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The 8 most important things to consider when moving to the UAE

Thinking of moving to the UAE? Barbara Van Pay (managing director at SmartHR) believes you should consider these 8 essential things when making your decision.

Written by Barbara Van Pay on 8 October 2014

Whenever one expects to find change, the first thing they would do is to either take a decision by themselves or if attached to a family then sit the family down and take the decision with them! When deciding to move to a cosmopolitan, adventurous place such as Dubai, there may be a mixed emotion! One that of sheer excitement followed by fear, anxiety, stress and more.

1. Tax vs Career

The first you want to do as an expat is to think, do I want to move to UAE for the reason that I want to make a career for myself, or do I want to move there to live the life that of an expat enjoying my life tax-free. Remember there are no personal taxes in the UAE!

2. Governance in the UAE

Back in the days of UAE where the country had not become a Federation as yet i.e. before December 2, 1971, a lot of the expats fresh out of their countries, India, Pakistan, etc. have actually seen this beautiful nation grow from that of a vast desert land to one of an unimaginable fairy land.

It is amazing how such a nation can transform itself through the efforts of its leaders and its visionaries. In the days before the Federation, there was a lot of flexibility with movement of workforce as that of a startup in the corporate world where policies and rules are not yet set in stone!

Today the governance is rock solid in the UAE! Of course a lot of dynamic changes are made based on growth and renewal and betterment of the nation. 2013 was marked as the year of Emiratisation in the UAE! This is a growing effort made not only by the government but by the people as a whole.

A lot of private sectors have begun the Emiratisation process and hence a lot of industries and/or workstreams have been fully focused into the Emiratisation drive. This is not to say that expats are not welcome anymore in certain workstreams just that we as expats and in important roles have a duty to this beautiful nation to focus our KPIs towards Emiratisation.

3. Getting a job and family visa

Whilst taking the decision to move to the UAE, you need to ensure a couple of things. Firstly, are you moving with a job in hand? If not then firstly arrange your visit visa either through travel agents or the airline or through a family or relative or even an old work sponsor. Then, consider where you are going to stay before you find your job. This would aid your application process once you move to the UAE.

Like a lot of countries, UAE too prefers if you are in the country and available for Face-to-Face interviews. Regarding your stay, in case you do not have family or friends in the UAE willing to accommodate you, there are a lot of affordable hotels/ hotel apartments available online and you can select and book online as well. If you are moving with a job in hand, most companies would give you a starter’s pack which includes relocation details and what to expect when you are moving to the UAE.

Normally your family would accompany you only after you have moved to the UAE and been sponsored by the company. You would be on a work visa whilst your family would move on a residence visa. In case of nationals, who can move easily to the UAE, i.e. in case of Western expats or GCC expats, your family could move with you for a short period however they may need to exit in order to come back on a Residence visa.

Once you have your work visa, it normally takes up to 3 weeks to get your family’s residence visa in place.

4. Where to live

The next most important task once you get your job is to actually scout for apartments or villas in the UAE as per your needs. People usually prefer to get apartments or villas next to their office however you may also consider availing apartments/villas near your children’s school. UAE is well-structured to allow a varied choice for your every need. There are toll gates to guide and monitor traffic flow. So you may want to consider these factors as well before taking decisions on your residential choices. There are a lot of gated community villas and apartments in the country.

Where it comes to schools there are a wide range of schools- International, Local, Islamic, Indian schools, etc. The school fees would be varied as well. The normal school year is from April-March.

5. Getting around

You can rent a car once you avail your work visa/residence visa. However you would be able to drive your car on your international visa for a limited period only. Post which or pre-expiry of which you would need to get your UAE driving license.

6. Medical coverage and healthcare

A lot of companies provide medical insurance schemes for family and self. In case you do not have medical coverage for your family, you could also avail the government hospitals’ card once you have your residence visa or private medical insurance. A lot of local and international medical insurers would reach out to you at a click of a button.

7. Purchasing a property

Many expats have purchased properties in the country. This may be a consideration if you plan on living long term in this beautiful country. Some companies also allow its employees a Housing Advance which is later deducted prorated from your monthly salary.

8. Salaries and getting paid

Monthly salary is normally broken up into Basic salary, Housing Allowance and Transport Allowance. Bonus in most companies is calculated based on the basic salary.

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