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Cost of living in Dubai, UAE  

Thursday 31 July 2014 (UAE)   
 
   
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How much does it cost to live in Dubai?

Cost of living indicators and calculator for Dubai - table of general household expenses, costs and purchases, car prices, living costs, utilities, telephone, food, shopping, apartment or villa rental, property purchase, etc from DubaiFAQs guide to living in Dubai and the UAE.

Price guide and comparison 2000-2014 for Dubai living costs

Item (prices in AED) 2000 price 2006 price 2008 price 2009 Jan 2009 Jul 2010 Jan 2011 Jan 2013 end
Accommodation (room in villa/apartment, monthly)   2000-5000 3000-7000 3000-7000   2000-6000 2000-5000 2000-6000
Apartment rental (studio, annual rent)     40k-80k 50-90k 40k-80k 25k-60k 20k-55k 30k-60k
Apartment rental (1 bdrm annual rent) 30-40,000 70-90,000 80k-120k 90k-140k 60k-100k 35k-80k 30k-75k 40k-90k
Apartment rental (2 bdrm per year)     100k-150k 120k-180k 75k-140k 45k-120k 35k-110k 60k-130k
Apartment purchase (studio - 2 bdrm)     0.6-2 million       0.2-1.5 million 0.4-2.0m
Bank account (minimum balance required)¹     1000-5000 1000-10,000 1000-10,000 1000-10,000 1000-20,000 3,000
Bar, nightclub (1 person, 1 night) 60-250 100-400 100-500 100-500 100-500 100-500   100-500
Beer (pint) 15 25 30 35 35 35   40-60
Beer (crate of 24 cans)     60-130 60-130 60-130 60-130   70-130
Book - paperback novel     40-80 20-100 20-100 20-100   10-100
Car purchase (new)     25-200,000     25-300,000   30k-2m
Car purchase (new Ford Mondeo, Toyota Camry)     60-95,000     60-100,000    
Car purchase (new 4wd Cherokee, Explorer, Prado)     90-155,000     90-180,000    
Car purchase (reliable medium saloon 2nd hand)     30-80,000     30-80,000    
Car purchase (reliable 4wd 2nd hand)     50-100,000     50-100,000    
Car rental (small, one day) 90 100 100 100   60-100   70-120
Car tires, tyres (cost for one tyre)     300-2000 300-2000   300-2000   400-2500
Cigarettes (pack, carton), half price for cheap brands3 4, 35 5, 45 6, 50 6-7, 55   6-8, 65   6-10, 65
Clothes (per month)     100-2000 100-2000   100-2000   100-3000
Coffee (latte, cappuccino) in a Dubai cafe           14-18   14-20
Computer purchase (laptop, notebook)     2000-10,000 2000-10,000   2000-10,000   1500-10k
Computer purchase (netbook)           1000-2500 1000-2500 800-2.5k
Concert, Show, DJ, Sports event ticket     100-1000 100-1000   100-1000   100-1000
Dentist routine check up     100-250 100-250   100-250   100-500
Doctor visit (basic consultation, no tests)     100-250 100-250   100-250   100-500
Drink - can of soft drink at grocery shop 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00   1.00 1.00-2.00 1.00-2.00
DVD rental     10 10   10   10
DVD purchase (pirate) 5-10 5-10 5-10 5-10   5-10   5-10
DVD purchase (genuine) 20-80 20-100 25-100 25-100   25-100   25-100
Education (see "school fees" below)                
Eggs (one dozen) 5.00 7.00 9.00 9.00   9.00   8-15
Flowers (bunch bought at supermarket)     25-100 25-100   25-100   50-200
Furniture (IKEA UAE for 1 bdrm apt)     10-20,000 10-20,000   10-20,000   10k-25k
Grocery shopping (1 person, per week)     200-600 250-800   250-800   200-1,000
Hamburger (Big Mac) 10.00 12.00 14.00 14.00   15.00   15.00
Hotel (Deira dump, per room, 1 night)     200-400 200-400   150-400   200-400
Hotel (5 star, double room per night)     700-3000 500-3000   400-3000   800-5000
Hotel (Burj Al Arab, Al Maha, Armani 1 night)     4000-15,000 1500-15,000        
Household contents insurance (annual, studio) 100-500     200-1,000   200-1,000   200-1,000
Household contents insurance (annual, villa)   500-5,000   500-7,000       1k-10k
Internet connection (DSL, monthly)     200-300 200-300   150-300   100-1000
Internet connection (mobile broadband, monthly)           400-700 150-400 100-1000
Jewellery (18-22 carat gold, per gram) 30-40 50-60 80-90 80-90   80-90 90-120  
Jewellery (thin gold necklace, small gold earrings) 100-200 150-300 200-500 200-500   200-500    
Magazine (local, foreign)     3-15, 25-75 3-15, 25-75   3-15, 25-75    
Maid, Domestic Help, Servant, Nanny (hourly)     15-30 15-30   15-30   20-40
