I moved to Dubai when Russia invaded Ukraine. The cost of living is extreme, but it’s very safe and I love living here. – DAVID RAUDALES

DAVID RAUDALES

Businessman, musician / former Full Stack Developer

DAVID RAUDALES UK

I moved to Dubai when Russia invaded Ukraine. The cost of living is extreme, but it’s very safe and I love living here.

Mary Pedler and her daughter.

Courtesy of Mary Pedler

Mary Pedler moved from Moscow to Dubai with her daughter in 2022.She was drawn to the city because of the climate, business opportunities, and safety.Despite the high cost of living, air pollution, and quality of the running water, she loves Dubai.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Mary Pedler, the 29-year-old founder of a PR agency who moved to Dubai when Russia invaded Ukraine. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I was born in Russia and lived in Moscow for most of my adult life. In 2020, my life looked perfect: I had a booming career as a PR director for a large agency, I was married, and I had just had a baby.

But in 2021, things started to change. My marriage collapsed, and I knew I had to become independent. I started my own communications agency and toyed with the idea of moving to a progressive international business hub like Dubai, Miami, or London.

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, and I couldn’t continue running a business there. Our options for global collaboration were limited, and many of our foreign partners ended their contracts with us.

I had traveled to Dubai a few times for vacation and loved the city’s energetic vibe, warm climate, the openness and support of the people, and the business opportunities it offered. So in March 2022, I started the process of moving my business and my 2-year-old daughter to Dubai.

Since I moved my business there, I was granted residency for three years. A year and a half in, here’s how my life has changed.

Unlocking new business opportunities

Many global companies, especially in tech and finance, are located here, which has benefited my agency. Since we relocated, the number of our Web3 clients with headquarters in Dubai has tripled.

Another benefit I appreciate is there’s no income tax. As a business owner, this lets me save a considerable amount of money.

Dubai is an international hub where you can find people of all backgrounds

About 85% Dubai’s population is made up of expats. My team, partners, and clients come from many different countries. In Russia, this isn’t as common, but it’s the norm in Dubai.

I’ve met people who have moved here from all over the world for job opportunities, tax-free salaries, or to upgrade their quality of life since the country has better infrastructure than other surrounding countries.

I’ve found that people don’t judge you based on your nationality, religion, or political views. I’ve never been to a place where people of all different religions and languages coexist in such a peaceful and friendly way. It’s refreshing.

Many unique things are illegal

There are some interesting laws in Dubai you should know about before you visit or come to live here. For example, taking photos of people without their permission is something you can go to jail for. It’s also illegal to check someone else’s phone.

You also can’t talk bad about anyone, share anything that may ruin their reputation, threaten, or insult them.

For example, I could file a case against someone for posting a picture of me without permission and making fun of me.

These laws might seem extreme, but I’ve quickly adapted.

I feel safe raising my daughter here

Mary Pedler and her daughter in Dubai.

Courtesy of Mary Pedler

When I left Russia with my daughter, I wanted to make sure we moved somewhere safe, and Dubai is known for its low crime rate. You won’t find people stealing things or hurting others because the consequences are too grave. Plus, security cameras and police are everywhere, and the government is investing in AI technologies aimed at making the city safer.

I’ve noticed myself doing things I’d never do in Russia, like keeping my apartment unlocked or leaving my phone charging in a shopping mall unattended for a few hours.

Because it’s so safe here, I worry that if my daughter eventually moves away to go to a university in America or Europe, she might not know how to protect herself. That’s something I will have to teach her.

The local climate is a big selling point

Pedler.

Courtesy of Mary Pedler

In Russia, it’s very cold and rather gloomy for nine months of the year. When I lived there, I mostly worked and stayed indoors.

But living in Dubai has been great for my work-life balance. You can find plenty of things to do outdoors year-round. I’ve tried new sports, like paddleball and golf, and other activities to promote well-being, like gong meditation in the desert.

There are two big downsides, though: air pollution and the quality of running water. As soon as I moved here, I bought a water filter and an air purifier. Just recently, I added two more plants to my collection because they help purify indoor air and boost oxygen levels.

The higher cost of living is a trade-off I’m willing to accept

Another downside is the cost of living in Dubai. Because of the war, a lot of other people from Russia and Ukraine also moved here in 2022, around the same time I did, so housing prices increased.

I was paying $1,000 a month for an apartment in Russia, and now I’m paying $3,500 a month for rent, with an additional $300 for internet access and another $300 for public utilities.

I’ve also noticed that the quality of food here isn’t as good as in Russia or Europe, yet it’s much more expensive. Dubai is surrounded by desert, so there’s a lack of local supply and everything gets imported. If you want to have a nice meal, be prepared to pay $300 or more at a restaurant.

While I make more money living here, I’m paying more for everyday expenses and housing. Still, it’s a trade-off that I’m willing to accept because I enjoy the increased quality of life here. I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years, but for now, I’m happy with my life in Dubai.

Read the original article on Business Insider