Dubai Vs. U.S

Budget Battle: Which Is Cheaper, Dubai or the U.S.?

Did you know that Dubai has a 24-karat gold vending machine? This ATM dispenses gold bars in various denominations! 

While Dubai is golden in many ways, it’s generally cheaper to live here than in the U.S., except for some drinks, internet, and utilities. Still, the overall cost of living depends on many factors, including your needs, preferences, and goals.

How did we figure this out? Let’s look at the City of Gold and the Land of Dreams in terms of housing, transportation, food, healthcare, leisure, education, and more.

Cost of Living in Dubai vs the U.S.

Cost of Living in Dubai vs the U.S.
Image source: International Citizenz Group

Living in Dubai is typically less expensive than in the U.S. On average, it costs around $1,975 per month in Dubai, compared to $2,317 in the U.S.
To break it down, living in Dubai is about 17.34% cheaper than in the U.S., especially in housing, food, transportation, and entertainment costs.

For easy reference, we broke down the specific costs associated with living in Dubai and the U.S. Take a look at the table below with data from

1 bedroom apartment in Downtown, 40 m2 or 430 ft2$1585$3421
Affordable bedroom apartment, 40 m2 or 430 ft2$924$2276
Three-bedroom apartment in Downtown, 80 m2 or 860 ft2$3280$4849
Affordable three bedroom apartment, 80 m2 or 860 ft2$2111$4025
Utility bills for 1 person$128$103
Utility Bill for 1 family$195$162
Internet plan, 50 Mbps+, 1 month unlimited$90.6$70.1
Mortgage Interest Rate for 20 Years4.52%6.76%
Local transport ticket$2$2.94
Monthly ticket local transport$81.6$131
Taxi Ride, 8 km or 5 mi$11.2$25.1
Gas / Petrol, 1 L$0.88$1.09
Milk, 1 L or 1 qt$1.8$1.36
Bread, 0.5 kg or 1.1 lb$1.37$4.19
Rice, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$1.77$6.57
Eggs, x12$3.37$5.38
Cheese, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$14$16.6
Chicken Breast, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$8.48$16.3
Round Steak, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$10.5$20.4
Apples, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$2.2$5.74
Banana, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$1.83$2.16
Oranges, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$1.82$5.89
Tomato, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$1.39$6.12
Potato, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$0.97$3.82
Onion, 1 kg or 2.2 lb$0.86$3.75
Water, 1 L or 1 qt$0.39$1.58
Hair Shampoo$5.91$7
Toothpaste, 1 tube$3.57$2.33

As you can see, living it up in Dubai won’t drain your bank account like it would in the good ol’ U.S. of A. If you want to keep the same vibes in the U.S., you’d likely need to pull in a higher income—just a heads-up.

Of course, it’s not just all about the cash flow. There’s a whole list of factors playing in the background, such as quality of life, the vibe, the weather, safety, and the opportunities that each city throws your way. 

Before you go all-in on either side, it’s best to dive into the nitty-gritty. Because at the end of the day, it’s more than just dollars and cents—it’s about the whole package!

Real Estate Prices in Dubai vs the U.S.

Real Estate Prices in Dubai vs the U.S
Image source: Gulf News

Dubai’s real estate is a bargain compared to the United States.
Based on Deloitte’s Dubai Real Estate Predictions, residential property prices in Dubai are about 16.6% cheaper than in the U.S.

You won’t believe how much of a big deal real estate is for housing budgets in both Dubai and the U.S.

Over in Dubai, factors like the type of accommodation and where it’s at can totally swing the costs, especially in the prime areas. Expats can choose from apartments, villas, or townhouses. 

And then there’s the U.S., where the housing market is like a real estate buffet, ranging from urban pads to suburban homes. The prices also depend on the location, size, and how many people are eyeing the place.

Check out this simple table comparing real estate prices in Dubai and the U.S. We got the info from various sources, like Property Finder and Cushman & Wakefield:

FeatureDubaiUnited States
Median house price (2023)AED 1,100,000 ($298,470)$428,700
Price per square meter (city center)AED 2,386.76 ($651.45)$4,390.90 ($1,193.83)
Price per square meter (outside city center)AED 1,790.02 ($489.29)$2,983.13 ($816.34)
Rental yield (city center)5-7%2-3%

As shown above, it’s clear that real estate tends to be on the pricier side in the good ol’ United States compared to Dubai. 

