, with some requiring passport retention. Justice system biases and the absence of insolvency laws create challenges, making life in Dubai appealing yet not feeling like home.

What Is the Costing of Living in Dubai?

Dubai, known for its luxurious lifestyle, is among the world’s most expensive cities, similar to London or New York.

Dining out is pricey, with average costs of $12 for a beer and $5 for a cappuccino, due to its desert location and reliance on imported goods.

Even groceries come at a high price. Rent for a high-end apartment in a central location can exceed $5,000 monthly, but there are more affordable options for decent rental properties.

Best Co-Working Places in Dubai

Co-working spaces in Dubai offer a flexible and collaborative environment for professionals, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. These spaces are designed to accommodate a variety of working styles and provide amenities like high-speed internet, meeting rooms, and communal areas.

They often host networking events and workshops, fostering a community of like-minded individuals.

Dubai’s co-working spaces range from luxurious setups in prime locations to more affordable, community-focused environments, catering to a diverse range of needs and budgets.

These spaces are popular among digital nomads, startups, and those seeking a professional setting without the commitment of a traditional office lease.

Dubai offers a remote work visa program that allows remote workers and self-employed individuals to stay for up to a year. For those needing workspaces, Dubai offers options like:

  1. myOffice Dubai Marina: This workspace provides exceptional staff support, spacious and well-equipped offices, and impressive views.
  2. Bisdesk: Located in Dubai’s business area, Bisdesk caters to both start-ups and established businesses, offering private offices and 24/7 access.

While Dubai boasts the fastest internet connection in the Gulf, allowing seamless business management from anywhere in the city, it is also one of the most expensive places globally for broadband services.

Co-Living Spaces in Dubai

Co-living in Dubai refers to a modern form of shared housing where residents live in a communal environment, often with shared common areas like kitchens, living rooms, and sometimes workspaces.

This living arrangement is popular among expatriates, young professionals, and digital nomads who seek a more social and affordable living option compared to traditional housing.

Co-living spaces in Dubai are typically furnished and offer amenities like Wi-Fi, cleaning services, and sometimes recreational facilities.

These setups not only provide a cost-effective solution to Dubai’s relatively high living costs but also foster a sense of community and networking opportunities, making them an attractive option for those new to the city or looking for a more collaborative living experience.

Buying Property in Dubai

Buying property in Dubai is a process that attracts many foreign investors and expats due to the city’s luxurious lifestyle, strategic location, and high investment potential.

Here’re some specific requirements and unique advantages:

  1. Eligibility and Areas for Foreign Investors: UAE or GCC citizens can buy property anywhere in Dubai, while foreign investors can only buy in designated areas like The Palm Jumeirah, Downtown Dubai, and Dubai Marina. Foreign investors don’t need a visa to purchase property and may be eligible for a residency visa upon buying.
  2. Taxation and Fees: There is no income or inheritance tax on Dubai properties. Foreign investors, however, might face income tax in their home countries. A 4% transfer fee is payable to the Dubai Land Department, and a monthly ‘housing fee’ equivalent to 5% of the area’s average rental value also applies.
  3. Finding and Choosing Properties: Properties can be found through websites like Find Properties and Bayut, or through real estate agents. Factors to consider include location, rental yield, and demand.
  4. Popular Locations and Investment Returns: Popular areas for investment include The Palm Jumeirah, CityWalk Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches, and Downtown Dubai. These areas offer good rental yields and are attractive for short-term rentals.
  5. Avoiding Problems in Purchase: To avoid scams and bad investments, verify the real estate agent’s registration with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and ensure proper paperwork, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and No Objection Certificate (NOC).
  6. Benefits of Buying in Dubai: Dubai is attractive for property investment due to strong rental yields, no property taxes, a growing population, ongoing development, eligibility for residency visas for certain property values, and generally lower property costs compared to similar markets globally. GuestReady provides tools and advice for new investors in the short-term rental market.

Things you want to know about buying property in Dubai:

What Is It Like to Work in Dubai?

Full-time employees typically work five eight-hour shifts from Sunday to Thursday in Dubai, with Friday and Saturday as rest days, differing from the other countries’ Monday-Friday workweek.

Employees in the private sector receive 30 days of annual leave after a year of employment.

There are nine public holidays, including New Year’s Day, Al Isra’a Wal Mi’raj, Eid Al Fitr, Arafat Day, Eid Al Adha, Al Hijri, the Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday, Commemoration Day, and National Day, with dates varying annually based on lunar sightings.

The number of holidays employees get depends on whether Eid occurs on weekdays or weekends. Notably, in the UAE, income is not subject to income tax.

Job and Saraly in Dubai

Not all Dubai citizens are rich; while the city is known for its wealth, there is a range of income levels among its residents.

In Dubai, the typical salary varies widely, ranging from about 4,810 AED (around 1,310 USD) to 99,000 AED (approximately 26,956 USD) each month. This range reflects the difference between the usual lowest and highest salaries in the city.

However, it’s important to note that the actual lowest salary might be lower than this range suggests, and the highest-earning roles could offer even more.

Understanding the average salary, along with the median and salary range, provides valuable insight into the economic landscape and salary expectations in Dubai.

Here’s an overview of what people in different professions typically earn:

  1. Healthcare Professionals: Doctors and medical specialists often have high salaries, with consultants and surgeons earning between 300,000 to over 1,000,000 AED per year.
  2. Engineering Professionals: Engineers, particularly in the fields of petroleum, chemical, and aerospace, can earn from 120,000 to 300,000 AED annually.
  3. IT and Technology Experts: IT managers and software engineers typically earn between 120,000 to 300,000 AED per year, depending on experience and specialization.
  4. Finance and Accounting Professionals: Salaries for roles like accountants, auditors, and financial managers range from 100,000 to 250,000 AED annually.
  5. Legal Professionals: Lawyers, particularly in corporate and commercial law, can earn between 200,000 to 500,000 AED per year.
  6. Education Professionals: Teachers, especially in international schools, can earn between 90,000 to 220,000 AED annually, depending on their qualifications and experience.
  7. Construction and Real Estate: Project managers and real estate professionals often earn between 150,000 to 400,000 AED per year.
  8. Hospitality and Tourism: Managers in the hospitality industry can earn from 100,000 to 250,000 AED annually, while staff positions are generally lower.
  9. Retail and Sales: Managers in this sector can earn between 80,000 to 200,000 AED per year, with sales positions typically earning less.
  10. Administration and Office Support: Administrative roles, such as office managers or executive assistants, can earn from 60,000 to 150,000 AED per year.

Education in Dubai

Dubai is known for its high-quality education, attracting many expats with its numerous international schools.

These schools offer curriculums aligned with British and American educational standards, accredited by authorities in the UK, US, and international educational bodies.

This ensures a top-notch education for students. The diverse international community within these schools provides a culturally rich environment for children.

However, it’s important to remember that tuition fees for these international schools can be quite expensive, and securing a spot for your child might require early planning due to limited availability.

Additionally, Dubai also hosts several internationally recognized universities for higher education.