Why Expats Prefer the Soaring Cost of Living in Dubai – Guide (2022)

Why Expats Prefer the Soaring Cost of Living in Dubai - Guide (2022)

If you are planning on living and working in Dubai, you might wonder about the affordability of the place and whether it’s feasible for you as an ex-pat to live here. If you are a long-term investor or business owner, it’s worth it to research the cost of living in Dubai.

No matter how successful your business is, the expense of living in any city will always be a factor that you need to consider deeply. You need to spend every month on accommodation, food, medical needs, public transport, and utilities. So is Dubai an expensive city to live in?

Is Dubai an expensive city?

The business opportunities available to the public are sky-high, just like the landscape along the Dubai Marina. The vibrant Dubai energy attracts many ex-pats from across the globe who seek better opportunities. Every year, the city witnesses skilled workers, students, and professionals from all walks of life.

Interestingly the cost of living in Dubai every month is not as exorbitant as you think. Hats off to the UAE’s incentives to draw top global talent and entrepreneurs into the region.

Due to this and the inflation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the real estate market has become more affordable for expatriates. As a result, Dubai is now at #42 in the annual cost of living Survey.

Unlike cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore, which support an expensive lifestyle, Dubai suits most singles and families as it caters to any budget, whether it’s frugal or luxurious.

Let’s look at the basic monthly and annual living costs and see how they apply to a single person, couple and even a small family in Dubai.

What’s the cost of living in Dubai?

Now that you have decided to make a move to Dubai, it’s time to think about how much your expenses will be.

Let’s break it down for you…..

  • Accommodation
  • Food and Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Travel and Transportation
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Housemaid Services


Accommodation is at the top of your list, with rental costs and property prices taking up around 30% of your monthly salary and living expenses. There are places surrounding Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road and apartments in the Jumeirah Beach Residence that offer accommodations for the affluent class. But there are also accommodations available for every budget.

The average cost of rent in Dubai is 6.72% lower than the rent in Sydney.

Barsha, Jumeirah, and Dubai Marina cater to high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs. The prestige of this region comes with an expensive price tag too. Places like Deira, Al Nahda, and Dubai Silicon Oasis are great money-saving options if you wish to go down that route.

Chances are you could get a decent 1 Bed Room Apartment in the city for AED 3500 per month. Now, if you’re looking to purchase property in Dubai, it will cost you an average price of AED 439 to AED 1890 per Sq.ft

Food and Groceries

Besides the monthly rent to have a roof over your head, food is considered an essential living expense for everyone. In Dubai, groceries can take up a huge portion of anyone’s monthly salary, at around 15%. How much you eat will determine how much you spend on groceries each month.

Food is essential to everyone’s survival. In Dubai, food takes up about a monthly salary of 15%. In Dubai, take advantage of the various supermarket chains and stock your fridge and pantry with bare essentials.

The French-owned retailer Carrefour offers you a wide range of options. You can find everything from household items to perishable items.

With the cost of living surging through the roof in this wealthy emirate, free hot bread distribution has started for the public who cannot afford their daily food. According to newspaper dailies, ten vending machines were installed in supermarkets with touch to allow people to choose the kind of bread they desire – flat Indian-style chapatis, pita bread, or loaves for sandwiches. The bread machines are the initiative of a foundation set up by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Because of inflation and rising interest rates, many people whose wages are low can no longer afford all their needs. This initiative helps them to a certain extent.

Here’s a breakdown of some fundamental essentials for a single person. One liter of milk, a loaf of bread, and 1 kg of rice will cost around AED 17. 50 each.1 kg of fresh produce (tomatoes, oranges, or bananas) will cost around AED 6.50 each. Meat, dairy, and eggs will fetch around AED 10.60, and 1 kg of chicken breast will cost AED 28 on average.


Utilities like lights and water are vital and should be included in the essential cost of living in Dubai. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has a responsibility to connect the residents of Dubai with water and electricity.

