Cost of Living in Dubai

by | Feb 11, 2022 | United Arab Emirates | 1 comment

One of the key aspects of the expat planning process is, without a doubt, evaluating the cost of living. The 2020 Mercer Annual Cost of Living Survey highlights that in order to determine the cost of expatriate packages, factors such as instability of accommodation prices, currency fluctuations and cost inflation for goods and services are of great importance.

The results ranked Dubai in the 23rd position. By diversifying the economy, the city has reduced the impact of the oil industry on GDP. In the Middle East, Tel Aviv is the most expensive city (12). But Hong Kong leads the list, followed by Ashgabat, Tokyo, Zurich and Singapore. Below is the breakdown of the average cost of living in Dubai per segment.

Cost of Living in Dubai: Housing/Accommodation

There is a great variety of accommodation available: from renting a bed space to renting or purchasing your own apartment, townhouse or villa.

Villas in Dubai by Unsplash
Villas in Dubai by Unsplash

The monthly rent of a room in a shared apartment or house with all the utilities included could range from 1,500—6,500 AED, equivalent to 408–1,700 USD.

The gap is enormous, which reflects the disparity in remuneration and the fact that there is no minimum salary stipulated in the UAE Labor Law.

In the past years, I have lived in a villa, which I find more spacious. You get the chance to interact with other people and most of the time it includes all utilities and bills. Overall, I find it very easy to find accommodation in Dubai. There are many options available that fit all kinds of budgets. You can choose to live close to the beach, in the city, near to the desert, etc.

You can rent your own studio for as low as 20,000 AED (5,500 USD) per year. Usually, you have got to pay a deposit, agent fee and provide cheques from 1 to 6 for the full year payment. This value is on the very low end and it will be in a location that is not central or near to a popular landmark.

Cost of Living in Dubai: Food and Home Supplies

Because of its arid climate, the UAE and other Gulf states import most of their food, since crop and livestock cultivation is difficult. Therefore, supermarkets are filled with food and products from all over the world. I would say that per person, per month, food and supplies from the local market and supermarket could cost around $250 USD, the equivalent to 900 AED.

Cost of Living in Dubai: Transportation

The Road and Transport Authority (RTA), offers different transportation services comprising the metro, tram, buses, marine transit modes such as the abra, ferry, water taxi and water bus. Additionally, it has e-hail vehicles, smart rental cars and taxis.

Marine Transit by Unsplash
Marine Transit by Unsplash

However, the Dubai Metro is the cheapest and fastest method. It offers transportation to over 47 stations, including 9 underground.

Another common method is through the RTA bus, over 1,500 operate in a network of 119 internal lines, and 35 of them are linked to the metro.

Dubai’s map is divided into 7 zones. Prices vary from one to the other, and whether it is a single ticket, or even purchase the NOL card. The price for a one-way ticket ranges between 3 -7.5 AED, around 0.80 – 2 USD.

The taxi services comprise regular taxis, ladies & family taxis, luxurious taxis, or limousines. A 40-km ride can cost around 25 USD, so definitely not the most budget-friendly option.

Renting a car per month costs from 350 USD.

Cost of Living in Dubai: Other Expenses

Dubai is a city where you can easily spend money, there are many activities going on all the time, loads of restaurant options, quite happening and active. So watch how you spend your surplus after covering the basic expenses. Though with over 80% expats, many people send remittances back home or save up.

Below is the final breakdown of my cost of living in Dubai for your consideration. It’s all about choices. What are your preferences to allocate your expenses? Share your wisdom with us below!

My Personal Monthly Budget in Dubai
Item Cost (USD)
Housing 1,000
Mobile Phone 40
Food and Entertainment 250
Transportation 350
Other Expenses 60
Total 1,700

by: Tatiana Moreno