The Cost of Living in Dubai

The Cost of Living in Dubai

A lot of people dream of living in Dubai, and it’s easy to know why.

When you’re in a city where every detail is well-planned and designed to offer the best quality of life, you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.

This is exactly why Dubai’s population is made up mostly of expats who found home in one of the best cities in the world.

But living in Dubai doesn’t come cheap, so, if you’re planning to move to the city soon, it’s best to know the cost of living in Dubai first.

The Average Cost of Living in Dubai

The Average Cost of Living in Dubai
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Dubai ranked 31st in Mercer’s 2022 Cost of Living City Ranking, which means that it’s cheaper to live here than other major cities like Hong Kong and New York.

But Dubai is also the most expensive city for expatriates in the Gulf, so you can expect the cost of living here to be more expensive than its neighboring cities.

The average monthly cost of living in Dubai for a single person without rent is $946.88, according to Numbeo

This number is lower as compared to  the same monthly cost of living in Hong Kong at $1,049.27 and New York at $1,364.87.

A family of four, on the other hand, is expected to spend on average $3,255.83 per month in Dubai without rent.

How much you spend in Dubai will also depend on your lifestyle and preferences. So let’s take a look at the factors that affect your expenses.

What factors affect living costs in Dubai?

The cost of living in Dubai will depend on these factors:


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Renting an apartment or house doesn’t come cheap in Dubai. In fact, it will take up the biggest chunk of your cost of living.

The cost of housing in Dubai will depend on factors such as the location, the size of the property and the amenities that’s available for residents.

You also have the option to buy property in Dubai if you’re planning to move permanently to the city. 

In this table, we compare annual rental costs and sales prices for different types of housing options in the city:

Studio Apartment2-Bedroom Apartment4-Bedroom Villa
Average Annual Rent$8,169 - $13,614$13,613 - $27,227$54,454 - $72,152
Average Sales Price$129,329 - $211,010$330,810 - $381,180$1,361,359 - $1,715,312

Location is also a huge factor in the rental and sales prices in Dubai. 

For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center would cost you $1,399 while the same apartment outside the city center would only cost $893.

Here are the most expensive and most affordable areas in Dubai to rent:

Most Expensive AreasMost Affordable Areas
Al Barari$260,346Serena$29,949
Emirates Hills$247,222Town Square$29,677
Green Community (Dubai Investment Park)$102,101International City$24,232
The Meadows$88,624DAMAC Hills 2$16,064
Palm Jumeirah$70,390Dubai Production City$10,074
Pearl Jumeirah$68,067Al Warsan$9,801
Downtown Dubai$59,583Dubai South$9,257
Bluewaters Island$49,008Liwan$8,984
City Walk$40,840International City$8,712


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Basic utilities in Dubai include electricity, water, cooling, heating and garbage. You also have your internet and phone plan, which needs to be included in your monthly budget.

Your electricity and water will be provided by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and your monthly bill will depend on your usage.

Temperatures in Dubai can get extremely hot during the summer, so this could crank up your electricity bill due to air conditioning usage. 

On the other hand, your water bill will be higher if you live in a house with a garden and swimming pool as compared to renting an apartment.

You will be charged a $272 connection fee to set up your utilities at home. The average monthly cost of basic utilities in Dubai is $199 for an 85 square meter apartment.

You’ll also need internet and mobile phone plans, the cost of which will depend on the package that you choose:

Internet and TV Plan (Provided by Etisalat and du)Basic Plan: $105 per month

250 mbps download speed, 200+ TV channels and free calls to UAE landlines

Premium Plan: $144 per month

500 mbps download speed, premium entertainment and sports channels

Mobile Postpaid PlanBasic Plan: $34 per month

Premium Plan: $136 per month

Local prepaid mobile calls also cost $0.16 per minute without a mobile plan. 


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Since the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Dubai is an emirate is one of the top producers of petrol, transportation costs are lower than other cities.

Dubai is well connected by different forms of public transportation including the Dubai Metro, buses, taxis and ferries. 

Of course, you have the option to invest in a car where you can expect to pay between $4628 and $81681 for a second-hand car.

Your monthly cost for transportation will depend on how often you commute or what form of transportation you’re using.

Nol Card$95 per month

- You can use this to pay for the Dubai Metro, buses, ferries and some taxis.

Bus$1.36 for a single bus ride
Taxi$0.68 per kilometer
Petrol$0.93 per liter

You also have the option to book rideshares like Careem and Uber, although they’re more expensive than your regular taxi.

Some neighborhoods in Dubai like Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) also have e-scooters for rent from operators like Tier, Lime and Skurrt.

