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Living In Dubai As A UK/British Citizen

British citizens will need to acquire the proper residence visa to live in the UAE long term. Living in Dubai as a UK/British citizen can be quite affordable, luxurious, and fulfilling, all depending on where you choose to put your money, and expats will find a growing expat community in Dubai.

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Are you a British citizen wanting to live in Dubai? Do you want to learn what it’s like living in the UAE as an expat?

This article by Pacific Prime has an introduction to cultural differences between the United Kingdom and Dubai, a deep dive into the monthly cost of living in Dubai, and a list of the types of residence visas expats may need to move to the United Arab Emirates.

After this read, you’ll want to explore our guide about what to expect when living in Dubai and another analysis of what it costs to live in Dubai.

If you’d like to learn how much health insurance costs in Dubai, try out our free health insurance quote generator to get dozens of instant quotes for Dubai and the UAE from a number of top-ranked insurance companies. If you have questions, reach out to Pacific Prime.

What It’s Like Living in Dubai as a UK/British Citizen

Living in Dubai as a British citizen is like entering a city of the future. Dubai is rich with technological innovation, luxury living for the wealthy, and a flourishing social scene. British citizens may struggle adjusting to the intense heat of Dubai but they may love the low tax rates.

Cars On Dubai Streets With Tall Buildings By Day

If you’re unsure what it would feel like living in dubai if you’re moving from the United Kingdom, take a look at a few of the cultural differences we discuss below:

Religion: The most common religion in Dubai and the UAE is Islam, with many expats also being Muslim. This differs from the UK where the majority of British locals are Christians

Transportation: Due to the high temperatures and wide highways, there are few pedestrians in Dubai. Instead, expats and locals rely on driving cars and the metro rail system to get around. This isn’t too different from the UK where the most common types of transportation are London’s railway, the Tube, taxicabs, and private vehicles.

Education: Public schools in Dubai are taught in Arabic, but private schools and universities are taught in English. In the United Kingdom, the most common language of instruction is English, though some schools teach in Welsh, Scots, and Gaelic.

Cost Of Living In Dubai Vs. The UK

The average monthly cost of living in Dubai for one person is GBP £1,625 and £3,741 for a family. The average monthly cost of living in the United Kingdom for one person is GBP £1,660 and £3,978 for a family. Dubai’s average cost of living is cheaper than in London but higher than in Birmingham.

To give you a rounder idea of what the cost of living is in Dubai, we will compare Dubai’s average living expenses to the averages in London, England and Birmingham, England.

The crowd-sourced data we will cite comes from LivingCost.org and is intended only to give you an idea of what costs may be like in each of these cities. Local prices are constantly changing, so please keep that in mind. All of our monetary values are in GBP.

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai monthly cost of living with the United Kingdom averages in London and Birmingham.

 

Overall Living Expenses Dubai Price London Price Birmingham Price
1 person for a month £1,625 £2,493 £1,526
A family for a month £3,741 £5,705 £3,701

 

Read this blog post to learn about Finding a Job in Dubai as a UK Citizen.

Housing Expenses in Dubai vs. UK

Rent for one person in Dubai costs about GBP £982 a month on average. Rent in Dubai for a family costs about GBP £1,749 a month on average. In England, rent on average for one person costs about GBP £1,006. In London, the average is GBP £1,606 and in Birmingham it’s GBP £876.

Dubai Marina View For UK Citizens Living In Dubai

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai housing expenses with the United Kingdom’s averages in London and Birmingham. These are listed as monthly fees.

 

Type of Housing Fee Dubai Price London Price Birmingham Price
Rent for 1 £982 £1,606 £876
Rent for a family £1,749 £2,665 £1,413
1-room apartment downtown £1,203 £1,799 £777
Cheap 1-room apartment £704 £1,337 £664
3-room apartment downtown £2,274 £3,328 £1,572
Cheap 3-room apartment £1,330 £2,164 £1,028

 

If you’re not completely set on living in Dubai but are interested in the UAE, take a look at The Best Places to Live in the UAE.

Food Expenses in Dubai vs. UK

On average, individuals living in Dubai spend about GBP £371 on food expenses each month while individuals in the UK spend about GBP £435 on food expenses each month. In general, groceries are more affordable in Dubai than in the UK, but it depends what you buy.

