Dubai is fast becoming a favorite relocation hotspot for Brits looking to move for a new adventure or for those facing employment problems back home. There is a thriving community of British nationals already living in Dubai and other emirates in the UAE so finding friends and socializing is usually not a problem at all. Once merely a business hub for the booming oil industry in the Gulf Region, Dubai has made a concerted effort to diversify from an oil-dependent economy to one that encompasses real estate, construction, trade, tourism and financial services to become a destination rather than a stop-over for many.
Life here is safe and residents can expect to enjoy a high standard of living with relatively high disposable incomes thanks to the emirate’s tax-free business policies. One of the biggest draws for many Brits moving to make Dubai home is the tax-free environment that can be enjoyed here. The UAE tax laws do not allow taxation on personal income, meaning you take home what you earn and this is especially attractive for Brits who are heavily taxed in their own home country.
Many who have moved to Dubai and lived here wonder how they survived in a city as expensive as the UK capital. Dubai is cheaper than London in almost every aspect from real estate to food and entertainment. There is no dearth of choice for things to do here and the Dubai government has pulled out all stops to ensure that Dubai is not only attractive as a business environment but also as a cultural one for people who live here by providing residents with the latest in music, arts, culture and theater. Artists from across the globe perform in the emirate on a regular basis; music, shopping and cultural festivals are held regularly throughout the year to bring the people of Dubai the latest in entertainment and fashion from all over the world.
The one thing that cannot be bought is the weather though. Dubai’s climate could not be further removed from that of the UK. Although great effort has been made to green Dubai with parks and gardens dotting the emirate, it still essentially remains a desert with very high temperatures averaging 40 ⁰C in the hot Summer months. Humidity is often over 90% in these months and being outdoors can become unbearable, even for the most enthusiastic outdoor people. Rainfall is virtually non-existent as is Winter; you can expect some rain in the cooler months from December to March when temperatures usually fall in the low 20s but that is usually as cold as it gets.
Although living in Dubai is definitely more expensive than living in many of its neighboring emirates, it still rates cheaper when compared to a similar area in London for housing. Premium real estate on the man-made Palm Jumierah Islands will set you back around AED 6,000,000 or £1.08 million for a three-bedroom house, still cheaper than buying prime property in the heart of London.
Many Brits also prefer to live in areas such as the Arabian Ranches, a gated community with supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, schools and its very own golf course, where a three-bedroom villa will cost around AED 3,300,000 or £594,000. Research has shown that in the current environment, property in Dubai is 35% cheaper than similar property in a comparable part of town in London. With many new housing projects slated to hit the markets in the coming years, it is unlikely that this figure will change much in the coming years.
Finding a reputable school with a UK-based curriculum is getting progressively less daunting in the emirate as more and more private schools teaching the UK curriculum are opening to cater to the ever-increasing expat population. There are over 60 schools in Dubai offering the UK curriculum; JESS and Dubai British School are very popular with British expats and annual fees in these schools range from AED 30,000 to AED 60,000 (about £5000 to £10,000 per year).
Many of these schools cater to special needs education although the costs for this are quite a bit higher. This is significantly cheaper than a private school in the UK where the average annual fees are around £15,000 per annum.
Food and Groceries
Residents in Dubai are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying food. There are plenty of huge, internationally renowned supermarkets that offer international foods from all across the world. Similarly, expats are unlikely to miss food from home when it comes to dining out as there is such a great variety of restaurants serving up international cuisines to suit every palette and budget.
Generally, food in Dubai, whether bought from a supermarket or when dining out, is quite a bit cheaper than in London although international food brands are likely to be as expensive, if not more than what you would buy them for in their home country. Local produce and locally grown vegetables are widely available and are your best money-saving option when it comes to cooking a meal for the family. Alcohol, on the other hand, is definitely more expensive to purchase here in Dubai as the government levies an excise duty on all alcohol purchased and consumed in the emirate.
Most expats will find that they can afford to buy, maintain and drive better cars here in Dubai than they would be back in London. Dubai and the UAE boasts the fifth cheapest rates in gasoline prices making driving a vehicle here fairly cheap. Despite the rush-hour traffic and the long home-work commute that most people face every working day, owning and driving your own car to work is still the cheapest and the fastest way to get around in Dubai. Luxury cars are also a craze here in Dubai and even these are cheaper to own and drive here than they would be back in London.
Clothes and Luxury Goods
Surprisingly, clothing and high-end fashion labels are typically more expensive purchased here in Dubai than elsewhere as the government does impose levies on such items. It is not uncommon to see a 20% tax on a UK clothing label. Part of the reason is that many of these stores are located in high-end malls which offset their overheads by charging more for their products. If you are not too fussed about brands, there are many places in Dubai where you can buy reasonably priced clothing including Bur Dubai and some of the smaller malls in the emirate.