The average cost you will need to pay for utilities varies according to the time of year and the type of property you reside in. The electricity bill will be higher in summer and winter as you will use the air conditioning to cool and heat the room. If your residence has a pool or spa, electricity costs will increase.

Internet connection and TV and mobile phones are services that should also be considered.

An entry-level package provides a connection with an internet download speed of 250 Mbps, over 200 TV channels and free UAE landline calls. It costs AED 390 per month. Any other package offering more services will be more costly.

Travel & Transportation

Transportation costs take up 15% of your monthly budget. Transportation is a huge part of your everyday expenses when you live in Dubai, as you commute to and from work.

However, with the pandemic, more and more people are working online, and this factor is likely to change.


Healthcare and medical expenses are pretty high in Dubai. For residents in the UAE, medical insurance is mandatory. If your employer sponsors your stay in Dubai, the company has to provide your health insurance. In some instances, it is your whole family.

But if you are in the country on an independent visa, you’ll need to get health insurance separately. Whichever way you choose, it’s essential to have health benefits of some kind.

Fortunately, you can choose from a list of some of the top Insurance Companies like AXA Insurance, Dubai National Insurance, Reinsurance, Metlife, Allianz – Orient Insurance, and Oman Insurance Company.

The medical insurance in Dubai costs according to the coverage you seek. You have essential benefit options for singles starting from AED 600 per year. You will need to spend $ 5500 on average to seek more comprehensive coverage. If you are looking for family plans, you will spend around 17,000 on average. And if you employ a maid to do the chores of the house, then you will be responsible for providing medical insurance for them.


If you have kids running around the house, you will need to think about educational options for them. There are various British, Indian, American, French, Pakistani, German, and Japanese schools in Dubai. The fees vary depending on the institution your kids are enrolled in. British and American schools charge, on average, AED 7500 per month. But there are more affordable schools like The English Elite School, The Central School Dubai, and The Crescent English High School, which cost on average AED 4000 per month.

You will also need to consider the uniforms, extracurricular activities, and books your kids will need. These can be included in the family costs and must be accounted for as part of your cost of living in Dubai.

University fees can also be included in the cost of living. Dubai has 65 colleges that offer a diverse range of subjects. The average cost that an undergrad student will pay is AED 173,400.


Now that you know the expenses you need to set aside for daily and monthly living, is there room for some fun time? As part of expenses in Dubai, it’s great to go to the movies, eat out and make the most of this beautiful city.

With so much to see and do in Dubai, it’s hard not to set aside some money for recreation. On average, you will spend AED 80 for a movie for two. A casual dinner may cost you AED 60. But if you’re looking for a touch of luxury, a three-course meal will be AED 1000 on average.

Housemaid Services

This may not be an expense that every resident has to make. But for those who do, you need to sponsor them and renew their visa yearly. The average is AED 1500 and AED 3500. Sponsorship fees come to AED 5500 per year.

Part-time cleaners are also available if this seems a bit much. One or two hours of cleaning cost AED 30 and AED 40. No matter the budget, there’s an option that will suit everyone.


So what is the total cost of living in Dubai for a single person, a couple, and a family? Considering all these overhead expenses, the monthly expenses will vary depending on the demographic.

In Dubai, singles can expect to pay AED 5K per month, couples will spend AED 9K per month, and a family of four, on average, will spend AED 18K per month. Remember that this is a guide, and your actual situation may vary depending on your individual preferences and needs.

How much money must one make to comfortably live in Dubai?

If you are a woman and wish to sponsor a family in the country, then you need to earn a minimum monthly salary of AED 10,000, while for men, it is a salary of AED 4,000 per month.

How much is the rent in Dubai?

The average rent in the UAE is between AED 30,000 to 50,000 for a studio apartment per year. One and two-bedroom apartments range from AED 70,000 to 100,000.

Which is the cheapest place to rent in Dubai?

The cheapest places to rent an apartment in Dubai are the International city, Dubai silicon oasis, Town Square, Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC), Dubai Sports City, and Remraam.

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