by | Aug 22, 2022 | Family Hub, Other, Wanderlust Hub | 0 comments

Since moving abroad I have been inundated with questions about the expat life. First and foremost I have to put it out there that the expat life isn’t for the feint-hearted. That being said, if you are thinking about moving to Dubai here are a few things to consider before taking that giant leap of faith.

This post has taken 5 months because I wanted to give you lovelies the best advice possible. Hope this article has been worth the wait. Dubai Expat let’s get to it.

The Expat Life


While moving abroad may look glamourous, it is actually incredibly challenging and not for everyone. So taking time to navigate and fully understand your ‘WHY” for wanting to move abroad is key. While many assume that the expat life is just about making money, there are so many other reasons. Safety ranks high, good medical aid, schooling and opportunity are just some of the reasons people make this move for.

My Why!!!


One can never do enough research when making the decision to move abroad. Investigate everything from the cost of living, to start up costs for your first few months in your prospective new home. In the past 5 months I have seen so many move without doing enough research only to struggle endless to male ends me. Once you have done your research plan, plan, plan!


The cost of living is substantially more in Dubai than in South Africa. While the bustling Middle Eastern city is the land of opportunity, you need to ensure you have a job before moving to Dubai. Fact is, it is expensive to start a new life and you don’t want any nasty surprises.


You want at least to maintain the same lifestyle you had back home and that is a point to strongly negotiate on and consider. Before accepting a job offer, two very important areas to also negotiate on is accommodation and schooling if you have children. Without this, you would need to reconsider your decision.


Marriage certificates, unabridged birth certificates and qualifications will need to be attested. This can take up to 8 weeks to be finalised in South Africa. Attestation is a mandatory process for getting a Dubai visa to apply for a job or get a family residency. We used an agency to sort out our docs and Cliff brought them with, when he came to Dubai. Agencies are able to ship to your new residence in Dubai if need be. In addition, we later found out that the boys transfer records, last school report and school registration certification also need to be attested and 5 month later … still we wait.


As an expat you will require a residence visa to live in Dubai. While a residence visa is not the same as a work permit, it is usually sponsored by the company employing the expat. The employing company will usually submit all the relevant documents to the authorities, as well as carry the costs.

Celebrating getting my Residence Visa – Dubai Expat Approved!


Yes you heard right. Cheques are very much a thing here in Dubai. It is needed to pay for your rent, school fees, etc as you pay ahead in a specific number of cheques. A cheque book is issued when you open your bank account.


Housing is incredibly expensive and you may need to pay a 5% security deposit, 5% agent fee and 5% fee to have your water and electricity (DEWA) connected. This obviously differs from property to property but ensuring that you have cash flow to start up in a new country is a non-negotiable.

Home is where the heart is

If you are moving with a family

Dubai is incredibly safe, accommodating, and ideal to move to with family and kids. The bustling city provides everything that a family needs. But moving with your family, especially children poses many challenges. So, it’s highly recommended that the person with the job arrives first in order to set-up home and life in general. This will also limit expenses while looking for your new home. Most expats spend their first month living in a hotel.


The education system in Dubai includes both public and private schools, some of which offer American, British, French or other curricula. Education is compulsory for all children from the age of five to 15. All students who are not of Arab heritage must take Arabic language classes until grade 9 (+13 years). Depending on the age of your child/children finding space at a desired school can be one of the obstacles. Children may be expected to do entry assessments prior to being accepted.


Living in Dubai means that you will be exposed to a diverse range of cultures. Being a “global ambassador” also means being very careful about what you say and do. Hand gestures in particular can mean one thing in one country and then something totally different in another. Did you know that there are more than 200 nationalities living and working in the UAE?


BRING A JACKET!!! While Dubai might be incredibly hot, aircons operate on high and it can get incredibly cold. One spends very little time without aircon, so it’s advisable to always keep something warm with you.

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Welcome to the blog

Living to inspire has become my life’s purpose, so much so that what started out as just a personal blog has transformed into an inclusive community that supports women and children.  Fit Like Mummy aims to inspire fellow South Africans to find the fit in all areas of their lives.

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