Move to Dubai

(13 Posts)
50degreesintheshade Wed 15-Jan-14 05:34:43

Greetings from cold Dubai, its only 16 degrees this morning!
I have lived here for 7 years, came out here with my boyfriend and lived in sin for 2 years before getting married!
Your decision should really take into account the package that your partner has been offered, housing is VERY expensive and schools are not cheap. It is good that you can come for a visit first so you can compare prices.

We totally love living in Dubai and one of our biggest fears is having to come back to the uk!
I have one son who is currently in nursery (maximum of 14 children per class at his nursery) and he will be starting school in September (19 per class). Schools can be an issue as you have to pay a 500 dirham fee to register.
Everyone seems to panic about school places and registers their children at masses of schools years in advance. I refused to play that game and registered at 3 schools only 6 months ago and I have been offered one place and have two assessments coming up (who knows what they assess a 3 year old on?!)
It does get hot in summer but we happily go to the park and the pool in the afternoon until the start of july (when we usually head home for 6 weeks) So to say you cant go out between april to October is a tad dramatic.

Living in Dubai is certainly an adventure, we go camping most weekends and explore the other emirates as we are not really mall and shopping people (I personally think the shopping in Dubai is rubbish!). We love driving over the border to Oman and the locals here are very friendly and I have found Dubai to be a very child friendly place.

The health care system is amazing (make sure this is included in the package) I have recently been quite unwell and the care I received and the speed in which I received treatment was great.

Oh and finally soft ply areas can be expensive but they are supberb and soooooo clean. Some that I visited in the UK last summer left a lot to be desired with cleanliness ;-)

Hope you enjoy your look-see and even though we love Dubai it is not for everyone

desertmum Thu 02-Jan-14 13:18:25

I would go - but you will need to be married if you want your kids to go to school as they have to have a residence permit to get registered in school and this is dependant on our partner's residency (as is yours unless you can get a job with sponsorship). If they have his surname all should be OK but you will have to do visa runs which are becoming more difficult. Check his contract - try to get one with salary and then all the add-ons - housing, school, medical insurance, tickets homes, car allowance etc. An 'all-in' offer at first can seem like a great deal - but pay rises through the years will never match the increases in rent, school, medical etc. Don't be sucked into thinking an 'all-in' is great - it is very expensive to live in Dubai and many people (despite what it looks like on the outside) are struggling. It is also worth remembering that many of the people who live in huge villas, have three cars and multiple holidays abroad have been over there for a long time - newbies often try to emulate this lifestyle and get caught out financially.
Having said that it's a great place for kids to grow up - all mine are born and bred sand babies. The heat isn''t an issue unless you make it one! Go out early morning, and later in the day - you do acclimatise if you resist having your house at zero degrees with the a/c!
An exciting opportunity for you - hope you enjoy it.

MrsGubbins Mon 30-Dec-13 16:00:05

Yes to everything lavenderhoney has written, based on how the op has described her current life I wouldn't move at all.

YoungGirlGrowingOld Sun 29-Dec-13 14:02:41

YY to DC in the park in the evenings - it's common to see huge family groups BBQing. I tolerate heat well but yes, it is unwise to keep DC's out for long in full sun without adequate shade etc. Ironically, it usually pisses it down in late October - in the rain, I totally agree that taxi's are best avoided!!

Schools - not my experience. Probably depends how much money you are prepared to throw at it - like many things. (My friend changed her kid's school 3 times in the last academic year - no problem with places).

Agree about expatwoman and 4x4's - it's like an arm's race amongst expats to see who can get the beefiest car. You might also want to check out www.justrentals.ae to get an idea of prices and compare places like the Old Town and Palm with cheaper areas. (Another friend just moved to Sport City to save cash - apparently it is reasonable there but I know very little about the area).

You do need to be careful about qualified versus unqualified nannies. When I first lived in Dubai I had a daily maid for myself even though no DC's. It was amazing! Most maids/nannies have experience with children IME but they may not be "qualified" in the English sense.

My apartments have a private beach, as do many, so no issue there. You can also go to public beaches - there are two I visit regularly because there is more space for kids, and they are also great.

Agree about going to make money and save - it really does all depend what you want. I was bored of the UK and looking for a wee adventure so saw it as an opportunity, but the timing sounds like it might not be great for you.

