Moving to Dubai from the UK

Dubai is rapidly becoming one of the more attractive destinations for UK expats. Boasting unparalleled economic growth it is a city aflame with an entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity for the enterprising. It also offers a completely different environment from the UK, scorching weather, vastly different language, religion, laws and customs.

Those willing to integrate though will find Dubai very welcoming, much more diverse than one might initially expect and much more affordable than the UK. In addition, there is a thriving expat community with whom you can socialise, play sports and indulge in the favourite British pastime (aka drinking).

Myths about Dubai are prevalent in the media, but in fact, you can buy alcohol in bars and specialist shops (with a liquor licence granted to non-Muslims) and you don’t have to adhere to an Islamic dress code (though there are prohibitions against ‘indecent clothing’). You can also buy pork in the western section of some supermarkets.

If you’re already set on moving to Dubai, why not jump to the next step? Costs.

To find out how much it’ll cost you to ship your belongings from the US to Dubai, simply fill out a few details on this short form. Our trusted suppliers will then be in touch with quotes for you to compare.

Once home to nothing but desert land and a handful of villages, now Dubai has the world’s most jaw-dropping architecture 

Why move to Dubai?

Of all the changes undergone by world cities in the last few decades the most startling and dramatic have occurred in Dubai. Once a mere business hub for the oil industry, the Emirate has taken advantage of rising oil prices and businesses moving from other parts of the Middle East to massively expand its economy and explode onto the international scene.

Today less than 1% of Dubai’s GDP is from oil – at one time it was over half. The city has radically diversified its economy to encompass real estate, construction, trade, financial services and tourism.

This transformation has seen the landscape and population change as much as the economic balance: Dubai skyscrapers continue to shoot up, piercing the Arabian skyline, while man-made islands create real estate and tourism opportunities; Emiratis are now a minority in their own city as foreign workers have been sucked in to sustain the boom.

Opportunities for British people emigrating to Dubai are therefore plentiful and many have taken advantage of the low crime rates, enhanced spending power and low property prices to vastly improve their quality of life.

In 2020, the UAE was the world’s only country to have three of its cities – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah – all among the top ten safest cities in the world.

Job market

Dubai has a well-earned reputation of being a haven for people looking to boost their careers. Tax-free salaries and excellent job opportunities have lured thousands of expats yearly.

Dubai’s economic boom of the previous decade seems to have dwindled somewhat in comparison. However, while sectors such as retail and hospitality have seen a bit of a recent dip, industries such as education, agricultural sciences and manufacturing have enjoyed considerable growth.

The most sought after employees in Dubai are engineers, teachers and people who work in more creative fields such as marketing and communications.

Select the size of your move to get free quotes

Property market

Overall, residential property prices dropped by around 8.3% over the past year. Though this isn’t great for Dubai property owners now, it does mean the prices of apartments and villas are considerably lower than they were a few years ago. This is good news for expats thinking of investing in a property soon, as it means more affordable property prices.

Given the recent downfall in housing prices, it may seem that investing in Dubai’s property would be a poor business idea. Nevertheless, Dubai’s property market is predicted to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic over the next two years.

Interesting fact: Dubai has no address system – no street numbers, no road names and no zip codes. Directions and the postal systems run on what landmarks you are near.

Healthcare for expats

Dubai boasts a highly developed modern healthcare system for natives and expats alike. The public hospitals – free to use by citizens and expats who have a health card – provide free or highly affordable healthcare.

Every resident of Dubai is legally required to have some form of private medical cover, and unless you are an Emirati national, you will need private medical cover in Dubai.

If your employer isn’t providing you with adequate medical cover, it’s a very sensible idea to take out some private medical insurance.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Cigna for private medical insurance in the UAE. With four levels of annual cover to choose from and extra modules for more flexibility, Cigna will sort you out with a plan that suits your needs.

Start building a customised plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets – you and your family.

Visas and work permits for Dubai

While permanent residency visas are relatively easy to obtain for Brits with employment in the UAE, it’s virtually impossible for those without. This is especially difficult since the global financial crisis precipitated a severe downturn in the UAE and led to the government introducing quotas for foreign workers.

As such, you really shouldn’t move to Dubai unless you have a job that will lead to a work permit, which will, in turn, lead to residency and the right to rent an apartment, access healthcare and education, etc.

Schools and education in Dubai

The prospect of finding a school for your child in the United Arab Emirates that teaches the right curriculum, in the right language and which is near enough to your home may appear daunting at first but you’ll actually find that there’s a great deal of choice. School fees are also a lot more affordable than the tuition fees of private schools in western countries.

Those looking for a British curriculum might consider the highly regarded JESS and Dubai British School where fees range from around AED 29,000 to around AED 56,000 per year. There are at least 60 schools offering a UK curriculum though, with fees for primary education starting at around AED 4,000.

There are also a number of other international schools with various curricula and programmes from which to choose.

Special needs schooling is rarer and the costs higher (around AED 70,000).

Many large foreign universities have set up institutions at the Dubai International Academic City located 40 km southeast of the centre of Dubai.

dubai at sunset

It’s impossible to get bored of Dubai’s impressive skyline – let alone when it’s paired with a pastel sunset

Comparing Dubai to London

Moving from London to Dubai will make you wonder how you ever managed to survive in a city as expensive as the UK capital. Everything from groceries to utilities is cheaper in Dubai – among the very few things you’ll find yourself paying a premium on are, understandably, alcohol and women’s fashion.

Compared to London, Dubai is generally safer and property is more affordable. The city’s roads though are highly congested so you won’t be escaping the London pollution.


Culture and nature

In cultural terms Dubai isn’t going to serve up your western staples – English language theatre, cinema (apart from the biggest Hollywood blockbusters) and live popular music will all be hard to find. If you’re willing to embrace the difference though you won’t be disappointed – the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a good place to start.

There are also nature reserves, scenic parks, a well-curated museum, a racecourse, some of the world’s most ambitious modern architecture to admire and golf courses aplenty.



Dubai’s climate is desert – much further removed from that of London you could not get. Average high temperatures in the summer months regularly exceed 40°C and rainfall is virtually non-existent except during the months of December to March.

The summer humidity can be quite uncomfortable unless you’re in an air-conditioned building or near a chilled pool.

Packing list for your move to Dubai

No matter which part of the UK you’re moving from, there are several things that you have that you won’t need in Dubai. There are also several things you own that will get more mileage out of your time in the UAE.


  • All things winter (except for use in that indoor ski slope)
  • Umbrella
  • Rain gear (except for one jacket for visiting the UK)
  • Hot water bottle


  • Sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Adapter
  • Long trousers and skirts

This is clearly not an exhaustive list for your move to Dubai; you’ll want to pack more so view the cost of shipping from the UK to Dubai. There you’ll find the costs, options to ship your belongings, and what is restricted in the UAE.


Whether you’re moving to Dubai for the plethora of job opportunities, the luxurious venues, the gloriously sunny weather, or just for a change of scenery, you’re bound to have a blast.

Before you get tempted to book your tickets and hop on the plane, it’s wise to figure out how much it’s all going to cost.

That’s where we come in. To find out how much it’ll cost you to ship your belongings from the US to Dubai, simply fill out a few details on this short form. Our trusted suppliers will then be in touch with quotes for you to compare.