Relocation From Switzerland to UAE

Dear Mustachians,

My company has an job opening in Dubai, and I am seriously considering taking it, after 14 beautiful years in Switzerland, I have a feeling that some change outside of Europe is needed,

Did anyone done full relocation outside of Europe ? Most people I talk with, just relocate, keep their addresses with Family in Switzerland, and do not do much of the prep work.

What are the main points to do when relocating ?

Also did anyone had a chance to work under Contrat de détachement ? or local UAE employment contract will be better solution due to tax benefits ? (I will still be working on the Swiss company there)

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I went to Bahrain and India as a full relocation (with local contract in Bahrain)

Advantages of UAE : no personal income tax.

However :

  • not much life except shopping, lounge bars, every expat I met in Bahrain was kind of showing off his wealth / salary
  • if you like livable cities without car, run away. You will be overly dependent on car travelling (even if the distances are actually ridiculously small, but if there is no sidewalk plus no shadow… good luck).
  • no AHV, 2nd pillar payment or others → take care about your contract, however, you will mostly get a settlement payment upon end of the contract (number of months x a certain fraction of your salary).
  • you probably won’t meet much local people if you are interested. Depending on your sector you will be in the white neighboorhood paying more than european, or if you are in construction for instance, you can get into the Indian subcontinent parallel world and get some stuff much cheaper.
    -If your company is used to relocate people abroad, ask that you want to have an adviser about relocation (he might guide you on AHV, and all the stuff you should take care about in a contract). It is common to offer this.

UAE is one of the places where there is still some “golden expat” possible, but it comes at a rather high personal cost in my opinion.

You should also take care that your contract in Switzerland is only suspended (“sistiert” in German), which will come back into effect automatically when your contract in UAE (or other) ends. That way, you will still have your 3 months (or whatever you got in your contract) of termination period (which allows to come back, and be eligible for ALV as far as I know, to be checked).

PS : I am supposing that Bahrein and UAE are pretty similar, from what I could see, it is.

If you want to pm me with more questions about that, no issue.


When will be the farewell?
We should organise a Geneva meet-up before the grand final :grimacing:

Good luck for this next step project. At least, you could escape winter.

The possible advantages of having your employer register your employment as a temporary relocation for the company (Entsandte/Travailleurs détachés) are that you can remain covered by Swiss: unemployment insurance; accident insurance; manadatory health insurance; OASI; and disability insurance (DI). If you have kids, you can continue receiving Swiss child benefits.

If, on the other hand, you want to get away from all of these social insurances, or your employer there offers you good local alternatives, then registering as locally employed in UAE gives you the opportunity to do that.

In both cases, you will only be taxable in UAE, which is a great place to have your tax residence.

I’ve been to UAE many times, and my cousin lives there. Lots of outdoor activities, fascinating architecture, an interesting culture, lots of opportunities, a very international crowd, and a good place to save up money (if you live simply and avoid the “keep up with the Joneses mentality” popular among expats there). It’s also just a short and cheap flight from there to many destinations in Africa and Asia, so lots of interesting travel options. You may find it difficult to live there for a very long time, especially if you tend towards Eurocentricity. But for a time, it could be a great experience.

In my experience with having relocated several times, I would say the most important things to pay attention to are social security, pension funds, retirement savings, etc. properly terminating all contracts/subscriptions before you move, and settling any bills/debts you may have.


Thank you for the notes, it is very helpful. Especially in drafting my contract. I am the first person that the company will actually relocate, so its all completely new for me as well as for our HR =)

My plan was actually to ask for contract detachment like @Daniel suggested, but I thought with that I would have to pay income taxes in Switzerland. otherwise the deal looks too good to be true. Is this how your cousin have his contract ?

@Patirou what is meant by the term golden expat ? Like very rich expat ?=))

@FunnyDjo and please lets not call it grand final hahah thanks to this forum I have saved up to buy my own real estate in Switzerland, which I will keep no matter what and I will still be employed by a Geneva base firm, so you might be actually there for all future Romandie Mustachian meetups =)

It’s all very logical. You are living in UAE, so you are not a resident of Switzerland. It would be different if you would remain registered as a resident in Switzerland while traveling, for example. But in this case you would give up residence in Switzerland and become a temporary resident of the UAE. As such, you would not be taxable in Switzerland (except on your real estate in Switzerland). You would be a tax resident of the UAE during your temporary residence.

The Entsandte/Travailleurs détachés designation only affects social security. Swiss laws provide this allowance so that you can maintain your Swiss social security when you are stationed abroad by your Swiss employer. That’s beneficial if you need/want Swiss social security, with its costs and benefits.

