Relocation to Dubai

If you are relocating to Dubai read on …

Dubai economy is growing at a fast pace due to the Dubai Expo 2020. Owing to this fast pace growth there are a plenty of Job and Business opportunities cropping up in the city. If your relocating to Dubai for a business opportunity or for a Job , following are some of my experiences that i would like to share to help you in taking the leap ! Before you land in Dubai or make a decision to relocate there are certain factors that you need to give due consideration. Here is a low-down of some (approximate) expenses that you must keep in mind.

  • House Rent - This will be the biggest drainer from your pocket and its hurts the most. Ever since the Expo 2020 was announced , the rent rates have sky rocketed. Again , it all depends on where your living. If you are living near a Metro station, or an upmarket place like Dubai Marina or JLT etc…
    • Living in Sharing - There are plenty of options available for Sharing the rooms for families as well as bachelors. The approx room rent for bachelors ranges anywhere between 1000-3000 Dhms depending on where your planning to stay. Check on dubai.dubizzle.com , there are plenty of advertisements for sharing and room spaces. For families sharing is between 2000-5000 dhms. This rent will include your rent,DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water) charges , internet etc… Ensure you make your terms clear during your initial discussion.
    • Renting your own Apartment - In Dubai there are Studio apartments , 1 BHK, 2BHK and so on. Renting your own apartment will be expensive and the rates will heavily depend on your location. If you are living anywhere close to a Metro station or any tourist attraction place studio apartments may cost you anywhere starting 30,000 dhms upwards and 1 bhk will start 60,000 dhms and upwards. Again , dubizzle is your best friend.
    • Other than dubizzle , the best advise would be to first target a particular area where you want to stay and search on foot. Walk into every building that you can see and ask the watchman or search for a board bearing a phone number. This way , you might just end up contacting the tenant directly avoiding the 5-10% commission that needs to be paid to the broker.
    • Every landlord will be take 5-10% of security deposit.
    • Keep in mind that the contract , must be from Dubai municipality , its a totally automated process , requiring no human intervention. In case of any queries or complaints you can directly visit RERA Ensure you are dealing with the right agency and double ensure this by reading and re-reading the contract. Ensure you make payment through cheque only (and that cheque should not be encashed)
    • Documents required for obtaining a tenancy contract
      • Passport with VISA copy
      • Copy of your Emirates ID
  • DEWA - In Dubai , your electricity and water is supplied a government agency DEWA.Its worth understanding the bill which is generated from DEWA. There are basically three componenets in the bill viz…
    • Electricity - This will include all your bill for all electrical appliances inluding the central AC system. Now , this is where you can bargain will buying a house. Some contractors will discount you by stating “Chiller Free” which means that the AC bill will not be included in your electricity bill.
    • Water - All water consumption is tracked !
    • Municipality Tax - Yes ! you heard my right ! there is a Municpality Tax which you need to pay. This will be 5% of your Annual Rent , so if your rent is 80,000 , then you'll have to pay an annual FIXED amount of 4000 dhms. It'll be added on a monthly basis with your bill. So for 80,000 you'll be entitle to pay 333dhms per month in addition to your electricity and water usage.
    • On Average for a couple , it would amount to approx 600-700 dhms per month.
    • A note of caution , if your AC usage is high , the bill will rise. It is strongly recommended to use your AC at room temperature i.e. 24 Degrees and switch it off if not required.
    • You'll require your DEWA bill to process the VISA for your dependants.
    • When you are signing up for your contract , your landlord will pay ask you to pay a fees of 2200 Dhms as an activation fee and security deposit for DEWA.
  • Visa Processing - For your own Visa , your employer will be processing , but it is important to know the process and fees involved as you might need to process it for your own family members and dependants.
    • When i came to Dubai , i had absolutely no clue about the Visa process and all the requirements and formalities that need to be completed.
    • In Dubai , you need to perform two primary operations for processing a fresh visa either for yourself or for your dependants
      • Medical Checkup
      • Fingerprint Capture
