Are you considering taking on an expat role in Dubai? Want to understand a bit more about what life is like as an expat living in Dubai? Emma Bennet (an Australian living in Dubai) shares the reasons she recommends you make the move.
This article is written by Emma Bennett. Emma Bennett loves a good story. Fortunately, she has plenty of inspiration living life as an Aussie expat in Dubai and travelling the world with two young kids. She loves to tell the real stories about what can happen when you are completely out of your comfort zone and those funny, quirky moments that form long lasting memories.
6 reasons it is good to be an Australian living in Dubai
Dubai is well-known for being larger than life. It has the world’s tallest building, the world’s biggest mall even the world’s first indoor ski field. Generally what attracts expats here is the opportunity to also make big money. But there is so much more to Dubai. As an Australian living in Dubai for over 12 months, I‘d like to share some of the things we love about Dubai.
Don’t get me wrong. There are things that are exasperating about Dubai, just like anywhere else in the world. But weighing things up, there are far more positives than negative for us and for families in general. Aussie expats numbers are small, so if you enjoy these stories, maybe you will feel a little inspiration to come and find out more for yourself.
1. Your Family Is Safe
Dubai is an extremely safe place. The crime rate is virtually zero and you can feel it when you move around the city. People leave their cars running in car parks, handbags are left sitting on front seats, you can leave belongings in public places and they’re still there when you come back.
Being Aussie expats who have had personal security drummed into us since birth, it’s taken us a little while to get used to this concept.
I left my purse on a table in a food hall one day. When I realised after 10 minutes, I walked back with that sick feeling you get when you know something will have disappeared. My purse was still there, exactly where I left it.
When we were at the beach one day, we were struggling to push our stroller along the soft sand down the long distance to the water (about 100m away). Our friends laughed at us and asked why we don’t just leave it near the boardwalk until we’re ready to leave. We were extremely uncomfortable with this concept but we went with it and left our pram where it was. When we walked back up after a couple of hours frolicking, the pram was still there fully intact with everything in it.
Now, we are so relaxed that the only time I have felt unsafe in the last 12 months was when we went home to Australia for a visit. I was walking down the backstreets of Dandenong in Melbourne and I had this strange feeling that I couldn’t immediately recognise. I realised suddenly that the feeling was a little bit of fear. There were weirdos milling all around, a methadone clinic on the corner and it all converged to make us feel ever so slightly unsafe in our own country.
A sobering thought for Australia, but a massive plus for Dubai!
2. You Can Afford Home Help
This is another of the huge selling points for Australians living in Dubai.
Let’s face it; I don’t think there are many people out there who haven’t wished at one point or another to have a maid to help out at home. There’s just so much more you could be doing with life than cooking and cleaning.
In Australia though, the cost involved in having a maid is prohibitive for most ordinary people.
Not so in Dubai. Every Aussie expat family we know has a full-time maid and they do it for 3 good reasons:
- You are providing a job to someone who really needs it – it’s almost an obligation to hire someone to help provide much needed jobs
- You can afford it – the wage expectations for home helpers are very low (remember that even those wages are better than what these people can earn in their home country)
- It’s the only way to survive when you have no extended family around and you have no friends to call for help – employers here do not offer family leave. It’s a foreign concept
Of course, it’s important to note that having a maid also happens to make life extremely convenient. No more washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning and you have a babysitter on call when you have to go out. It’s changed our lives forever and we may never be able to live anywhere else.
3. If you want a luxury car, just buy one
When we were living in Australia, we were by no means poor but we struggled to justify spending the exorbitant prices most places would charge for a luxury car. Add the cost of maintaining them and these cars really were a luxury for the few who could afford it.
Luxury cars are literally everywhere in Dubai. And for good reason. They are SO affordable.
Due largely to the transient nature of the city, there seem to be an extraordinary number of new and barely used cars for sale at some amazing prices.
