5 Rules to Survive Dubai

Being a real estate agent working in Dubai, I have many clients that are new to the country. They made the big move and are looking for a place to call home.

It starts out so exciting! They’re on an adventure to the magical land that is Dubai! Enormous buildings, extravagant events, malls built on top of malls. They know all their paperwork will be completed soon, it’s already in processing. They have a “hefty” company package that appears to include fabulous, 5 star living. They’ve visited before and know all the in’s and out’s. Research is done. Law of the land is known.

Then reality hits. Usually in the process of trying to find a home. The “hefty” work package isn’t very accommodating to their full sea view, 2 bedroom, fully furnished, apartment they imagined having. When they start doubting the previous fact and feel I’m ripping them off they go to another real estate agent that REALLY rips them off. They come back even more pissed off than when they left. At this point, anywhere they can live they’ll take. But wait, the visa and paperwork isn’t done processing?! Hotel living continues. Frustration builds. This is where I usually hear the question: “What happens if we leave a tenancy contract early?”

And it’s only been one week.

The nightmare for me is that I either become a therapist or the person they take it out on. Reliving the beginning months in Dubai is something I have no interest in doing. BUT in the rare chance one of these people stumble across my blog before their move I thought it only necessary to create a survival guide. A real survival guide // Here are my 5 Rules to Surviving a Move to Dubai:

1. Money. You need money. A lot of money. Don’t come without it. Also, don’t come without a job. Contrary to popular belief, a well paying job isn’t waiting on a silver platter for you to arrive. So get one first. (<< And good luck with that).  If you get a job offer, really spend some time calculating the cost of living before you think it’s a “hefty” package. 


2. Alcohol. Know where to get a drink. You won’t find a liquor store you can buy from without some major paperwork and most restaurants don’t serve any alcohol, so you need to find a nice place that does. This is necessary from the beginning so that when the day hits that you realize Dubai isn’t all blissful you know right where to go without having to stop, navigate, and explain to an uneducated taxi driver what you’re looking for. That’ll really piss you off. So have your spot ready. And if you’re on any kind of a budget, stock up from the airport upon arrival.


3. Friend(s). You need at least one. I really think you need one before you come. Dubai isn’t the most friendly, arm opening place I’ve been. Considering I’m comparing it to Minnesota, which is a challenge to meet, I still highly recommend having at least one friend before the move. When the going gets tough you need someone to implement alcohol with. And bartenders here aren’t bothered to hear it.


4. Patience. My last client said it best, “Why make it really easy if you can complicate it”. This should be Dubai’s motto. Why have a nicely made ramp onto the highway if you can park your car in the center of it so no one can pass? Why have every tenant pay their final electric bill upon move out when you can just have the new tenant pay for all of them before move in? Why have Citi Bank atm’s all across the country for your customers convince when we can make some of them not work with your Citi Bank card?


5. Commitment. Saved the best for last. This is my number one rule (With anything really). Commitment. When people get all fired up and grumpy after a week or 2, I have to laugh. Come on? 1 week? Pussys. Even if Dubai was the most difficult place in the world to live, you decided to make the move. Follow through for more than a week or 2. If for nothing else than for the sake of your own pride! So many of my fresh off the boat clients are ready to throw in the towel right after they get here. What’s the point? Stick it out. You’re not dying.


So that’s it. Come one! Come all! And good luck! I’m glad I did it for a year and I can leave with victory! Every man for themselves, it’s wild out there.

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5 thoughts on “5 Rules to Survive Dubai

  1. Love this post!!!! I live in Thailand and seriously can relate alll of this to my experiences lol Ive considered Dubai or Ecuador next.. I have enjoyed reading your blog❤

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