Dubai is the city most people picture when they hear the words “luxury” and “extravagance.” With its towering skyscrapers, high-end shopping malls, and world-class attractions, there is no place as grand and opulent. However, for those considering moving to or working in Dubai, one important question to consider is the cost of living in Dubai. Is it expensive to live in Dubai? The answer to this question is not a simple one, as the cost of living can vary greatly depending on a number of factors.
In this article, we will explore the cost of living in Dubai, from rent and groceries to public transit and entertainment. This will give you a better understanding of what to expect if you are considering living or working in this vibrant city.
Affordable Housing in Dubai: Is It Possible?
Some chic locations to rent an apartment in Dubai are Jumeirah, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, and Al Barsha. While these locations lean towards the expensive side of the spectrum, Deira, Bur Dubai, Al Nahda, and International City are locations that provide residents with convenient and inexpensive city living.
Rent and utility bills vary enormously according to your choice of location. For example, the rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city is around AED 3900, while an apartment with the same facilities in a prime location will cost you almost double, with rent rising to AED 6900, also according to your lifestyle cost of Living in Dubai can vary from each.
Similarly, a three-bedroom apartment in the city center will come with a rent of AED 12000, while an apartment with the same features in the outskirts of the city centre costs around AED 7700.
The average internet expense in your accommodation will come to around AED 359. The utility bills, which include the water, heating, waste disposal, and electricity charges for an 85m2 apartment, on average, will set you back by AED 700.
Another aspect of the cost incurred by residents in Dubai is the service charge for property maintenance. These charges can fall anywhere between AED 3 and AED 30 per square foot. Factors that impact the costs are primarily the choice of location, the type of property they live in, and the purpose the property serves.
How Much Does Transportation Cost in Dubai?
Dubai is a well-connected city that provides visitors and citizens with various commute options. The most common means of transportation in Dubai are the metro, bus, tram, and taxi. The Dubai metro system is fully automated, which means commuters cannot see a driver for the metro!
A contactless card, namely Nol, pays for the public transportation fare in Dubai. There are different categories of Nol cards suitable for the type of passenger, for example, Gold, Silver, and Personal Nol cards for students, seniors, and people with disabilities. Occasional users are also entitled to paper tickets called Red Tickets.
The taxi meter starts at AED 12 and charges AED 3 per kilometer covered, whereas a tram trip costs AED 3, irrespective of distance.
Although public transportation is mainstream in Dubai, private vehicle ownership is common among residents, which comes with its share of expenses. The service fee for renewing registration is AED 350, while inspection fees are AED 150. The insurance cost is usually between 1.25% and 3% of the value of the vehicle you own. If we are using public transportation mainly then we can surely decrease the cost of living in Dubai.
Fuel prices are relatively lower in the UAE. There are three petrol fuel categories: E-plus 91, Special 95, and Super 98. The prices of petrol and diesel fuel are as follows.
|Petrol: E-plus 91||AED 2.82/litre|
|Petrol: Special 95||AED 2.90/litre|
|Petrol: Super 98||AED 3.01/litre|
Eating and Drinking in Dubai: A Cost Breakdown
With the GCC, India, and Western Europe making up a large percentage of visitors, Dubai welcomes citizens from all walks of life. International visitors are not limited to the native tastes of delicacies of the UAE but can also relish the variety of cuisines from all over the world in the heart of the city. Whether you are an Asian cuisine enthusiast craving a late Japanese brunch or a student in the city looking for an economical Happy Meal, Dubai has got you covered.
For a meal in a mid-range restaurant, the check will set you back by AED 300. At the same time, cheaper dine-out options are available for AED 40. A combo meal from McDonald’s will cost you 30 AED, while a cheeseburger from a fast-food joint down the road is priced around AED 9.
Alcoholic drinks like cocktails start from AED 45 and upwards. Fizzy drinks like Coke and Pepsi cost AED 4 for a 330 ml bottle, while a bottle of water with the exact quantity cost AED 2.20. Always try to find out the best budget-friendly shops, food courts, and supermarkets that offer great quality products also, this will help to decrease the cost of living in Dubai.
The table below illustrates the average prices of everyday grocery items.
|Egg||12 for 12 pcs.|
Dubai Fun on a Budget: Entertainment and Recreation Costs
What makes Dubai truly unique is how it sets itself apart from the rest of the Emirates and the Middle East. Dubai is home to the biggest mall and the tallest building in the world. But it does not end there. Dubai offers an array of entertainment and recreational activities.
From dune bashing in the deserts to watersports at the beach as well as skydiving to hiking, Dubai has something to offer in all terrains and territories. If you are well interested in entertainment purposes and don’t have enough money to spend, then always look for special offers, deals, etc, and also look for free things you can do, this will help in decreasing the cost of living in Dubai.
