The one comparing expat Dubai vs. Perth

I hesitated using the “vs.” in the title of this post because I don’t want to make it sound like these two fine cities are competing (in this case, for the affection of the expat Blantons)…because in my mind, they are not. There is no “winner” or “loser” in this little post/exercise, but rather just something I’ve been ruminating over for a few months now. I don’t know how many people make this jump from one of these cities to another, but as a summation of the two, I thought it would be an interesting view. So without further ado….

  • Dubai
    • Significant and established expat community: Only 10% of the population in the UAE is Emirati, leaving 90% to the expats (and Americans are few and far between).
    • Cultural diversity: Dubai is the biggest melting pot of cultures that I have ever had to privilege to experience. The vast number of different languages, religions, foods, home cities, and traditions in this city is mind boggling and humbling. I loved that aspect. The downside to this, however, would be that there are some significant communication barriers that ensue. If you’ve ever had to direct a cabbie around or ordered takeout in Dubai, you know what I am talking about.
    • Muslim country: Islam is the official religion of the UAE and the religion permeates into the civic laws and practices. While I didn’t have to cover my hair, there are certain rules citizens must abide by and of which to be cognizant.
    • Haves” and “have nots“: I have never before seen more wealth displayed by material objects than I did in Dubai (cars, villas and apartments, jewelry, clothes, shoes, food, etc). I have also never before seen such a marked discrepancy between the rich and the poor. Dubai was (and still is) being built upon the backs of tens of thousands of laborers, who work all hours in the heat for very little pay.
    • The lack of seasonality: The best way to describe the “seasons” of Dubai are hot, hotter, and “don’t go outside or you’ll melt”.
    • Ease of travel: I forgot the exact stat, but there is a ridiculous percentage of the world’s population that lives within an 8 hour flight of Dubai – that, coupled with the fact that DXB is the Emirates airline hub, means that there is continual easy, quick, and lovely travel all within a quick (single) flight.
    • Hotel and restaurant scene: I love Charlotte, NC, Houston, TX, Louisville, KY and yes, even Durham, NC, but I wouldn’t say that any of these cities are hugely “trendy”; if a hot new hotel or restaurant opens in the states, it typically is in LA or NYC. Globally, you could probably include London and Dubai to that list. And even though I am the furthest thing from trendy, it was fun to go to a new restaurant or hot spot in Dubai that could only boast other locations in London, LA, NYC, etc.

  • Perth
    • Western similarities: I did love the cultural diversity in Dubai, but it was nice to move to a city where English was most everyone’s first language, we could easily find a church to attend (note: there are churches in Dubai!!! We were never religiously persecuted, but Protestant churches in Dubai were few and far between, that’s all), we could hold hands in public, and I could purchase wine with ease.
    • Aussie slang: This is a positive and a negative. On the plus side, I’ve loved learning that while Australians do speak English, they have their own twist with different words and phrases that are completely uniquely Australian – it’s fun! On the (kinda) downside, initially I did have trouble understanding certain faster clipped accents or aforementioned terms. Not really a “downside” I suppose – it’s all part of the adventure 🙂
    • Wine and coffee: The wine and coffee in Perth (and basically Australia at large, from what I have experienced) are heads and shoulders above anything I’ve ever had before – perfection.
    • Isolated: I’ve written to this point before, but it can’t be overstated enough (especially if you’re considering a move to Perth), the city is isolated. There are some great spots within driving distance and Bali is only a 4 hour flight (not to mention all the smaller perhaps less well known WA locales that are within a faster flight such as the Kimberley’s, Exmouth, Albany), but even getting to the east coast of Australia is a long(ish) flight – not just a hop, skip and a jump to be sure. You’ve just got to be ready for long flights (but the perk of that is racking up those frequent flyer miles!)
    • Weather changes: Our first few weeks here gave me a bit of a pause when I thought about my prayers for rain in Dubai because it felt that all we had in terms of weather was rain, rain, and more rain. A friend (and fellow expat) asked the question of “Do we live in Perth or Seattle?” Completely valid query. That being said, the temperatures were mild (for winter!) and we did get some sunny days. And then once winter started to wrap up and spring began, you’d be crazy to complain. The season changes are more subtle than I experienced in the states, but it exists, and for the most part, the weather here that Ive seen is excellent.
    • Gorgeous natural green spaces, walking paths, and waterfronts: Dubai had a handful of green spaces and waterfronts, but most were completely manmade. Perth has some of the loveliest parks, hiking trails, vineyards, lakes, riverside running paths, and beaches (no artificial islands in sight).
Image via Emirates

Image via Emirates

  • Dubai and Perth
    • Expensive: Dubai and Perth are pricey. Period. End of subject. Groceries, rent, cars, eating out. That being said, Dubai’s taxis and petrol are super cheap!
    • Beaches: Ask me if I would choose between the beach and the mountains and Ill choose the beach every single time. Dubai and Perth have fabulous, free beaches in abundance. I will really miss living within either walking distance or a ten minute drive when we eventually head back to the states.
    • Safety: While I didn’t ever feel that Charlotte was “dangerous”, Perth and Dubai are exceedingly safe cities. Of course one always has to be aware of their surroundings and the neighborhood (and not be unnecessarily reckless), but the crime rates in Dubai and Perth is minute and that helped me rest easy.
    • Fabulous local/drivable opportunities: We have been blessed to do a lot of local travel near to Perth (Margaret River, Swan Valley, Lancelin Beach) and Dubai (Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, camel riding in the desert) – these quick weekend or day road trips have been some of our favorites.
    • Dream fulfilling: This is a bit of a personal one (and cheesy), but as our time abroad draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on these last 18 months as some of the most fulfilling, fun, and humbling of my life. There have been ups and downs (nothing is perfect, y’all!), but Barr and I have wanderlust and have a tendency for itchy feet and choosing the “harder” path sometimes, and our times in Perth and Dubai have filled our desire to live abroad and be citizens of the world to a “t”.
Advertisements

One response to “The one comparing expat Dubai vs. Perth