Maid, Servant, Nanny (full time per month)     1000-2000 1000-2000   1000-2000   1000-3000
Medical, Health Insurance (per month)     200-1000 200-1000   200-1000   200-1500
Milk (one litre) 3.00 9.00 10.00 10.00   10.00   10.00
Milk (UHT long-life, pack of 4x1 liter)           15.00   15.00
Mobile phone purchase (see "Telephone" for calls)     200-2000 100-2000   100-2000   100-2000
Motorcycle (Harley Davidson, new)     35-100,000          
Motorcycle (Japanese, new)     10-60,000          
Movie, Cinema ticket (standard-VIP) 25 25-30 30 30   30-120   35-150
Newspaper, daily (local, foreign)     2-3, 10-20 2-3, 10-20   2-3, 10-20   3-5, 10-20
Oil & Filter change, medium size car (not dealer) 80 100 120 120   120   200
Petrol, Gasoline price per gallon² 4.00 6.25 6.25 6.25 6.25 6.25 7.50 7.50
Petrol price in UAE per liter (approx)² 0.90 1.40 1.40 1.40 1.40 1.40 1.70  
PO Box rental (per year)     150-200 150-200   150-200   150-200
Postage stamp (standard letter < 20g) 0.50-3.50 0.50-3.50 0.50-3.50 0.50-3.50   0.50-3.50    
Public Transport (abra, bus, or metro trip) 0.50-2.00 0.50-2.00 1.00-4.00 1.00-4.00   1.00-6.00   1.00-6.00
Restaurant (cheap, food court, or cafe, no alcohol) 10-50 10-50 10-50 10-50   10-80 10-100 10-100
Restaurant (with alcohol, 1 person) 100-200 150-300 150-400 150-400   150-400   200-500
School fees (per year per child) 1k-40k 1k-50 1k-90k 1k-90 1k-90k 1k-100k   2k-100k
Shawarma (chicken or lamb), cheap restaurant 1.50-2.50 2.00-3.00 2.00-3.00 2.00-3.00   2.00-3.00   2.00-5.00
Spirits (Whisky, Gin, Vodka bottle shop purchase)     10-200 10-200   10-200   20-200
Taxi in Dubai (short to long trip within Dubai)     10-60 10-80   10-100   10-100
Telephone calls (mobile, per month)     100-1000 100-1000   100-1000   100-1000
Telephone landline (calls free or cheap within UAE)                
Television (CRT, new)     200-2000 200-2000       200-2000
Television (LCD, plasma TV new, 32"-52")     2000-15,000 2000-15,000   1000-10,000 800-10,000 800-10k
Television (cable, satellite per month)     100-200 100-200   100-200   100-500
Utilities (water, power) per month per person     100-500 100-500   100-500   100-500
Villa rental (annual)   100k-200k 150k-400k 200k-500k 90k-400k 80k-300k 75k-250k 100k-400k
Villa purchase     2-10 million 2.5-15 million     1-5 million 2.5-10m
Water (1.5 liter bottle)     1-2 1-2   1-2   1.00-2.00
Water (5 gallon bottle, delivered)     7-9 7-10   7-10   10.00
Wine (house bottle in restaurant) 80 125 150-200 150-250   150-350   150-500
Wine (purchase in bottle shop, duty-free)     10-200 10-200   10-200   10-500
  1. Most or all banks in the UAE require customers to have a minimum balance at all times. Usually higher for current accounts versus savings accounts (see also cheques in the UAE). Fees charged if customer goes below that amount are usually around AED 50-100 dhs per month while below the minimum.
  2. See UAE petrol price for more information about gas price increases and hikes.
  3. 08 June 2011 - cigarette prices to increase by 29% according to news reports (from about 6-9 dhs per pack). 24 January 2012 (WAM) - tobacco taxes to increase (but unknown by how much or when). 19 April 2012 - cigarette prices in Dubai (not clear if Dubai only, or the rest of the UAE also) to double (to about 10-16 dhs per packet) from August 2012 according to newspaper reports ... but on 20 April 2012 further reports said there was no price rise, or confusion about the price increase, with conflicting comments or no comments from various authorities and ministries in Dubai, for example, a Gulf News report said "Dubai Health Authority Director General Qadi Al Murooshid has denied media reports, which claimed that the emirate is planning to double tobacco prices in August."
Notes about living costs and money in the UAE
  • The UAE currency is the United Arab Emirates dirham, divided into 100 fils, and is pegged to the US$ at the rate of US$1 = AED 3.67. The rate varies slightly but not enough to notice in everyday transactions.
  • Cost of living prices given for mid-ranges. Extremely cheap or expensive values (e.g. rickshaws and Bugatti Veyrons) not always included.
  • Utility and telephone costs are for average use.
  • Assume costs are per person unless otherwise indicated.
