Living in Dubai can be a very exciting experience. As the most popular emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it has become synonymous with a lavish and bustling lifestyle, diverse culture, and high standards of living. The majority of Dubai residents are actually expats – professionals and business people who want to take advantage of the lack of income tax and are looking to further their careers.
And lately, many internationals are also considering Dubai as their ideal place to retire.
However, before taking the leap to retire in Dubai, there are a few factors you should take into account.
Dubai Retirement Visa
If you have made up your mind that retiring in Dubai is the best option for you, there’s a Dubai visa which caters to your needs: the Dubai Retirement Visa.
In 2018, the UAE government introduced a new visa which is specifically catered to retirees, whether those living abroad or those already in the UAE who reach retirement age. To be eligible for a Dubai Retirement Visa, you must be at least 55 years old and meet one of the following conditions:
- You purchase property in Dubai worth at least AED 2 million
- You have financial saving that account to at least AED 1 million
- You have an active income of at least AED 20,000 per month from investments or pensions
The Retirement Visa for Dubai is issued for five years, and it can be renewed for another five if you still meet the eligibility criteria.
How to apply for a Dubai Retirement Visa?
Depending on where you are living, there are a few possible methods through which you can apply for a Dubai Retirement Visa:
- If you’re currently living in Dubai on a work visa, you must approach the branch of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai
- If you are abroad, you may need an entry visa to enter Dubai, which is when you can apply for the Residence Retirement Visa
- Some nationalities may enter without a visa or get a visa on arrival (see here) but still have to apply for the Residence Visa once in Dubai
It is the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) that is in charge of issuing visas for the UAE, including Dubai.
As such, when you want to apply for the visa, you should approach the Dubai branch of the GDRFA or one if its typing centers.
Is retiring in Dubai a good idea?
Well, the answer to that question depends entirely on your lifestyle preferences. If you don’t mind the warm climate and the high costs of living are not an issue, then it might just be the place for you.
The pros of retiring in Dubai
There are some pretty convincing reasons why you should retire in Dubai. For example:
It is safe
Dubai is generally a very safe place to live, with low crime rates. Of course, like anywhere in the world, crime does exist, but its mostly petty crimes. The rates of violent crime are pretty low, something that’s mostly due to UAE’s strict laws.
However, the strick laws may actually be more of a problem than the crime – for foreigners at least (see below).
It has good healthcare
Even though expats have to get private healthcare, the healthcare standards in Dubai are some of the best in the world, even matching those in Europe and the US.
So, if you can afford to retire in Dubai, you won’t have to worry about the quality of the health care you will receive.
It is culturally diverse
Dubai is made up of a large majority of expats, making it a very culturally diverse place, so you get the chance to mix with other cultures and learn something new.
English is widely spoken
A large portion of Dubai residents understand and speak English – some go as far as to call it an unofficial second language. So, as long as you speak English, you will not likely have a problem communicating.
Possible cons to retiring in Dubai
No matter how attractive of a place for retirement Dubai can be, there’s still a few things you should keep in mind, the most important of which being:
The costs of life
Although you won’t have to pay income tax, the costs of living in Dubai can be pretty high. After all, the luxurious lifestyle many of the residents enjoy does not come cheap.
Compared to other popular retirement spots, Dubai is actually one of the most expensive, with an average of over AED 3,000 per month for one person – and that’s not including rent.
Although year-around sunny weather sounds amazing, the temperatures from June to September can reach uncomfortably-high levels, with an average of 33.4°C (92.2°F). Dubai’s climate is defined as a hot desert climate and most people prefer to spend their days in air-conditioned places.
The high temperatures are especially of risk to elderly people, who are at increased danger of heat-related illnesses.
If you are from a Western country, the strict laws in Dubai may come as a bit of shock to you. There are some things you may have been accustomed to doing freely, but which may get you in trouble with the law if you do them in Dubai. This includes public displays of affection, dressing “immodestly”, swearing or making rude gestures (even online!), eating and drinking on public transport, and even raising money for charity or having a dirty car…
The cultural difference
Despite being a culturally diverse country, the UAE is predominantly Muslim. This means it abides by Mulsim laws, which include fasting the Ramadan.
During this month, even if you do not fast, you cannot be seen eating or drinking in public, and most of the restaurants are closed anyway.
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