Moving to UAE

Moving to the UAE from Thailand: An Expat's Guide

Are you considering a move to the United Arab Emirates?

Whether it's for career opportunities, a change of scenery, or a new adventure, the UAE is an attractive destination for expatriates from around the world. With its modern cities, diverse culture, and thriving economy, it's no wonder that many people are drawn to the prospect of living in this dynamic country.
Relocating to a new country can be an exciting yet daunting experience, especially for expats moving to the United Arab Emirates. But before you pack your bags and head to the UAE, there are a few things you should consider to ensure a smooth transition. 
Norah - Crown Expats in the UAE
"Moving to Dubai was the best decision I ever made. Ten years on, I'm still loving every moment of life in this vibrant and welcoming city. " - Norah, Crown Worldwide Group Vice President, Marketing 
Whether you are considering a move to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or any other emirate, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the various aspects of living and working in the UAE.

Learn from Crown's expertise, experience, and knowledge where we have helped thousands of families relocate to the UAE over the past few decades.

Understanding the Visa Process for the UAE

Moving to the UAE requires a clear understanding of the visa process. Whether you are relocating for work, joining a family, or seeking a new adventure, it is essential to know the types of visas available, the application requirements, and the residency permits.

There are different types of visas depending on the purpose of your move to the UAE, such as work, study, or tourism. 

For work visas, the application process involves several steps, including obtaining an employment entry visa, applying for an Emirates ID, and obtaining a residence visa and work visa.

For students, a UAE student visa is required, which is granted by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

Understanding the process of obtaining a work visa is crucial for those planning to work in the UAE. 

Additionally, expats should be aware of the procedures for renewing a UAE visa to ensure legal compliance during their stay.

Types of Visas Available for Expats

The types of UAE residence visas are divided depending on the purpose of your travel, such as work visa, student visa, family visa, investment visa, retirement visa, and domestic worker visa. 

The most straightforward way to obtain a Residence Visa is to be sponsored by a company.  The company will apply for and cover the costs of your residence visa while you are in the UAE.

Process of Obtaining a Work Visa

For individuals seeking employment in the UAE, navigating the process of obtaining a work visa is fundamental. This may involve securing a job offer from a UAE-based employer and fulfilling the necessary documentation and requirements set by the UAE government.

Find out more on the latest updated information and visa-related services here. 

Cost of Living in the UAE

Understanding the cost of living is a critical aspect when considering a move to the UAE. Cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are known for their high standard of living, and expatriates should be prepared for the associated expenses.

The cost of living in the UAE varies depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and housing. 

On average, the monthly expenses for a single individual stand at AED 4,000, while the average cost of living for a family of four is AED 14,000 without rent. 

Get a glimpse into some of the details of the spending in the country here. 

These expenses are influenced by factors such as location, family size, and lifestyle choices, and they are important to consider when planning and budgeting for life in the UAE.

*Some of the most common expenses for expats in the UAE include:
living cost in the UAE
The average monthly rent for a single person in Dubai ranges from AED 2,500 to 4,170, and for a family of four, it ranges from AED 5,900 to 12,000. In Abu Dhabi, the cost of accommodation ranges from AED 2,600 to 12,000 per month. 
The average monthly cost for utilities in Dubai is around AED 1,000, and in Abu Dhabi, it ranges from AED 500 to 1,300.  
Expats in Dubai spend about USD 451 on average per month for food, while families of four spend about USD 1,172.  
Health insurance is mandatory for all residents in the UAE. The cost of a reasonably comprehensive health insurance policy is about 10,000 AED per year for an individual and around 17,000 AED for a family of four.  
A family of four can expect to spend around AED 1,100 or $300 per month on entertainment.  
The average monthly cost for transportation in Dubai is around AED 250 to 700, and in Abu Dhabi, it ranges from AED 250 to 700.  
The cost of education varies, with annual fees for international schools ranging from AED 20,000 to 70,000. 

