Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure, and Dubai is a popular choice for many expats due to its impressive buildings, lively culture, and luxurious lifestyle.

According to Aetna International, more than 40,000 Americans live in Dubai right now, making it one of the most significant expat communities in the UAE.

If you’re thinking about moving from the U.S. to Dubai, whether you’re already planning or just curious, this article has you covered. It gives you all the necessary information, from finding a place to live to understanding the local culture and other practical stuff.

Getting Ready to Move

Moving to another continent requires careful planning. Make a checklist of things to do, when, and who is responsible for what. Learn about Dubai’s culture, laws, weather, living costs, and neighborhoods.

Explore online sources to find the best area to live in Dubai with family. Thorough research is crucial before moving to another country because it’s a significant decision that requires careful consideration.

Visa Requirements

Make sure to get your visas sorted, as there are different types to suit different needs in the UAE. A work visa is for people with jobs arranged by their employers. It lets them work and stay in the country.

Dependent visas are for those who want to bring their family, such as a spouse or kids. To get this visa, you would need a certain income or an income plus a place to live. Student visas are for students studying in UAE schools or colleges.

Investor visas are for people wanting to start a business or invest in Dubai’s trade areas. If you own property in Dubai, you can get a special visa called the Golden Visa. It lets you live in Dubai for a long time and gives you extra benefits like health care and education services.

Document Preparation

When you move to Dubai for work, your company will handle most of the paperwork. But it would be best if you still had your documents ready. For your employment visa, you’ll need the following:

  • your educational certificates
  • marriage certificate (if you’re moving with your spouse)
  • passport-sized photos.

Make sure these documents are notarized and authenticated properly. After arriving in Dubai, find a permanent place to live since temporary housing from your company is just temporary. Dubai has many housing options, so it’s not hard to find one you like. When it’s time to move, research reliable moving companies in Dubai, get quotes, and check if they offer packing and insurance services.

Laws And Culture

If you’re considering a move to the UAE, particularly Dubai, there are some essential things to know. Dubai operates under Sharia law, which impacts societal norms and legal regulations. Cohabitation for unmarried couples is discouraged and could lead to complications with landlords or legal issues.

Now, let’s talk about alcohol. You might be used to grabbing a drink at your local bar. But, in Dubai, the alcohol rules are a bit different. You need a license to buy and consume alcohol, and being drunk in public is a big no-no and could land you in trouble with the law.

While Dubai may have a degree of acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community, it remains illegal, emphasizing the need for discretion. People can ensure a fulfilling experience in this vibrant city by respecting local customs and laws.

Navigating Legal and Administrative Procedures

Before moving to Dubai, understand the visa rules for you and your family and ensure you have the correct visas. After arriving, register with local authorities to establish legal residency. If driving in Dubai, transfer your driver’s license and register your vehicle to comply with local regulations.

Managing Finances and Healthcare

When moving to Dubai, open a bank account to manage money easily. Find a reliable method for transferring funds between accounts or currencies, considering exchange rates and fees to maximize value. Additionally, health insurance is crucial to cover medical expenses, so find a suitable plan that meets government requirements.

Budget and Cost of Living

If you’re considering a move to Dubai, it’s essential to understand the cost of living. Despite its luxury reputation, living expenses are relatively lower than in U.S. cities. With tax-free income and an average monthly salary of approximately USD 4,270, it presents an attractive option for many. Housing costs vary, with a studio apartment in Dubai City Center averaging USD 1,500 per month and a one-bedroom apartment around USD 2,280 per month.

Utilities for an apartment, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, typically amount to about USD 210 monthly. Transportation in Dubai remains affordable, with a one-way ticket for local transport priced at approximately USD 6.50 and a monthly pass around USD 300. Regarding education, annual school fees in Dubai range from AED 12,723 (USD 3,463.84) to AED 64,093 (USD 17,449.32).

Talking about healthcare in Dubai, there are different choices. A visit to the doctor costs about USD $73. Getting international health insurance for yourself can be around USD $5,687. For expats who want public healthcare, they need a health card, which might be up to USD $87. Whether you go to public hospitals or private clinics, healthcare options vary in cost and quality.

Settling into Your New Life

Settling into your new life in Dubai involves several vital steps to ensure a smooth transition. Firstly, finding suitable accommodation that fits your needs and budget is essential. If you have children, enrolling them in schools that align with your educational preferences is crucial, as Dubai offers a variety of international schooling options.

Additionally, take the time to explore the local culture and customs by immersing yourself in the city, trying local cuisine, and participating in cultural events. Lastly, building a social network by meeting new people, joining clubs, and attending community events will help you feel more at home in your new city.


Moving to Dubai can be exciting and fulfilling. You can smoothly settle into life in this dynamic city by doing your homework, planning, and being flexible. Stay patient and open-minded as you navigate the ups and downs of your new experience in Dubai, embracing the challenges and rewards it brings.