10 Reasons Canadians Should Consider Moving To Dubai, Including Year-Round Sunshine
Tax-free income isn't too bad either…
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Ever dreamed about packing your bags, moving out of Canada and starting fresh in a new country?
If warm weather, tax-free salaries and plenty of golden beaches sound appealing to you, then moving to Dubai might be a tempting option, and there are many reasons not to dismiss it outright.
The city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is regularly voted one of the best for newcomers and features a truly diverse expat population.
Having spent the last eight years of my life in Dubai, I can honestly say that there is so much that it has in common with big cities in Canada, from thriving nightlife and an excellent food scene, to friendly people from all parts of the world and loads of fun activities.
And there's also some stuff that you can't find in Canada, like year-round sunny weather, countless sandy white beaches and tax-free salaries.
At the end of the day, what got me to move to Canada was the desire for new experiences. And perhaps you're the same.
It's important to note that no one city is going to be perfect for everyone, but if you're thinking about giving Dubai a chance, here are some reasons to check it out.
The tax-free income
This may not be common knowledge, but the UAE is one of the few countries around the world that has zero income tax.
Over the last few years, it has launched VAT, but even that's just 5% on purchased goods, which is nearly incomparable to the tax percentages in Canada.
Of course, you can save a whole lot more money if you're paying less tax and can splurge your savings on things you enjoy!
That being said, Canadians living and working in Dubai may still be liable to pay tax on their foreign income to Canada, depending on whether they are considered tax residents of Canada.
If you're a fan of warm weather, buckle up because Dubai has a lot of it!
In winter (usually November to February), the weather stays between 10 to 25 degrees, although it does occasionally dip into single digits on some chilly evenings.
It also barely rains in the city, with only a handful of showers throughout the year.
This basically means you're guaranteed blue skies all year round and I've rarely had to check the temperature before leaving the house.
Of course, on the flip side, it does get very hot in summer, with temperatures ranging from 35 degrees and even going up to 50 degrees (although the latter is rare) between April and October.
Thankfully, air-conditioning is very normal in Dubai (even some bus stops have it!), so there are plenty of ways to get around it.
The cost of living
Dubai has a reputation for being an expensive city.
However, according to cost of living comparison website Numbeo, local purchasing power in Dubai is 33.5% higher than in Toronto, and 26% higher than in Vancouver.
This is due to a culmination of factors, including Dubai having higher salaries, no income tax and lower grocery prices.
Even the price of rent is noticeably different. According to Numbeo, there is very little difference in rent prices if you're staying in the city centre. However, the prices drop substantially in Dubai if you move farther away from downtown.
To put it into perspective, the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre of Dubai is CA$1,542, while it is CA$2,055 in Toronto.
Bottom line? It's possibly easier to save more in Dubai.
In the UAE, employees are entitled to fully-paid annual leave of at least 30 days if they have completed one year of service with a company and two days per month if they've completed six months of service or more.
And that doesn’t include public holidays such as Eid holidays, National Day and New Year's Day.
For example, in 2023, UAE residents are expected to get another 13 days off for public holidays, according to Time Out Dubai.
That's quite a difference from Canada, which has around 10 mandatory paid vacation days for most full-time employees, in addition to public holidays.
Wondering what to do with all that leave you've accumulated living in Dubai?
Most residents use it to travel, especially during those scorching summer months. And it's not hard to do either, thanks to Dubai's more central location.
You can visit a wealth of countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East from Dubai, with cheap flights under five hours readily available. This includes Oman, India, Sri Lanka, Georgia, Turkey, Lebanon, Armenia and more.
Most European countries — and even the United Kingdom — are also not very hard to reach, as Dubai is somewhat of an aviation hub.
Meanwhile, if you're not keen on frequent flights, you can explore the other emirates in the UAE.
From the mangroves in Abu Dhabi to the sandy beaches and resorts in Ras Al Khaimah, there's so much to explore, and it's all within driving distance!
Souvenirs sold at the Dubai souks.
Dubai is home to over 200 nationalities, and that means you get a chance to work and hang out with people from all over the world.
Moreover, because Dubai has such a huge expat population, it's simply the norm to work and live with people from around the world, and be respectful of all cultures.
That brings me to my next point, which is the excellent food scene.
The food scene
While UAE's local food is technically Emirati food, you'll also find every other option under the sun — from Peruvian and Indian to Balkan and classic Middle Eastern dishes.
One of the best parts about a diverse culture is that it leads to loads of interesting fusion combinations, from Middle Eastern-Japanese mixes to Modern Indian cuisine (think butter chicken pizzas and more).
Dubai also has incredible home-grown restaurants, with many popular concepts that were conceived in the city now expanding to other parts of the world, such as Akiba Dori, Reif Kushiyaki and The Maine.
If there's one thing I really love about Canada, it's the natural beauty.
That being said, Dubai has its own beauty to speak of.
If you can't get enough of sun, sea and sand, the beach is honestly always just a skip away, with places like Kite Beach coming alive during the cooler seasons.
And, if you drive just a little outside and explore other emirates, you also have rocky mountain vistas (with great hiking trails available), or beautiful dunes as far as the eyes can see.
There really is a lot to see, although you'd be advised to explore more of it during the cooler seasons.
Finally, if you enjoy glittering city views at night, Dubai will definitely astound you with its gorgeous cityscapes!
People taking pictures near the Dubai Fountain.
Dubai actually has a very happening nightlife scene.
Most bars and pubs are usually open until 3 a.m., and there are loads of clubs if you're looking to go dancing.
There are also so many beach clubs, which are exactly what they sound like — outdoor clubs set on a beach for when you want to ditch the heels and enjoy a drink, food and music barefoot on the sand.
Dubai is regularly named one of the safest cities in the world.
According to a 2023 report by Numbeo, it was voted the 7th safest city in the world in 2023, with rankings based on factors like how safe residents feel walking at night, how worried they are about being robbed and more.
This is very much in line with my own personal experience, as a single woman who travelled and lived there for over eight years.
I'm going to be the first to admit that no country is perfect, and moving to a different country greatly depends on a lot of personal factors and priorities.
The UAE is known to be a moderate Middle Eastern country, and residents are expected to be respectful to all cultures and traditions.
And, while locals were always friendly in my experience, it is worth noting that same-sex marriage is not legal in the UAE and various forms of gender and sexual expression are not as accepted as they are in Canada.
And, unlike a lot of countries, the UAE does not easily grant citizenships, meaning that your stay there will most likely be temporary and tied to your work visa.
But if you are looking for a change and would appreciate some sun, sand and sea, it might be just the place to try out.