Thinking About Moving to Dubai? Here’s What You Need to Know

Thinking of making the move to Dubai? As expats living in Dubai that help others set up businesses and make smart real estate decisions, we’d like to think we know a thing or two about moving to and living in Dubai.

All cities have their pros and cons, but Dubai offers an extremely high quality of life for many. Today, we’re going to guide you through everything you need to know if you’re considering relocating to Dubai, including all the pros and cons of living in Dubai. Let’s start with the basics.

Living in Dubai Basics: All About Dubai

Is Dubai a country?

Dubai itself is not a country but is an emirate within the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is a country. The UAE has seven ‘states’ called emirates with Dubai around the central point.

Dubai is a large city separated into various smaller neighbourhoods with no defining city centre. The majority of Dubai’s population is spread out along the coast, enjoying the coastal views and lifestyle.

How big is Dubai?

The whole Emirate of Dubai spans 4,114 square kilometres or 1,588 square miles, but the city of Dubai takes up only 35 square kilometres or 13.5 square miles of this space.

What is the population of Dubai?

According to the official Dubai government website, the population of Dubai is currently around 3.49 million people and increasing each year.

What language do they speak in Dubai?

The official language of Dubai, and the rest of the UAE, is Arabic. With that being said, English is actually the most widely used language in Dubai, so you won’t need to learn much Arabic before moving there!

How hot is it in Dubai?

Dubai gets very hot in the summer months (May to October), with highs in August reaching 50˚C (122˚F) and average temperatures of 45˚C (113˚F) during the day. During the night, it is unusual for temperatures to fall below 30˚C (86˚F). You will also notice high levels of humidity between August and September.

Temperatures will obviously be cooler in the winter, with average temperatures of 19˚C (66˚F) in January.

Due to the hot temperatures, everywhere in Dubai has air conditioning, and most people spend their time outside on the beach or in or on the water.

What is the cost of living like in Dubai?

Dubai is a wealthy city and has a cost of living similar to many other wealthy cities around the world, though the cost of housing is much more positive than cities like London, Paris, and New York. While annual rent for a small apartment in a central location in London or New York will set you back as much as £3,000 ($3,500) a month, Dubai is more reasonable, at around £1,200 – £1,800, depending on the location and quality of finish and amenities.

The big difference is that many areas of Dubai require you to pay your annual rent for a property upfront, which can be up to £15,000 per year if you want to live in a prime location.

Property prices in Dubai are still reasonable, so buying property in Dubai now is a good investment.

Besides the costs of housing, the other major cost can be schooling for your children. Many schools have high fees and the competition for places at the best schools is fierce.

You should also be aware that medical insurance and healthcare come with high costs, but with exceptional quality these costs are understandable and most people feel like they’re getting the right level of care for what they pay.

Are there special rules for women in Dubai?

Dubai is a very safe place for women, but in order to be respectful of the local people (who are largely Muslim), there are a few special rules related to women that you should know.

Bikinis can only be worn on the beach and in private spaces. If you are walking a short distance to the beach, women should wear a cover-up (not see-through) and only remove it once they are on the beach.

If you enter a religious place, such as a mosque, women need to wear a head covering.

What are the pros and cons of being an expat living in Dubai?

Moving to a new country (or emirate!) is a big step, and just like any other place, living as an expat in Dubai comes with both pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of living in Dubai:


  • Dubai is a trendy, exciting, ever-changing city
  • Dubai offers long, hot days with cloudless skies for eight months of the year, along with wonderfully warm yet refreshing ocean water to cool off in
  • Dubai offers a great opportunity to expand your social life, with hotel and beach clubs, sports clubs, restaurants, and plenty of other activities
  • Dubai has some of the best dining experiences in the world, with cuisine available from all over the planet
  • Dubai has excellent standards of education with new schools and higher learning facilities popping up almost every year
  • There are many job opportunities with bases for nearly every major international organisation
  • You don’t have to pay income tax!
  • You can easily send money to your home country with no additional fees
  • Dubai’s large international airport provides access to every corner of the world
  • Dubai has fantastic shopping opportunities
  • Dubai has a very high standard of living
  • Crime rates are very low in Dubai
  • The people of Dubai are generally accepting of other ways of life, as long as you remain respectful to theirs
  • Taxi rates are very cheap in Dubai and the government is working to improve the public transportation system
  • Cars and fuel are very affordable in Dubai
  • Most people in Dubai are comfortable or affluent
  • Dubai is home to some of the best doctors and scientists in the world, and actively encourages experts in their field to move to Dubai
  • It’s a very business-oriented and entrepreneurial city, so there are many networking opportunities


  • You could find it almost unbearable outdoors in the summer with such high temperatures. However, there are AC systems in all buildings, and you could take this time as an excuse to visit your home country
  • The city of Dubai, like other major cities, experiences heavy levels of traffic which make it difficult to commute to work or do the school run. The development of public transport will help to ease this problem, but if you like driving you should be prepared for long journeys
  • There is some governmental censorship on media, websites, and even Skype which you may find restrictive
  • If you are employed, you may be subject to very long working hours in Dubai as the international corporations expect more from their expat employees, possibly due to the high salaries offered and the lack of tax
  • If you like going for nature walks or getting out into the country, you’ll have to get on a plane and go to another country to do so (though there are some beautifully manicured gardens in Dubai)

What rules in Dubai should I know about before moving there?

As well as the rules that are specific to women, there are some other rules you should know before moving to Dubai:

  • Adultery is a crime – you could be sent to prison and then deported
  • Getting into debt and bouncing a cheque is also a crime, with the same consequences as adultery
  • There is a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. This law is firmly upheld and you will be jailed if you are caught breaking it
  • You must dress conservatively (appropriate lengths and nothing see-through) to make sure you are respectful to the locals of Dubai
  • During Ramadan, you cannot eat or drink during daylight hours in view of local people as it is considered extremely disrespectful
  • Dancing in public is considered indecent, and provocative if you are a woman, which could put you in danger
  • You cannot swear or make rude gestures at other drivers – road rage will not be tolerated in any form
  • Keep PDA to holding hands only as a married couple, anything else is considered disrespectful

The important thing is simply to remember to be respectful of the beliefs of the people of Dubai. As long as you do that, you can have a great and prosperous life living in Dubai. If you are looking to relocate to Dubai and get your company off the ground, we’re here to help.

We help entrepreneurs set up businesses in Dubai and relocate to this exciting city. To find out more about how we can help you, click here.

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