Finding Accommodation in the UAE

The cost of housing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai represents a significant portion of the overall living expenses. Expats should research the property market to understand rental and real estate prices in these emirates.

Securing suitable accommodation is a crucial aspect of moving to the UAE. The country offers a wide range of rental options, each with its unique costs and considerations.
looking for accommodation in UAE

Rental options and costs in different Emirates

The cost of renting accommodation varies across the Emirates, with Abu Dhabi and Dubai being the most expensive. 

Other Emirates such as Sharjah, Ajman, and Fujairah offer more affordable rental options while still providing convenient access to urban amenities.

According to our network and experience, the cost of housing for expats in Abu Dhabi is generally lower than in Dubai. 

While both cities offer affordable and more expensive housing options, Dubai is considered a more expensive city to live in, with higher real estate, transport, and food costs. The rental rates in Dubai are 7.7% higher than in Abu Dhabi.

On average, renting a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai costs around AED 64k per year, while a similar property in Abu Dhabi would cost AED 52k per year. 

However, the choice of where to live depends on cultural preferences, budget, and work opportunities.

Talk to one of our local home search real-estate agencies to find out more.

Popular expat neighbourhoods and communities

Expatriates moving to the UAE often prefer neighbourhoods that cater to their lifestyle and cultural preferences. Areas like Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, and Downtown Abu Dhabi are popular choices due to their expat-friendly environment and proximity to key facilities.

Here are some of the most popular expat neighbourhoods in the UAE, particularly living in Dubai:
Neighborhood The Attractions
Dubai Marina A bustling waterfront neighborhood with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it a great place for expats who want to be in the heart of the action.
The Greens A residential neighborhood located just off Sheikh Zayed Road is known for its quiet streets, lush green parks, and proximity to good schools and supermarkets, making it ideal for families.
The Springs A gated community in the heart of New Dubai, characterized by lush gardens, parks, and lakes, making it a great place for families.
Arabian Ranches A quiet suburb located outside the busy city, offering well-maintained villas, excellent schools, clinics, hospital facilities, and a peaceful environment, popular among Western expats.
These neighborhoods offer a range of amenities and cater to different preferences, from bustling city life to peaceful suburban environments, making them attractive options for expats living in the UAE.

Education options for families moving to the UAE

Families relocating to the UAE need to explore the available education options for their children.

The country offers a variety of international schools, each with its curriculum and extracurricular activities. Researching and enrolling children in suitable educational institutions is a crucial aspect of settling into daily life in the UAE.

The education system in the UAE offers diverse options for expat families, including public, private, and international schools. 

Here are some key points to consider:
  •  Public education in the UAE is free for Emirati citizens and open to expat students for a fee. The language of instruction is primarily Arabic, with English also being taught in public schools.

  • Expats looking to integrate their children more fully into the local culture and society might choose to enroll them in public schools. However, the language of instruction and cultural adaptation should be carefully considered. 
  • The majority of students in the UAE attend private schools, which offer a wide range of curricula, including American, British, French, and other international educational systems. These schools are often affiliated with a particular country's educational curriculum.

  • Private and international schools provide expat families with a variety of choices, but they typically come with tuition fees and may follow a different academic calendar than public schools.
  • The UAE is home to a significant number of international schools, offering curricula from various countries such as the US, UK, France, Germany, India, and others. These schools cater to the expat community and provide a global perspective on education.
  • The choice of schooling in the UAE requires balancing various factors, including curriculum, costs, and cultural integration. International schools often have long waiting lists and higher fees, while public schools may provide a more immersive cultural experience.
In summary, expat families in the UAE have a range of educational options to consider, from public schools for a more local experience to private and international schools offering diverse curricula. 

The decision should be based on the family's educational philosophy, cultural integration preferences, and budget.

Taxes in UAE for Foreigners

Taxes in UAE for Expats
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is known for its favorable tax environment for expatriates. 

