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Moving to Dubai

Located in the Middle East, the UAE was formed in 1971 by the then ‘Trucial States’ after their independence from Britain. Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its initial wealth was a result of its oil industry, but since then it has successfully diversified its economy. Today, Dubai has multiple strands supporting its fiscal strength, including, tourism, real estate, financial services, health and education. 

Dubai has become a popular choice for relocation for a number of key reasons; the booming economy and diverse lifestyle are the two most referred to as key drivers for that.  Dubai has a booming economy where there is an abundance of employment prospects.  

With a multi-cultural and diverse population, Dubai is a hub of bustling activity and cultural flavour. Dubai is particularly attractive for Western Expats who will benefit from a largely excellent climate, wonderful leisure facilities, a relatively laid-back pace of life as well as good education and healthcare standards. 

The Moving Process

To live in Dubai, all expats require a visa. You need to have a residency visa in place in order to secure everything in Dubai – from a bank account to a long-term rental agreement.  

Employment Visa 

Most expats have an employer-sponsored visa that allows them to obtain a residency visa and sponsor their family to move to Dubai with them. If you plan to follow this route, then you need to find work in Dubai first, and then your employer will be able to assist with your application and sponsor your work permit. To date, Dubai has not put a cap on the number of years an expat can remain living and working in Dubai. 

More information regarding work and employment visas can be found here

Residency Visa 

If you’re thinking about buying property in Dubai in order to obtain a residence visa, think again. Whilst permanent residency was once offered as an incentive to invest in Dubai real estate, the rules have since tightened up. If you were to go ahead with this method the only visa you would be entitled to would be a six-month multi-entry visa. As a result, the best method of obtaining a residency visa is via the employment visa as mentioned above, which is available for three years and is renewable. 

More information on residency visas can be found here

Sponsoring Family 

As mentioned above, once you have your residency permit, you can sponsor your family to live in Dubai with you.  Each sponsored individual will also have to undergo a health check.  


The first thing you need to know about securing rental accommodation in Dubai is that some expats have accommodation allowances as part of their contract’s remuneration terms. This may include a certain amount being paid towards rent each month or having your agency fees covered when looking for a place to live for example. These fees are usually 5% of the annual rental fee of the chosen property. 

Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) is the land department of Dubai, and if you want any sort of peace of mind when signing a tenancy agreement, you need to use a RERA registered agent. 

As stated earlier, a residency visa is necessary in order to secure a long-term rental agreement. This is why newly arrived expats often live in short-term serviced apartments or hotels to start with. 

Documents Required for Lease 

You may start looking for a property if your residency visa is being processed and you have a letter from your employers stating this fact. To sign a lease, you will require the following documents: 

  • Copy of your Passport. 

  • Copy of your Residence Visa. 

  • A statement of income from your employer (this is to show both affordability and the terms and duration of your employment). 

  • A signed official application for the tenancy. 

  • A security deposit (this is usually equivalent to four weeks rent). Note: this is refundable when you leave the property providing it is returned in the same condition as when you entered it. Your deposit along with your lease agreement will be lodged with RERA. 

  • A year’s rent in advance, which is usually given in the form of four cheques. The first cheque is for the first three months and dated immediately, the rest are forward dated covering three monthly intervals each. To bounce a cheque in Dubai is to break the law. 

  • Once you have your tenancy agreement in place you can get your utilities connected. Your real estate agent will be able to give you the most up-to-date contact details and procedures to follow. 


All tenants and landlords are governed by Law No. 206 of 2007 when it comes to a rental agreement, and this deals with the obligations of both parties. You can find out more information on the RERA’s website. 

In 2009, RERA set a cap on rental price increases. The still remains at 5%, meaning that landlords cannot increase your rent by more than 5% of the existing rental agreement. This applies for a period of two full years, starting from the commencement date of your lease agreement. 

Where to Live in Dubai

Where you want to live may depend on where you’ll be working or if you have children and where you want them to go to school. Traffic during rush hour in Dubai can be extremely congested and this should also be taken into account when looking for accommodation. 

Some areas you may want to look at include the following: 

  • Green Community – mainly villa based with some apartments and townhouses. 

  • Jebel Ali Village – older villas and plush properties with schools, health facilities, restaurants and shopping malls within easy reach. 

  • The Gardens – relatively affordable apartment-based development. 

  • Dubai Marina and Al Sufouh – apartments in the former and villas in the latter – all with the wow factor you’d associate with Dubai. 

  • Emirates Hills – including The Springs, The Lakes, The Meadows and The Greens featuring single-family homes. 

  • Al Barsha – villas with gardens and apartments. 

  • Arabian Ranches – stunning villa homes in a luxurious setting. 

  • Jumeirah – expensive villa-based accommodation 

  • The Trade Centre – tower-based apartments with good facilities. 

  • Bur Dubai and Al Mankhool – very well located, properties of all types. 

  • Deira – mainly apartments and popular with singles or couples rather than families. 

  • Garhoud – everything from apartments and townhouses to established villas. 

  • Mirdif, Al Warqa and Rashidiya – fairly well-landscaped areas containing mainly villa-based accommodation. 

  • Al Qusais – mainly apartment living. 

  • Sharjah – this is actually an emirate in its own right rather than a residential district of Dubai City. However, it’s considered a suburb by many of the expats who live there! All accommodation types are often more affordable than Dubai – but note Sharjah is 100% alcohol-free. 

Overhead shot of villas in Dubai
Villas in Dubai

If you are interested in a move to Dubai or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International, please contact a member of the team. Alternatively, please browse our current International Tax vacancies. 

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