Welcome to the City of Gold!

Many people dream about living in Dubai not only because it is a global business hub and prime tourist destination but also because of the ideal living conditions in the city.

But moving to a new neighbourhood isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. No matter how great the place is, getting settled somewhere unfamiliar could leave you feeling like a fish out of water.

Fortunately, there are ways you can get settled in Dubai (or any other city, for that matter) much easier. Here, you’ll learn six practical tips on getting settled that most new expats found helpful:

Be prepared to adjust to the living costs.

One of the most overwhelming aspects of staying in a new place – especially a bustling city like Dubai – is adjusting to the living costs.

Depending on where you come from and what you do for a living, there is a good chance that you’ll need to adjust how much money you spend on a day-to-day basis.

The good news is that living in Dubai costs less than in other major cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, or London.

According to Numbeo statistics cited in a Dubai Multi Commodities Centre blog, a single individual spends an average of AED 3,443.97 (or USD 937.70) every month without rent in the City of Gold. But if you rent a flat in Dubai, particularly in the city centre, you’ll need roughly AED 5,527.83 (USD 1,505.07) every month to live comfortably.

It also pays to know the breakdown and average costs of the things you will be spending your money on. Here are the average prices for some of the basic commodities in the United Arab Emirates city:

  • Monthly rent – AED 10,799.55 (three-bedroom apartments in the city centre); AED 7,490.97 (three-bedroom apartments outside the city centre).
  • Car ownership – depends on buying condition, though used cars (2018 Toyota Corolla) may cost around AED 70,900.
  • Petrol – 1.79 AED (gasoline)
  • Transportation – taxis have an AED 2.44 flag down rate; bus rides cost AED 5 (single ticket) or AED 300 (monthly pass)
  • Health card for expats – AED 320 (18 years and above)
  • Restaurant meal – AED 30
  • Cinema ticket – AED 35

Organise your belongings during packing and unpacking.

Another major challenge most expats face during their move to Dubai is getting their things in order.

It pays to organise your belongings from the packing to the unpacking stage. This will make the relocation process easier, unpacking more efficient, and getting settled much more straightforward.

When packing, box your things based on which room they belong to. Using more than one box for a single room is okay, but don’t forget to label them accordingly.

Then, put the boxes in their designated rooms in your new home. If you’re not the only one unloading your belongings, make sure the movers you hire, or friends who help you out know about this system.

This method will help you avoid having all of your moving boxes cluttered in the living room in your new house. Staying organised as you unpack also keeps your mind less muddled and you’ll be less stressed as you adjust to your new environment.

Get to know your neighbourhood.

Ideally, you should already be familiar with your new neighbourhood before you move in. This major stage in the adjustment process can even begin while you’re looking around for a new home.

Since you’ll be scrutinising every place you visit during your apartment search, it is also a good opportunity to learn as much as you can about your potential new neighbourhood. Take note of those details that make the place a good fit for you.

If you’re moving with your family, you might want to look for communities where toys are visible in backyards and children’s playgrounds are present. If you’re a pet parent, be on the lookout for people walking their dogs around the neighbourhood.

Besides the place itself, you should also observe the people who already live there. Do they frequent their yards, or is everyone always indoors? Do they turn in early or seem to become more active at night?

Answering questions like these make it easier to decide whether you found a neighbourhood you could adjust well in or if there’s a better match for your current lifestyle, preferences, and habits.

After moving, don’t forget to engage with your neighbours. Smile and introduce yourself as you get settled in your new home. You can even host a housewarming party and get to know them as they get to know you.

Figure out your utilities and redirect your post.

Whether you’re from a nearby city or another country, you will need to familiarise yourself with the different utilities available and the associated costs. Your new neighbourhood may have electricity, internet, and cable packages that might be more suitable for you, so be sure to look around and compare.

You also need to have your post forwarded to your new address, whether permanently or temporarily, whichever applies to you.

Tour the local haunts.

It also helps to visit local haunts when you move into a new place. Check out the shops, restaurants, and other places that attract both locals and tourists to see whether one or more of these places can serve as your new hangout.

There are many fun things to do in Dubai, especially in areas built around luxury and leisure venues like Dubai Festival City. Besides shopping malls, you’ll want to find convenience retail and entertainment options, too.

Learn about the local customs and etiquette.

If you’re moving from a different country, don’t forget to study the local customs in Dubai. Because it is an Islamic city, it can differ from what you’re already familiar with.

A good example is the dress code. While you do not need to wear a hijab (head cover) in public places in Dubai, stick to wearing modest outfits – nothing too tight or revealing.

Also, remember there are also certain public guidelines regarding displays of affection and consuming alcohol. The general rule is to keep things low-key. Don’t hug or kiss and never get inebriated in public to avoid trouble with local law enforcement. 

Knowing these things will help ensure you don’t accidentally offend the locals and end up in an awkward situation.

Settle into Dubai life

Dubai is one of the best cities to relocate to, especially if you’re after experiencing a unique mix of stimulating entertainment and living in a peaceful, safe neighbourhood. 

Settle into Dubai life faster with the practical tips shared here.