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Cost of Living in Dubai: Is it expensive or affordable?

Your salary chunk will split as follows

Cost of Living in Dubai

The cost of living in Dubai is helpful to know before you move here, whether you are moving to set up a business or just looking for better job opportunities. Dubai’s tax-free system and extravagant lifestyle have made it one of the most popular expat destinations in the world. Over 80 percent of the population consists of expats.

Dubai doesn’t charge tax on property, income or capital gains, which has a major effect on people’s earnings. But in spite of the high salaries and plenty of opportunities for saving in Dubai, the sheer amount of luxury goods and activities on offer can sometimes strain people’s budgets.

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Is Dubai Expensive or Affordable?

According to Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey 2022, Dubai has been ranked among the world’s most expensive cities to live and work in for expatriates this year. The study, which looks at how the rising cost of living has impacted workers’ financial wellbeing in 227 cities worldwide, placed Dubai in the 31st position.  

The cost of living in Dubai has continued to increase this year, with consumer inflation accelerating to 4.6 percent year on year, according to figures released by the Dubai Statistics Centre. Approximately half of Dubai’s headline inflation has been driven by rising transport costs, which rose 28.8 percent year-on-year in April. 

Cost of Living in Dubai

Let’s take a look at the cost of living in Dubai, which are expenditures required for necessary survival such as housing, food, clothing, healthcare, transportation, and possibly your children’s education. These values are also a good guideline for job-seekers when negotiating their salaries.

Housing Costs in Dubai

Dubai rent is dependent on where you live, as it is everywhere else. In recent years, there have been some key areas that have become very popular for expats. As of May 2022, average apartment and villa rents in Dubai rose more than 40 per cent annually in some areas during the first three months of 2022.

Rental contracts are usually yearly contracts, renewable annually. Most landlords require the entire rent to be paid upfront, and will accept two, four or six post-dated cheques, a security deposit is often required as well.

Cost of Living in Dubai

If you are looking for some budget-friendly accommodations, then focus your attention on the suburbs of Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC), Al Nahda, Mirdif, DAMAC Hills 2 (Akoya Oxygen), Deira, and Dubai International City, where the annual rent varies from 34,000 to 45,000 AED for one bedroom apartment and 50,000 to 68,000 AED for two bedroom apartment.

On the luxury end, if you want to be close to a thriving expat community, then look at Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Al Barsha, and Downtown Dubai, where you should expect to pay around 100,000 to 140,000 AED (£20,000 to £29,000) annually, depending on the property.

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Transport Costs in Dubai

Dubai has one of the world’s best public transport networks, thus giving public a variety of options when it comes to transportation.

The price of gasoline in Dubai varies from AED 4.03 for Super 98 to AED 3.92 for Special 95 (as on August 2022).

Cost of Living in Dubai

Modes of public transport in Dubai include Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram, Buses, and Taxis that can be ordered through public transport apps in Dubai.

  • One-way Ticket (Local Transport): 5.00 AED  
  • Monthly Pass (Regular Price): 300.00 AED 
  • Taxi Start (Normal Tariff): 12.00 AED  
  • Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff): 2.48 AED  
  • Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff): 30.00 AED  
  • Gasoline (1 liter): 4.03 AED  

*Note: All costs are approximate, and it’s taken from  the world’s largest cost of living database. 

For more information on Public Transportation in Dubai, you can visit the Dubai government’s official website.

Medical and Insurance Costs in Dubai

Dubai Health Authority has implemented new legislation whereby all residents, including expats, and their dependents, must have private medical insurance. Companies in Dubai must mandatorily provide coverage to their employees once the work visa is issued.

However, not all companies in Dubai provide health insurance to the employees’ family including wife and children. In such cases, they will have to take private health insurance in Dubai, that starts from AED1000.

Most of the expats living in Dubai prefer going to private healthcare facilities. The locals here will be covered under the government-funded scheme, expats can also receive a 50% discount with a health card. Health card fees are as follows:

  • Expatriate Fee up to 10 years – AED 120 (USD 32.67)
  • Expatriate Fee from 18 and above – AED 320 (USD 87.12)

The above fees are one-time payments to obtain a health card.

Utilities Costs in Dubai

Utilities in Dubai include electricity and water (DEWA), gas, mobile credit, and internet.

  •  Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment: 400 AED – 1,000 AED 
  • 1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans): 0.30 AED – 0.95 AED 
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL): 300 AED – 450 AED  

Air-conditioning can result in significantly higher utility bills in the summer months particularly from May to September.

Gas connection in Dubai will cost around AED50 – AED 70 monthly, again dependent on how much you cook at home.

Grocery Costs in Dubai

The grocery cost in Dubai has increased over the last few months as a result of high oil prices and freight rates. But, you can cut down on grocery costs by shopping on weekends. The abundant supermarkets and hypermarkets in Dubai keep best offers and promotions on various products during the weekends, so if you plan your week ahead and make wise purchases, you can save a lot here.

Cost of Living in Dubai

Below is a list of grocery essentials approximate prices in Dubai: 

  • Milk (regular), (1 liter): 6.44 AED  
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): 5.10 AED  
  • Rice (white), (1kg): 8.67 AED  
  • Eggs (regular) (12): 11.22 AED  
  • Local Cheese (1kg): 33.95 AED  
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg): 29.45 AED  
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat): 40.81 AED 
  • Apples (1kg): 8.05 AED  
  • Banana (1kg): 6.68 AED  
  • Oranges (1kg): 5.94 AED  
  • Tomato (1kg): 5.57 AED  
  • Potato (1kg): 3.85 AED  
  • Onion (1kg): 3.34 AED  
  • Lettuce (1 head): 5.52 AED  
  • Water (1.5-liter bottle): 2.20 AED  

Education Costs

As a result of the large international population here, Dubai has a wide variety of schools including daycare, nurseries, primary schools and private schools that offer many different curriculums. Dubai has 17 types of school curricula.

Cost of Living in Dubai
Dubai has more than 200 private schools.

The fee structure of the schools depends on their curriculum and the location of the school. Generally, international schools are far more expensive than, for example, an Indian one. School fees in Dubai range from AED 12,723 (USD 3,463.84) to AED 64,093 (USD 17,449.32) per annum.

Eating out and Entertainments Costs

Due to the variety of dining options available in Dubai, you can enjoy eating out more often without breaking the bank. Eating at restaurants in Dubai will cost as below:   

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: 20 AED – 70 AED 
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course: 150 AED – 600 AED  
  • McMeal at McDonald’s (or Equivalent Combo Meal): 25 AED – 36 AED 
  • Cappuccino (regular): 8 AED – 28 AED

If you are planning to go to the movies, a ticket in Dubai will cost you 45 AED.