I’ve jumped out of an airplane. I’ve hung over the edge of a 43-story building before ziplining the longest urban zipline in the world. But moving to a new country by myself was by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
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Why I decided to move to Dubai
That’s a very good question. But why not! For me, the events leading up to the move had some sort of influence on why I did it. The break-up of a long-term relationship. My boss who I had worked with for five years telling me she was leaving the firm. My landlord deciding to sell the apartment I shared with two other girls, one of whom had already decided to go travelling for a year.
How did it happen
It was January 2016 when I first had this epiphany. I wondered “Where can I move to, where I can earn more money, where they have nice weather and where I don’t need to have another language?
A few Google searches later and I stumbled upon Dubai. It looked beautiful, there was a huge expat community there and (drum roll please….) tax-free earnings!
A month later, I hopped on an Emirates flight to Dubai for a four-day trip. Moving to a country I had never been to before was not an option. I am not spontaneous enough for that, or at least I wasn’t back then. I had to check it out first. It was the first time I had travelled anywhere on my own. My mum asked if I wanted her to come with me but I said no. If I was going to move here on my own, I had to be able to take this trip on my own first.
Being the most Irish of the Irish, I decided to stay in an Irish-owned hotel, the Bonnington in Jumeirah Lake Towers – I highly recommend it if you ever make the trip. Close to the metro, just a twenty-minute walk to the beach and it even has an Irish bar, McGettigans, in the basement.
Do you want to know what caught my eye first and was even the first thing I mentioned in my interview when asked what I like about my visit? How clean the place is! You don’t see any rubbish lying on the ground, there is no chewing gum under the seats on the metro and no drunk guys peeing down alleyways!
As I’m sure you can guess, after four days of being a tourist and meeting with recruiters, my mind was made up. Next step, securing a job.
As soon as I turned on my phone when I landed back in Ireland, I had an email from a recruiter saying that an international firm wanted to interview me via Skype. Three interviews and two weeks later, I was giving my notice to the firm I worked for at the time in Dublin.
Just like that, I was moving to Dubai
What have I done? How can I do this? What on earth am I thinking?
As the panic started setting in, my mum convinced me that I had no reason to worry. The worst thing that can happen, she said, is that you don’t like it and you come home.
Ok, yes. That’s what I’ll do. If I don’t like it, I’ll just come straight back home again. It will be fine.
I started telling my friends that on 1 April I would be moving to Dubai. They all thought it was an elaborate April Fools’ joke. Joke’s on you guys, over four years later and I’m still here!
Moving day came around quickly and my family brought me to the airport. All I had with me was my guitar and a very large suitcase. How large? My poor brother dislocated his shoulder trying to lift it onto the weighing scales!
The first few months…
When you first move to a new country, you don’t know anyone, have no social circle but that’s ok. It builds up. You start accepting all the invitations extended to you. So you’re at ladies’ night on Tuesday night, a club on Thursday night, a yacht party on Friday and at the beach with the girls on Saturday (weekends are Friday and Saturday here – you never really get used to that!).
Before I knew it, I was burnt out. I couldn’t keep up that lifestyle of being out all weekend and then working Sunday to Thursday. But I had built up a fantastic group of friends. Friends who knew me and understood when I needed to take some time out.
Time goes by much quicker in Dubai. I can’t explain it, but it just does. Perhaps it’s the busier lifestyle. All I knew was that my first year flew by in the blink of an eye. And I hadn’t managed to save a penny!
The following year, I found myself getting to travel more, and managed a trip with my mum, a trip with my best friend, a girls’ holiday and a volunteer trip with work. And I got the bug!
I figured I could either save every penny I earned and put it towards a deposit for a house, or I could save a little and travel the world and have all these experiences that some people only dream of. Needless to say, I chose the second option and that’s why I’m still here today. Still saving a little as I go along, but getting to travel to places I would never have the opportunity to visit otherwise.
Should you move to a new country?
Moving to Dubai was the single scariest thing I have done, but it has also been the most rewarding and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
My advice to you – if you’re thinking about it, just do it! As my mum said all those years ago, the worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like it and you go back home. There’s no shame in that either. I was fully ready to be OK with that, had it come to it.
If nothing else, push yourself to try something new. What have you got to lose?