A lot of young professionals use these e-scooters to get around the place at a cheaper price.


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Food is another basic expense that you should consider as part of your cost of living in Dubai. Fortunately, most grocery items are cheaper in Dubai than other major cities.

A family of four will spend on average $599 on groceries per month, but that cost will vary depending on where you shop and what types of products you buy.

Dubai has a wide range of supermarket chains including international brands like Spinneys, Carrefour and Waitrose that sell local and imported goods.

You can also visit local markets, especially for meats and fresh produce because they tend to be cheaper than supermarkets. 

Here are some of the prices of staple food items on your grocery shopping list: 

Meat, Dairy and Fresh ProduceBasic Grocery Items
Milk$1.88 per literWhite Rice$2.03 per kilogram
Eggs$3.16 per dozenWhite Bread$1.49 per loaf
Beef Round$10.86 per kilogramPita Bread$0.48 per pack
Chicken Fillet$8.75 per kilogramWater$0.60 per 1.5 liter
Fresh Fish$10.90 per kilogramToothpaste$5.40 per 75 ml.
Apples$2.25 per kilogram
Onion$0.95 per kilogram
Potato$1.11 per kilogram

You can also dine out at one of the many fast food chains and restaurants in Dubai

A combo meal at McDonald’s or any other fast food chain costs $8.17 while a three-course meal for two at a mid-priced restaurant costs $81.68.


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If you’re moving to Dubai with your family, it’s very important to know how much it will cost to send your children to school here.

There are public and private schools in Dubai, both of which accept expatriate students. 

However, public schools in Dubai teach exclusively in Arabic and only use English as a second language. 

Fortunately, there are several private schools in Dubai that offer international curriculum, so it’s easier for your children to adapt to their new environment. 

In this table, we look at the average annual fees of public and private schools in Dubai:

Public Schools$952 - $3,403
British International Schools$4,756 - $22,468
American International Schools$4,405 - $23,486
Indian International Schools$2,791 - $8,275

We’ll also look into the tuition fees of the top international schools in the city:

GEMS World Academy (International Baccalaureate System)$2,577 per month
GEMS Dubai American Academy (American Curriculum)$2,348 per month
GEMS Wellington International School (British Curriculum)$1,506 per month
Dubai International Academy - Emirates Hills (International Baccalaureate System)$1,438 per month
GEMS Modern Academy (Indian Curriculum)$1212 per month
Mirdif American School (American Curriculum)$842 per month
The Millennium School (Indian Curriculum)$608 per month
The Winchester School (British Curriculum)$501 per month


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Healthcare is mandatory for expatriates in Dubai, based on new legislation from the Dubai Health Authority.

Since only locals are covered by the government, expats need private health insurance to cover for health expenses. 

If you’re employed in Dubai, your employer will usually apply for your health insurance while other companies provide for family members too.

But if you’re an entrepreneur or investor, you need to purchase your own medical insurance from one of the top health insurance companies in the city.

You should also apply for a health card at 50% off if you’re an expat. The one-time fees include:

Expatriate Fee$32.67 (up to 10 years)

$87.12 (from 18 and above)

Nationals Fee$6.81 (up to 10 years)

$32.67 (from 18 and above)

You can choose from different insurance plans based on your needs and budget. Here are the average annual cost of health insurance based on your plan:

Essentials Benefit Health Plan$163 per person
Basic Health Insurance Plan$217 per person
Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan$1,497 per person
Premium Health Insurance Plan$4,084 per person

An Essentials Benefit Health Plan (EBP) was created in 2014 especially for low-income or unemployed residents in Dubai to enjoy health insurance coverage. 

The premium for this health insurance cover will depend on your job, age and gender:

Non-Working Married Women

(18-45 years old)

$435 per year
Elderly Parents$680 per year

(0-65 years old)

$176 per year
Employees$197 per year
Domestic Help$176 per year

Although health insurance can take up a huge chunk of your cost of living in Dubai, it will help you cut down on expenses during hospitalizations and get access to the best healthcare in the Middle East

Understanding the Cost of Living in Dubai

Living in Dubai can be pricey or cheap depending on your lifestyle. You should also know where to splurge or compromise based on the quality of life that you want to enjoy.

For instance, some expats don’t mind living outside the city center where rental is cheaper, but they also invest in a car that will allow them to go around easily.

Other expatriates want to be in the city center but choose a studio flat over a two-bedroom apartment since it will help them cut down on rent. 

In the end, the choice to spend more or less for your cost of living in Dubai is entirely up to you.