Dubai is known for its luxury shopping, modern architecture, and vibrant nightlife. This gorgeous city has so much to offer, from unparalleled architecture to one-of-a-kind attractions.
But if you’re just about to move here, this may lead you to wonder what price tag comes with a comfortable life in Dubai. In this article, we will be breaking down the most common living expenses in Dubai to help you plan and budget for your new life here.
Whether you are renting or buying, housing in Dubai will likely be your largest expense, but it is one over which you have a lot of control. That is because housing prices vary significantly in Dubai depending on the community you choose by up to 400%.
For example, the yearly rent for a studio apartment is around AED 85,000 in Downtown Dubai but could be AED 40,000 in a more affordable community like Jumeirah Village Circle. Conclusively, explore different areas and find one that matches your budget.
Note that you should bear in mind the location of your work and the proximity of essential amenities to avoid offsetting the savings you make from lower rent prices by spending more on transport.
Here’s a look at the average rent and property prices you can expect in Dubai (Check the Infographic):
|Annual Rent (AED)||Sales Price (AED)|
|Studio Apartment||30,000 – 50,000||475,000 – 775,000|
|2-bedroom Apartment||80,000 – 100,000||1,215,000 – 1,399,999|
|4-bedroom Villa||200,000 – 265,000||5,000,000 – 6,300,000|
There are several public transport options available in Dubai, including the metro and busses. A monthly pass for the metro costs around AED 350 (~ 96 USD), and a single ride on the bus costs between AED 4 and 8 (~ 1-2 USD).
In addition, taxis and rideshares like Uber and Careem are also readily available, but they can be more expensive than other forms of transportation.
Alternatively, you might be interested in buying a car in Dubai. To give you an idea of car prices, a used 2019 Nissan Altima, a popular car in Dubai, can cost between AED 42,999 and AED 95,900.
The table below shows the average price of some common modes of transport in Dubai:
|Metro card (monthly pass)||350|
|Used 2019 Nissan Altima||42,999 – 95,900|
Utilities, including basic utilities, as well as essentials like a phone plan, can add up, so it is important to budget for them. Their cost will depend on several factors like your usage or the size of your accommodation.
Here’s a look at the average amount you can expect to pay on utilities, including electricity bills, home internet, and more in Dubai (Check the Infographic):
|Utility||Monthly Cost (AED)|
|Home Internet Plan||311|
|Basic Phone Plan||25|
|Basic Utilities for 85 m2 apartment (Cooling, Heating, Electricity, Garbage, Water)||710|
Overall, fresh produce and meat tend to be relatively affordable in Dubai relative to other major cities around the world. However, imported products, as expected, tend to be more expensive.
In addition, hypermarkets and supermarkets like Carrefour, Spinneys, and Lulu are located abundantly across Dubai, and they often have reasonable offers and discounts.
Here’s a look at the prices of some common grocery items:
|Grocery Item||Price (AED)|
|Water (1.5 liter bottle)||2.10|
|Cocacola (1 Can 330 ml)||2.50|
|Milk (1 liter)||6.63|
|Loaf of Bread (500g)||5.46|
|White rice (1kg)||8.95|
|Eggs (6 pieces)||5.50|
|Chicken fillets (1kg)||48.85|
Healthcare & Insurance
It is obligatory for all residents in the UAE to have health insurance. If a company is sponsoring you in Dubai, they must provide you with health insurance; in many cases, this insurance extends to your family.
However, if you are on an investor visa or, for any other reason, are not offered health insurance, then you must purchase a health insurance plan from one of the many providers in Dubai.
Besides, in case your income is less than AED 4,000 per month, you can get the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP), which offers the same coverage as the UAE public healthcare.
Additionally, for those who have any domestic worker employees, you must provide them with healthcare insurance.
If you decide to purchase health insurance, here’s a look at the average annual prices of different health insurance plans.
Annual Health Insurance Cost (AED)
|Individual||Family of four|
|Basic Health Insurance||600 – 800||17,000|
|Comprehensive Health Plan||5,500||33,500|
|Premium Health Plan||10,000 -15,000||70,000|
|Essential Benefits Plans||550 – 600|
Some popular leisure activities include visiting the many malls and shopping centres around Dubai, going to the beach, visiting theme parks, and going out to eat. Dubai has a plethora of diverse attractions with a wide range of prices. This means that whatever your budget, you can still find fun and affordable things to do across the city.
Check the table below for an idea of what some common leisure activities cost in Dubai:
|Gym Membership (monthly)||278|
|Average Restaurant Meal (per person)||110|
If you’re moving to Dubai as a family, school fees are likely a significant concern. We’ll lay out your options and average school fees to help you budget accordingly.
In Dubai, you’ll have the option to choose between public and private schools. Since 2001, expats in Dubai have been allowed to attend public schools. While public schools are free for emirates; however, expats are charged fees.
In addition, before deciding if public schools are the right choice for your child, note that public schools teach exclusively in Arabic. These schools implement the Emirati national curriculum and teach English as a second language.
There are several international curriculums offered at private schools in Dubai, including IB, American, British and Indian. Note that private schools are often more expensive for expats than public schools; however, they offer international curricula. This helps students transfer easily between schools in different countries in case of relocating.
While fees for private schools can be quite costly, the emirate of Dubai has implemented a cap on the yearly increase of school fees to make a good education more accessible for families.
Additionally, bear in mind that you’ll need to factor in the added cost of the uniform, school supplies, school transportation, and school trips.
The table below shows the monthly school fees for an expat student in grade 6 at different types of schools in Dubai to give you an idea:
|Annual Fees (AED)|
|Public School (for expats)||3,500- 12,500|
|American Schools||16,182 – 86,260|
|British Schools||17,469 – 82,521|
|Indian Schools||10,253 – 30,396|
What is the Average Cost of Living in Dubai for Families, Singles, and Couples?
The table below sums up the different expenses mentioned above to estimate the average monthly costs you can expect in this city.
Here’s an estimate of the average cost of living in Dubai for singles, couples, and a family of four, excluding transport and leisure costs:
Average Monthly Costs (AED)
|Single||Couple||Family of Four|
|Rent||2,500 – 4170||5,000 – 9,000||5,900 – 12,000|
|Leisure||650 – 1,500||1,000 – 1,500||2000 – 3,000|
|Transport||400 – 1,500||800 – 1,840||1,500 – 3,700|
|Education||–||–||6,000 – 12,000|
|Total||5,625 – 9,245||10,432 – 15,970||22,160 – 37,460|
What Is the Minimum Cost of Living in Dubai?
While the table above estimates the median cost of living, the minimum cost of living for a single person in Dubai would be around AED 6,000 per month to account for any unexpected expenses.
This article should help give you an idea of the minimum salary needed to live in Dubai. However, exactly how much you need will depend on your lifestyle, family situation, and how you choose to spend your money.
If you’re about to make your move to the UAE, you can check out this detailed guide about how to get your residence visa and Emirates ID.