    • Before you go for any of the above option , you must first do “typing”. So visit nearest typing center , and explain them what type of visa you need. They would then in-turn suggest the documents that are required to process the Visa.
    • For each time i.e. Medical and Fingerprint typing , you'll need to pay an amount of 350-400 dhms fees for typing.
    • Also , a note of caution , the area where you do your typing , you would have to visit the medical center or the fingerprinting center in the same area.
    • It is strongly recommended to visit the Karama Post office center. There is a medical examination center as well as a finger print capturing center. So you wouldnt have to run here and there as i did :-P. I got my finger-print typing done in Al Barsha , so i had to visit the finger-print registration or EIDAI center in Al-Barsha only. I had done my Medical typing in the Karama Post office Medical center , but my Al Barsha application didnt work there. Hence , for my wife , i got her typing ,medical tests and finger print capturing at the Karama Post Office EIDAI center and the Karam Post Office Medical center only.
    • After you get your Medical tests (blood test and X-Ray test) done , you'll have to visit the same center again to collect the Medical report. You can also request it to be delivered by Post.
    • Then get your fingerprints recorded , and they'll give you a copy mentioning your EID (Emirates ID) details.
    • These above two reports , you'll need to process your VISA or your dependants VISA. For Visa processing , visit the Al Jafiliya center (just outside the Al Jafiliya Metro Station). Go to the Airport Terminal 3 center for Visa processing only if you need to fast-track your process at an additional fees of 120 dhms. The Normal Dependant Visa would cost you approx 400-500 dhms
    • It is strongly recommended you plan and make a note of all the papers/documents required. The Typing center (like OnTime) will help you out in the process.
    • Visa Process Walk through for Dependant Visas
      • Firstly, obtain an salary certificate from your employer
      • Visit your nearest typing center and get the typing done for your dependant(s) visa - 360-400 Dhms. Make a note of all the documents required , re-run through the list again with the typist.
      • General List of Documents
        • Your Passport Copy with Visa page.
        • Copy of your Rental Agreement/Contract on your name.
        • Copy of DEWA/SEWA bill with your name on it.
        • Passport copy of your dependants
        • Attested Marriage certificate/Birth Certificate. Also , your name should be in the passport of the dependant for ex : for spouse, your name must be in the Husband field and for kids , fathers name field.
        • Photographs with WHITE background only.
    • Visit the Al Jafiliya Visa center , and create a request for Visa processing. You'll receive an Entry Visa for your dependant. This entry visa you need to submit at the Marhaba service at the Airport and inform your dependant to collect it from the Marhaba service which is before the immigration counters.
    • Once they clear the immigration counter, ensure your Visa paper is stamped with the entry date and preserve this paper well.
    • The entry Visa is valid only for a few days , hence you must complete the other formalities.
    • Go to the typing center at Karama Post Office Medical center , and get the typing done for Medical Test and Fingerprint collection. Each would cost you around 360dhms so a total of approx 800 dhms will be spend here.
    • Note : Medical test and Fingerprint collection will happen only on Sunday-Thursday 7.00 AM - 2.00 PM. Typing can be done Sunday-Saturdays. You can do the typing and proceed for the Medical or fingerprint tests.
    • Once you complete the medical and fingerprinting , preserve the reports, and take it to Al Jafiliya Center to stamp your residence Visa.
    • Here again you'll have to pay approx 400 Dhms again to get your visa stamped.
    • So per dependent , ensure you keep atleast 1500-2000dhms aside for stamping their Visas.
  • Tele-Communication
    • In Dubai , for Telecom , you have only two options , Du and Etisalat. Its not much of a difference as to what you take.
    • Prepaid will be your only option when you arrive , but it is strongly recommended to switch to a post-paid plan. For PostPaid plan you'll need to submit an NOC from your employer and your salary certificate.
    • Data plans in prepaid will be very expensive , i have paid 100AED for a 1 GB plan with 30 days validity. So its best to switch to postpaid asap
    • For home , Etisalat has good packages , i purchased a Basic plan consisting the following - 10 MBPS Unlimited Internet(with device) + Landline Phone (with Device) + Cable Connection With Most Indian Channels(With Set-top box) for approx 380-400 Dhms with a contract of 2 years. If you break the contract , then you have to pay the balance.
