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Dubai is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world. Not only is it a booming playground of opportunities and a world-class lifestyle, but it’s ranked as the safest city in the world to live in.

Dubai is home to over 3 million people, with ex-pats making up 85%. So how much does it cost to live in this beautiful city? We have included all this information within this article for singles, couples and families.

TYPES OF EXPENSES IN DUBAI

There are different types of expenses in Dubai, the main expenses and those we will be covering are:

  • Housing and rent
  • Utilities and bills
  • Food and groceries
  • Transportation and fuel
  • Healthcare and insurance
  • Schooling
  • Entertainment

So, “how much are these expenses” I hear you ask? Let’s take a look..

HOUSING AND RENT

The Dubai property market is known for its sheer variety of available properties; from grand villas to studio apartments, there is something for everyone regardless of budget. The area that you live in will impact how much of your income goes towards rent. While established areas such as Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeriah and Jumeriah Park are more popular due to their location, they come at a premium. Residents looking to save on rent can find more cost-effective options in suburban communities, such as Dubai Silicon Oasis, Reem and Mirdif, or choose to live in some of Dubai’s older districts such as Deira or International City.

Below are the average rent prices, relevant to properties in Dubai in 2022:

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Take a look at Property Finder and Bayut, who are the largest and most popular real estate websites to see the current prices and properties available.

In addition to the rental costs, you will also need to pay a deposit and estate agent fees. The average deposit is 5% on a non-furnished property and 10% on a furnished property which is fully refundable when you move out (ensuring that the property is in the same state as you received it).

Estate Agent fees are typically 5% with a minimum fee of 5,000 AED, this is non-refundable.

UTILITIES AND BILLS

The cost of utilities typically include the following:

  • DEWA (electricity and water)
  • TV and internet
  • Mobile and data plans
  • Air Conditioning (AC)

DEWA

Your DEWA bill includes charges for water, electricity, sewerage and housing fees. The housing fee is paid by the property owner but 5% applies to tenants. Your DEWA bill will be charged monthly, based on consumption.

DEWA charges a standard rate of 20 fils per unit for electricity, 3 fils per unit for water, and 0.5 fils per unit for sewerage.

The average cost of DEWA bills per month is:

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In addition to your monthly DEWA bill, you will need to pay a deposit and activation fee:

  • Apartment – 2,000 AED
  • Villa – 4,000 AED

Your deposit is transferable if you move to another property in Dubai (you will need to contact DEWA to change the address) and fully refundable if you relocate out of the country.

The activation fee is 130 AED which is a one-time fee that is non-refundable.

TV and Internet

There are two service providers available in the UAE; Du and Etisalat. Both of these providers have various packages to choose from depending on the usage, download speed and number of minutes you were looking for.

A basic package will include download speeds of 250 Mbps, 200+ TV channels and free calls to UAE landlines. Whilst premium packages will include download speeds of 500 Mbps, premium sports and entertainment channels.

  • Basic Internet and TV package – 399/month
  • Premium Internet and TV package – 1,099/per month

Mobile and data plans

There are 3 mobile phone providers to choose from; Virgin Mobile, Du and Etisalat. Du and Etisalat include Sim card + handset plans, whereas Virgin Mobile is a sim-based plan.

The prices will vary depending on the plan and handset you choose. For example, Du and Etisalat have options available that include the following:

  • Basic mobile plan (includes handset, 200 minutes and 2GB of data) – 250 AED/month
  • Premium mobile plan (includes handset, 500 local minutes, 200 international minutes and 5GB of data) – 500 AED/month

Virgin Mobile have monthly and yearly packages available and allow you to tailor your package based on the usage that you need. They also offer 50% off if you pay for a 1-year contract in advance which is a huge saving and can reduce the basic mobile plan mentioned above to less than 100 AED/month.

FOOD AND GROCERIES

There are several supermarket chains in Dubai to choose from and also specific stores that offer food from your home country. Your lifestyle and food preferences can greatly impact your monthly grocery bills. If you prefer to shop at premium retailers such as Spinney’s or Waitrose and purchase imported food you can expect a high grocery bill on a regular basis. However, it’s possible to have a lower grocery bill by shopping at affordable supermarkets such as Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket or Viva, purchasing local and in-season produce and keeping an eye out for bundle offers and discounts.

