Check out market updates

Living in the UAE

Living in the UAE – A Comprehensive Guide to Expat Life in the United Arab Emirates

Living in the UAE

Living in the UAE

Living in the UAE – A Comprehensive Guide to Expat Life in the United Arab Emirates, Discover everything you need to know about living in the UAE as an expat. From visa requirements to cultural norms, explore the diverse opportunities and experiences awaiting you in the United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates located in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula. The country is known for its modern cities, luxurious resorts, and stunning deserts. In recent years, the UAE has become a popular destination for expats, attracted by its high quality of life, tax-free income, and diverse population.

Visas and Residency in the UAE

Here’s a comprehensive look at visas and residency in the UAE, including types, how to obtain them, and important considerations:

Types of UAE Visas

  • Tourist Visa: Allows short-term stays for tourism and leisure. Options include:

    • 30-day tourist visa
    • 90-day tourist visa
    • Multiple-entry tourist visa (valid for varying periods)
  • Visit Visa: For visiting family members already residing in the UAE or attending business meetings. These are typically sponsored by a UAE resident or company.

  • Transit Visa: Required if you have a layover longer than 8 hours.

  • Employment Visa: Required to work in the UAE. Your employer will sponsor this visa.

  • Student Visa: For those pursuing higher education in the UAE. Sponsored by the educational institution.

  • Investor Visa: Available to individuals who invest in UAE property or businesses.

  • Golden Visa: A long-term visa (5 or 10 years) for investors, entrepreneurs, specialized professionals (scientists, researchers, etc.), and outstanding students.

How to Obtain a UAE Visa

  1. Determine the correct visa type: Based on your reason for visiting or residing in the UAE.
  2. Sponsorship: Most visas (except tourist visas) require a sponsor, either a UAE resident relative, your employer, your educational institution, or a business.
  3. Application process: Applications can be done through:
    • The official UAE Government portal:
    • GDRFA (General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs) in the relevant emirate
    • UAE embassies or consulates
  4. Requirements: Documents usually include:
    • Passport
    • Application form
    • Photographs
    • Medical clearance certificate
    • Sponsorship documents (if applicable)
    • Proof of financial means (for longer-term visas)

Residency in the UAE

  • UAE Residence Visas: These allow you to live and work in the UAE for longer periods, usually 1-3 years, and are renewable.
  • Requirements: Typically involve sponsorship, employment, investments, or meeting specific criteria like income level.
  • Benefits of residency: Include access to healthcare, the ability to open bank accounts, obtain a driver’s license, and sponsor family members.

Important Considerations

  • Visa fees and processing times: These vary depending on the type of visa.
  • Rules and regulations: The UAE has specific regulations regarding residency and employment. Ensure you understand these before applying.
  • Validity: Know the validity of your visa and renewal processes.
  • Sponsor responsibilities: Sponsors play a crucial role in obtaining and maintaining residency in the UAE.

Cost of living in the UAE

Cost of living in the UAE

Cost of living in the UAE

The cost of living in the UAE varies depending on several factors such as the emirate you reside in, your lifestyle choices, and personal preferences. The UAE, particularly cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is known for its relatively high cost of living compared to many other countries.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in the UAE and some key expenses to consider:

  • Housing: Renting or owning property in prime locations like Dubai Marina or Downtown Dubai can be expensive, with prices ranging from AED 4,000 to AED 8,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
  • Utilities: Monthly utility bills for a small apartment can range from AED 500 to AED 1,000, covering electricity, water, and internet expenses.
  • Transportation: Public transportation is relatively affordable, with a monthly metro pass costing around AED 300 to AED 400. Owning a car involves additional expenses such as fuel, insurance, and maintenance.
  • Food: Monthly grocery expenses for a single person can range from AED 1,000 to AED 2,000, depending on dietary preferences and shopping habits.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare costs in the UAE can be high, and private health insurance is often required for expatriates, costing several thousand dirhams per year.
  • Education: International school tuition fees can range from AED 20,000 to AED 50,000 or more per year, depending on the school and grade level.
  • Entertainment and Leisure: Expenses for dining out, movies, and leisure activities can vary depending on individual preferences and lifestyle choices.

Overall, while the UAE offers a high standard of living and numerous amenities, it’s important to budget carefully and consider your individual circumstances to manage the cost of living in the UAE effectively.


There are a variety of housing options available in the UAE, from apartments and villas to luxury hotels and resorts. The cost of housing varies depending on the location, size, and amenities of the property.


The UAE has a well-developed healthcare system with both public and private hospitals and clinics. Expats can choose to use the public healthcare system, which is subsidized by the government, or the private healthcare system, which is more expensive but offers a wider range of services.


The UAE has a diverse education system with a mix of public, private, and international schools. Expats can choose to send their children to a school that follows the curriculum of their home country

Pros and cons of Living in the UAE


  • Tax-free income: One of the major draws of living in the UAE is the absence of income tax. This allows individuals to save and accumulate wealth more rapidly than in many other countries.
  • High Standard of Living: The UAE boasts world-class infrastructure, opulent shopping districts, a vibrant culinary scene, and a dazzling array of entertainment options. The quality of life is generally very high, especially in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  • Multicultural Environment: The UAE hosts a diverse population of expatriates from around the globe. This fosters a rich and cosmopolitan environment where one can interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Safety and Security: The UAE consistently ranks among the safest countries in the world, boasting low crime rates. This provides a sense of security for individuals and families alike.


  • High Cost of Living: The cost of living, particularly housing, education, and groceries, can be significantly higher than in many other countries. This can be a strain on finances, especially for families.
  • Extreme Climate: The UAE experiences a harsh desert climate with scorching summer temperatures and high humidity levels for a large part of the year. This can limit outdoor activities and require a significant adjustment for those unaccustomed to such conditions.
  • Cultural Differences: Respecting and understanding local customs, dress codes, and religious practices is crucial in a largely Islamic society. Expats need to adjust and abide by the laws and norms.
  • Restrictions on Freedoms: Freedom of speech and expression are limited in the UAE. Additionally, laws surrounding alcohol consumption and public displays of affection are more stringent than in some Western countries.

Living in the UAE – A Comprehensive Guide to Expat Life in the United Arab Emirates - Frequently asked questions:

Some of the top areas for expats to consider living in the UAE are Dubai Marina, Abu Dhabi Corniche, and Sharjah. These areas offer a mix of residential options, amenities, and a vibrant expat community.
The cost of living in the UAE can vary depending on your lifestyle and location. Generally, housing and schooling tend to be the largest expenses for expats, while groceries, dining out, and transportation are relatively affordable compared to other international cities.
To obtain a residency visa in the UAE as an expat, you will need a sponsor (usually your employer or a family member), a valid passport, a medical check-up, and a visa application fee. The process can vary depending on your specific circumstances, so it’s best to consult with a local immigration expert for personalized guidance.


  1. conrad ruecker

    on said  

    The UAE seems like a beautiful and diverse country to live in, but the high cost of living is definitely something to consider.

  2. jacinto stracke

    on said  

    Bro you say very informative and eye-opening about the cost of living in the UAE. It’s interesting to see how expenses vary across different cities in the country.

Leave a Reply