Dubai has year-round sunshine, the beach, the desert, the world’s largest shopping mall, some of the world’s best restaurants and a thriving business community. It is also a city that welcomes everyone.
If you are considering moving to Dubai, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in the City of Superlatives.
Quick Dubai Facts:
- Population: 3.331 million (2019 estimate)
- Official Language: Arabic is the official language of Dubai but English is the most spoken languages. There are a host of other languages spoken, including Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Tagalog, Persian and Mandarin.
- GDP Per Capita: $37,629 USD (2020)
- Immigrants: 83% of Dubai’s population are immigrants.
- Currency: Emirati Dirham (AED, Dh). As of early 2023, $1 USD = 3.67 AED, €1 EUR = 3.94 AED, $1 CAD = 2.75 AED, $1 AUD = 2.56 AED, £1 GBP = 4.47 AED.
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Dubai
2. Dubai Housing Costs
House and apartment prices are high. Prices obviously vary from area to area but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Dubai:
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: 6,900+ AED
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: 3,900+ AED
- 3 bedroomed flat in City Centre: 12,700+ AED
- 3 bedroomed flat outside the City Centre: 7,700+ AED
Dubai Home Purchase Prices:
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: 14,700+ AED
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: 8,700+ AED
Dubai Housing Cost Comparison:
This is how rents in Dubai compare with other cities around the globe.
- London is 25.7% more expensive
- New York is 50.7% more expensive
- Los Angeles is 33.3% cheaper
- Toronto is 1.2% cheaper
- Vancouver is 5.6% cheaper
- Sydney is 12.2% cheaper
- Melbourne is 25.4% cheaper
- Paris is 14.5% cheaper
How to Save on Housing Costs:
- Share a Flat or House: It is possible to share accommodation in Dubai but it is frowned upon, especially if there are males and females sharing the same flat or house. With a house share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. The bathroom/s will be shared with other people in the house. Have a look on Dubizzle Dubai, My Roommate or Dubai-bb and find someone you can get on with to share the costs with you.
- Different Areas – Different Prices: Flats and houses of all sizes and in all price ranges are available. Like all cities in the world, some areas are more desirable than other. Areas such as Jumeirah and Dubai Marina are very upmarket as their proximity to the beach secures a high price. Another upmarket area is Arabian Ranches which is a large community with beautifully designed buildings. More affordable areas are The Lakes, The Springs and The Meadows. If you like to be near the restaurants and nightlife, then the Um Suqueim district is worth looking at. Dubai has so many different suburbs, each with its own vibe. Before committing to a property, it’s a good idea to rent something for a month or two and have a good look around to get the feel of the city.
3. Dubai Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Dubai has a good selection of restaurants, bars, clubs and food shops.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: 40.00 AED
- Takeout Coffee: 19.60 AED
- Bottle of Coke: 3.95 AED
- 1L of Milk: 6.75 AED
- Loaf of Bread: 5.45 AED
- 12 Eggs: 11.60 AED
- 1kg Chicken: 32.00 AED
- 1kg Beef: 40.00 AED
- 1kg Apples: 8.50 AED
- 1kg White Rice: 7.50 AED
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- New York restaurants are 28.3% more expensive and groceries are 51.9% more expensive than Dubai.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 19.2% more expensive and groceries are 36.4% more expensive than Dubai.
- Toronto restaurants are 5.6% cheaper and groceries are 27.8% more expensive than Dubai.
- Vancouver restaurants are 0.5% cheaper and groceries are 30.3% more expensive than Dubai.
- London restaurants are 6.9% more expensive and groceries are 10.1% more expensive than Dubai.
- Sydney restaurants are 8.3% more expensive and groceries are 36.8% more expensive than Dubai.
- Melbourne restaurants are 4.1% more expensive and groceries are 37.5% more expensive than Dubai.
