Relocating to Dubai in Summer
The most common time to relocate to any country is during the summer months. For families with school aged children, July or August is the only option to enable the children to start their new school at the beginning of the term. Relocating to Dubai during summer however can pose additional challenges; primarily the soaring summer temperatures, and the likelihood of coinciding with the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan. But how do these two factors really affect moving to Dubai and what advice can we offer to help make the process as stress free as possible?
As you sit in your home reading this in Europe/America or maybe Australia it may seem near impossible to imagine that the temperatures in July, August and September here in Dubai soar to between 40 – 50 degrees with 80% humidity. If you are lucky enough to have a home you can move straight into when you arrive then your relocation company will deal with all the labor involved in the household move. Your family will probably still need to shop for all those items needed in a new home, whilst adjusting to the intense heat and trying to navigate around a new city. And believe it or not during the summer months leaping from an air-conditioned car to climate controlled buildings is still pretty exhausting. It is very easy to become dehydrated and it is not uncommon for newcomers to suffer from heat exhaustion.
If you have not yet found a home prior to moving and you plan to stay in a hotel for the first few weeks until you find something, the summer heat may present a bigger challenge. The properties that you will go to see maybe empty and will therefore have no water or electricity which means no air-conditioning. It really is impossible to imagine how hot a property can become, the nearest comparison is a sauna! Being new to Dubai it is unlikely you will have prearranged childcare so consider hiring a car with a DVD player or invest in an iTouch and let the children stay in the car with an adult whilst you whiz around each property. Try and plan your day, allowing for breaks, and do not see too many properties as it will become very overwhelming and impossible to make a decision. Dubai is a huge city and even though you may start your search with a plan to live in a residential community near your child’s school or husband’s/wife’s office you may find yourself investigating areas that at the beginning you did not even consider.
Ramadan falls at a different time each year depending on the moon. (In 2014 Ramadan will start approximately on 28th June.) If your family is non-Muslim, how will this affect your first few weeks in Dubai? Assuming you move here during Ramadan, it is important to note that Muslim or not, everyone living in Dubai must respect this Muslim tradition. Whilst expats are not expected to fast they are required to refrain from smoking, eating or drinking anything in public during daylight hours. The fast is broken once the sun has set and at this time restaurants will reopen. A few restaurants and coffee shops remain open during the day but will be hidden behind curtains or similar. You may eat and drink in a hidden coffee shop or restaurant but NOT in public. This includes drinking and eating in your car, so whilst driving around from property to property you cannot drink or snack. One welcomed benefit is the working hours are shorter during Ramadan so working spouses are able to help with the house hunting from late afternoon into the evening.
Something else to consider is that most expat families vacate Dubai during the summer months, so if you are thinking of arriving in July so that your children make friends don’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t work out that way, a lot of people have left town. However, there are many summer camps throughout Dubai that are open to all children so this may be a worth while option. Arriving near to the beginning of the new term is probably the best option, this way the children are preoccupied with their new school enabling parents to find and/or settle into their new home. If you do not have school aged children the winter months from November to March are the best time to arrive in Dubai. The temperature at this times stays between 20 – 30 degrees which allows your body time to adjust to the warm climate before the slow arrival of the intense summer heat. Whilst there are many properties for rent in Dubai you will have more choice during the summer months because many families relocate to their next destination and so the market becomes flooded with choice. If you arrive at the beginning of winter, whilst the choice is less you may be able to get a good deal on a property that is still available and has been on the market since October/November.