  • For in-your-head or back-of-an-envelope quick currency conversions, divide values by 4 to get an approximate $US (USD) estimate (correct rate is 3.67 but values below are very approximate mostly anyway).
    • Divide by 3 for $CAN (CAD) Canada
    • Divide by 5 for €Euros (EUR) Europe
    • Divide by 2 or 3 for $AU (AUD) Australia
    • Divide by 5 or 6 for £UK (GBP) United Kingdom
    • Multiply by 10 or 12 for Indian Rupees (INR)
    • Multiply by 20 for Pakistan Rupees (PKR)
    • Divide by 10 for Oman Riyals (OMR), Bahrain Dinars (BHD)
    • Divide by 10 or 12 for Kuwait Dinars (KWD)
    • No change for Saudi Riyals (SAR), Qatar Riyals (QAR) (rates are close to 1:1)
    • Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait currency units are split into 1000 fils, not 100 fils per unit. Saudi, Qatar, and UAE are 100 fils per unit.
  • Remember these are only indicative cost ranges and is not a comprehensive COL index. Living costs in Dubai vary a great deal depending on lifestyle and preferences.
  • During 2008, property rental and purchase prices soared in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As 2008 ended, the effects of the global credit crunch contributed to a freezing up of property sales in Dubai, with property prices starting to decline (substantially for some areas). Property and rental prices subsequently collapsed, by 50% or more in 2009, bottomed out in 2010-2011, stayed there in 2011-2012, and in 2013 started to rise again. Expect rental and property prices to increase in 2014 and possibly 2015 depending on how quickly they rise in 2014.
  • It is common for accommodation rental payments to be requested advance for an entire year. It is less common in 2008 and going into 2009 for tenants to accept that, and more frequent smaller payments are offered and negotiated. Two to four cheques was common in 2008, and going into 2009, it was possible (but still rare) to make 12 monthly payments. As of 2013, many landlords still try to get 1 or 2 cheques for the annual payments, and as property prices go up, this system is likely to remain in place for the forseeable future, however there are also many landlords willing to negotiate the number of cheques, with 2-4 a common number. In all cases it is still usual to write Post-Dated cheques (PDCs) all in advance.
  • Most goods available in the UAE are imported from the country of manufacture. That means your favorite boerwurst or Marks n Sparks knickers are going to cost more than if you bought them at home. There is also a small amount of Dubai import duty that gets added to most goods. Apart from that there are no other taxes for the most past so some items which are heavily taxed in other countries are much cheaper in Dubai and the UAE (cars, cigarettes for example). Currency exchange rates will also have an effect (both positive and negative). As a very broad generalisation though, expect to pay 20% to 50% more for most goods compared to buying the same locally produced items in your home country.
Cost of living comparisons and information
  • Expat surveys sometimes include a COL review or index, comparing to other cities popular with expats for example London and Singapore.
  • Yahoo Answers seems to regularly throw up a COL question and answer for Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE. But there are large variations between the answer and reality since the COL varies substantially for people in different walks of life. For example a middle class Indian family living in Sharjah is usually more conservative in their spending and expenses than a bachelor living in the Burj Khalifa, and single people on a high salary expat package are not doing a COL calculation as often as families paying for school fees and apartment or villa rentals out of their own salaries, so the answer needs to be read with a view to who it is appropriate for.
Headings to add
  • Cost of living Dubai for a bachelor, single person, family, Indian family.
  • Cost of living Dubai comparison vs Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, London, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Singapore (cities). India, US, USA (countries).
Last update Thursday 20-Mar-2014.
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