Cost of Living in Dubai: Housing, Transportation and Food (UPDATED FOR 2019)


Cost of Living in Dubai: Housing, Transportation and Food

If you plan to live and work in the UAE, one of your priorities will be to ask yourself what is the cost of living in Dubai and which salary you will have to earn to live well in Dubai.

This information is critical even before looking for a job. Unlike many countries, there is no minimum wage in Dubai. What you will earn as a salary in Dubai depends largely on your negotiation skills.

The estimate of your salary will be one of the questions your interviewer will ask you. Make sure you  give an average amount in dirhams (AED), and determine under what salary it isn’t worth coming to live in Dubai. This will avoid many disappointments!

While the amount needed involves a lot of other factors, such as if you are alone or with family or if you like eating out and going to the numerous Dubai brunches, the cost of living in Dubai depends mostly on three things: housing costs, transportation costs and food and beverages spendings.

If you have kids, don’t forget to factor in school fees. These can be taken care of by your employer and it’s strongly advised to negotiate them in your salary package as school fees can be extremely expensive in Dubai.

Cost of Living in Dubai: Housing, Transportation and Food

Cost of Living in Dubai: Housing, Transportation and Food

What to consider in the cost of living in Dubai

The cost of living in Dubai will depend on three main factors.

1. Rent in Dubai

This may be the biggest expense that you need to consider. The market of real estate fluctuates a lot in Dubai, and rents are very expensive. As Dubai growth has been exponential the last few years, rent prices have been increased significantly as well.

Here are the estimated costs in October 2018:

  • 1 Bedroom apartment in JLT: between AED 80,000 and AED 105,000

  • Studio in Marina: between AED 70,000 and AED 80,000

  • 2 Bedroom apartment in Downtown Dubai: between AED 130,000 and AED 160,000

  • The villa has 3 bedrooms Jumeirah 3: Between AED 200,000 and AED 300,000

Dubizzle  and PropertyFinder are examples of popular site used to find an apartment in Dubai. In addition, using AirBnB when you first arrive is a great way to find some cheaper options while you settle in. 

2. Transportation in Dubai

You have many options to choose from as to your mode of transport in Dubai (apart  from walking!)

Transportation in Dubai: Getting a car

First, determine if you need a car. Unless you need one for work purpose or live far away from your workplace, try and wait for a couple months until you are settled to buy your first car in Dubai.

If you have a family or if the car is required for your job, you can rent a car for the first few months to adapt to Dubai roads and driving habits.

Note that if you need a car as part of your work, it will normally be provided by your employer, so don’t hesitate to include it in your package if you need to attend a lot of meetings for example.

Petrol prices in Dubai are pretty cheap in Dubai: count AED1.73 for Super 98 and AED 1.76 for Diesel as of August 1st 2016.


Transportation in Dubai: Dubai taxi

Taxis are widespread in Dubai and cheap. They are available 24/7 and present everywhere.

You can call or simply hail them on the street.

The taxi fares in Dubai are cheap. As from August 14th, 2016, 5 miles will set you back 26.09 AED, and as an example going to Dubai airport from Dubai Marina will cost you about AED100 .

Transportation in Dubai: Metro / Bus / Tram

There is a metro card / tram / bus called NOL Card, rechargeable, allowing you to take public transportation for cheap.

A metro area will cost AED 3, and you can cover a large distance in a zone.

3. Cost of Food in Dubai

You food spending in Dubai can fluctuate greatly depending on your needs. If you cook and eat at home most of the time, the food budget will be way lower than if you decide to eat out and go for drinks on the weekend.

But be careful if you buy pork (not available in Carrefour or Géant!), cheese, alcohol or other imported goods which are rather expensive (AED 30 for 12 strips of bacon!).

To buy food in Dubai,  you will find French chains (Carrefour, Géant) and English (Waitrose, Spinneys, Marks and Spencer) and loads of small local grocery shops in residential buildings which is very convenient.

You can also order food from the grocery shop at pretty much any time and for anything, even a pack of water and a bag of ice!

Pretty much all restaurants and fast food joints deliver all over Dubai and you can order food sometimes 24/7.

However, eating out is another story. Restaurants in Dubai are known to be of quality, but also quite expensive.

There are two types of restaurants: local restaurants, situated more towards Old Dubai, which are cheap and plentiful and don’t serve alcohol, and the licensed restaurants situated inside of 5 stars hotels in Downtown and Dubai Marina, which can be much more expensive.

Here are the parameters to take into account when you make your budget to live comfortably in Dubai. Remember to take in account a few extras (going out, shopping etc) and you get an estimate of what salary you need to live in Dubai.

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Cost of Living in Dubai: Housing, Transportation and Food

Cost of Living in Dubai: Housing, Transportation and Food