Dubai’s Price Tag – Unveiling the Cost of Living


Dubai is beckoning people from all over the globe with the allure of its contemporary lifestyle, awe-inspiring architecture, thriving nightlife, and extravagant shopping malls. Whether for better job prospects, tourism, or business, people flock to this Arabian jewel like a moth to a flame. An ex-pat population of approximately 85% proudly calls this Emirati gem their home, thanks to the safe and secure environment it offers the residents. 

Nonetheless, Dubai is also known for its expensive standard of living as compared to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and other prominent cities in the Middle East. While people happily apply for a Dubai visa, reality kicks in only once they move to the city and get a taste of the lavish lifestyle. But don’t fret, as it is very feasible to live a comfortable lifestyle in the city without burning a hole in your pocket. This guide provides a fair idea of managing your monthly budget in the city of gold. 

About the Cost of Living in Dubai

cost of living Dubai

Before we dive right into the breakdown of each expense constituting the cost of living, let’s know a little about the local currency. The official currency of the UAE is the dirham denoted, as AED or Dhs. One AED is equal to approximately 0.27 USD and 0.26 Euro. 

But the one unique feature about Dubai or the UAE is that the average monthly salary of an individual is higher than that of its western counterparts, and the UAE is also a tax-free country. It means that whatever income an individual makes in a month is completely available for them to spend. 

Overview of the typical monthly expenses in a household

In order to understand the different expenses in a month, we have broken them down into different categories. 

Housing, Rental & Utilities

The housing, rental, and utilities costs in Dubai will significantly vary depending on the area where you are residing. The costs will be higher in the city center and comparatively less in the outskirts.

The expat communities are mostly concentrated around Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), and Dubai’s Old Town due to its easy accessibility and modern amenities. The monthly rental prices for all the listed areas are around AED 6,200 for a one-bedroom apartment.

The average rental for an apartment in Dubai is as follows:

Apartment typeAverage rent per month
1 bedroom in the city centerAED 7068 (USD 1924.4)
1 bedroom outside of the city centerAED 4142 (USD 1,127.77)
3 bedrooms in the city centerAED 13,230 (USD 3,602.21)
3 bedrooms outside of the city centerAED 8,194 (USD 2,230.99)

Groceries and Food

What you spend on this category depends to a great extent on your food preferences lifestyle, and whether you prefer cooking your own meals or eating out. Most supermarkets have a wide range of products including local and imported goods. So, your grocery bill will largely depend on your dietary habits. Also, economical supermarkets like Lulu Hypermarket, Carrefour, and Union Cooperative have many offers and discounts running on day-to-day products, making it easier to stock your groceries. 

Grocery costs vary region by region in the UAE. Dubai is slightly more expensive as compared to Sharjah or Abu Dhabi. A food basket usually contains daily essential items such as rice, a liter of milk, eggs, apples, chicken filets, and white bread.

Food expensesCost
Monthly food basket in DubaiAED 71 (USD 19.3)
Monthly food basket in Abu DhabiAED 64 (USD 17.4)
Monthly food basket in SharjahAED 51 (USD 14)
Fine dining for a 3-course meal for 2 people in DubaiAED 300 (USD 82)
Fine dining for a 3-course meal for 2 people Abu DhabiAED 250 (USD 68)
Fine dining for a 3-course meal for 2 people in SharjahAED 75 (USD 20)


Utilities like water, electricity, phone bills, internet and TV packages, etc., are integral to your monthly expenses. The monthly costs depend on usage and accommodation size. But on average, the internet and TV package cost AED 320-380 a month. A basic mobile monthly plan is approximately AED 125 and can go up to AED 550 for premium plans. The combined cost of utilities for electricity, water, and garbage may be around AED 700-900 a month.  


You will commute to work, school, college, or go around the city for recreation. This cost largely depends on the number of days you commute, the duration, and the distance to the place.  

The fuel rates in Dubai are lower, so if you are traveling by your car, it is still economical.  But this will also differ based on your car model, the distance, the insurance, and the servicing costs.

Region/Transportation costAverage cost
DubaiA monthly pass for public transport – AED 330 (USD 92)
AED 3 (USD 0.82) for a private cab per kilometer
Abu DhabiA monthly pass for public transport – AED 80 (USD 22)
AED 2 (USD 0.55) for a private cab per kilometer
SharjahA monthly pass for public transport - AED 279 (USD 76)
AED 3.5 (USD 1) for a private cab per kilometer
Parking cost (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah)AED 7.3 (USD 2) for 3 hours
Public Transport costAED 231 (USD 63) monthly
Personal carAED 37.000 (USD 10,000) annually covering fuel, insurance, and maintenance

Medical Care

It is mandatory for residents to have health and medical insurance in Dubai, and there is no compromising on this. Many companies sponsor medical insurance for the employee and his or her family as well. If the company doesn’t cover your health insurance, then you need to purchase a plan for yourself and your family.