- Paris restaurants are 4.1% cheaper and groceries are 33.9% more expensive than Dubai.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries:
- Know Your Supermarkets: Accommodation is very expensive in Dubai but food and eating out is cheaper than in most cities around the world. For those Brits thinking of moving to Dubai, there’s a Waitrose in the city, selling many familiar British goods as well those local goods. Spinneys is a supermarket that prides itself on its wide range of foods, including gluten-free and dairy-free foods, as well as hormone-free meat. SuperMart is another popular and well-stocked supermarket. Have a look at Foursquare’s site which lists the top 15 supermarkets in Dubai.
- Find Cheap Eats: Visit Dubai and Insight Guides all have their own guides to cheap eats in Dubai, which include everything from Lebanese food to Thai and everything in between.
4. Dubai Alcohol Costs
Note that to purchase alcohol from a store and consume it at home, you need a liquor license. Dubai is renowned for its nightlife, restaurants and bars. The following is a list of basic prices of beer and wine from the supermarket and restaurants.
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: 48.00 AED
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: 49.00 AED
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a supermarket: 12.35 AED
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: 25.00 AED
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: 60.00 AED
How to Drink For Less in Dubai:
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays
- There are many bars, restaurants and clubs that have happy hours at certain times of the day. Have a look at the following sites to find somewhere that appeals to you – Eatdrinkstay Dubai, Trip Advisor, Timeout Dubai and Foursquare.
5. Dubai Transportation Fares
Dubai has four main forms of public transport – abras, taxis, buses and the metro. The Abras are small ferries which carry around 20 passengers on two major routes across Dubai Creek. Depending on where you live and work, this may be your chosen mode of transport every day. Dubai has recently extended its bus routes and all its buses are now airconditioned, with areas at the front of the bus for women and families. The only problem with catching a bus is being delayed by the constant traffic jams in the city. The metro’s two lines are now fully operational and save a lot of travelling time in the city.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult single – 5.50 AED
- One-day ticket – 15.00 AED
- Monthly season ticket – 340.00 AED
How to Save Money on Public Transport:
- Buy a Nol card which will give you discounts on transport
- Cycling and walking are not an option for most of the year in Dubai because of the heat. However, the city is a pleasure to walk around during the winter months as long as you choose the streets that have pavements. There are cycle paths in certain parts of the city.
6. Cost of Internet in Dubai
There are only two major internet providers in Dubai. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early-2023 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12-month contract:
- Du: 749 AED a month (Download speed up to 24mb)
- Etisalat: 749 AED a month (Download speed up to 100mb)
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
There are really only two seasons in Dubai, one is hot and the other is hotter. It has a topical desert climate with its hottest month, August, having an average maximum temperature of 39°C. January is the coolest month, with an average maximum temperature of 22°C. January is also the wettest month, with an average of 14.5mm of rain falling.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: 229.00 AED
- Summer Dress: 197.00 AED
- Running Shoes (Trainers): 320.00 AED
- Business Shoes: 340.00 AED
- Short Doctor’s Visit (15 mins): 166.00 AED
- Deodorant: 18.00 AED
- Shampoo: 18.00 AED
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): 13.00 AED
- Gym Membership (Per Month): 258.00 AED
- Movie (Cinema) Ticket: 45.00 AED
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Dubai
Everyone in Dubai drives on the right. Dubai has an excellent road system but there are so many vehicles using it, that traffic jams are a daily occurrence.
If you’re moving to Dubai from within the UAE, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address to your new Dubai one.
You can drive in Dubai on an International Driving Licence, however, if you have already been issued a work permit, you need to apply for a UAE license immediately. It depends on which country you are coming from as to whether you will need to take a test or not.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Dubai:
- Volkswagen Golf: 99,000+ AED
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of Gas (petrol): 3.43 AED
- Registration Fee (if any): 450 AED – Includes testing, registration and number plates
Ways to Save Money on Driving in Dubai:
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Carpoolworld.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day.
9. Taxes in Dubai
There is no tax payable in the UAE on your earned income. Just note that if you are receiving a salary in the UAE and you are a tax resident in another country, you may be legally obliged to declare that income and pay tax on it. Rules vary from country to country.
