Worst Mistakes That Expats Make When Relocating to the UAE
The UAE is one of the most popular destinations for expatriates looking for a new way of life and to relocate to the Middle East. However, for those who choose to make the move, many are unprepared and with a lack of simple planning it is easy to make a number of mistakes.
In this article we will look at the worst mistakes that expats make when relocating to the UAE.
Not doing your research
It is important wherever you intend to relocate to do your research on the local area, the culture, laws, employment issues, housing, schooling and so on. This is especially true if you have a family or any dependants as there are more potential issues that could affect your move, job hunt and lifestyle in your new location.
The culture in the UAE is very different to many other parts of the world, so it is important to do your research beforehand. It might even be a good idea to spend a few weeks over there before you fully relocate so that you can truly understand what’s in store for you.
Understanding the different residential areas is also important as you will need to figure out where you can afford to live / where you would like to live, where your place of work might be and what transport options are available to you. Having your own car in the UAE is fairly cost effective as fuel is very cheap and second hand car prices are extremely reasonable. On the other hand, parking can be an issue and at times it is an expensive option. Until recently, the likes of Dubai had very limited public transport options, but the relatively new metro now covers a large area of the city, so using this to commute to and from work could be an option for you too – it is also extremely cost effective.
Not making the right job choice
Sometimes it is easy to overlook the most important part of your move, and that is the that job you choose. Many get carried away with the idea of a new life in a country with new challenges and not only do they overlook the job they’re being offered, but the company that they’re going to be working for.
Job satisfaction is a huge part of any working professional’s life, so ensuring that you have a job that challenges you, stimulates you and that offers a position from which you can learn and grow is essential. You must also do your utmost to fully understand the company that is offering you a position. Many agencies will oversell the idea of a company to a candidate to ensure they close the deal – it’s in their interest to do so – and at times a company can be the wrong fit for an individual, or worse, poorly managed, leaving employees frustrated and in need or a new job once again.
Poor money management
The idea of a tax-free salary in the UAE is very tempting to most, however poor money management has lead many into financial difficulties especially when they underestimate the cost of living.
Whilst the cost of accommodation is fairly low compared to many other popular expat destinations, the cost of eating in restaurants, drinking in bars, entertainment and groceries are high, meaning that expats must manage their money carefully.
Careful planning of your finances and advanced research before relocating to the UAE will help you and your family to prepare for the cost of living and financial implications. Ensure that you have a firm grasp on what (if any) allowances your new company will provide you with – as part of an expatriate package – and what the costs of healthcare, insurance, education, housing and transport will cost you on a day-to-day basis so that you don’t get any shocks that could potentially financially cripple you when you relocate there.
Not understanding the culture
Whilst is may seem that the UAE has many laws to comprehend, for example, the consumption of alcohol in public and without a licence, unmarried couples living together, or non UAE nationals owning a business, the UAE is actually a very welcoming place for expatriates on the whole. The people are very friendly as long as you respect their culture and due to the extremely low crime rates, the overall safety within the UAE is high.
In particluar, the UAE is an ideal place to raise a young family and women are highly respected too, meaning they can drive, develop a career and generally be treated as equals.
The key with any move or career change is to plan and do your research. Going into a new country ‘blind’ and for the first time can be a very risky thing, and if your ultimate goal is to earn a high salary and save money then it is in your interest to do the research on cost of living and tax implications.
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