The shopping scene in Dubai provides an exciting experience for shoppers and tourists alike. Located in Downtown Dubai, the Dubai Mall boasts over 1200 stores, a large walkthrough aquarium, and a world-class ice rink, among other top-notch amenities. With an entry fee of just 15 AED, visitors can immerse themselves in the world’s most significant tourism and entertainment project – The Global Village. The main attractions are undoubtedly the pavilions representing different countries, their culture, and food.
Movies and pop culture have a significant impact on the tourism aspect of Dubai; for example, The King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, has been the face of Dubai Tourism since 2016. The city has so much to offer in real life as well as in reel life. From AED 137, you can enjoy a film on the rooftop of the Galleria Mall presented by Vox Cinemas. For an immersive cinematic experience, Reel Cinemas at The Dubai Mall has rolled out Screen X, where customers can experience cinema in 270°.
The iconic Yas Island is a short drive from Dubai, where visitors can experience the Ferrari World and the Warner Bros. World Theme Parks. For only AED 325, you can ride the world’s fastest roller-coaster and over 30 other thrilling rides fueled by Ferrari. And for endless fun and quality family time, meet your favorite superheroes and cartoon characters at the world’s largest indoor theme park by Warner Bros. for AED 325 per adult. Yas Island is also home to the legendary Yas Marina Circuit, which hosts the esteemed Formula One races and after-race music festivals and concerts. The cost of living in Dubai varies from person to person according to their interests.
Below is a mix of leisure and extravagant attractions and how much it would cost to experience them.
|At The Top, Burj Khalifa||From AED 169|
|Miracle Garden||From AED 75|
|Dubai Frame||From AED 50|
|The Museum of the Future||From AED 149|
|Dubai Dolphinarium||From AED 99|
|Aquaventure Waterpark, Atlantis The Palm||From AED 345|
|Desert Safari||From AED 120|
|Ski Dubai||From AED 220|
|Xline Dubai||From AED 650|
|Tandem Skydive||From AED 2499|
Dubai’s entertainment and recreation scene offers visitors a dose of everything at varying price points. But considering the range of different activities in the itinerary, it is safe to say that visiting Dubai for the value of thrill and leisure it offers is worth every penny.
Dubai Expenses: What You Need to Know Before Moving?
The United Arab Emirates offers tourists, job seekers, students, and travelers an array of visa permit options.
Per the UAE’s official website, transit visas can only be sponsored by national airline services, for example, Etihad, which has its hub in the Abu Dhabi International Airport, and Emirates, based in Dubai.
|Visa Type||Visa Cost|
|Transit Visa (48 Hours)||Free|
|Transit Visa (96 Hours)||AED 50|
|Tourist Visa (60 Days)||AED 610|
|Tourist Visa (90 Days)||AED 850|
Other Costs to Consider In Dubai
With over 200 schools in Dubai, the city offers commendable educational facilities for students from all backgrounds and ages. The average tuition fees for Grades 1 to 12 are shown in the table below.
|Grade||Average School Fees|
Please note that school fees depend significantly on several factors. The school management’s chosen curriculum, the campus’s location, and general facilities and amenities indicate how much students are charged upon admission. Popular syllabuses available for school students in Dubai are CBSE, IGCSE, Cambridge, GCSE, and IB. Dubai is a host to so many ex-pats. This offers the opportunity to study with students from cultures across all parts of the world.
All residents of Dubai are required by law to have health insurance, so take insurance from the best insurance companies in Dubai. Healthcare is expensive in the UAE, and visiting a general practitioner in private clinics or government-backed health centres will set you back by at least AED 140. Below is a brief overview of the costs associated with private and government clinics.
|Aster Clinic||From AED 145|
|Prime Medical Centre||From AED 150|
|Medcare Medical Centre||From AED 550|
|Al Barsha Health Centre (Government)||From AED 158|
The cost of living in Dubai can be high, but it largely depends on your lifestyle and needs. While housing and transportation costs can be significant, there are ways to save money by opting for shared accommodation, using public transport, and shopping at local markets.
It’s also important to consider the benefits of living in Dubai, such as tax-free income, world-class healthcare, and top-notch education. Ultimately, whether or not Dubai is an expensive city to live in will depend on your personal circumstances and priorities. By understanding the costs and making informed decisions, you can enjoy all that this dynamic city has to offer while still maintaining a comfortable standard of living.
Frequently Asked Questions
To consume alcohol legally in the UAE, it is mandatory to obtain an alcohol license. Although, do not worry about any costs because, since the revised alcohol tax laws in 2023, it is free to get hold of an alcohol license.
Unlike many countries, it is not compulsory to tip in Dubai. However, 10% of the bill is generally considered the total tip amount in Dubai restaurants and cafes.
Careem and Uber provide excellent service throughout Dubai.
Nol products come in two categories: Silver and Gold. The Silver Nol card costs AED 350/month for all zones, and the Gold Nol card is priced at AED 700/month for all zone travel.
You will have to show proof of accommodation when on a tourist visa.