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"Why I left my finance job in London for a new life in Dubai"

A few years ago I moved to Dubai. After spending my career in London, where I worked for 15 years, I was ready for a change. The pandemic in particular made me want to seek an opportunity somewhere else – living with my partner in a cramped London apartment wasn’t great for my mental and physical health and I was keen to get out of London.

Initially, I asked my boss whether it would be possible to work from Dubai for a few weeks until the rules in the UK were to be relaxed. He kindly approved the request. I started packing my bags in the fear of flights being cancelled. A friend of mine kindly offered to let us stay while we found a place to live.

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It didn’t take me long to realise that life in Dubai is much better than in London. People here are more outgoing, the weather is great and there are plenty of activities.

I decided to look for another role that would make my life in Dubai permanent. I used all my contacts to explore opportunities and landed on an opportunity to work at a financial services firm in the DIFC, the financial hub of Dubai. The hub has grown substantially over the last two years. When I began networking socially and professionally, there was an obvious influx of individuals from Europe relocating here. It’s evident from the names on the registration boards outside office buildings: there are now hedge funds, fintech firms and law firms from London and New York operating here.

Being in Dubai has enabled me to become involved in things I never thought I’d have the time or inclination for. - Paddle tennis, learning to play drums, working out five days a week with a personal trainer and having access to a pool less than a minute away or going to the beach. On the other hand, it’s not as easy to jump on a train and get to the other part of town as quickly as London, although the Metro in Dubai is significantly cleaner. I miss walking in the park and the summer months can be quite hot. I also miss being able to go on breaks across Europe for a long weekend.

Now that I’m here, I’m forever fielding calls from friends and former colleagues who want to move to Dubai too, they too are after the reasons I mentioned, while others want a more dynamic environment for their children and the comfort of safety for them. Don’t me wrong, London is a fantastic place, but the charm and the global influence of the City started changing since Brexit.

Those changes are across the board and may not be directly linked to Brexit. The price of food shot up. London became a more difficult place to live in. Crime is on the rise, the pound continued getting weaker. It's the perfect storm.

This is why both many of my former colleagues are moving here too. Life is easier here. People are starting to realise that. 

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AUTHORSergio Orsini Insider Comment
  • Ma
    18 December 2023

    Congratulations on finally finding a country tolerant enough to allow you to pursue the drums... Perhaps as you tap out the percussive beat of constrained human rights, stifling weather and a social circle comprised of crypto charlatans and tax-shy mediocre money mangers, you’ll spare a thought for us Europeans apparently starved of Padel and swimming pools. 

    I wonder how many people would move to Dubai without the tax incentive or brutal subsidised migrant labour? 

  • AT
    15 December 2023

    Brexit was probably an indirect cause as it forced "London-obsessively-centered" firms to accomodate and accept relocations and, at the same time, it forced some employees to decide where to go next (even though Brexit relocations were mainly to the EU, it effectively opens up a world of possibilities).

    My story is identical to the above, but instead of Dubai my firm allowed me to relocate to Madrid when Brexit was still a twinkle in Mr. Farage's eye.

    I traded career progression in investment banking for a second-to-none quality of life in a senior but stagnant banking role. To this day, , it was the second best decision of my life.

    In a post-Covid world where what really matters to many people has fundamentally changed, quality of life has become a lot more valuable than money for many people (look at the fenomenal response to Citi's new banking office in Malaga of all places, JPM's Bournemouth office or Goldman's expanding office in Birmingham).

    Ironically, Brexit jump-started my career again when my firm selected Madrid as its EU hub and dozens of relocated professionals validated this same quality of life argument.

    But that is a very sad ending story for another time...

  • Jo
    15 December 2023

    London is much much better than an artificial city with people only care about money!

  • my
    14 December 2023

    So he couldn't do: "Paddle tennis, learning to play drums, working out five days a week with a personal trainer and having access to a pool less than a minute away" in London? Sounds like he's in honeymoon period. Lets see if he's still there in 10 years or if they brought in income taxes!

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