Dubai is a global city that has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last 5 decades. Each year the city attracts numerous job seekers, families, businessmen, and tourists. In 2022 about 12.95 million people visited Dubai.
The majestic city has a big heart and offers something to everybody but before moving in you need to consider the cost of living in Dubai. If you are a foreigner and aspiring to move to Dubai for any purpose, this article will guide you completely on everything you need to know.
Cost of living in Dubai
Dubai is ranked 42nd on the list of the cost of living of cities index in the world for the year 2022. Generally, it is believed that Dubai’s living cost is not affordable. But it is not true. The monthly cost of living in Dubai could change depending on income, preferences, area of residence, and the lifestyle that you choose.
There was a time when living in the periphery of Dubai was relatively cheap but things have changed over time. Nowadays there are cost-effective residential choices available in the surroundings of Emirates road, Al Khail Road, and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed road.
Kinds of expenses in Dubai
It is of Paramount importance to know about the day-to-day and miscellaneous expenses of living in Dubai. Listed below are the kinds of expenses with an explanation.
Health Insurance is a must for the residents of Dubai. In most cases, the company provides Health Insurance to its employees. There are companies that also provide Health Insurance for the families of the employees. If for certain reasons the company does not provide medical Insurance, then you have to purchase medical Insurance from one of the health insurance companies in Dubai.
Health Insurance rates vary owing to the coverage. The basic insurance plan starts from AED 600 annually for an individual. The rate for a premium insurance plan for an individual is around AED 5,500 a year.
For a family of 5 the premium plan cost AED 15,000 to AED 20,000. The cost can enhance as high as AED 70,000 for premium and worldwide benefits.
If you own a house or apartment and employ a housemaid, you will have to provide basic Health Insurance to the maid.
The Essential Benefit Plan (EPB)
In 2014, a health plan was launched for catering to the needs of Lower-income or Non-working residents. The EPB covers basic health facilities at affordable prices. The breakup for the health plan is as,
- Elderly parents – AED 2,500
- Employees – AED 650 to 750
- Dependents (Age 0 to 65) – AED 650
- Non-working married females (age 18 to 45) – AED 1600
- Domestic helper- AED 650
Groceries are an important component in the cost of living. Dubai has some magnificent supermarkets and malls. These markets contain all the necessary groceries you could want. You may unknowingly keep filling your trolly as Dubai markets have the best groceries. But be careful in choosing your groceries very carefully as they can easily shoot up your bill.
At Waitrose limited or Spinney’s the food is mostly imported and expensive. For instance, at these stores, the Steak (0.8) kg would cost you AED 60. Shop here and you will have to bear high expenses. On the other hand, having groceries at affordable supermarkets like Union Cooperative, Lulu Hypermarket, etc has affordable grocery bills. Do look out for discounts offered by these supermarkets.
The break-up of some of the items is listed below;
Cost In Dirhams
Cheese (500 g)
Eggs (dozen, Large)
Coke (2 litres)
White Rice (1 kg)
Milk (1 litre)
Chicken breast boneless (500 gr)
Apples (1 kg)
Bananas (1 kg)
The transport system of the city is modern in every aspect. People use personal transport while Public transport is also popular.
- Purchasing Personal Car
Almost every company’s car can be found in Dubai. The price of a car depends on the condition of the car. A Corolla is the most commonly driven car in Dubai and it costs around AED 0.1 million. A 20 percent down payment is made with 5 years payback plan and other costs.
- Gasoline Prices
The gasoline prices in Dubai are less than in other countries of the world. Current prices are AED 3.00 per liter for Special 95 and 3.10 for Super98.
- Public Transport Fare
Mode of Transport
Fare In Dirham
Taxi (Per 1 km)
Bus (Single ticket)
The metro buses are worth traveling on and set high international standards. In the Jumaira Lake Tower area, the Two metro stations make travel easy for middle-class people like employees, residents, and also visitor seeking cheap travel. The Dubai multi-commodity center has a bus service too that will take you around the area.
As an expatriate, it is always tricky to choose the school for your child. When calculating your cost of living in Dubai, you must have to keep in mind the school expenses of kids. Top schools in Dubai have soaring fees. It could cost you AED 4000 to AED 9500 per month depending on the grade of your child studying in. Bear in mind that uniform, transportation, exam fee, school trip charges, etc will be in addition to the tuition fee mentioned above.
- Public Schools
The expat kids can attend both public and private schools. But if they opt for public school, the fee will have to be deposited as free government schooling is for the natives only. Expats interested in public school will have to pay a fixed fee of AED 6000, annually.
- Private school
Dubai has more than 200 private schools that has served more than 0.35 million Emirati and foreign students. Dubai forbids private schools from unreasonably increasing the annual tuition fee.
Dubai has almost 70 colleges. These colleges have both Emirate and expatriate students. Public universities use Arabic as the medium of instruction. While a majority of the colleges use English as a teaching medium. The expatriates have to learn Arabic as a compulsory subject. The cost for an undergraduate program is AED 173,499. The graduate degree costs AED 50,500 to AED 82,200 a year.
Many residents of Dubai have the luxury of having efficient and affordable housekeeping. A foreigner who wishes to employ a housemaid will have to sponsor the maid and renew the maid’s visa yearly. The fee for sponsoring a maid is about AED 5,500 per annum. The normal salary of a housemaid is AED 1500 to 4000. In some cases, it may be even more than AED 4000 depending on the experience of the employee.
Keep in mind that you can’t give less than the minimum salary to a housemaid. Doing so will result in a penalty as per the rules of the UAE government. If the housemaid is not live-in, the sponsor will have to pay additional accommodation charges.
There are many maid services agencies in Dubai, which provide you with full-time or part-time maids. Besides, the maid salary there is a one-time fee of the agency which must be paid. For part-time services, the maids that offer services for less than a day or few hours. They will charge you an hourly rate ranging from AED 30 to 45 which adds to your average cost of living in Dubai.
There is no boring day or weekend in Dubai. The city has some of the best worth-seeing sites. It ranges from hotels, spas, shopping malls, desert safaris, and the list goes on. Therefore, it is advised to keep a certain amount of your money for entertainment as well if you like going outside. If you are a foodie, the food delivery apps will keep you engaged thus ordering more food. Subsequently, your cost of living will rise.
Cost in Dirham
Meal for a single person
Movie ticket (Single)
A month’s gym membership
Electricity and water connection (DEWA), TV, and internet connection are the basic utilities for every resident. The utility bills vary according to season. In summer the bill is on the high side because of the increased usage of Air conditioning and water. Besides, if you wish to have more luxurious accommodation by renting a villa with a garden, pool, and extra amenities; then expect even higher utility bills.
Etisalat and du provide internet and TV services in Dubai. The basic package of the companies includes 250 Mbps internet downloading speed, more than 200 TV channels, and unlimited calls to UAE landlines. The price for the basic package is AED 390 per month.
The premium package includes 500 Mbps downloading speed, Hd premium sports, and entertainment channels. It costs just a little over AED 1000 a month.
The mobile packages range start from AED 125 to more than AED 500 depending on the internet data and call bundles.
Cost In Dirham
Utilities (electricity, water, cooling) for a 900 sq. ft apartment
Internet & TV (Basic package)
Internet & TV (premium package)
More than 1000
Basic mobile package (postpaid)
Basic mobile package (premium)
More than 500
What Is The Cost Of Housing In Dubai?
Dubai used to have expensive property some years ago. But in a couple of years, the housing cost has been considerably reduced. Dubai’s property market has a variety of residences from big villas to compact studio flats, depending on your budget. The monthly rent prices vary depending on the area of residence that you chose. Posh areas like Jumeirah, Barsha, and Dubai Marina have high rents.
For affordable rents, you can opt to have a space in Reem, Mirdif, or Silicon oasis. And if you want the rent to be further reduced, then the districts of Al-Nahda and Deira are your go-to places in Dubai.
Cost In Dirham
Furnished accommodation in a posh area (900 sq. ft)
Furnished accommodation in a normal area (900 sq. ft)
Furnished studio in an expensive area (480 sq. ft)
Furnished studio in a normal area (480 sq. ft)
What Is The Average Cost Of Living In Dubai (for A Single Person)?
The bachelors or singles mostly go for a studio apartment in Dubai. The rent depends on the choice of area of residence.
A studio in a relatively cheaper place like Al Nahda has a rent of around AED 2600. But in an expensive area like Dubai Marina, the same studio will cost you around AED 4200.
The monthly DEWA bill for single averages between AED 800 to AED 1000 including the charges for internet connection. It costs around AED 400 for a single person who does not spend lavishly on groceries.
Apart from the above-mentioned costs, a single can also have other costs as well like transportation, mobile charges, etc. Mostly, singles use public transportation for commuting. A monthly transportation pass charges AED 350 a month.
But in case you own a car as a sole person, the driving license fee and fuel charges will add to your cost of living in Dubai.
The total cost of living in Dubai for a single can vary between AED 3,000 to AED 6,000 depending on the lifestyle.
What Is The Average Cost Of Living In Dubai (for a couple)?
For newly married couples the expected average cost of living ranges between AED 4,000 to AED 9,000. It can certainly change depending on the lifestyle of the couple.
A single-bedroom flat in Al-Nahda costs AED 3,166 a month. The same one-bedroom flat averages AED 6,250 in Dubai Marina.
For utilities, the budget may be expected between AED 1100 to AED 1500 and AED 1100 plus for groceries.
What Is The Average Cost Of Living In Dubai (for a family of four)?
The family may adjust its budget which is likely to vary between AED 13k to AED 20k.
Mostly, families opt for villas in Dubai. If you choose to rent a villa in Mirdif the rent will be around AED 9,000 monthly.
Anticipate the bill to increase by around AED 4,000 if you have a private garden and a pool inside the villa. Because it costs to maintain the pool and garden.
But if you are a family looking for residence at affordable rates, it is advised to opt for a 3-bed flat in Al Nahda. The flat will cost you AED 6250. Another feasible choice is to have a 2-bed apartment in the same area costing you AED 4,000 a month.
Monthly grocery bills can go up to AED 2,000 but if you shop at premium malls and supermarkets then the bill can easily hit AED 2,500 to AED 4000.
The schooling cost has been discussed earlier. Do keep in mind the school that you opt for your child as it adds to the cost of living in a city like Dubai.
What is the Cost Of Living In Dubai For International Students?
Dubai has campuses of some of the top universities in the world. It includes Emirates aviation college, the American University of Dubai, and SP Jain school of management. These universities have top-notch faculty which is attracting a lot of foreign students.
The students are advised to plan their cost of living carefully. For a student, there are many factors to consider such as food, transport, rent, and other miscellaneous expenses.
For an undergrad program the tuition fee ranges from AED 38,000 to AED 75,000 per year. While the living expenses average between AED 2,800 to AED 4,000 yearly.
For post-graduate fee is between AED 60,000 to AED 75,000 and living expenses are AED 3000 to 4000 a year.
What Is a Good Salary For a Single Person To Live In Dubai?
Dubai could be a great city to live but depending on your lifestyle. In a relatively affordable area, you can easily manage with a salary of AED 5,000 to AED 8,000 a month including rent and food.
But if you live in a fashionable area like Dubai Marina, the ideal average monthly salary should be AED 15,000 to AED 20,000. In such an expensive area the rents are high while the malls and supermarkets have expensive imported food and amenities.
What Are The Working Days And Hours In Dubai?