All the best :-)

Lavenderhoney Sun 29-Dec-13 11:36:39

Its illegal to live together in dubai if you aren't married. People do do it, without dc in apartments but they tend to be both working and have visas etc through their own contract. A single man cannot have a live in maid for instance. your dh company will not pay visas, health insurance, flights etc if not. Its not worth the risk of being imprisoned, fined and deported.

The points listed below, this is my take on themsmile having had the same age and age difference dc in the ME, it is too hot between April and October. The heat is relentless even early in the day and within an hour everyone is too hot and moaning. Even the water in the beakers is too hot! The locals mostly take their dc to the park ( and some parks are women only during the week) in the evenings.

Schools, british, have full classes of about 20/25 children in a class, and teaching can be good or bad, same as anywhere. Teachers will be british, Irish or Australian. School places are very hard to get, you will, unless your company has a debenture, have to pay a fee of about 1000 aed now to get on the wait list for 4 years time. If you look on expatwoman they list schools and fees. Plus lots of other info. Also look on expat forum for a less moderated view on real life in dubaismile

Nurseries are very over subscribed with perhaps 20-25 children doing full days and most people put their child in as its seems the norm. Its very expensive, certainly not cheap! And you will struggle to get a place. Some companies don't pay nursery fees. Staff will be one or two westerners, then Indian or Asian as the cost then is extremely low and staff may not be qualified. You pay for all extras.

Agree healthcare is excellent, depending on who you see. You won't have to wait at all, and dental care is fast too, if you have it with your healthcare.

Taxis I found to be dangerous! Taxi drivers don't speak much English and unless you are going somewhere they know, will get lost. People take tremendous risks whist driving here, and every second car is a 4x4, safer and you are less likely to get cut up. Traffic is horrendous.

Help with kids- not everryone had a nanny. A nanny is the name given to an unqualified Indian, Filipino or African maid who looks after your dc. I know loads of people without a nanny. If you plan to work you will need one though.

Look on dubizzle for cost of housing versus your housing allowance. You don't pay income tax but as I said below, there are lots of hidden costs. If you can rent someone cheaper than your HA, you will save more.

Lying on the beach with a cocktail is ok if you pay to do so by going to a hotel after work. You may do that and leave your dc at home for the maid to feed and put to bed, or bring the dc and let the maid look after them. Your dh will certainly like his new lifestyle after worksmile the beach at weekends is great, plus camping.

People tend to leave when their dc start school as its so expensive, and I know loads of people who leave because the high costs don't really make family living a good thing. I also know people who can't manage a toddler alone at the supermarketsmile they take the maid and chatter on their mobiles whilst the maid looks after the dc and pushes the trolley.

It is an experience, but so is brining up your dc in your own country, sharing life with family and friends when dc are little not a bunch of easy come easy go strangers.

It really depends what sort of life you likesmile but you don't go for the lifestyle, not with dc. You go to make money and save.

Look on the websites mentioned, ask why people leave as well as stay..

Good luck with whatever you decide.

YoungGirlGrowingOld Sun 29-Dec-13 08:06:21

I have lived in various places in the ME including Dubai and I would say go for it. I would also be cheesed off about the marriage thing - but I know many, many couples who live together here and are unmarried and it seems the authorities turn a blind eye. It may be that your husband's company only offers benefits e.g. visa help or health insurance to DW's? Worth checking.

Just to add my tuppenneth to the negative view above:

- It's a bit of an exaggeration to say that you can't go outside between April and October. Those are the warmest months but it's only really July and August where it is unpleasantly hot. As a PP said, many people holiday then. It also happens to coincide with Ramadan at the moment so not much is going on business-wise either. Much depends on your tolerance to sun! (I am actually finding it a wee bit chilly here at the moment! I was happy outside in July as long as there was a pool nearby! :-) )

- Schools here are excellent. Many businesses (including the firm I work for) will pay for children's education and it's a million miles from the UK state system - small classes, very robust academically, lots of 'extra's'. I appreciate that it would make it more difficult for your kids to get back in the state system but there are ways and means, e.g. why not let your house for the 3 years and then move back in? Surely then you would have the same priority as now? (I don't know much about the UK system so that may be completely wrong).

