How to set up a family in Dubai

5 min read

Dubai is an appealing destination for families who want to settle further afield than Europe. With its warm climate, low taxes and excellent quality of life, Dubai is a popular choice to raise a family.

Why move to Dubai with your family?

The total expatriate population of Dubai is 9.06 million with Europeans representing 22.72% of this figure. There are several reasons why families move to Dubai, including:


There are a variety of educational choices, including international schools that follow the British curriculum. However, the cost of education can be high, and securing a place in top schools requires planning and early registration.


A well-developed healthcare system with modern facilities and internationally trained medical professionals takes away the worry if you have young children.


Dubai is known for being one of the safest cities in the world, with low crime rates and a strong emphasis on security measures. This can provide peace of mind for families.


A diverse range of recreational activities suitable for families including theme parks, beaches, shopping malls and cultural attractions is available in Dubai. The city’s year-round sunshine and outdoor lifestyle are appealing for families who want to make the most of the climate.

Expatriate community

Dubai has a large expatriate population, creating a multicultural environment that can be appealing for families looking to introduce their children to different cultures and experiences.

The real estate market in Dubai

Cost of living

While Dubai offers a high standard of living, the cost of living can be relatively high, especially for housing, education and healthcare. It’s essential to consider the financial implications of raising a family in Dubai and ensure that it fits with your budget.

6 months before the move

Setting up a family in Dubai involves several important steps, including legal requirements, finding somewhere to live, securing employment, and arranging healthcare and education.

Residency visa

The first step in setting up a family in Dubai is obtaining a residency visa. If you are employed in Dubai, your employer will typically sponsor your residency visa, which extends to your spouse and dependent children. If you are not employed, you will need to secure residency through other means, such as property ownership or establishing a business.

Finding accommodation

Dubai offers a wide range of housing options, including apartments, villas, and townhouses. Consider factors such as location, budget, amenities, and proximity to schools and workplaces when choosing accommodation for your family.


It’s advisable to rent initially to assess your family’s needs before committing to purchasing a property. If you decide to opt for a long-term rental of a year or more, you are likely to be asked for the total amount in one payment, rather than pay month-by-month. If this is difficult for you it is possible to negotiate a quarterly payment.

Good to know

iad Overseas can help you find a place to live in Dubai. Contact one of our experienced property consultants to find out how we can assist.


Securing stable employment is crucial for supporting your family in Dubai. Research job opportunities in your field and network with professionals in your industry. Ensure that your employment contract complies with local laws and provides adequate benefits for your family, such as health insurance and housing allowances.


Dubai offers a variety of educational options for families, including international schools, nurseries, and preschools. Research schools and check the ratings to ensure you select a school that is appropriate for your children’s needs.

Family sponsorship

If you are a resident in Dubai, you can sponsor your spouse and dependent children for residency visas. Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria and provide the necessary documentation, including marriage certificates, birth certificates, and proof of financial support.

3 months before the move


Dubai has a comprehensive healthcare system with public and private hospitals, clinics and medical centres. Arrange health insurance coverage for your family to access medical services and facilities. Research healthcare providers and choose a family doctor for routine check-ups and medical care.

Legal and administrative procedures

Familiarise yourself with legal requirements and administrative procedures in Dubai, such as vehicle registration, driving licenses, and utility connections.

Once in Dubai

Applying for your Emirates ID card

It is a legal requirement in Dubai to have this identity card. You must carry it with you wherever you go. You apply for the Dubai ID card from the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security-ICP. It usually takes about 5-10 working days to be issued. To apply for the card, you will need:

  • A valid passport
  • A photograph on a white background (4.5 x 3.5 cm)
  • Original birth certificate or passport of parents of children under 15
  • The fee (approximately 350 dirhams – £75)

Opening a bank account

You will usually need to be present to open a bank account in Dubai, so you must do this as soon as you arrive. You will need to show:

  • Residency visa (or your application for it if not yet received)
  • Proof of your employer and your salary
  • Rental contract

Cultural adaptation

Adjusting to life in Dubai involves adapting to a new culture and way of life. Although Arabic is the main language you will find that English is widely spoken, which is a benefit. Learn about local customs, traditions, and social norms to integrate smoothly into the community. Engage with expatriate networks, community groups, and take part in social activities to meet other families and build a support system.


Setting up a family in Dubai requires careful planning, research, and preparation to ensure a smooth transition and a fulfilling experience for you and your family. The move will be a rewarding experience that allows your family to discover a new culture.

How iad Overseas can help you move your family to Dubai

We have extensive knowledge of Dubai and would be delighted to assist you with moving your family – please contact us with any questions you may have.

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