Average restaurant prices are fairly comparable between Dubai and the UK, though this largely has to do with your food preferences. Beer is twice as expensive in the UAE than it is in England.

Dubai Opera On Sheikh Mohammed Blvd For UK Expats

Average Grocery Expenses in Dubai

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai grocery prices with the UK averages in London and Birmingham.

 

Type of Food Dubai Price London Price Birmingham Price
1 qt of milk £1.43 £1.20 £1.23
1 lb of bread £1.03 £1.32 £1.10
1.2 lb of rice £1.50 £1.73 £1.26
12 eggs £.89 £3.39 £3.11
2.2 lb of cheese £11.50 £8.77 £7.62
2.2 lb of chicken breast £7.44 £7.93 £7.22
2.2 lb of apples £1.74 £2.09 £2.41
2.2 lb of oranges £1.52 £2.16 £2.04
2.2 lb of potatoes £0.86 £1.00 £1.08

 

Average Restaurant Prices in Dubai

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai restaurant prices with the UK averages in London and Birmingham.

 

Type of Restaurant Meal Dubai Price London Price Birmingham Price
Lunch £8.38 £15.50 £10.50
Dinner for two £56.10 £63 £39.40
Fast food meal £6.87 £8.78 £6.90

 

Transportation Expenses in Dubai vs. UK

The average monthly transportation expenses in Dubai are GBP £156. The average person in the UK will spend £133 a month on transportation. Buying gas for a private vehicle is significantly more affordable in Dubai than in the UK, and public transportation is cheaper in Dubai than in London.

Some of the most popular methods of transportation in Dubai are their metro system, bus system, and taxis.

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai transportation prices with the UK averages in London and Birmingham.

 

Type of Transportation Dubai Price London Price Birmingham Price
Local transport ticket £1.68 £3.16 £2.58
Monthly transport ticket £67.40 £89 £64.80
Taxi ride for 5 miles £9.71 £20.70 £14.40
¼ gallon of gas £0.73 £1.73 £1.67

Moving to Dubai from the UK

UK/British citizens moving to Dubai from the UK will need to secure a residence visa. Depending on the type you apply for, the residence visa can last for 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 years. If you plan to work in Dubai as a freelancer, skilled employee, or for a local business, you may need the Green Visa.

The Address Dubai Marina: A Spot For UK Expats

This is the full list of required documents to apply for a UAE visa for UK/British Citizens. If you’re a long-term British expat who may want to reside in Dubai permanently, learn how to become a citizen of Dubai.

Here are the types of residence visas for expats from the UK moving to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates:

  1. Golden Visa: The Golden Visa is for long-term residents who have foreign talent coming to the UAE to live, work, or study.
  2. Work Visa (inside the UAE): There are three types of work visas for expats moving to the UAE to work inside the UAE. These are the Green Visa, the Standard Work Visa, and the Domestic Worker’s Visa.
  3. Work Visa (outside the UAE): The Virtual Work Residence Visa is for British expats who move to the UAE and work virtually from inside the UAE.
  4. Retirement Visa: Retired expats from the UK who are over age 55 residing in Dubai or the UAE can get a long-term Retirement Visa for 5 years.
  5. Student Visa: Expat students who move to Dubai from England to study apply for a Student Visa that lasts for up to one year at a time.
  6. Residence Visa for Family Members: Employers and employees who have a valid UAE residence visa can sponsor residence visas for their family members. There are specific requirements for who can be sponsored.

Read here to learn more about the general provisions for residence visas in the UAE, and read this comprehensive guide about moving to Dubai.

Check out this blog post about Moving to Dubai from The United Kingdom.

Conclusion

British and UK citizens living in Dubai have quite the adventure ahead of them. Not only will there be a lot of cultural adjustments they’ll need to make, but there will be expense adjustments (hopefully in the direction of being more affordable), and adjustments to keeping up on visa applications and renewals.

Pacific Prime is an international insurance broker that has helped over one million clients secure health insurance around the globe. We know that because health insurance is mandatory for all Dubai residents, it can feel like another stressful step on your plate to prepare for.

Let us make it easy for you. Fill out our contact form, and we’ll reach out to you with an explanation of your health insurance options in Dubai

You’re also free to compare insurance quotes on your own to get an overview of the Dubai insurance market!

Finally, expats will also find value in our blog posts Living in Dubai as a Canadian and Living in Dubai as an Expat.

Safe travels!

Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung