The Cost of Living In Dubai, Explained
Wondering how much it costs to live in the United Arab Emirates? Here are the everyday expenses you should know about before moving to Dubai for work.
The UAE or the United Arab Emirates is made up of 7 Emirates (crown jewels). Most expatriates in the United Arab Emirates reside in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are now some of the best cosmopolitan metropolises of our times.
Want to learn a little more about Dubai? The city hosts some of the most iconic buildings of the world including Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The city was built with a focus on tourism and hospitality. It is not surprising to learn the fact that Dubai houses the world’s most luxurious hotel, the Burj-al-Arab, and has the second-highest number of 5-star hotels in the world.
Not only is Dubai modern in terms of hospitality, but it leads the way when it comes to various other aspects. The city’s healthcare facilities rank in the top 50 of the world. A large part of the population is already vaccinated for COVID. Unvaccinated visitors from other countries can avail themselves of top COVID vaccines too, here.
Also, Dubai is the 5th safest city in the world and is welcoming to one and all. About 88% of the population of UAE is expats – 78% being Asians and approximately 53% are Indians. Rightfully, Dubai boasts of global cuisines and diverse cultures. It’s as easy to find a restaurant serving idli, as it is biryani and hummus!
While Arabic and English are the main business languages, you will commonly find people talking in Hindi-Urdu, Malayalam, Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi, Filipino, Korean, Chinese, and various other languages.
Before we begin, congratulations on your decision! Thinking of moving to Dubai is a great idea not just for your career but for your finances too. Of course, the amount of money you save depends on a lot of factors. However, the simplest way to calculate this is taking your salary minus your expenses for travel, food, accommodation, and utilities (water, electricity, internet, TV, cooling, disposal services).
So let’s have a quick look at some of these expenses.**
You can also visit Numbeo for a handy online calculator for living expenses in Dubai.**
How Much Salary Is Enough?
Honestly, that number varies based on the personal lifestyle choices of every individual. Some manage to send money home despite earning only AED 2,500 each month and some find themselves wanting more despite a monthly salary of AED 25,000. You must very carefully calculate your income vs. spending habits to understand if moving to Dubai is going to help you earn more and save more.
Dubai is a city that offers the best luxuries anyone can imagine, so the upper limit for spending on annual accommodation is the sky. A single room with an attached bath is available away from the city center, starts at AED 1,000 – AED 1,500 per month. In central areas, prices range from AED 4,500 – AED 6,000 per month. If you prefer something lavish right in the heart of the city it will cost you more.
You need to take into consideration whether you are living by yourself or with family and children, how close the children’s schools are, how much you are willing to travel to the office each day for a better understanding of the areas you should consider living in.
Rent is cheaper when you pay for a full year in advance vs. monthly. If you are on contract during your probation period, it is better to pay a little extra monthly rather than default on rent.
Tip: Check your office location on Google Maps. Then, visit websites like Dubbizle, PropertyFinder, or Bayut to find accommodation that meets your needs nearby. You will find out exactly how much rent will cost you every month.
The public transport system in Dubai is very clean, safe, affordable, and most importantly efficient. You can easily find everything from taxis, trams, metros, buses, and waterways. So before you calculate your daily cost you will have to understand your route from home to office, followed by the most efficient/affordable way to make that journey daily.
Tip: Check your office location on Google Maps. Then, check the area you would like to live in. You can use Google Maps to plan your route with public transport.
It is advisable to take a NOL card as it gives you access to trams, metros, and buses. It is easily available at any metro station and you can top it up. There is an option of a monthly pass too, for your NOL card, that you would want to consider based on your commute pattern and route to work.
You can also opt for Hala taxis, UAE’s public transport taxis. Just like Uber, Hala taxis are easily bookable through the ‘Careem App’. The app predicts the fare in advance so that you can understand the cost of your travel. The cabs in Dubai start at AED 12 minimum, and each kilometer will cost you about AED 2 extra + AED 1 for every 2 minutes of standing in traffic or any other delays. The Careem app also offers you a slightly more expensive option of booking a private car too should you fancy it.
Getting a UAE driving license is a very strict process and can be tough. However, getting a car is very affordable in the UAE. For long-term employees buying a car becomes the best option as petrol is cheaper in Dubai than in most other places on Earth. People with an international driving license can even consider renting a car for their daily commute.
Fun fact: Did you know you can take a picturesque ride in Dubai’s traditional boats called Abra? These boats ferry over the Dubai creek and the ride is just AED 1. How cool is that?
Food expenses depend solely on personal eating habits. Are you a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian? Are you going to order a takeaway every day or subscribe to meal-tiffin services? Are you cooking one meal or three meals a day? Are you looking for chopped ingredients to cook or will you manage all your chopping? Will you hire a cook who comes home daily?
Typically, groceries for two inclusive of non-vegetarian and vegetarian ingredients, which are a fair mix of moderate to gourmet options, should cost you anywhere between AED 600 – AED 800 every month. If you cannot manage to cook for any reason, you can hire a cook to come home 5-6 times a week starting from AED 700 a month. You even have the option to opt for services like Munch:On which provides you 22 meals every month from different restaurants, at the price of AED 500. You can even hire tiffin services that give you home-cooked meals starting at AED 500 for 30 veg meals a month. You can choose to eat out at restaurants with meals ranging from AED 30-6000 per meal, per person!
You get every cuisine you can think of in Dubai.
For ordering fresh groceries, you can go to supermarkets like Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarkets. You can also order via your mobile app from Noon, Kibsons, and many more. All of these stores offer Indian & Asian grocery items.
For internet, TV, and mobile you can opt for one of the two providers Etisalat or Du. A basic postpaid mobile plan will cost you AED 125 while a basic TV + internet plan will cost you AED 389. Your other services like water, cooling, electricity, and garbage disposal, provided by DEWA, for a 450 sq. ft. house, should roughly be AED 500 per month.
Now let’s look at the whole picture…
|What You Will Spend On||Approx. Cost In AED|
|Average House rent||1,500 – 4,500|
|Travel||350 – 800|
|Food and Groceries||900 – 1,200|
|Entertainment and other expenses||300 – unlimited|
|Total||Starting from 4,000|
On average, a comfortable lifestyle cost for one person can be around AED 4,000. The rest of your salary can be easily saved & remitted to your home country which a lot of expats do. You can, of course, choose to live life more king-size and cut down on your savings, or live more frugally and save more.
If you plan to move to Dubai with family, how many children you have if you plan to bring your aged parents with you – you’ll need to factor in some additional costs like:
- Children’s education; annual fees for grade 1 start from AED 15,000 a year
- Medication insurance for all your dependents. Medical insurance starts at AED500 – 800 per year per person.
While this may lead to lesser savings, nothing can replace time spent with family. Also, Dubai and the UAE offer families the safest and best lifestyle.
We hope this article helped you understand the cost of living in Dubai.
**Please note, the amount is only an estimate. There may be a variance in your actual costs. However, these are verified to reflect the latest costs in Dubai.