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A Life Less Ordinary – Expat Personal Finance in the UAE

The following is a guest post.

When it comes to the turmoil in the international economy, are we all in the same boat? Yes and no. The cost of living is rising in many places, but they still offer perks that make personal finance easier to manage and tempt people to leave the US behind.

One such place is in the UAE. If the warm weather isn’t enough to put you in a good mood, you might feel better to know that when you live there you wouldn’t have to pay income tax.

Banking and Taxation

Of course, if you relocate to the UAE to work you’ll need a bank account. You’ll require a residence permit, a letter of no objection from your employer or sponsor, and a salary certificate for this. If an employer has hired you from overseas, they’re likely to set up the account for you. Bring these documents nevertheless.

Incidentally, if you want to take out a personal loan in the UAE, you’re not the only one who will need a good financial track record: your employer must have one too. Whereas in the US, you must provide bank statements and evidence of your tax and employment history before you can borrow the money, in the UAE the bank first has to approve of your employer before they grant you the loan.

Want some more good news? In the UAE, the UAE Government doesn’t charge you income tax. To avoid still paying tax to the US Government, however, you must apply for residence in the UAE for tax purposes. You’ll still have to pay council tax in the UAE, though.

Housing and Getting from A to B

If you’re a car enthusiast you’d love the UAE. Cars there are among the cheapest in the world to buy, and there are so many expats buying or selling that you can often pick up a car, old or new, at a steal. At roughly $0.47 per liter, the price of standard grade petrol is lower than in the US. In fact, it falls well below the global average of $1.21 per liter too.

Housing — that’s a bit more of a problem. The large numbers of expats who are moving to emirates like Dubai has created a demand that the real estate sector is struggling to meet. This overcrowding has pushed up both house and rental prices, which are also creeping up in America as the real estate sector starts to recover.

If you have a family and can afford to rent an apartment or studio in Dubai, you stand a much better chance of finding somewhere to live. If you’ve received a relocation package, your employer will probably make life much easier for you by finding it for you.

So if you choose to relocate the UAE, you’ll find it easier to manage your personal finances easier when it comes to some major expenses, such as buying and running a car. Apply for UAE residence for tax purposes to make the most of your income and, more importantly, keep the IRS from your door, leaving you only to worry about how best to enjoy the warm weather.


  1. I'm not moving there, but I'm visiting in the spring and am very excited!!

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