There is no sales tax or value-added tax in the UAE. However, there are indirect taxes such as 10% tax on hotel accommodation and restaurant costs. A tax is also levied on utility bills, which is basically the equivalent of a council tax. On the plus side, there is no tax on capital gains or inheritance and no stamp duty on house purchases.
10. Flight Costs from Dubai
If you do make the move to Dubai, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2023:
- New York: 1,800 AED
- Los Angeles: 2,300 AED
- London: 1,000 AED
- Toronto: 2,300 AED
- Vancouver: 2,100 AED
- Sydney: 2,000 AED
- Melbourne: 2,700 AED
- Cape Town: 1,600 AED
- Hong Kong: 1,600 AED
Other Tips on Moving to Dubai:
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Dubai but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Dubai Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling into Dubai.
- Meetups: Dubai has lots of free meetup groups you can find on Meetup.com. Join UAE Explorers, DevOps in Dubai, Dubai Squash Club and many more.
- Attend Local Events: There is so much going on in Dubai, have a look at the following sites to see how you would like to spend your free time – Expedia, Whatson, Timeout Dubai, Visit Dubai and Dubai.com.
12. Moving to Dubai with a Family
Dubai has so much to offer families. Not only is there a lot going on in the city and the UAE, but Dubai is also a hub for easy travel to anywhere in the world. Here’s some extra food for thought.
- New Parents (or parents to be): Have a look at NMC Healthcare.
- Live In a Family-Friendly Area: If you can afford it or your company is paying, then a villa on Palm Jumeira is a wonderful place for a family. However, Mirdif is a more affordable area for families, with its variety of villas and amenities. Some villas are in gated communities with a pool and other amenities; others are in gardens, again with a pool. Arabian Ranches is another excellent area for families. It’s away from the beach and the city but it has a variety of upmarket villas to choose from. More affordable areas are The Lakes, The Springs and The Meadows. If you are happy to live in an apartment with your family, there are many complexes which have pools, gyms, gardens and shops.
- Find Things to Do With the Kids: Smart Destinations, Visit Dubai, Sassy Mama Dubai and Guide 2 Dubai all have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Dubai for Work
Moving to Dubai for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
Dubai has grown from a city which relied on its oil revenue to a city where this oil and gas revenue comprises only 7% of its income. Its economy covers almost every field of employment, so the opportunities are endless.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Dubai are not only tax-free, they are also high. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea of how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to Find Work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Dubai, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Dubaijobs, Gulf Talent, Bayt, Monstergulf and Reed. You may also want to Google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Dubai from Australia
Dubai is a popular place for Australia Expats.
- Size Comparison: If you compare the population size of Dubai with a city in Australia, you’d be looking at a city a little larger than Brisbane.
- Join Expat Groups: InterNations and Expat.com offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Dubai.
15. Moving to Dubai from Canada
There’s a large group of Canadians living and working in Dubai. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: If you look at the population size of Dubai and compare it with a city in Canada, you’d be looking at a city a little larger than Vancouver.
- Expat Groups: If you are feeling a little homesick and want to meet some people from home, have a look at the following sites – InterNations, Expat.com and Canada International.
16. Moving to Dubai from the United States
There’s a large American contingent in Dubai. If you’re considering joining them, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: The population size of Dubai is practically identical to that of Chicago.
- Expat Groups: If you need a little help settling in or would appreciate a few tips on various aspects of living in Dubai, get in touch with fellow Americans who have already settled in the city. Have a look at InterNations and Expat.com.
17. Moving to Dubai from the United Kingdom
Dubai is home to many Brits. Here are a few extra tips for those of you who are considering joining them
- Size: If you compare the population size of Dubai with a city in the UK, you would be looking at a city 2.5 times the size of Birmingham.
- Expat Groups: It always helps to meet like souls when settling into a new area or country. InterNations and Meetup are for people from the UK who are living and working in Dubai.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Dubai you can start by comparing moving quotes here.