Moving 2Abu Dhabi
Set Up Costs

A guide to the set up costs UAE - to help you decide if the making the move to Abu Dhabi is financially right for you.

Understanding and organising the logistical process of moving is the first major hurdle of becoming an expat.

Yes, most typical employment packages will offer a relocation allowance, but that is only money. There is still plenty that you will need to organise and physically do during the process. 

Even with the most generous relocation, getting set up (and packed away!) costs money.

It’s surprising just where the cash all goes during this transition...and trust us, it goes!

It’s really important to consider the personal costs of moving as part of your pre decision process. The company package may offer you a good freight allowance, but you will still almost certainly face costs over and above that.

To get a good grasp of your set up costs UAE, we recommend you consider the following...

Firstly, look at the personal costs you will incur before you leave your point of origin.

Pre-Move Costs

These pre-move items listed are unlikely to be part of your relocation allowance and therefore will cost you personally.

We recommend you list them out with an estimate of the price, then tally up the total to understand the total cost you are likely to incurr before leaving.

They will either cost you money or time - either way, they will need organising.

  • Moving pets (boarding before plus preparation vac’s vet bills)
  • Storing or selling off things  (or giving them away) that you are not taking with you
  • Renting a property
  • Selling cars - then renting in the interim
  • Renewing passports or getting new passports for kids
  • Paying deposits on property in AD
  • Cancelling any direct debits
  • Setting up international account with HSBC

Secondly, look at the set up costs on arrival.

Here is a list of how much you are likely to spend in the first two months getting set up (generally speaking). 

Irrespective of the quality of your temporary accommodation, you will still find yourself buying essentials on arrival (beds, toaster, kettle, rubbish bin, cutlery, mugs, food etc)

Because some companies cover the cost of different elements, we’ve simply added generally everything, to give you a worst case (greatest amount) scenario.

You MUST clarify in writing with your employer exactly what they pay for in advance to avoid any surprises. Make sure you understand your employment contract/allowances before making the decision to move.

Set Up Costs on Arrival in Abu Dhabi

Getting set up when you arrive can be a bit of a juggle. You just assume it will be straight forward until you find yourself without something obvious, like a can opener.

Your first days will most likely be in temporary accommodation, while you find and secure an appartment or villa.

When you do move into your own place, it is easy to spend money like there is no tomorrow - keeping in mind that your shipping is highly unlikely to have arrived at this stage.

Here are the things that will cost you may not need them all, but they are the typical first spends.

  • Setting up Utilities
  • Whiteware for Kitchen
    -Washing Machine/Dryer
  • Installation of Whiteware
  • Furniture
    -Side or Coffee Tables
  • Grocery Bills (stock cupboard items)
  • Transport Costs
    -Hire Car
    -New or second hand car
  • School Fees and Uniforms for kids
Below is a table with some example costs of getting set up in Abu Dhabi in 2010. The family of four were bringing furniture via shipping but needed all kitchen and laundry 'whiteware' as well as additional furniture to fill the appartment.

Item / expense

cost -Dhs



washing machine/dryer




master bed


master bed matress


single bed (kids set)


single bed matress (kids set)


bedside table (kids set)


mirror (kids set)


drawers with mirror (kids set)


cooker (gas, 5 ring hob)


TV 50 inch LCD


Satellite  (movie subscription, pcm for 3 TVs)


TV 42 inch LCD


beige rubber mats for childs play area (16m2)


L shaped 4 seater leather sofa


gas man connection fee (fit cooker)


water filter for dishwasher


fridge water pump and fitting


Curtains (x 5 rooms, blackout lined and fitted)


clean flat before moving in


Electric connection fee


Spouse Medical for Visa




Total Set Up Costs Combined...

Add to the arrival set up costs any of your pre-move costs (such as your pets), and any costs you are likely to retain back home (such as rental property, postal forwarding etc) then you should have an idea of an overall cost for the move.

Once you understand the numbers and can see if the move will be cripplingly expensive or within the realms of affordable, then you’ll be in a much better position to make the decision on whether the move will be right for you.

Emotional Costs

As well as the financial costs – there are plenty of emotional costs that play havoc with your life during the transition from homebody to expat.

You will no doubt be moving away from friends family perhaps pets, kids schools and basically all things familiar. This all takes its toll – even on the heartiest of travellers.

There are a bunch of things that can help ease the transition...

  • postal forwards
  • print off email lists
  • birthdays and addresses
  • send out moving cards or an email
  • take your pets with you
  • take lots of pictures of your home before you go
  • plan in advance when you will return and use it as focus when things get tough

For more on planning your move to Abu Dhabi, return to Before Moving to Abu Dhabi

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