But here’s a twist: rental yields are often higher in Dubai, which makes it a sweet deal for savvy investors. It’s like getting a little extra bang for your buck in a desert city!

Transportation Costs in Dubai vs. the U.S.

Getting around in Dubai won’t break the bank as much as it does in the United States.
My Life Elsewhere notes that in 2023, Dubai’s transportation costs will be around 2.4% cheaper than in the US. However, this difference can vary based on travel type, distance, and currency exchange rates.

In Dubai, there’s a well-developed system with taxis, buses, and a metro. The metro system, for instance, is known for its punctuality and cleanliness, offering comfy rides. It’s like a well-oiled machine, connecting different parts of the city seamlessly!

But in the U.S., the transportation scene is like a mixed bag, varying from state to state and city to city. Big cities usually have solid public transportation, but head out to the countryside, and you’re looking at more reliance on private wheels.

Comparing transportation costs is like peeling back the layers of overall affordability in each spot. Need the deets? Here’s a breakdown of the average transportation costs in Dubai and the U.S.:

Transportation CostDubaiUnited States
One-way ticket (local transport)$1.91$2.50
Monthly pass (regular price)$81.68$69.57
Taxi start (normal tariff)$3.27$3.50
Taxi 1 km (normal tariff)$0.85$1.68
Gasoline (per gallon)$2.70$3.30

Healthcare Expenses in Dubai vs. the U.S.

Healthcare Expenses in Dubai vs. the U.S
Image source: Pacific Prime

Primary healthcare costs are significantly lighter on the wallet in Dubai than in the US. 
The World Health Organization says that, on average, Dubai’s healthcare is around 35.0% cheaper than in the United States.

When you’re plotting that big move to either location, don’t forget to put healthcare under the microscope. Dubai’s healthcare game is strong, boasting a modern system with top-notch pros and insurance plans that cover expats from head to toe.

Knowing the ins and outs of healthcare costs in Dubai is like having the secret code for anyone thinking of making it their home sweet home.

Now, in the U.S., we’ve all heard the stories. Advanced tech, specialized care, but oh boy, the bills. Costs play musical chairs based on things like insurance, treatments, and the price tags on those little pills.

So, let’s dive into the financial side of things to compare how basic healthcare expenses stack up in Dubai and the United States:

ExpenseDubaiUnited States
General doctor’s visitAED 500 (US$136)US$150-300
Specialist doctor’s visitAED 700-1,000 (US$190-272)US$250-500
Dental checkup and cleaningAED 300-500 (US$82-136)US$150-300
X-rayAED 200-300 (US$54-82)US$75-200
UltrasoundAED 500-700 (US$136-190)US$100-400
MRIAED 1,500-2,000 (US$410-544)US$500-3,000
Hospitalization (per day)AED 2,000-5,000 (US$544-1,361)US$1,000-5,000
Prescription medication (per month)AED 50-200 (US$14-54)US$50-300

As you can see, healthcare in Dubai is about half the cost of healthcare in the U.S. The UAE has a good government-funded healthcare system that swoops in to subsidize care for both Emiratis and expatriates.

In addition, the private healthcare sector in Dubai is like a bustling marketplace, with competition doing a tap dance to keep prices from skyrocketing. 

Entertainment and Leisure Costs in Dubai vs the U.S.

Entertainment and Leisure Costs in Dubai vs the U.S
Image source: The Inscriber Magazine

When it comes to entertainment and leisure, the costs in the U.S. are slightly cheaper, giving Dubai a run for its money.
The average price difference for these activities between Dubai and the U.S. is like 206.94%, so it’s a tad cheaper to have a good time in the States.

Living the good life involves a healthy dose of entertainment and leisure, and Dubai sure knows how to throw a party! Cultural events, shopping sprees, and a plethora of recreational activities—they’ve got it all, catering to every taste.

Likewise, the U.S. provides a rich array of entertainment, from museums and theaters to outdoor activities. But here’s the thing: the cost of these joyous pursuits can do a little dance, changing based on where you’re at and what floats your boat.

