As you’ll probably know if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, I moved to Dubai as an expat quite recently. Although this isn’t my first time living abroad it is my first time properly moving abroad for a prolonged period with a real job. That makes this a pretty exciting chapter of my life but also a bit of a scary one and the latter is how I’ve found it for the first few months.
I’ll be honest moving as a expat to Dubai has been harder than I expected, despite having my husband already here for the past year and everything already set up I’ve still found the transition difficult. Life here is very different to at home and I spent the first few months trying to recreate our old life back in the UK. Since realizing that that isn’t possible I’ve found it a little easier to ‘find my groove’ both at home and with my work/social life.
Below I’m sharing what I’ve learnt during this settling in period for myself in hope that it can make your transition that little bit easier (and so that I have them to refer to next time I move).
Let me know in the comments below if there is anything you have done to help you settle into expat life.
Tips for Settling into Expat Life in Dubai
Get to know your colleagues
When you’re living as an expat your work colleagues quickly become your expat family so until like in a job in the UK it is important to get to know them in and out of work. Take the time in the first month of your new job to sit down and get to know them, having friends around you is going to be as important as understanding your job so make sure you find time for both.
I’ve also found that signing up for things outside of work time with colleagues has helped to get to know those who I don’t directly work with and see everyday. We have a netball team that play once a week and heading out for drinks or food is another good way to find out about your work colleagues more.
Take some belongings from home to decorate your flat with
When you move across the world it can be hard to make a place feel like home but by bringing a few of our belongings from the UK here it has helped to make coming back to the apartment more familiar. If you move in one go this can be tricky because of weight allowance but I was super lucky that I got to visit before officially moving out meaning I could slowly bring things out. Of course you could rope your first visitors into bringing things out for you if you don’t have space.
Keep in touch with friends and family at home
I know you’ll want to throw yourself head first into life in your new city/country but make sure you keep in touch with your family and friends at home. After all they may find it harder being apart from you than you are finding it. Make time to have a Skype conversation no matter the time difference and be sure to keep up to date with how they are doing.
TIP: There isn’t really a postal service in Dubai so I’ve taken to writing emails to my best friends to make sure I stay in touch with what is going on in their lives.
Have a tourist day and get familiar with the city
It can be hard to settle into a city you barely know so before you get comfortable with working life take some time to go out and explore. Be a tourist and visit the main sights, find out good spots to eat and drink in and maybe even explore further afield. Knowing the city well before my job started has helped me to feel more like I live here.
Of course don’t try and complete every tourist attraction in the first month, it’s nice to leave things to see and do while you are here and chances are when you get your first visitors you’ll only end up doing most of it again with them.
Don’t compare your expat life to life at home
This is probably my biggest point from this whole post and if you only take one thing away take this one.
I’ve not found every aspect of settling into expat life in Dubai easy, for much of the start of being here I couldn’t understand why we hadn’t settled into a similar life we used to have in the UK. I would feel annoyed that we didn’t know how to be efficient at things here or that we needed more down time because our work life is more intense. I kept fighting the things that are different here to try and gain back the life we used to have when living together.
But in the last few weeks I’ve suddenly stopped doing this, I’ve started to accept life here and the things that are different. And it has made a world of difference. I can imagine if you both move at the same time then this is easier to deal with but just remember to be patient. Settling in doesn’t happen instantly.
Hopefully you’ve found these tips for settling into expat life helpful, if you have anything to add then let me know in the comments below.
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