A recently released ranking of the best cities in the world placed Dubai respectably at number 5. Beating out Tokyo, Singapore, Los Angeles, and many other world-class cities, Dubai’s reinvention in the 2010s seems to have panned out for the UAE city.
There are a lot of compelling reasons to make Dubai your new home. It is a truly international city with more than 70% of its young professional population born abroad.
If you’re looking for a place to live that offers amazing career and lifestyle opportunities while also boasting good weather, Dubai might be worth looking into.
One essential factor to research before packing your bags, though, is the cost of living in Dubai. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to help you determine whether or not this UAE city will be your next vacation destination if not your new home.
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What Is the Cost of Living in Dubai?
Dubai ranks as the 23rd most expensive city in the world to live in according to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey in 2020. This ranking includes rental accommodation costs.
This means that Dubai is less expensive than major urban centers such as Tokyo, Zurich, Singapore, NYC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London.
In Dubai, the average monthly cost for a single person not including rent is AED 3,443.97 (USD 937.70). In London, the average monthly cost for a single person not including rent is USD 1,349.65, and in NYC the cost is USD 1,348.65.
According to Numbeo, the monthly cost of living in Dubai for a family of four is about AED 11,763.75 (USD 3,202.59) without including rent.
When considering the cost of living of a city, there are a number of different factors to take into account. Living expenses include housing, clothing, food, transportation, healthcare, and more. Money that people spend on entertainment or recreation is not factored into the cost of living in a city.
Cost of living can be a hard metric to understand because there are so many different moving factors. One city might have very low rent costs but high taxes, and another might have very affordable transportation while simultaneously sporting high food prices.
As a comparison, Dubai is considered to be nearly 37% less expensive than New York City. The rent prices in Dubai are about 56% lower than the rent prices in NYC. New York City ranks at number 6 in the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey.
Are you wondering how the cost of living in Dubai compares to that of Washington D.C.? Take a look at this article for info about average utility costs in the U.S. capital.
Moving to Dubai: UAE Is More Affordable in 2021
The pandemic has affected basically every corner of the globe, and Dubai was no exception. The city has become noticeably more affordable in 2021 due to a consistent decline in property prices, rent, and the cost of a number of vital expenses.
According to the global data service provider Numbeo, the UAE as a nation dropped from 32nd place to 37th place in the Cost of Living Index 2021 since 2020.
Data from Nubeo suggests that a single person’s cost of living in Dubai decreased by more than 89% in 2021 when compared with 2020. For a family of four, the cost of living decreased by more than 32% since 2020.
Currency in Dubai
The Dirham is the official currency in Dubai as well as the United Arab Emirates. On currency exchanges, you’ll find this abbreviated as AED (Arab Emirate Dirham).
If you are planning on moving to Dubai, you’ll want to learn the ins and outs of this currency. It is also abbreviated as Dhs or DH. This currency has been in use since 1973 and is divided into 100 fils.
Expenses of Living in Dubai
As discussed above, cost of living is a metric that involves a lot of different variables. Let’s take a look at the specific areas of your budget and how living in Dubai might impact them.
Housing and Utilities
Where you choose to live in Dubai will influence how much money you spend each month on housing. Living in the downtown of Dubai will cost you more than choosing to live outside of it, for example.
A one-bedroom apartment downtown costs, on average, AED 5,528.59 (USD 1,505.28). A three-bedroom apartment downtown costs AED 10,799.55 (USD 2,940.41). The costs of a one-bedroom and three-bedroom apartment outside of downside are, respectively, AED 3,687.32 (USD 1,003.95) and AED 7,490.97 (USD 2,039.58).
(Are you wondering how much it costs to run an apartment complex? If so, check out this article to learn more.)
Healthcare and Insurance
Legislation has recently been implemented by the Dubai Health Authority that requires all residents to have medical insurance. This includes expats.
People who are local to Dubai can get insured through the government program, but expats need to find private health insurance. Depending on your employment situation, you might find that you are insured through your employer. If you aren’t, you will have to purchase private medical insurance.
Dubai is known to have high standards when it comes to healthcare.
Locals in Dubai can go to medical public facilities for free. Expats can choose to purchase a health card in order to receive a 50% discount on services at medical public facilities. The fee for these health cards are:
- Nationals fee up to 10 years: AED 120 (USD 6.81)
- Nationals fee from 18 and above: AED 120 (USD 32.67)
- Expat fee up to 10 years: AED 120 (USD 32.67)
- Expat fee from 18 and above: AED 320 (USD 87.12)
These are one-time fees that must be paid in order to get a health card. When health cards expired, they need to be reissued.
It is common for expats to have private health insurance and utilize private health facilities. This is because much of the medical staff in these facilities are foreign and speak English, making communication much simpler.
Emirati nationals receive free government schooling in public schools. For expats, however, there is a fee for attending either public or private school. If you are interested in moving to Dubai and you have school-aged children, the cap for the annual tuition in public schools is AED 6,000 (USD 1,635) per year.
If you are interested in sending your kids to private school, you’ll have plenty of options in Dubai. Servicing roughly 300,000 Emirati and expat students, there are more than 200 private schools in the city. There are annual tuition caps in Dubai, which prevent schools from raising the tuition rates unreasonably each school year.
The average tuition for international schools in Dubai ranges from AED 12,723-64,093 each year (USD 3,463.74-17,446.32).
When it comes to higher education, you can find colleges and universities that cater to both expats and Emirati students. It’s important to note that Arabic is the language used in Dubai’s public universities and English is primarily used in most private universities.
No matter where you are going to college, you’ll be required to take classes in Arabic as a part of your language development. The average cost of an undergraduate degree in Dubai is AED 173,400 (USD 47,209) while the average cost for a graduate degree is AED 54,800-82,200 (USD 14,919-22,379).
It is cheap to operate a car in Dubai due to cheap fuel prices, and you’ll likely find that driving is the best way to get around the city. That being said, traffic can be quite congested in Dubai during peak hours. Depending on where you are traveling and when, you might find that public transportation is a better option.
The cost of gas in Dubai is relatively stable around AED 1.79 per liter (USD .49 per liter). This is compared to the average worldwide of AED 4.33 per liter.
The average cost of traveling by taxi is AED 2.44 (USD 0.66) per km traveled. To purchase a single bus ticket costs AED 5 (USE 1.4). You can also purchase a monthly pass for the buses, which costs AED 300 (USD 81.67).
Best Places in Dubai to Live
Dubai is a city that covers 1,588 square miles and is home to 3.33 million people. You’ll have lots of different options when it comes to where you end up living, particularly now that rents and property values are lower than they had been.
Some of the most popular neighborhoods in Dubai are:
- Jumeira and Umm Suqeim
- Dubai Marina/Marsa Dubai
- Barsha Heights/Al Barsha
If you are seriously considering moving to Dubai, you will want to visit first and spend some time exploring different neighborhoods. If this isn’t possible, then renting a Dubai apartment before buying property can be a good way to get to know the area.
Are You Thinking About Moving to Dubai?
Dubai is a popular destination for people around the world because of its strong economy, nice weather, excellent lifestyle opportunities, and so much more. While the cost of living in Dubai is high compared to many other cities, it’s still quite a bit more affordable than other major metro areas such as NYC and Hong Kong.
Are you looking for more useful information to help you in your search for a new apartment or home? Check out our library of resources here.