Expats ponder possibilities and snags of UAE retirement

Published:  21 Sep at 6 PM
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Long-stay expats in the UAE are debating their concerns about the emirates’ new retirement visas on social media.

Following the recent announcement that long-term expats in the UAE will be able to stay on a five-year visa after their retirement from work, local social media pages are buzzing with discussions about the pros and cons of the official change of heart. Although most expatriates welcome the change, many can see trouble ahead, due to the at-present seemingly one-off nature of the visa. Another cause for discussion are the high financial requirements necessary for eligibility.

On the face of it, the UAE is a perfect retirement haven due to its year-round sunshine, stunning beaches and golf courses, offering a quality of life hard to find in other popular senior citizen hubs. One Irish expat with a business in Dubai told local media she sees the emirate as her home and would love to stay after retirement, but is unsure about the long-term prospects of the scheme. Firstly, she said, transportation infrastructure would need to be vastly improved as many older expats prefer to not to drive but, most importantly, she expressed her concern about how long expat retirees would be allowed to stay.

She believes it will take up to a decade to persuade long-term expatriate professionals their residence visas would be secure enough to encourage a hefty property investment. What happens, she asked, when they reach 75 or 80 years of age? Relocating is tricky enough at age 55, but would be a nightmare at that stage. Another genuine concern is the affordability of long-term, non-exclusive private healthcare insurance for older expatriates, a it’s general practice for insurers to cancel policies once the insured reaches 70 or 75 years of age.

Many others are concerned about the rising cost of living in the UAE, already substantially higher than in the majority of expats’ home countries. Posts on social media indicate that, even for those on generous salaries, living costs are now soaring out of control, with further increases more than likely over the next decade. The general opinion would seem to indicate it’s a better idea to find another retirement destination with similar benefits as regards lifestyle and lower costs. Others are suggesting the building of properties specifically aimed at pensioners’ needs, at possibly lower investment costs than the new visa's current requirements.
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