- Healthcare here is also excellent - again, vastly better than anything the UK has to offer, even in the private sector. It would be highly unusual to wait more than a couple of days to see a specialist.

- The roads can be dangerous but again it's an exaggeration to say that taxi's are lethal. I took a taxi in Dubai every day for 2 years with no prangs or other problems!

- Help with kids is cheap and easily available if you want it - almost everyone has a nanny (and at salaries where it would not be achievable in the UK) and nurseries are also cheap.

- Costs of living (esp rent) are high and increasing here but the salaries are also generally higher and there is no income tax. It is still possible to live cheaply but most expat want to live in a "desirable" area. Do not understimate what a massive difference being tax free will make to your life and your savings!! I paid off my mortgage within 18 months.

- It is fantastic to be lying on a beach with a cocktail within an hour of finishing work and spending weekends as "mini holidays". Your kids will be able to spend a lot more time outdoors because the weather is mostly great!

- The location of Dubai is fantastic for travelling! Since arriving here I have been to Goa, Sri Lanka, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, Maldives - all within a 4 hour flight. It's only 6 hours from London so not exactly long-haul if you need to pop back.

Common perception here is that there are only three lengths of time expats spend in Dubai - 3 years, 5 years or life. I know more people falling into the "lifer" category than the other two (although I plan to return for family reasons). This seems to be because it's really hard to go back to lower salary, paying masses of tax, and not being able to afford help - so you may well end up staying longer than 3 years.

In general I think we always regret the things we don't do rather than the things we do, iykwim? It will be a fantiastic and culturally enriching experience for your kids - they will learn lots about Islam and will learn Arabic at school - and it also sounds like a great move for your DH. If you go, enjoy!

Letslet Sun 29-Dec-13 07:23:29

I lived in Dubai for 4 years I really enjoyed it but I do think we made sacrifices for it. When we moved we were a bit like you very settled friends , family near by and children at school or about to start. Luckily we were both agreed on having an adventure otherwise I don't think we would have lasted the first year (lots of visa hassle , rents shooting up so little choice on villa, school place shortage and missing friends and family) . After the first year I loved it and was really settled and miss a lot of things about Dubai now we are gone (we moved to another country overseas with my DH job). The most difficult thing was Dubai is very transient so continually making new friends and then them leaving which was hard for me and the children. I miss the fact my children are now rootless after almost 7 years overseas they have no proper base. They know little about UK culture and can't remember things like Guy Fawkes or Autumn leaves or cold winters although if you are only going for 3 years may not be an issue .
In saying that I largely don't regret moving overseas we are definately financially better off (altHough as lavender honey says good expat packages are largely dying out) and its been great experience my children have travelled the world and made friends from many different countries but I do recognise we as a family have made sacrifices and if you are not totally on board with living overseas the negatives may outweigh the postives.

tribpot Sat 28-Dec-13 11:52:20

In the first instance, I think I would be very cheesed off by someone who had been clear he did not want to marry even though he knew I did, but changed his tune as soon as it became a requirement for something he wanted.

In the second, I don't really understand to what extent your life together has been planned. You've literally just bought a house, in the right area for school, but now your DP wants either to move overseas or to move jobs? What was discussed when the house was bought?

I think like LavenderHoney I'd be tempted to stay here and go back and forth. But it sounds like when he comes back he wouldn't want to stay in the area either? Or would the posting have offered up new opportunities in the UK?

4x4 Sat 28-Dec-13 11:37:28

I live in Doha , but have been in both Bahrain and Dubai with children aged 0- 4 yrs. I don't think I would have ever managed 4 children under 3 in London.
Live in help in makes my life as a mother seems so much easier than my friends back in the UK. My husband has had family friendly
hours with all his roles and we have been lucky to live in spacious accomodation
with great facilities. It takes time to settle but you can make friends easily .

Lavenderhoney Fri 27-Dec-13 11:04:41

Dubai is incredibly expensive, and with expo coming up even more so. Yes, you get a tax free salary but you will find that as everything is expensive you will spend more. There are lots of hidden costs, update your will so its not bound by sharia law if anything happen to your dh etc.