We resisted for a little while, looking around at the standard Mazda’s and Nissans, feeling a little uncomfortable that we might be branded as snobs. But then we realised that the costs to get something really nice like an Audi, BMW, Lexus or Mercedes were truly comparable to any of the prices for the traditional family cars.
And it’s worth getting something comfortable and stylish for the amount of time you spend on the road here. Dubai is not a walking city and public transport is limited out in the suburbs. We are mostly excited though because it’s more than likely the only time in our lives we’ll be able to afford a little bit of European luxury and so far, we are fully embracing it!
4. The Beach Lifestyle
Dubai is best-known for its glitz and glamour. The malls, the attractions, the hotels. It’s all larger than life and certainly worth seeing.
What’s even more fabulous here though is the beach.
The Gulf is beautiful and they have made a huge effort with the facilities lining the beaches. There’s a 14km boardwalk with a cushioned running track that runs the length of the Jumeirah coast line with food options, bathrooms and picnic tables dotted the whole way along.
There’s always something on as well from fitness challenges and kite flying competitions to yoga classes, food festivals and exhibits.
During the cooler months, everyone flocks to the beach (during the Dubai summer – the beach is best avoided). It’s quite amazing (and slightly entertaining) to see the demure, conservative Emirati families strolling along the boardwalk at Kite Beach while a group of twenty-something Russians frolic nearby in their string bikinis. In its own way, the beach is almost a microcosm of life in Dubai – everyone can be themselves. And it’s fabulous!
5. Everything is Open All the time
Dubai is one of those cities that never sleeps. We live above the main arterial of Sheikh Zayed Road and I have never, ever looked out at that road and not seen a multitude of cars on it.
The weeks here run from Sunday to Thursday although most people also work on Saturday. The only day I’ve ever seen anything closed in Dubai is on a Friday morning. Fridays are a day of prayer and resting. There is also the holy month of Ramadan where many things are closed during the daylight hours.
But apart from that, basically, everything is open all the time.
If you want to go out for pizza or dessert at 2am on a Saturday morning, you will be able to find someone to sell it to you. If you feel like a mani/pedi at midnight, there will be someone who will do it for you. If you can’t sleep and you decide to go see a movie at 2am, you can – they really do have session times in the wee hours. It really is so convenient and a huge plus for those living here.
6. If you really can’t be bothered doing something, then don’t
There’s really nothing much you have to do when you are an Australian living in Dubai except perhaps go to work.
If you can’t be bothered grocery shopping, you order groceries to be delivered no matter how minimal the quantity (we’ve even seen people get a single bottle of water home-delivered). If you can’t be bothered parking, get the valet to do it. If you can’t be bothered driving your kids an event, get a driver to do it for you. Even the dry-cleaner down the street brings your clothes back when they’re done so you don’t have to go down and pick them up.
In fact, if you worked from home, you could conceivably never leave your home again as you could literally get someone to do every possible task for you.
That includes moving house. You literally do not have to lift a finger. You can pay someone to do the packing for you, sort everything out, move the stuff and unpack everything. And when I say everything, I mean it. They move literally every item, down to the rubbish in your bin.
If you have half a bottle of sour milk in the fridge when the movers come, there will be half a bottle of sour milk in your new fridge. If you had all your t-shirts colour coded in you drawers when the movers came, there will be all your t-shirts colour coded in your new drawers for you at the new place. It’s almost like magic and especially designed for lazy people like us!
So there you have it… a short list of some of the great things about living in Dubai. The one thing I didn’t mention is that, like most places in the world, Aussie expats are loved.
Virtually everyone we meet gets excited when you tell them you are an Aussie. And whist our laid-back, relaxed and straightforward nature is completely different to most cultures here, I think we are viewed as a breath of fresh air and certainly very welcomed.
Life is good as an Australian living in Dubai – come and join the adventure!
What are your experiences living in Dubai? Share your experience for other expats in the comments section below.
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