Moving to Dubai from the US

Thinking of moving to Dubai? ممتاز (Excellent)! You’re going to love life here, from enjoying the opportunities an income tax-free lifestyle offers, to laying out in the sun on one of the emirate’s numerous beautiful beaches.

Whether you’re moving to Dubai alone, or moving to Dubai with a family, we’ve got you covered – right through from healthcare to where you should live.

We can also offer you free quotes for shipping your possessions. If you fill in the form above, you can see how much moving your life to Dubai would cost.

Dubai skyline, United Arab Emirates

The Dubai skyline never stops being stunning

7 quick facts about Dubai

  • 85% of the population is made up of expats
  • You won’t have to pay any income tax – or most other taxes
  • Camel racing is a popular sport, with robot jockeys
  • There are two man-made, palm tree-shaped islands – Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Jumeirah
  • Dubai gets 3,509 hours of sunshine per year – 38% more than New York City
  • You can still drink, as long as you respect the rules
  • The weekend starts on Friday and ends on Saturday

Cost of shipping to Dubai from the US

We’ve calculated the average international shipping rates for some of our most sought-after journeys from major US cities to Dubai.

Bear in mind these are estimates only. If you’d like a more accurate idea of how much shipping to Dubai will cost you, just pop your details into this form, and our suppliers will get back to you.

RouteCostDuration
New York to Dubai$2,16925.5 days
Houston to Dubai$1,98130.5 days
Los Angeles to Dubai$1,46638.8 days

Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.

The rates are sourced from WorldFreightRates.com, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container of used furniture worth £41,056 ($56,400) – the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance).

The durations are sourced from Searates.com.

This information was last updated in June 2021.

Cost of flying goods to Dubai from the US

While air freight is undoubtedly faster than other methods, it’s also 12-16 times more expensive than shipping your possessions, as per The World Bank – and in this specific case, shipping could save you up to $1,116.

The air freight costs are based on the airport-to-airport transportation of much lighter goods – 250kg of household goods, to be precise.

This pales in comparison with the 20-foot shipping container quoted above – this weighs around two tonnes when empty, and has a maximum weight of 28 tonnes, meaning you can load 26 tonnes into it.

Planes struggle to carry this much weight, so this is how much it would cost to transport a lighter, 250kg package, worth $56,400, from New York City, Houston, and Los Angeles to Dubai.

RouteCostDuration
New York to Dubai$2,58213 hours
Houston to Dubai$2,58216 hours
Los Angeles to Dubai$2,58216 hours

These rates are also sourced from WorldFreightRates.com. The durations are sourced from Searates.com.

jumeirah beach, dubai, UAE

Dubai is blessed with beautiful beaches, as well as awe-inspiring skyscrapers

Healthcare in Dubai

If you’re not an Emirati national, you’re legally obliged to get some form of private health insurance in Dubai.

Your employer must provide you with basic health insurance to fulfil this legal requirement, but doesn’t have to do the same for your dependents (e.g. your spouse or children).

If your family is coming with you to Dubai, or if you feel like the basic level of coverage isn’t sufficient, it’s a good idea to consider taking out a private policy.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Cigna for private medical insurance in Dubai. 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 customized plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets – you and your family.

Cost of living in Dubai

Good / serviceAverage cost
A pint of beer$12.25
A monthly gym subscription$67.45
1 liter of petrol$0.55
A bottle of wine $17.70
1 liter of milk$1.62
Loaf of bread$1.34
12 eggs$2.50
Single ticket on public transport$1.36
1-bedroom apartment monthly rent$1,258
3-bedroom apartment monthly rent$2,480

(Data sourced from Numbeo)

Transferring money to Dubai

If you’re about to move to Dubai, you’ll probably need to convert some of your savings into Emirati dirhams.

However, it’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.

That’s why we’ve done our research and compared all the major money transfer services on the market, so you can choose the right one.

Check out our expert ratings and find the best money transfer provider today.

Working in Dubai

Dubai is home to a multitude of financial multinational corporations like Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC, and Standard Chartered, as well as technological giant IBM.