For instance, you can't go outside after April til the end of sept, welcome to the expensive and busy world of dubai softplay! so you may want to go back to the UK for the whole of the summer or longer, depending on if you put your children in nursery, make sure the company cover this, or work and your dc stay all summer and you have a live in maid or nanny. Where will you stay in the UK? Will you be able to hire a car for the 2 months? How much is that? Etc

Your maid, if you have one will cost between 2-3k aed a month, plus visa. Flight home, health insurance, mobile cost, access to Internet, and if you want her to take the dc anywhere, pay for a driver. Plus she will be in your home all day long and Taxis are lethal.

If you move your furniture then make sure you can afford to send it back! The market for expat leaving furniture is huge and you won't make any money.

You are visiting in the best month, so don't be fooled. Also, do you drive? You won't be on holiday there, living is different to holidays!

The big expat packages are very rare unless you are running the bank. People usually now get a lump sum and are expected to pay for things themselves. Its very expensive and everything takes ages... And don't get into debt. Its illegal.

Why doesn't your dh go out for the three month probation , see if he likes it and they like him? You don't have to go- I am about to move to the UK and DH stay here - its alarming how much we will save and how much we have spent so far- and we don't live the dubai expat lifestyle at all.

If I were you I would stay put, your dc aren't at school so you can go back and forth for a couple of weeks at a time, he travel to you, and time will pass - don't forget for 2-3 months in the summer you probably wouldn't stay anyway. Hardly anyone does, unless they work or have no money..

You can pm me if you like. Mine are just starting school, so I did those younger years in the ME. Sorry to be negative! It depends what you are leaving behind, you see.

That was long!

hoppinghare Sun 22-Dec-13 18:39:51

I wouldn't even visit dubai. The incredible riches available there are built on the back of terrible human rights abuses. I suppose it depends on whether you mind living in luxury knowing this.

kelly14 Sun 22-Dec-13 18:30:23

Parents have lived in Dubai for 10 years, so has my brther and his wife, both their children born here 4 and 2 now. 4 yr old just started school.
I don't know what packages like now but for my dad and brother 10 years ago was height of the times in Dubai so always been on fantastic packages.
Housing covered (parents live alone but have huge 5 bed villa with pool on golf course which is all paid for by company) flight allowance per year, phones, bills, schooling etc all covered. excellent wage and commission.
for my brother he was only 21 when he went to Dubai so never had a place of his own in UK and he met his wife here, he is now 31 and owns properties around the world and is set for life, so I would go for it!!

I spent most of my dds baby years here in Dubai (am here for xmas and new year now and we always xmas here as more xmassy than uk!!) and I love it and its amazing for children.

My mum didn't want to come at first but she soon loved it and we have been lucky enough to fly all the family out over the years and am sure you will have lots of people wanting to visit! its only 6 and a half hour flight.

Jollylittlemama Sun 22-Dec-13 14:33:08

I am new to this site but have found myself in an agonising situation and need some help Mumsnet members! My partner of 8 years has been offered a job with his company in Dubai. The posting is for 3 years. We have lived in a lovely town for 4 years, have just bought our family home six months ago, have two children 3 and 1. For the first time in my adult life I feel settled and have put down some roots. My family are an hour down the motorway so not too far and the kids see their grandparents every two weeks. I am in a quandry, because I know this is probably a once in a life time opportunity for my partner professionally, and I don't want him to miss out. The financial benefits are good. He will not lose his job if we don't go but he will want to move on. I just don't want to leave my home, friends and family - thinking about renting the house and packing up makes me feel sick. My eldest starts school in 20 months. If we go overseas for 3 years he will not get into any of the good local schools when we return. We have paid a lot of money to live in an area with good schooling - they are heavily oversubscribed. Any money we make from the posting are likely to be used in private schooling when we get back!! To add to this me and my partner are not married. He has always been against marriage - not commitment to me but more he does not think it is necessary to have a commited relationship - stems from things that happened to him in childhood. I wanted to get married years ago but respected and accepted his feelings and let the idea go. If we go to Dubai we have to get married to live there.. now he is happy to get married and had talked about this though not proposed. I am really struggling with this.. such a u-turn - and for wrong reasons? So has anyone been in this situation? How did you feel? What happened? Anyone move to Dubai recently? How did you find it? We have been offered a recce with the kids in the new year..
Any words of wisdom much appreciated!! thank you.

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