The average cost of grocery items:

  • Milk (1 litre) – 6.41 AED
  • Loaf of bread – 4.58 AED
  • White rice (1kg) – 7.35 AED
  • Eggs (6) – 5.25 AED
  • Chicken Breast (1kg) – 26.84 AED
  • Bananas (1kg) – 6.43 AED
  • Cheese (300g) – 33.71 AED
  • Oranges (1kg) – 5.97 AED
  • Tomatoes (1kg) – 5.09 AED
  • Potatoes (1kg) – 3.72 AED
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 5.72 AED

A useful website to use that will tell you the average cost of all food items in Dubai and compare it to any other location in the world is:

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Dubai

TRANSPORTATION AND FUEL

Petrol prices in the UAE are comparatively cheaper than in other parts of the world. The current prices per litre are:

  • E-Plus 91 – 3.48 AED
  • Special 95 3.55 AED
  • Super 98 3.66 AED
  • Diesel 4.08 AED

For those who want to use public transport, Dubai is connected by a network of public buses, taxis, ferries and the Dubai Metro. A monthly pass to use public transport that covers all the city zones costs around AED 350 and enables residents to get around easily.

Taxis are also a chosen mode of transport for a lot of residents. Taxi Fare for 1km is 2 AED and a 10-minute journey will cost you around 20 AED.

Car Ownership

Some residents choose to buy their own car, the price of which varies depending on the make, model and age. A useful website that is used by most residents to buy and sell new or second-hand cars is Dubizzle.

To give you an idea, the Toyota Corolla 2018 is the most commonly driven car in the UAE and fetches a price of AED 70,900. With a 20% deposit and a 5-year payback plan, this would cost you 1,750 AED per month.

In addition to the cost of the car you would also need to pay:

  • Comprehensive insurance – 3,000-4,000 AED/year
  • Cleaning, maintenance, and servicing costs – 950 AED/year
  • Annual inspection fees – 1,000 AED/year
  • Salik Registration – 100 AED/year

In addition to the fees above, there will also be one-time fees when buying a car which includes:

  • Transfer of ownership fee – 350 AED
  • Vehicle inspection test – 170 AED
  • Traffic file – 220 AED
  • Selling fee – 50 AED
  • Knowledge & innovation fee – 20 AED

HEALTHCARE AND INSURANCE

Dubai has one of the best public health care systems in the world, offering a high standard of medical care in state-of-the-art facilities. The Dubai health service is run by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), which oversees both public and private health care.

Health or medical insurance is mandatory for all residents in the UAE and will factor into your cost of living in Dubai. As per the UAE labour law, visa expenses must be paid by the employer. In some cases, companies will also pay for medical insurance for your family and dependents.

In the case that medical insurance is not offered for your family or you are on an investor or freelance visa, you will be required to purchase it yourself from one of the many medical insurance companies in Dubai. Insurance Market AE offers a price comparison for medical insurance depending on the coverage you need.

Medical insurance premiums will vary depending on the coverage, with Essential Benefits Plans starting from 600 AED per year. However, a comprehensive plan for an individual will cost on average around 5,000 AED per year. For a family of four, a comprehensive plan can cost between 15,000 – 20,000 AED.

Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has implemented new legislation whereby all residents (excluding locals) must have private medical insurance, which is usually purchased through their employers. While locals can be covered under the government-funded scheme.

SCHOOLING

Dubai has one of the best education systems in the world, with a range of public and private schools available (90% of education is provided in private schools). Some of which offer American, British, French or other curricula, such as the French Baccalaureate. Education is compulsory for all children from the age and 5-15.

If you have children, you will need to take into account school fees when calculating your cost of living in Dubai with your family. Parents have a choice of schools in Dubai for their children with British, American or Indian curricula being the most popular. Schooling fees can be quite expensive, especially when looking at the top schools in Dubai.

British and American schools typically have higher fees and the best schools can cost between 4,000 AED-9,500 AED per month, depending on the grade your child is in. Meanwhile, the tuition fees of Indian schools in Dubai are more affordable, with top schools such as GEMS Modern Academy costing AED 2,800 – AED 5,200 per month. But it’s important to bear in mind that the monthly expenses in Dubai for a family will increase when the uniforms, school transport, notebooks, exam fees, school trips and more are included in the calculation.

