About to make the move to Dubai? Have a million and one questions about the big move? We did too! Don’t worry! We are here to help. Jodie May is about to join us as an expat in Dubai, and asks us some questions before joining us in the sandpit:
I keep feeling a rollercoaster of emotions about moving to Dubai. The majority of the time I am absolutely buzzing and so excited to move to this amazing city; I constantly look at pictures just so I can imagine in my mind what it might be like (this usually involves me sitting on a flamingo rubber ring, drinking a cocktail and looking up at the Burj Al Arab-probably far from reality). But occasionally I have days when I feel nervous about how different it will be and wonder if I will like it and how I will make friends.
I know that moving to another continent so far away from friends and family is a gamble but in my gut, I feel like I’m going to love it and am ready to start my Dubai adventure.
Unanswered questions keep buzzing around my head and here are just a few that keep popping up:
What do you suggest to bring clothes wise? What do you end up wearing the most? Is the dress code strict or is it more relaxed than people think?
Is it easy to make friends in Dubai?
What would you recommend to do/see during your first week living in Dubai?
Do you have any tips to help with feeling home sick at the beginning?
What shocks you most about the change of culture?
Is there anything essential to pack that isn’t obvious that I wouldn’t think of myself?
What do you miss most about home?
How much money do you need for fun money every month?
Do you have any tips to prepare yourself for/cope with the heat?
For Jodie, and all new expats moving to Dubai, here goes:
You are not far off our reality, we do spend most weekends on a flamingo rubber ring with a cocktail in hand, looking up at one of the two iconic Burj buildings. We also work really hard all week; the bit we don’t show on Instagram! Dubai is a bit of a workhorse in places (not for everyone, but most), but the weekends make it worth it. The working week doesn’t feel so bad when you know you have the sunshine to look forward to at the weekend (something you lack in England, it’s grey the working week and the weekend, but you will miss the Sunday roast (don’t worry, you can have them on Saturdays (our weekends are Fridays & Saturdays, takes some getting used to!).
You are not alone for feeling nervous, of course it’s a scary move! Leaving what you know, but it’s about to become the best adventure of your life. You won’t gel immediately, there are a fair few hurdles on arrival (it took us around 6 months to settle), i.e. you will never know anything as slow as setting up simple things like your mobile phone. You will soon learn where the term ‘expat brat’ comes from as you get slightly irrational trying to work out how to convert your driving license. It’s OK, we’ve all been there (and remember it like yesterday!).
Let’s help with these buzzing questions:
- Clothes Pack as though you are living on holiday, you are! Nothing crazy short for day to day, you have to be respectful, but don’t stress about packing everything to cover completely, it’s not that strict. We moved here with just one suitcase, it’s doable, but don’t expect to shop in Dubai, clothes shopping is really expensive, and we have no Primark for the basics, it’s a travesty! Topshop, it seems like £20 more for just a t-shirt than you would spend in the UK! (maybe we’re being a little dramatic, but shopping is expensive). We flick between work wear, casual, outfits for the evening, and beachwear (if you are moving in the Summer, it’s HOT, the Winter can get really cold (as can aircon) so pack some knits, we promise you’ll need them).
- Friends You will make friends, we promise! Again, we all feel the same, and this is what Ladies Nights are for. Not heard of Ladies Night? Every night is Ladies Night in Dubai (mostly Tuesday nights), where ladies drink free in most bars in Dubai. You’ll meet so many girls in the toilets feeling exactly the same as you, and hopefully become more than just toilet besties. You will also know someone who knows someone in Dubai, and this will be another group. Be warned of the girl gang though, we’ve talked about this before.
- Things to do and see in your first week living in Dubai Enjoy being a tourist!
- Feeling home sick You will feel home sick, and to be honest, this won’t go away. We have been in Dubai 3 years and still get twangs of home sickness, but make sure you schedule trips home, and they soon come around (FYI Dubai time is so much quicker than time time, days, weeks, months pass in a blur!). Skype is the dream, schedule in Skype with Mum & besties, but not too much or you’ll pine for home. Just remember why you made the move, and surround yourself with people in the same position. Throw yourself into the adventure! Dubai has a habit of giving you no choice but to be in the thick of it! It’s fast paced. We work hard, we play hard; it’s a once in a lifetime experience, enjoy it!
- The change of culture Dubai is a welcoming city, with a huge population of expats. It can be hard to adapt, but honestly, as we have said, you are not alone, so many people are in the same boat! Ramadan is the hardest to adapt to as an expat, what to wear, not being able to drink water / eat in the hours of sunlight, but you get used to it, and embrace the culture of the city, it’s all part of the experience!
- Packing essentials Crumpets!! Dubai only has flat weird horrible crumpets, we miss fluffy Warburton crumpets. Otherwise you can get pretty much everything you need here.
- What do you miss most about home? Mum!
- Money We won’t lie to you, we’re broke! Despite the tax free salaries, we are still broke! But don’t listen to us, we are terrible with money. Some girlfriends have managed to save deposits for houses, we have brought shoes. You may earn double your salary in the UK, but living costs are double, and fun is so much more expensive in Dubai than in the UK. In the UK if your girls said let’s spend £100 on all you can eat and drink at the weekend you would LOL and tell them to jog on, here you agree and buy a new outfit. Crazy! Eventually you should (really really should, note to selves) balance it out to save, and learn to say no to every party weekend to be able to save for when you decide to go home – again, it’s all part of the experience.
- The heat The Summer is like living in an oven, you just spend a lot of time indoors (as a UK Winter), Dubai Winter is amazing, the perfect weather! You get used to it, and adapt, never take for granted living in the sun, no matter how hot it gets.
We will see you soon! Safe flight, and again, enjoy every second of this new chapter.
Any more questions, let us know in the Comments below. We’re happy to help!