The UAE has the 34th-biggest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the world despite being 114th in terms of size, and Dubai is at the forefront of this economic miracle.

Getting a work visa for Dubai

Your employer must apply to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for a work visa, on your behalf, as your sponsor.

After you receive your visa, you can move to Dubai and start work – but only provisionally.

Within the next 60 days, your company must obtain your UAE Resident Identity Card and Labour Card, get your work residency permit stamped in your passport, and ensure your medical tests are completed.

This entire process will probably cost around AED 1,100 ($300), but your employer may well foot the bill for you.

Once you’ve secured your work visa, you can sponsor your family members so they can join you in Dubai.

For more details, read through the UAE government’s guide to getting a work visa.

Average salary in Dubai

The average annual salary in Dubai is AED 111,000 ($30,220), according to PayScale.

Income tax in Dubai

There is no income tax in Dubai – or in any part of the UAE, for that matter.

The government primarily funds public services with the money gained from oil and gas exports, and uses its income tax-free status to attract companies and high-skilled workers from abroad.

Job-hunting in Dubai

If you need to find a job in Dubai before you move, there are lots of sites you can use to find your perfect role.

Look through the local versions of Indeed and Reed, as well as GulfTalent and Bayt, which operate only in the region.

Climate in Dubai

Dubai, like the rest of the UAE, is extremely hot all year round.

The lowest temperature you can expect is around 50°F, but you’ll spend the whole of summer between 81°F and 97°F, on average – so get ready for plenty of time on the beach.

The region lives up to its reputation as a desert paradise, with just 3.7 inches of rain falling per year. Compare that to Chicago’s 40.9 inches, or even New York City’s 49.5 inches.

Watch out for dust storms though, and make sure you protect yourself against the sun and the heat – you wouldn’t be the first expat to be caught out by the intensity of Dubai’s weather.

Does it snow in Dubai?

No. The closest you’re likely to get to snow is the Mall of the Emirates, where a machine creates artificial ski slopes for customers and a habitat for the penguins (yes, penguins).

The best places to live in Dubai

Dubai is full of wonderful areas where you can quickly settle in and enjoy everything this luxurious city has to offer.

Jumeirah Beach: best for young professionals

The UAE works hard to attract talented workers from overseas, and Dubai is at the epicentre of this phenomenon, with expats making up around 85% of the residents.

This means there are many neighborhoods that consciously try to attract expats, which results in a plethora of options for you, but Jumeirah Beach is the best choice – as long as you can afford it.

You'll likely need to pay at least $250,000, and probably nearer $700,000.

The area only offers apartments, but your home will still be spacious, and it’ll be right next to the stunning beachfront, with its white sands and sparkling sea – plus you’ll live in the heart of the city, on the doorstep of the best bars, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and malls.

Arabian Ranches: best for families

This gated community is removed from the hustle and bustle of the city center, with a calm, leisurely atmosphere that makes it popular with expats.

There are also plenty of fun activities for families. You can choose between multiple parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools, or get competitive on the basketball and tennis courts.

And if you’re after a more luxurious level of exercise, Arabian Ranches contains an equestrian and polo club, as well as a golf club that’s better than a desert course has any right to be.

Mirdif: best for nature lovers

There isn’t a multitude of greenery in Dubai, let alone public parks, so Mushrif Park is a gorgeous windfall – and Mirdif is perfectly placed for you to take full advantage.

If you choose this quiet, family-oriented suburb, you’ll never be more than a five-minute drive away from the national park, which offers fun for all ages.

Go on horse rides, have fun at the pool and playgrounds, and get your adrenalin rush on the rope course with zip lines.

There are plenty of green spaces too, of course – and if you’re after an extra thrill, you can always visit the Crocodile Park.

Next steps

You’re now prepared to enjoy all the wonders that Dubai has to offer – from its jaw-dropping landscapes and sunny weather, to its fascinating culture and business-friendly atmosphere.

You can take the next step by filling in this form for free shipping quotes from trusted specialists, who can move your belongings to your new home.