Medical expensesAnnual Cost
Average medical insurance planAED 550 (USD 150) per person
Extended medical insurance with an annual coverage of AED 184,000 (USD 50,000) AED 1,836 (USD 500) per person
Family insurance cover (up to 4 members)AED 3,672 (USD 1,000) per person

If you opt for a housemaid, you must provide them with health insurance under the Essential Benefits Plan. Their monthly salary may be between AED 1,500 and AED 5,000.


If you are a family with little ones, education is one of the most essential criteria of your life. Dubai has schools offering various curricula, the most popular being American, British, Indian, and IB.

Many Indian families apply for a Dubai visa from India and settle in the UAE. If you are an Indian family who wants to enroll your kids in an Indian school, the fee is much less compared to the Western curriculum and ranges between AED 3000 and AED 5,500 monthly. 

Education costs vary from preschool to higher education and the school or university you have opted for your field of study. The language used for all forms of education is English, which makes it easier for children across all global regions to adapt.

Kindergartens or primary education for children are available from 45 days to 5-year kids.

Type of educationMonthly cost
Kindergarten or preschool education in SharjahAED 950 (USD 260) monthly per child
Kindergarten or preschool education in Abu DhabiAED 2,280 (USD 621) monthly per child
Kindergarten or preschool education in DubaiAED 2,750 (USD 750) monthly per child

School education

Private bodies mostly drive school education, and the tuition fees vary for each school. Public schools provide free education to UAE citizens. Non-UAE nationals must pay a nominal fee for public school admissions.

Education ExpensesAverage cost
Bus services in private schools in DubaiAED 8,900 (USD 2,423) annually per child
Tuition fees AED 82,600 (USD 22,500) annually per child
Private school education fees in Dubai (excluding admission fees, uniform expenses, and book fees)Starts from AED 13,000 (USD 3,540) and ranges up to AED 65,000 (USD 17,449) annually per child.

Higher education

UAE has a great higher education system with three top universities – United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain, Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, and American University of Sharjah, on the list of the top 400 best universities worldwide. The degrees offered in these universities are internally recognized. Many foreign universities also have branches set in the UAE.

Higher education expensesAnnual Cost
Non-UAE national fees in a UAE universityRanges from AED 38,000 (USD 13,483) to AED 70,000 (USD 19,062)
Non-UAE national fees for international universities in the UAERanges from AED 77,030 (USD 21,000) to AED 104, 520 (USD 28,463)


Dubai has myriad entertainment options: watching movies, visiting restaurants with friends, indulging in retail therapy, or participating in adventure sports. There are numerous spectacular things to do in Dubai for singles, couples, and families.

The annual cost of a gym membership is approximately 2400-3000, a single cinema ticket costs around AED 40, and having a meal may be between AED 40-50 for budget eateries and AED 400-500 for fine dining or gourmet restaurants.


Before making Dubai their home, considering all the various expenses and making a budget is also essential. To sum up, the approximate cost of living for an individual is around AED 3,500-6,000; for a couple it is AED 5,000-10,000; and for a family of four, it is AED 15,000-25,000.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

1. Is UAE an expensive place to stay?

All UAE cities are not expensive. It depends on which part of the UAE you intend to reside. Expats from different global cities prefer Dubai as a destination to live and work. Dubai’s glitzy, glamorous, and affordable avatar gives easy access to modern indulgence and experiences.

2. What are the monthly expenses required to stay in Dubai?

Dubai is the most expensive UAE city, where people’s monthly expenses can reach AED 4,000 (USD 1,100) without rent. A family of up to 4 members spends roughly AED 13,000 (USD 3,540) monthly expenses without rent.

3. Which is the cheapest UAE city to live in?

Sharjah is an affordable and developed UAE destination where a single person can easily survive with AED 2,800 (USD 760) without rent. A family of up to 4 members can survive with AED 9,200 (USD 2,500) without rent. Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, and Ras al-Khaimah are cheaper alternatives than Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

4. Is UAE costlier than global cities like New York and London?

The USA (40% more) and London (30% more) are more expensive overall than the UAE. Utility costs in the UAE are cheaper than in the USA.

5. What are the average monthly food expenses in the UAE?

A person can enjoy good food by spending AED 4,900 (USD 1,330) monthly.

6. Is purchasing real estate in the UAE a good and viable investment option?

Yes. Real estate purchases in the UAE give a good investment return.

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