Expat Children

Moving your family abroad means you will inevitably turn your kids into 'expat children'.

For some this conjures images of sunkissed, confident and worldly youths, but for others it calls to mind the less desirable idea of a spoilt, lonely and over indulged child.

So, what is it really like, taking your kids to live abroad as an expat family? And what sorts of things are actually worth worrying about before you move?

The impact on the kids of moving abroad can be one of your most worrying concerns. Where will they go to school? How much will it cost? Will it impact their learning? Will they make friends easily with other expat children or miss home too much?

Leaving your home and arriving at your new location can be a very stressful time for both parents and children. Especially if you are moving into temporary accommodation initially and not able to really settle down in your own space.

If you are moving to Abu Dhabi there are few things to consider in advance that can help you prepare your family for the move and make the transition as smooth as possible.


Getting your kids enrolled into the right school is usually top of the list of priorities. It's also a common source of anxiety given the high level of competition for places in the UAE at the top schools. 

Waitings lists  in top schools are common and fees are high. Find out more about schools in Abu Dhabi for expat children and the enrolment process here.


Take your time in choosing the right accommodation for your family. This is sometimes not necessarily the best option for your commute to work but can pay dividends in terms of quality of life.

Weighing up between cost vs location vs size vs facilities vs garden is a very tough juggle.

It's worth remembering, especially if you've come from an outdoors lifestyle that the weather in the UAE is fantastic during the winter and young kids will be desperate for some outdoor space to stretch their legs. However the very affordable villas are out of town which could impact your commute (although town congestion can be less desirable to motorway travel in some instances).

Equally, if you have an older family, downtown apartment living puts you right in the heart of things, but can be on the expensive side - and one assumes you are moving to save/make money...

Find out more on what accommodation options are available in abu dhabi and what areas are most desirable here.

Get Out and About and Have Fun -visit parks and soft plays

If you've never visited Abu dhabi, you probably have a rather sandy desert image in mind, however you'll be pleased to know that it is full of beautiful green and constantly irrigated parks and playgrounds.

Admittedly, for a few months of the year, it is too hot during the day to enjoy them, but for the majority of the year, splash parks and BBQ areas are full of expat families, taking full advantage of the great and mostly free facilities.

During the height of the summer the children's soft play in the malls become an oasis of activity for expat children. Virtually every mall in Abu dhabi contains a kids zone full of rides, soft play areas and arcade games.

For more on where to take you kids check out our list of parks and malls/soft plays.

Abu Dhabi for Families

Interestingly, the UAE attracts mostly two genres of Expat families, those with very young families (pre-school age) and those with much older kids who've left home and remain back in their country of origin. 

Perhaps this is because the impact of moving your children during thier senior years at school is considered more detrimental to their grades or maybe its the fear that the higher education facilities are not as competitive as those 'back home'? 

Every family is different in terms of priorities and future plans. The good news is, what ever your familes needs are, Abu Dhabi as far as we can tell has something for everyone.

And whilst our kids miss home at times (especially friends and family they've moved away from), they are quick to tell you how much they love 'swimming in their pool' and 'going to the Corniche' (beach) which were not things we could easily enjoy on a daily basis back home.

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