Here’s a side-by-side breakdown of the average entertainment and leisure costs in Dubai and the good ol’ U.S. of A.:

ActivityAverage Cost in Dubai (AED)Average Cost in U.S. (USD)
Movie ticket35 ($9.53)$12
Concert ticket200 ($54.45)$75
Theme park ticket250 ($68.06)$90
Dinner at a casual restaurant75 ($20.42)$25
Dinner at a fine dining restaurant500 ($136.13)$150
Nightclub entry100 ($27.23)$25
Drink at a bar40 ($10.89)$10
Taxi ride (3 miles)20 ($5.45)$10
Daily pass to public transportation20 ($5.45)$5
Monthly pass to public transportation200 ($5.45)$100

Based on this table, Dubai tends to have a bit of a higher price tag compared to the United States. Dubai is like the superstar of luxury tourist destinations, and that comes with a certain lifestyle price tag. 

Imported goods and services play their part too, and there’s this limited competition dance happening that can nudge those expenses a bit higher. 

Plus, government policies can influence the expenses for these activities in both countries.

Education Expenses in Dubai vs the U.S.

Education Expenses in Dubai vs the U.S
Image source: The National

In Dubai, education costs are usually more affordable than in the U.S.
We’re talking about a slight difference in public school fees, where the U.S. takes the lead by about 9.83%. But when it comes to private schools, the difference is a whopping 58.35%, with the U.S. in the lead.

If you’re thinking about family life or hitting the books yourself, understanding education costs is like getting the code you need to plan your financial playbook.

When it comes to schools, Dubai has a mix of public and private options, each with unique perks and costs. Public schools are generally more accessible in the U.S., with costs varying by state and district. 

Meanwhile, both Dubai and the U.S. offer private schools with top-notch facilities and smaller class sizes, but they often come with a higher price tag.

Let’s see how education expenses in Dubai compare against those in the U.S:


Average annual tuition for kindergarten to grade 12AED 15,000 to AED 40,000 ($4,085 to $10,929)Free
Additional feesSome Dubai public schools have extra charges for uniforms, transportation, and extracurricular activities.Extra fees for extracurriculars are standard in the U.S.
Quality of educationPublic schools in Dubai are generally of high quality.Public school quality in the U.S. varies significantly between states and school districts.


Average annual tuition for kindergarten to grade 12AED 25,000 to AED 100,000 ($6,813 to $27,253)$13,570 to $50,000
Additional feesPrivate schools in Dubai often have extra charges for uniforms, transportation, and extracurricular activities.In U.S. private schools, it’s common to have additional fees for uniforms, transportation, and extracurricular activities.
Quality of educationPrivate schools in Dubai are generally considered to be of very high quality.Private schools in the U.S. vary in quality. Still, some of the best schools in the world are located in the U.S.


Average annual tuition for undergraduate studentsAED 30,000 to AED 100,000 ($8,170 to $27,253)$10,740 to $55,800
Additional feesUniversities in Dubai typically charge additional fees for books, accommodation, and other expenses.Additional prices for books, accommodations, and other expenses are standard in universities in the U.S.
Quality of educationDubai’s universities are gaining a solid reputation, with some of the world’s best now situated in the city.The U.S. has many top universities, including Harvard University, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Dubai vs. the U.S: How They Stack Up

People usually think Dubai is pricier than the U.S., but taking a closer look at each cost factor gives a more detailed picture of how they measure up in terms of affordability. 

This varies for everyone, especially for their short-term and long-term financial plans. So, make sure to consider the financial impact when you add up expenses like housing, transportation, food, healthcare, entertainment, and education.

To wrap it all up in a neat bow, here are our recommendations based on the factors we’ve been talking about:

FactorsThe Cheaper CityWhy
Cost of LivingDubaiOn average, it costs around $1,975 per month in Dubai, while in the U.S., you’re looking at about $2,317.
Real estate pricesDubaiThe average price of residential property in Dubai is estimated to be 16.6% cheaper than what you’d find in the U.S. 
TransportationDubaiWhen it comes to getting around, Dubai’s transportation costs are actually about 2.4% cheaper than in the U.S. 
HealthcareDubaiHealthcare expenses in Dubai are, on average, around 35% cheaper than in the U.S. 
Entertainment and LeisureU.S.When it comes to having a good time, such as going out for entertainment and leisure, Dubai can be a bit pricier. 
The average percentage difference is a whopping 206.94%, or twice as much!
EducationDubaiPublic school fees in the U.S. are a bit higher, about 9.83% more than in Dubai. 
But here’s where it gets interesting—private school fees in the U.S. are a whole 58.35% higher than in Dubai.