1. English is Spoken Everywhere.
Thankfully, English in Dubai is widely spoken. So there's no need for you to learn Arabic (sorry Duolingo). In saying this, living here is pretty much like living anywhere that speaks another language to English. Learning some of the vocabulary is inevitable. For example, yalla, yes as in yallacompare, has many meanings like 'let's go', 'hurry up' or 'come on'. You will hear it regularly, so make sure you remember it! Another term you'll hear a lot of is “inshallah”, this basically means god willing, the person is usually hoping for the best outcome of a situation.
2. Everything Comes to You.
A blessing and a curse in one. Need your weekly groceries? You can order and get it to your door in 60 minutes with NowNow & InstaShop, two apps you need for sure! Looking for a takeaway? The hardest part is narrowing down your choices. Craving a coffee? No problem, normal or blonde roast? Even if you want a covid test, it can be ordered to your door. The options are endless, but the laziness is imminent. You may never go back to who you were before.
3. Visa Process and Insurance
This part can be a little overwhelming at first, but honestly you have to do very little. If you've secured a job with a company here in the UAE, then congratulations you will have to do virtually nothing. Your company will handle this whole process for you, arranging your visa - which will cover your health insurance. The only thing to be aware of is if you play sports for example and get injured, your insurance won't cover it. For this you will need Personal Accident cover, but luckily that cover is cheap as chips starting at just 20 dirhams a month.
If you are coming over as a freelancer, you will need to organise your own freelance visa and insurance, as health insurance is mandatory in the UAE. But fear not! Yallacompare offers the cheapest rates in the market, you can check out your quote right here!
4. The Living Situation
Oh where do I start on this one? This is possibly one of the hardest to wrap your mind around at the beginning. As by Dubai nature things move very fast. If you don't have a place to live, you could be moved in within two days. Apps like Bayut and PropertyFinder are fantastic. You can scan through hundreds of apartments, request a viewing that day, put down your deposit and bam! You have a place to live.
The caveat however, renting isn't your standard price and pay monthly. Oh no! If you can provide a year's cheque upfront, the price goes down significantly. What many expats do is rent for the year and pay either in 2 cheques, so every 6 months, or 4 cheques quarterly. This can be overwhelming when you just arrive, so if your company hasn't provided accommodation for you, I'd recommend an Airbnb for the first 2 weeks while you find a short term stay. Short term stays are fine, just more expensive. But use this time to save for when you find a place you love!
5. WhatsApp is Everything
This is a strange one to get used to. But everything happens on WhatsApp here. Booking a desert safari, your driver will WhatsApp you the pickup time. If you find painters online for example, they will WhatsApp you to organise business. The same goes for real estate agents and pretty much any business you will interact with.
5. Brunches - Not What You'd Think
You hear brunch and automatically you might think of french toast, pancakes and maybe even a cheeky mimosa or two. What you do not expect is four hours of all you can eat and drink. The average brunch in Dubai is probably about 450-500 dirhams, but what you get is 100% worth it. And whatever cuisine you're interested in you're bound to find an option for it.
6. Driving & Getting A License
The driving style in Dubai is... intimidating, to say the least. Uncountable lanes of traffic, questionable driving techniques and a very fast pace. But you do get accustomed a lot faster than you think. In saying this, taking out a good car insurance plan is probably a good idea. And you're in the best place to do that! We compare the cheapest rates in the market to get you the best deal possible.
If you need more information, we have an entire post dedicated to driving in the UAE right here.
7. Cost of Living
The cost of living in Dubai is a lot more expensive than other countries. It's also much higher than the national average in the UAE. For this reason, Dubai typically attracts people of more wealthy and luxurious lifestyles. Rent can be quite an expense, depending on where you choose to live. Most expats opt for the Dubai Marina for its scenic views and vibrant lifestyle, but you will pay more to live there for certain. Other costly areas include The Palm & Downtown. If you're looking for a more affordable option Jumeirah Lake District (JLT) and Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) are common options.
The good news - transport is very cheap in comparison. Taxi's are very for practically nothing and you can order them with Careem or Uber pretty easily. This is the most common mode of transport as they're comfortable, quick and air conditioned. But if you're looking for the cheapest form of transport, then the metro is your best friend. It comes close to every 4 minutes and will bring you almost anywhere you need to get to in Dubai.
9. It's Very Safe to Live
Dubai is renowned for its low crime rate, in fact the UAE has been voted many years as one of the safest countries in the world. Strict legislation safeguards Dubai's reputation as one of the safest cities to live in. For a city that could potentially be a thief's dream, you will see more luxury cars & bags left unattended than anywhere else in the world.
10. The Heat
You will be warned and warned again about the heat in Dubai. But it's truly one of those situations you'll never fully understand until you experience it. You will hear it's hot and think it's fine. Maybe you love the heat? Those two weeks on the beach each year are your favourite. Famous last words. With the humidity here you can kick up that feel factor to a good 50 degrees easily. Luckily, there is air con everywhere. But even walking from house to car is tough enough!