My cousin started on that arrangement, but has since settled there more or less permanently.

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I also just moved to UAE from Switzerland. Do you know of any FIRE blog/group in Dubai? I only found this but don’t know yet if it’s any good: SimplyFI - Index Investing & Financial Independence | Facebook

Happy to meet up when you arrive and discuss savings’ tips. Life can be really expensive here if you’re not careful.

Good luck!

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How nice ! We should definitely organise Mustachian meetup in Dubai one day, may be there is actually more of us there than we have thought. I have stumbled across this blog moneysmart | Blog which gives few tips on UAE mustachia lifestyle or this guy is quite interesting Financial Planning in Dubai . May be it will help you out !

The decision is made and we should be going already in March to the sands land to get our residence visa for entire family. Super exited and a bit terrified at the same time!

With the relocation planning, few questions arrived and may be some of you are kind enough to help me out:

My wife is applying for a Swiss naturalisation process in a few weeks, and for that reason she would keep adress and residence in Switzerland. We would sublet our apartment and negotiate with the tenant to keep an eye for the mail, for a small discount on rent :slight_smile: My wife is a holder of permit B, does it mean she has to stay 180 days in Switzerland ? How is it checked if there is no passport control between EU countries ?

I will be taxed in UAE on my revenue, but as my wife and kid documentary live in Switzerland (without any income apart from mine, my wife is a full time Mama) Can Swiss tax authorities demand full taxation from me as my “sphere of life” family, home etc etc are still in Switzerland, even tho I am no longer a resident there?

Lastly as far as I understand by relocating outside of EU I can withdraw my 2nd/3rd Pillar and no longer have to finish my military service. If I return back to Switzerland after few years, do I have to return the money taken from 2nd pillar, and finish my service days(ay Military tax until I am 35 as I will no longer have military gear and arms) ?

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Maybe I’m missing something but how can your wife apply for naturalisation straight from B permit ? Wasn’t the C a precondition for the application ?

If you are really interested into naturalisation I would assess the plan carefully. Even with C, the requirement of the 180 days was applicable.

Moreover, along the process it is likely that she will have to go through interviews, show up at offices etc, which will be difficult from 5k km distance.

Finally, as Dubai is outside the EU I think she will have stamps on passport and / or the entry & exit will be recorded.

I understand you are also willing to withdraw pillars; this would also be an additional signal for the authorities that you are going for good. How do you plan to convince that the wife will stay in CH and you are leaving under such conditions ?

I suggest you consider carefully these aspects, especially if you are considering the possibility to come back to CH.


Very good points thank you ! I guess I will have to hire a lawyer to get an expensive, but concrete advise.

My wife will go through “Facilitated process” as a wife of Swiss citizen, which does not require permit C, but just 5 years of living in Switzerland.

In this case I will for sure ask for “Contract detachment” which should prove that I relocate only for limited period of time (2years lets say) and keep all my pillars with in Switzerland .

You can do the “facilitated process” while living abroad:

Got it. I was assuming you were also a foreign citizen from your statement in the first post “I am seriously considering taking it, after 14 beautiful years in Switzerland

All clear now :blush:

I know :(((( but through swiss residence we can apply for it in 4 weeks already, but through abroad process we will meet criteria only in 5 years. By that time i hope to be back in Swiss already ))

I am also waiting for the reply from my bank regarding the morgage contact. If they would force me to sell the apartment due to relocation, then it will probaly take the entire promotion and relocation subject off the table.

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My bank replied that they do not work with non residents, and I will have to terminate my mortgage contract. This is very bad news for me =(

Any ideas how to re-finance in this situation ?

We may run into a similar situation as we are considering an expat assignment. However I’m our case the mortgage duration is still 5 years from now and hence we will simply not tell the bank that we are leaving (same for the accounts at PF and neon). If your situation is different have you considered to assign the property to your parents/siblings or a very good friend? (Assuming that no sell tax would be due)

Apparently as soon as you announce departure from you commune, Swiss banks get instant notification about your change of domicile to abroad. My mortgage fixed rate rebalancing is due only in 9 years, but I am concerned to get a notice of forced termination contract as soon as I fill in the form to announce departure from the country.

:flushed: this is very bad news, thank you for sharing

How would they? As far as I know, banking secrecy is still a given domestically.

I‘m also aware of many customers having kept their banking relationship and received payments after announcing their departure.

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Agree I think as long as you do not inform them (maybe also consider not delegate the mail recipients with the Post) how should the bank be aware of your location? And beside that how often do you get contacted by the bank?