Here's a summary of the tax situation for ex-pats in the UAE: 
  • The UAE is considered a tax haven and a no-tax country for individuals. There is no personal income tax, no federal or Emirate-level personal income tax, and no individual tax registration or reporting obligations.
  • For US expats living in the UAE, the absence of personal income tax in the UAE means that they are not subject to UAE income tax on their earnings.
  • However, US citizens are still required to file expatriate tax returns with the US federal government every year, regardless of where they live. This is due to the US policy of taxing its citizens on their worldwide income. 
  • The UAE does have a value-added tax (VAT), which was introduced in 2018. This tax may impact most expats living in the UAE, particularly in the context of business activities.
The UAE’s tax system is advantageous for expatriates, as there is no personal income tax. However, US citizens are still required to fulfill their US tax obligations, which may include filing annual expatriate tax returns with the US federal government.

Navigating UAE’s Healthcare System

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is known for its world-class healthcare system, which offers high-quality medical services to both residents and tourists. 

With state-of-the-art facilities, experienced medical professionals, and a strong emphasis on preventive care, the UAE’s healthcare system has become a model for other countries in the region. 

Here’s an overview of the healthcare system in the UAE:
  • The UAE offers free public health insurance to its citizens, but expatriates are not eligible for public health benefits.

  • Public healthcare facilities include basic GP consultations, emergency healthcare facilities, specialist doctor consultations, medical prescriptions, hospitalization charges, treatment and surgery, follow-up consultations, physiotherapy, and family care.

  • However, public healthcare facilities do not include ophthalmological, auditory, or dental care services.
  • Almost 80% of the UAE's healthcare system is private.

  • Expats can access private healthcare services through international private medical insurance (iPMI).

  • There are more than 130 facilities in Dubai where expats can receive private healthcare, including a private healthcare center specifically for children (KidsFIRST).
  • It is mandatory for all residents of the UAE to have health insurance.

  • Employers are required to provide basic health insurance to all expats.

  • Expats can also purchase their own health insurance if their employer does not provide it.
  • To live and work in the UAE, expats must obtain a Medical Fitness Certificate as part of the residence visa process.

  • The medical examination includes blood tests and, if applying to move to Abu Dhabi, a chest x-ray is required.
health care system in UAE
Healthcare system in the UAE offers a range of options for expats, including public and private healthcare services. 

Expats are typically required to have health insurance, either provided by their employer or through personal purchase, and must undergo a medical fitness certificate as part of the residence visa process. 

The UAE's healthcare system provides high-quality services, catering to the diverse needs of expats living in the country.

Understanding the Local Culture and Etiquette

Adapting to the local culture and etiquette is integral to a successful relocation to the UAE. 

The country's customs and social norms are influenced by Islamic traditions, and expatriates are expected to respect and adhere to these practices.

Cultural norms and customs in the UAE

The UAE values hospitality, respect, and modesty. It is customary to greet others with "As-salamu alaykum" (peace be upon you) and show courtesy in social interactions. 

Understanding and respecting local customs, such as avoiding public displays of affection and refraining from consuming food or drinks in public during Ramadan, are essential.

Dress code and social behavior

The dress code is modest, with both men and women expected to dress conservatively in public places. 

Additionally, public displays of affection, excessive public noise, and disrespectful behavior are frowned upon and may lead to legal consequences.

Understanding the Islamic traditions and practices

The UAE follows Islamic traditions, and expatriates should familiarize themselves with Islamic practices, including prayer times, Ramadan observance, and cultural celebrations. 

Respecting and participating in local customs can help expatriates integrate into the community and build meaningful relationships.


Moving to the UAE can be an exciting yet daunting experience, and this comprehensive guide is designed to equip you with everything you need to know for a smooth relocation, especially a Dubai move.

From understanding the visa process and finding accommodation to navigating the local culture and education system, we hope to offer valuable insights and practical tips to help individuals and families transition seamlessly to your new life in the UAE.

Whether you're a professional relocating for work or a family seeking a new adventure, this Dubai relocation guide is your go-to resource for a successful move to the UAE. 

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