    • There'll be a lot of good plans , but most of them will be contract based. So ensure you understand the contractual agreements beforehand.
    • LandLine to Landline calls are free (Landline numbers start with 04 ) throughout UAE. So probably , as far as possible try to use landline phones.
    • There are a lot of illegal cable connections from various vendors which install a Disc at home and you get all Indian channels at 30dhms a month. It is strongly recommended to stay away from these schemes as they are illegal and you might have to pay a fine of 20,000 Dhms if caught.
    • Also , you'll get a lot of Spam calls on your phone , informing you that you have won a jackpot of some xx amount and you need to pay them another zz amount to receive the bounty. Please ignore these calls and donot fall prey to their tactics.
  • Food
    • You'll get all sorts of Food , all cuisines everywhere across Dubai. I eat Jain food , and i get Jain food everywhere across Dubai.
    • For a couple, if you are cooking by yourself ,then Food bill would be approx 1000-1500 Dhms per month.
    • Zomato is your Best friend !
  • Deals - Dubai thrives on Deals and Sales which are running all round , but special sales are around Ramadan period and New Years. So if you have shifted in this period , then probably it would be great to do some research before you start spending on your home furniture.
  • Day-To-Day Needs
    • Home Furniture - Its best to buy good affordable Furniture from Karama (Karama Round-about , near the Fish Market) or buy from dubizzle. If you have extra money to spend go for Ikea.
    • Electronics - If you are shifting around September , wait for Gitex ! You'll get the best deals from Gitex to purchase electronic items like TV,Washing Machines,Oven etc…
    • I bought a TV(42 Inch),Washing Machine,Microwave,Bed,Sofa-cum Bed,some side tables and study tables,Chair etc for approx 8000-10000 Dhms. So keep aside a budget of 8k-10k Dhms for setting up your new home.
    • Dragon Mart - to buy affordable home stuff , clothes etc… do make a visit to Dragon Mart , near the International City. It'll be very cost-effective.
    • Day-To-Day , EDO,Max - These are some supermarkets you can visit to purchase most of your daily non-edible items like stationery,clothes,toilteries etc…
    • Spinneys,Carrefour,Lulu,Choithrams - These are some hypermarkets that you can visit to buy food,vegetables,fruits etc…
  • Travelling
    • Internal travelling within the city is quite Robust in Dubai. Download some apps to guide you through the city specially the RTA app.
    • Metro is the most cost-effective mode of travel , but getting a home near Metro is a challenging task.
    • A single Nol card is used to travel in Metro and Buses. Bus routes can be obtained from the RTA app or just do Google Maps.
    • Taxi is expensive. Minimum fare being 12dhms.
    • Bur Dubai, Deira,Sheikh Zayed Road,Karama,Quaisais will be amongsnt the most crowded and traffic jammed areas.
    • Driving License - Be mentally and financially prepared for this one , as it'll definitely drain you atleast 6-7k dhms over a period of 4-5 months depending upon the number of attempts you make.Ensure , you select the driving classes near your office or home as you'll need to constantly be visiting the driving centers on and off.
  • Leisure - Well , there is no upper limit or an approx judgement of how much will it cost for leisure and entertainment. Dubai can make you spend all your money :-) So be very careful as to what you are spending on

After reading above , you might feel that things are quite expensive and that the benefit of living in a tax-free country is discounted by these fees and licenses.But, that depends for how long your are planning to stay. Most of the above expenses are one-time expenses and you'll feel for the first 6 months that you were better off earning in your home country with all the Taxes. But that's not really true. If you consider staying for atleast 2-3 years , you would be able to reap the benefits of living in a Tax free country :-)

I hope i have mentioned most of the points that you need to take care of. If you have any queries,please feel free to ask in the comments section. I'll be more than happy to help :-)

I moved out of Dubai in November 2016 and went back to India. So some of the figures of the expenses mentioned above maybe modified. So please check the official websites before visiting.

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Rohit Salecha
Cyber Security Consultant

An Infosec professional who loves web technologies.

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