Moving to Abu Dhabi as an Expat - What to Expect

The United Arab Emirates beckons expats from the world over, luring them with a selection of stylish, cosmopolitan cities and the promise of both excellent employment and investment opportunities. With high levels of personal disposable income, an abundance of generous employment packages and the benefits of a tax free salary, the UAE entices expats to live life to the full as part of a thriving expat community while simultaneously saving for that dream house or holiday.
Economic opportunity
Last year, the UAE clocked in at a respectable 15th in the world for overall expat quality of life in the 2014 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey. However, the country managed to boost itself into the top 10 on the economics league table, thanks to its high levels of expat satisfaction with the economy. It’s clear from the stats that professional expats considering a move to the UAE will find themselves among satisfied company.
Of course, if you’re moving to Abu Dhabi as an expat, the temptation to spend the high salary you can earn is quite strong in this country of plenty. From five star hotels to sophisticated restaurants, colourful souks to slick shopping malls bursting with luxury goods, the UAE is often considered a veritable playground for those with money to burn. Throw into the mix the vibrant expat social scene that will mean you are far from lonely, and you can see there are plenty of opportunities to live an extremely comfortable lifestyle, should you be that way inclined.
The cost of living
However, this is not to say that the UAE can’t be enjoyed at a more modest price. At present, the top two choices for expats, out of the seven emirates, remain Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is worth noting that the 2015 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Dubai at 23rd most expensive place in the world, while Abu Dhabi  came in at number 68 – considerably less expensive than other expat favourites such as New York, Zurich, Singapore, and even London. Public transport, in particular, offers excellent value for money, being both reliable and affordable.
In fact, the two biggest expenses to watch out for when moving to Abu Dhabi as an expat, are likely to be accommodation and schooling. Expat children are unable to attend free schools and although there are some excellent private international schools in the country, the prices are fairly eye-watering and places can be competitive. Your best bet is to start the application process as early as possible.
A few things to remember
As much as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the most westernised regions of the UAE, it is still important to remember that this is a Muslim country. Be sure to read up on local law, and always dress conservatively when in public. Flouting the rules is not only considered extremely disrespectful but can even result in costly fines or imprisonment.
A downside to moving to Abu Dhabi as an expat is the stifling heat that can become somewhat unbearable during the summer months. At this time of year temperatures can average 40 degrees Centigrade and many expats choose to leave town for a few weeks until the mercury drops.
If you are considering moving to Abu Dhabi as an expat or the other Emirates, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you.
Information correct at time of publication.