6 mistakes to avoid when moving to Abu Dhabi

  • Better Informed
  • 02 Jan, 2020
6 mistakes to avoid when moving to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has a lot to offer and is a very exciting place to be, whether you are moving alone or with your family. However, in all the commotion of relocating, it can be easy to forget or miss out some important steps. Here we have outlined the key areas in which we would advise some research and planning, before you move, to help make the process easier and smoother.

1. Forgetting to budget


The culture in Abu Dhabi is quite lavish compared to the other emirates within the U.A.E and it is easy to get caught up in the luxurious lifestyle. To ensure that you don’t blow your wallet, set a budget. The primary financial details you should take note of are your incoming funds (such as your salary) and any debts you owe. A good idea to set a budget following your first week in Abu Dhabi. During the first week exploring the options within your neighborhood for transportation, groceries, and other necessities. Exploring your options will give you a chance to compare what is offered by different companies, stores and facilities. There are some excellent financial advisory firms based in Abu Dhabi who will serve as a great guide in laying out your budget depending on your income salary, savings, and basic expenses. Additionally, take advantage of coupons and discount offers that you can add on to your bills.

The moving process itself can be quite expensive so if you are moving from another country, make sure that you have looked into at least five different moving quotes. Employ a well-respected and positively reviewed company to avoid additional costs of lost or misplaced items, or hidden charges that are often found when using cheaper moving companies.

2. Insufficient research

Moving to a new neighborhood is an important decision and requires rigorous research prior to the actual move date. Although word of mouth is a good resource, the internet can be your new best friend. There are plenty of websites providing insight into moving to and living in Abu Dhabi which can be incredibly useful in giving you a fair idea of what the experience will actually be like. Local guides will provide information regarding the best places to eat in town and advice about housing contracts and things to watch out for within Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, international websites are great for international community members as they usually provide information specific to your country. There are plenty of Abu Dhabi neighborhood guides that are beneficial in providing local transportation information, the pros, and cons of living within the community and general information regarding local amenities. Another useful place online to gain knowledge about Abu Dhabi is Facebook, where you can find plenty of expat community groups such as ones specific to expats from the same country as each other, or who work in the same industry. In these groups, people who live in Abu Dhabi or who are moving to Abu Dhabi can ask for advice, share knowledge and recommend other helpful resources.

3. Signing the contracts without properly reading them

Signing the contracts

This is quite an obvious one but it is surprising the number of tenants who are stuck in a bad contract all because they skimmed over the fine print details. Take time to properly read and understand your contract. Remember that you will be paying to rent so it is within your right to ask as many questions as you like. Rental laws are ever-changing so make sure to clarify any details of your lease that you feel uncomfortable or unsure about. The laws in Abu Dhabi will be different to the ones in your home country – it’s never good to assume similarities between the two areas. A few things to keep in mind include your notice periods, early termination clause, deposits, who is responsible for repairs, subletting, penalties for late fees and special clauses.

If possible, you should ensure that a trusted individual has met with the landlord in person. This will help to avoid the possibility of signing an illegitimate contract. Although such cases are rare, it is always better to be safe than sorry. It would be ideal if somebody you know could attend a viewing of your potential apartment before you sign your lease. Ask them to inspect the area of the property and take note of maintenance and repair issues that you might have to watch out for. This is especially important for furnished rental spaces as they tend to be more expensive so it is vital that the quality is up to scratch. Sending someone to view the apartment will allow them to provide their unbiased opinion on the noise levels, dust and general hygiene standards of the residential apartment.

There are plenty of other dotted lines that you will sign during and before your time in Abu Dhabi. Car, content and health insurance are a few contracts that you may come across. Much like your rental agreement, treat the contracts in Abu Dhabi as independent from the ones in your home country. Read them carefully and keep copies in case you need to refer to them in the future.

4. Not knowing your rights and the laws in Abu Dhabi

Knowing the laws, rules and regulations of the United Arab Emirates will help you to live peacefully and avoid sticky situations. A simple read through the relevant government website will give you an idea of what your rights are in various situations. For general rental law inquiries, the Tawtheeq website is an excellent source of valid information. Keep an eye out for laws regarding rental increases (the tenant must be provided a 60-day notice period and the 5% rental increase cap should be observed according to the Abu Dhabi Tenancy Law), landlord obligations (maintenance and repair of the rented property is the landlord’s responsibility), and eviction conditions (if the tenant conducts illegal activities within the rented property, or has not paid the rental fee). Additionally, it is important to know that a landlord has no right to enter your apartment, disconnect services or use your apartment for his own personal activities under any condition. In case of difficulties, the Rent Disputes Settlement Centre at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department is the place to file a complaint. However, the police should be your first point of contact in an emergency or unsafe situation.

There are several laws held in Abu Dhabi that may differ from the ones in your home country, so make sure you are aware of the laws that may affect you. For example, drinking alcohol is only permitted in licensed establishments and purchasing alcohol is permitted only for those carrying alcohol licenses. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a very serious crime and can result in jail time or deportation, and living with an unmarried individual of the opposite gender is not permitted.

5. Not understanding the culture

Abu Dhabi culture

Culture shock is real and it takes some time to get used to a new city, but it is always a smoother process if you expect the changes around you. It is important to do some research about the culture in Abu Dhabi to prepare yourself and help avoid social issues. Given the diversity of the nation, it is likely that you will find a community of people from your home country. However, it is still a good idea to refresh your Arab cultural cues. Make an effort to learn about the traditions and cultures of Arab countries. Additionally, ask local connections about the general dos and don’ts in social situations. For instance, Arab women don’t shake hands in businesses and general environmental conditions. Always wait for them to extend their hand before you extend yours. The nation itself is very friendly and welcoming so the transition should be quite easy. Try to pick up a bit of the local language (Arabic) to gain some brownie points from the local community.

6. Only sticking to your immediate circle

firends circle

One of the common mistakes most expats make when moving to Abu Dhabi is sticking to socializing only with the people they work with. Given the huge first-generation expat population in Abu Dhabi, it is quite common not to know anyone before arriving. It is easy to feel lonely and isolated in a new area and thus, it is important to make an effort to meet new people who share your hobbies and beliefs. Joining a gym is a great way to meet people who enjoy fitness. MeetUp is a great website to find like-minded individuals within your local community. It is a good idea to try to connect to people through Facebook, Reddit and Linkedin before moving so that you have someone familiar within your local community when you finally move. This will also mean you can gain honest insights and tips about the lifestyle in your neighborhood, office or your child’s school from people who know. Often, personal experiences are the most helpful in getting an understanding and learning things about a new place.

When you do actually move to Abu Dhabi, introduce yourself to your neighbors and invite them over for dinner. Your neighbors are a great source of guidance and a reference point for local events, and day-to-day expenses. Since they live within the same residential area as you, it is likely you share similar budgets which means they can share their experience, knowledge and opinions on things such as shopping destinations and leisure hotspots.

If you are looking to move to Abu Dhabi you can browse our latest property listings here.

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