What Is the Average Cost of Living in Dubai?

Dubai has been experiencing massive economic growth over the past few decades. A major driver behind this expansion is the influx of expat workers drawn in by the city’s superior quality of life, promising career prospects, ease of settling in, and safety and security, among other reasons.

In fact, with Dubai’s 1% rise in population in the first quarter of 2023, the emirate’s expat community now constitutes 92% of the total residents.

If you’re one of those global citizens contemplating a move to this vibrant city, you likely have a few questions swirling around in your mind: “What are living expenses in Dubai like? How much do I need to earn to sustain a comfortable lifestyle and still be able to send money home to my family?”

In this article, we will address these concerns and give you an overview of the top factors influencing the average cost of living in Dubai.

Is Living in Dubai Expensive?

While living expenses in Dubai can certainly be higher compared to other UAE cities, it’s still significantly lower than other renowned expat hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, London or New York, according to Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey in 2023. 

To put this into perspective, let’s compare the average cost of living in Dubai to that in New York for a Pakistani worker earning AED 3,220 (or USD 876). Numbeo data shows that to maintain the same standard of living in New York, they would need to make $1,500.

Of course, personal lifestyle, spending habits and where they choose to live will factor into this estimation. Still, this means that this worker would most likely be able to afford a better quality of life and send money to Pakistan to their family more frequently, being based in Dubai.

What are the types of living expenses in Dubai?

The average cost of living in Dubai will likely depend on the following elements:

1. Housing

As far as living costs in Dubai go, housing is bound to take the lion’s share. However, the city does present its residents with a variety of accommodation options, from luxury villas to cozy apartments and studio flats to fit every budget.

The area where you choose to live will also have a significant impact on how much you spend on rent. For example, the yearly rent for a furnished studio apartment in Palm Jumeirah could reach as high as AED 200,000, while a similar apartment in an older district like Deira would only cost around AED 40,000.

2. Groceries

If you have a taste for imported foods, finer ingredients or prime cuts of meat, you can surely expect a bump in your grocery bill to go along with it. Besides that, fresh produce, poultry, and other household staples are generally more affordable in Dubai than in most major cities.

Here are the average prices of some everyday grocery items:

  • Milk (1 liter): AED 6.63
  • Eggs (12 pieces): AED 11
  • White rice (1 Kg): AED 5.39
  • Chicken fillet (1 Kg): AED 48.85

Additionally, shopping at bargain or wholesale stores like Carrefour, Spinneys and Lulu Hypermarket that frequently run promotions and discounts can help you reduce your grocery expenses and ultimately, your living costs in Dubai.

3. Transportation

Whether you rely on public transport or your car for commuting, your monthly expenses will vary based on how often and how long you travel. 

For public transportation, the city offers regular commuters several pass options that they can use for the Dubai Metro, tram, buses and even taxi rides. One example is Nol Card’s monthly silver pass, which costs AED 350 and includes all zones.

And if you own a car, the fuel prices in Dubai are relatively lower than in other parts of the world at AED 2.92 per liter.

4. Healthcare

Having health or medical insurance is a requirement for all UAE residents. As such, it will also factor into your living expenses in Dubai. If you are sponsored by your employer, they are obligated by law to provide you with medical insurance. Some companies also extend this coverage to your family members.

However, if for some reason you find yourself without health insurance, then you must apply for it with one of the many medical insurance companies in Dubai.

The cost of health insurance differs depending on several elements, such as the extent of coverage, the age of the insured person, the plan type, and any additional services.

Typically, standard medical insurance plans can range from AED 600 to AED 1,500 per year. However, if you opt for a more extensive plan with extended coverage and added benefits, the cost can go up considerably, starting from AED 1,500 to over AED 10,000 per year. 

Additionally, if you want to include your family members in the plan, the pricing will also vary based on the number of dependents and their required level of coverage.

5. Utilities

Another essential component of living expenses in Dubai is utilities. These include electricity, water, internet services and mobile plans.

In Dubai’s summer, which can get sweltering hot and humidity can rise to almost 90%, your DEWA bill will likely be higher because you’ll need your AC to run for longer hours. Such peak months will fall between May and September.  

For internet and mobile packages, the UAE’s most prominent service providers are Du and Etisalat, which offer various plans for different budgets. For example, a full home Wi-Fi Internet package from Etisalat would cost around AED 99 per month.

6. Schooling

If you’re a parent to a school-aged child, you must include their tuition when calculating your cost of living in Dubai.

Typically, expat parents send their children to one of the city’s many international schools because they follow their home country’s curriculums, be it British, American or Indian. Additionally, international schools boast small class sizes, better facilities and higher quality of education.

Nevertheless, schooling fees in Dubai can easily amount to tens of thousands annually. On average, international school fees range from AED 35,000 to AED 120,000 per year. This also doesn’t always include additional expenses such as transportation, school uniforms and books.

Al Ansari Exchange for Money Transfers 

If you plan to put down roots in Dubai, you’ll need a convenient, straightforward and safe way to send money online to your loved ones back home. Al Ansari Exchange is here to help.

With 24/7 available money transfers, multiple payment options, the best exchange rates in the market and an extensive network of over 250 branches across the UAE, Al Ansari Exchange is the go-to choice for all your transfer needs.

But that’s not all! Al Ansari Exchange also offers a wide range of value-added services to make your life easier. These services include Credit Card Payments, Bill Payments, Airline Ticket Payments, International Mobile Top-up and even Investment & Saving Schemes.

Al Ansari Exchange also offers a suite of corporate solutions, including VAT collection facilities, corporate remittance, payment channel and payroll solutions and many more.

With so many valuable services to offer, Al Ansari Exchange is your one-stop shop for all your financial needs.

Download the Al Ansari Exchange mobile app today and experience the convenience of international money transfers like never before. 

Skip to toolbar