The working days in Dubai are from Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday is weekend. The general working hours are from 8.00 to am to 4.00 pm and from 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm. However, some organizations or companies may have different working hours. The work hours change during the month of Ramadhan and are usually shorter.
Comparison Of Cost Of Living between Dubai And Major Cities Of The World
- The cost of living in Dubai is 24 percent cheaper than in London, Great Britain.
- The cost of living in Dubai is 38 percent cheaper than in New York, USA.
- Dubai is 22 percent more expensive than Milan, Italy.
- Dubai’s living cost is 219 percent more expensive than Delhi, India.
- The city is 61 percent more expensive than Beijing, China.
- The living cost in Dubai is 9 percent more than in Ottawa, Canada.
- The living cost in Dubai is 20 percent more than in Bonn, Germany.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Dubai?
Like any other city in the world, Dubai is no exception and has its pros and cons. Listed below are a few negatives and positives if you are considering moving to Dubai.
- There Is No Income Tax In Dubai
Dubai is perfect if you don’t like income tax. Which essentially means that you take all of your hard-earned income home without any deduction. Being a non-income tax city makes Dubai fascinating for expatriates.
Approximately 8 months a year, the Skies of Dubai shine. The warm waters of the Arabian sea and long hot days are perfect for any activity. The weather in Dubai is also one of the factors for international businesses to move in and establish their setup.
- Ample Of Job Opportunities
Dubai is very much an open economy as per international standards. It leverages companies in form of tax cuts, cheap labor, etc. Thus international companies eye Dubai for their businesses. These businesses create a lot of job opportunities, from high-tech to manual labor.
- English Is Well Spoken
Arabic is the official language but most people know and speak English. Menus, Sign boards, and documents are in the English language to navigate your way.
- Transportation Costs Are Low
You are a foreigner and are anxious about car expenses in Dubai. Don’t worry the petrol prices are incredibly low and cars are available at affordable prices.
The government has invested billions in public transportation system which is cheap and comfortable.
- Tolerant Of Religions
Islam is the official religion in the city, but the people are tolerant of other religions and beliefs. One can find different religions practising people living under one roof and working under one roof. Everybody is free to practice their religion.
Cons Of Living In Dubai
- Having A Permit For Many Things
Dubai can be a hard entry for newly arriving expatriates. You will need to have permits for work, driving, and buying alcoholic beverages
- Expensive Rents
Rents are high in the city. Thus you have to be choosy while renting an apartment. As the cost of living can jack up if you opt to live in an expensive area despite fewer taxes.
- Summer Heat Can Be Intense
Dubai has magnificent weather for most of the year. But the heat from June to mid-September can cause you discomfort. The temperate in these months could go as high as 50 degrees. Many foreigners plan vacations from June to September.
How To Reduce the Cost Of Living In Dubai?
The expenses can overwhelm you while living in Dubai. But don’t worry we have got your back. Here are some tips to reduce the living cost.
A well-chalked-out transport usage strategy can reduce your expense.
- Rent an Apartment Close To Your Workplace/ children’s school
A smart way to reduce living expenses is to live near the workplace and children’s school. You can navigate the places on foot. Thus, it will significantly lessen your commute time and transportation cost.
- Make Use Of Public Transport
Dubai has fleets of buses, trams, metro, and taxis. The Metro network connects all the major stops and districts. A ticket can cost as little as AED 4.
- Using Alternative Roads To Evade Toll Taxes
In 2007 Salik, the electronic toll gate system was introduced in Dubai to improve the traffic flow. To avoid paying toll tax use alternative routes. Google maps come in handy to find app ‘avoid toll’ to prevent the payment of tolls.
Find Affordable Neighbourhoods
Dubai can get very expensive for you when on the hunt for expensive living places. But there are affordable renting homes too if you are on a tight budget.
Affordable places for rent are Al-Nahda, Deira, and Dubai silicon oasis. The average rent for a single-bedroom flat range from AED 23,000 to AED 24,000. These areas have all the necessary facilities like markets, hospitals, schools, etc.