For a list of all the schools and prices by grade, click below:

https://www.edarabia.com/dubai-school-fees/

Public Schools

While ex-pat children are allowed to attend both public and private schools in the UAE, they must pay fees regardless of which type they select. Free government schooling is only available for Emirati nationals. For ex-pats interested in public schools, the annual tuition fee has been capped at 6,000 AED per year per child.

International / Private Schools

Dubai has over 200 private schools servicing around 300,000 Emirati and ex-pat students. Out of all the emirates, Dubai is the only one that has implemented annual tuition caps forbidding schools from increasing their rates at unreasonable amounts every year. On average, International school fees range between AED 13,630 and 21,400 AED per year (3,710–5,830 USD).

ENTERTAINMENT

Residents in Dubai will find that there are so many attractions and activities in the city to try. From fine-dining restaurants, cinemas, extreme sports and world-famous tourist attractions, there is never a boring weekend in Dubai. If you’re planning a move to the city and are wondering ‘what is the cost of living in Dubai like’, we recommend budgeting an amount for leisure activities on the weekends. And with food delivery apps such as Deliveroo, Talabat and Zomato on the rise, residents will tend to order in more frequently, adding to the expenses. If you order online frequently, it will add up to the average cost of food in Dubai.

Entertainment costs:

Cinema ticket – 40-50 AED per person

Gym membership – 300 AED per month

Meal in an affordable restaurant – 40 AED per person

Meal in a mid-range restaurant – 100 AED per person

Meal in a fine-dining restaurant – 300-500 AED per person

AVERAGE COST OF LIVING IN DUBAI FOR SINGLES

Lower:

  • Housing (Studio apartment in Deira) – 2,100 AED per month
  • Bills and utilities – 300 AED per month
  • Basic internet and phone package – 500 AED per month
  • Groceries – 400 AED per month
  • Transportation Pass – 350 AED per month

Total – 3,650 AED/month

Higher:

  • Housing (One Bedroom apartment in the Marina) – 6,600 AED per month
  • Bills and utilities – 800 AED per month
  • Premium internet and phone package – 1,500 AED per month
  • Groceries – 2,000 AED per month
  • Entertainment – 1,000 AED/month
  • Car and fuel – 2,500 AED/month

Total – 14,400 AED/month

AVERAGE COST OF LIVING IN DUBAI FOR A COUPLE

Lower:

  • Housing (One Bedroom apartment in Diera) – 2,500 AED per month
  • Bills and utilities – 500 AED per month
  • Basic internet and phone package – 500 AED per month
  • Groceries – 800 AED per month
  • Transportation Pass – 350 AED per month

Total – 4,650 AED/month

Higher:

  • Housing (One Bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina) – 6,600 AED per month
  • Bills and utilities – 1,200 AED per month
  • Premium internet and phone package – 1,500 AED per month
  • Groceries – 4,000 AED per month
  • Entertainment – 2,000 AED/month
  • Car and fuel – 3,000 AED/month

Total – 18,300 AED/month

AVERAGE COST OF LIVING IN DUBAI FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR

Lower:

  • Housing (Three Bedroom apartment in Diera) – 5,000 AED per month
  • Bills and utilities – 1,200 AED per month
  • Basic internet and phone package – 500 AED per month
  • Groceries – 1,600 AED per month
  • Car and fuel – 1,500 AED per month
  • Schooling for 2 children in a Public School – 1,000 AED per month
  • Entertainment – 500 AED per month

Total – 11,300 AED/month

Higher:

  • Housing (Three Bedroom Villa in Jumeriah Park) – 18,300 AED per month
  • Bills and utilities – 4,500 AED per month
  • Premium internet and phone package – 1,500 AED per month
  • Groceries – 6,000 AED per month
  • Car and fuel – 3,000 AED/month
  • Schooling for 2 children in a Private School – 15,000 AED per month
  • Entertainment – 3,000 AED/month

Total – 51,300 AED/month

While these are the basic costs that nearly all residents in Dubai will face, it’s important to note that there will be additional expenses, depending on your lifestyle. Many Dubai ex-pat residents take at least two or three vacations each year, whether it’s visiting their home countries or exploring new destinations. Parents will often choose to enrol their children in holiday camps during school breaks, or an after-school activity throughout the year, which will also add to the cost of living in Dubai for a family.

So how much does it really cost to live in Dubai? Dubai can be as expensive or inexpensive as you choose it to be, the choice is yours.

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