Sharing Of Apartment
Apartment sharing is very popular among singletons. Sharing an apartment can considerably cut down your rent costs. However, apartment sharing needs to be done as per the rules of the government.
Groceries are basic requirements of everyday life. While in Dubai the grocery cost can be reduced by keeping certain tips in mind.
Shopping At Affordable MarketPlaces
A lower income person can purchase quality yet affordable products at Hypermarket, West Zone, etc. Some supermarkets like Carrefour have loyalty programs. The program can make you earn cash in points on shopping.
The supermarkets offer special discounts and bundle offers. Therefore, do follow their social media pages and channels for updates.
Purchasing Local Products
The rule of thumb for saving on food costs is to buy local and in-season products. Try to avoid buying imported stuff as it can jack up your cost of living in Dubai. The imported food and other amenities are much more expensive in Dubai.
Look for chiller-free apartments
Summer can become unbearable in Dubai. The cost of air-conditioning makes the utility bill high in summer. It is therefore advised to look for rent chiller-free apartments in Dubai. The landlord bears the expenses of air-conditioning in such apartments. Jumeirah village circle and Al-Nahda can be searched for Chiller-free apartments.
Reviewing Memberships And Subscriptions
The unnecessary memberships and subscriptions keep on adding to the expenses. Do not keep going with the flow. Take a pause and reflect on what are under-utilized subscriptions and unused memberships. Get rid of all the uncalled-for expenses.
Cook At Home
Cook as much as you can at home. Home-cooked food is not only safe but also economical. Making a weekly plan for your meals will enable you to choose the stuff you need, keeping your budget in control.
Beware of Credit Card Debt
People mindlessly go on a shopping spree or other unwanted expenses. They just keep swiping their credit cards. The enormous interest on the credit card can actually reverse the benefits of having a credit card. Learn to hold back and focus on lowering your expenses and reducing the use of credit cards until absolutely necessary.
Diversify Your Income Sources
Never rely on a single income in these trying times. Try to diversify your income streams. Nowadays people are much into freelancing to spur their income.
Put Big Spending on Hold
The International economy is yet to recover from the shock of the pandemic. The spill-over effect has an impact on every economy. You better keep saving bit by bit for the next half a year or so. The uncertainty in the global market can hit at any time.
Put your big projects on the back burner and keep saving for rainy days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is My Native Driving License Valid In Dubai?
Residents from Australia, the UK, the USA, and European countries are not required to take the driving test. The new residents from these countries need to go to Road and Transport authority with their passport, existing license, and residence permit to redeem their driving license.
The eyes will be tested before getting a UAE driving license. Before getting a license, the ex-pat can drive a rental vehicle using his/her native license.
Is Dubai Safe?
Dubai is very safe and has a negligible crime rate. If you forget to pick up your phone getting up from a bench; there is every chance of you finding it there on your return.
A woman can walk around safely late at night. Villas and shops can be seen unlocked. Overall the atmosphere is calm.
Food Is Expensive In Dubai Or Not?
It largely depends upon your choice and the area of the restaurant. At an affordable restaurant a meal for a single person cost from AED 25 to AED 30. On the contrary, eating at a fine eatery cost you AED 500 to AED 1000. If you want to reduce the cost of food then try to eat at restaurants situated in less expensive areas.
Do People Understand English In Dubai?
English seems to be the second most spoken language in Dubai. Being a global city everybody has some know-how about English. Therefore, you can be on your own if you speak English.
What Type Of Visas Does Dubai Offer?
Primarily, there are two types of visas that the authorities issue
- Visit Visa
- Resident Visa
There are subcategories of the aforementioned visa that depends on your nationality, purpose of stay, and period of stay.
How much does the Visa cost?
It depends on the type of Visa you apply for. Further details can be obtained through the phone numbers of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs
What Are The Countries That Are Allowed To Have Visa On Arrival?
Please visit the website of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs to find the listed countries.