Dubai's transformation from a barren desert into a city full of world-class amenities and fascinating attractions within a period of a few decades is nothing short of a miracle.
Today, Dubai is not only a happening tourist destination but one of the first names on people's lists when it comes to permanent relocation.
So what makes Dubai such a popular choice for relocation? How much does it really cost to live a comfortable life in Dubai? Stay tuned, for we'll be answering all such questions and more in this comprehensive cost of living in Dubai guide.
So you’re considering moving to the city, but find yourself in 2 minds about your move. It’s totally normal to fret about a big life decision! However, here are some positive factors about life in Dubai that might put your mind at ease:
The United Arab Emirates doesn’t levy tax on income generated in the country. The lack of income tax is one of the foremost reasons why people from all around the world see Dubai as such an attractive place to work and settle down.
Dubai is a world leader when it comes to modern infrastructure. Despite no taxation, you’ll find the roads, buildings, transportation, and more, comparable to some of the most developed nations across the world.
The city has consistently been ranked as one of the safest places to live in the world. With an almost negligible rate of crime - both violent and non-violent, it’s not uncommon to find people out and about late into the night. Dubai is also appreciated for being an extremely safe place for women.
If you’re someone who enjoys meeting and mingling with new people from different parts of the world then Dubai is certainly the place for you. The city is a melting pot of cultures as it is home to individuals from over 200 nationalities. 90% of the population of the city is made up of expats, while only 10% of the population are natives of the country.
As you’d expect with any major city, one of the biggest costs of living in Dubai is the rent.
It’s hard to suggest a ballpark amount of what you can expect to pay in rent, considering how it varies significantly based on the areas you choose to stay in.
But with a myriad of skyscrapers and several communities containing pre-constructed villas, you’ll always find something that fits your needs.
If you’re looking to offset the cost of living, there is always the option of moving in with a roommate! You can look for rooms for rent on popular classified websites such as Dubizzle.
Dubai’s Real Estate Market has been one of the most pontificated upon over the years. Despite the ups and downs in recent times, investors from all over choose to invest in property in Dubai.
With that said, buying a home in Dubai can be an expensive affair. Once again, prices vary drastically depending on where you’re looking to buy, from AED 500,000 to AED 2,000,000+ for a 2-bedroom apartment.
Villas in Dubai start from AED1,200,000.
The average salary in Dubai is AED 16,775 per month — this is roughly $4,570. In the USA, the average monthly income is $3,900. However, senior roles tend to pay quite well here; in the range of AED 40,000-50,000 depending on experience.
Dubai has a robust transportation system and getting around is easy (more on this later!), but it’s still a wise move to live closer to where you plan to work. This can help shorten commute times and help you avoid traffic, which can sometimes be on the severe side.
Without further ado, here are some of the best neighbourhoods in Dubai:
Considered one of the most affluent residential neighbourhoods in the city, Dubai Marina is home to the Beach at JBR. You can enjoy an enviable array of waterside cafes, craft markets and upscale retail outlets.
Living in Dubai Marina can cost a pretty penny though; rents for a 2 B/R begin at AED 90,000.
Jumeirah Lake Towers is a remarkably well-developed community that contains over 80 residential and commercial towers that sit between three artificial lakes.
The rent for a 2 B/R apartment will set you back between AED 55,000 - 130,000.
Barsha Heights is a vibrant residential community that is home to people from all walks of life. The contemporary district is packed with all sorts of modern amenities making it a popular choice among expats.
Rents in Barsha Heights begin at AED 55,000 for a 2 B/R apartment.
Business Bay is considered the Central Business District of Dubai and lies in close proximity to other business avenues such as Financial Center and the heart of the city, Sheikh Zayed Road. Business Bay is one of the most expensive areas to live in Dubai.
Rents start at AED 70,000 and go all the way up to AED 200,000 for a 2 B/R.
The Greens is one of the oldest communities in Dubai. This quaint community is known for its landscaped parks and is well-connected to all major areas thanks to its close proximity to Sheikh Zayed Road.
Rents range between AED 70,000 to AED 150,000 for a 2 B/R apartment.
Honourable mentions for best neighbourhoods in Dubai include Motor City, Sports City, Mirdiff and upcoming communities like Al Furjan.
In addition to rent, you can expect to pay utilities to the tune of AED 1,200 a month for your electricity bill in a 2 B/R, and between AED 500-1,000 a month for cable and WI-FI put together.
In a happening place like Dubai, there is never a dearth of something to do! And while you’ll find weekly and seasonal activities every now and then, here are some evergreen things to do in Dubai.
The world's tallest building and the world's most luxurious hotel are awe-inspiring sights to behold. Both popular tourist destinations also regularly attract visits from residents of the city. The cost to visit the top level of Burj Khalifa stands at AED 150-200 per person.
Global Village is a global fair that features ‘pavilions’ of countries from all over. It’s like a mini-tour of the world featuring fun activities from shopping to shows, street food to fireworks and much more. The entry fee is only AED 15 per person.
Dubbed the world’s biggest mall and it stands true to its moniker. You can spend hours walking through the place while enjoying retail stores of every brand imaginable, and taking in views of the Dubai Aquarium and the Dubai Mall Fountain; both of which have now become iconic landmarks of the city. Entry to the mall is free!
Every resident of Dubai can brag about being on a Desert Safari at least once in their life. Desert Safari has become synonymous with the city and for good reason. The enjoyable experience includes dune bashing, fine dining and belly dancing and will set you back AED 100-200.
A trip to old Dubai is bound to awaken your senses. Some famous landmarks include the Dubai Spice Souk, the Dubai Creek where you can board a Dhow Cruise and the Al Fahidi Historical District. Prices vary.
One thing that will always leave you spoilt for choice is the food options in Dubai. Featuring restaurants, cafes and eateries serving authentic cuisines from all over the world; Dubai is heaven for every food connoisseur and enthusiast.
The great thing about eating out in the city is the presence of an outlet for every budget.
Taqado Mexican Kitchen
Carnival by Trèsind
The MAIN Oyster Bar & Grill
Alcohol is served in fine-dining restaurants and bars in Dubai. The cost of a beer is between AED 30-50, while a glass of wine will set you back AED 40-50.
Eating at home, like everywhere else in the world, will cost you considerably less in Dubai. A litre of milk retails for AED 6, a dozen eggs for AED 10, and a loaf of white bread for AED 5.
Dubai boasts a well-connected transportation system with a best-in-class Metro, comprehensive bus routes and an ample amount of taxis on the road, which means going out and moving about is always quick and super easy.
The Dubai Metro consists of a red line and a green line that connects Dubai from end to end. The metro fare corresponds to different zones with costs varying from AED 3 to AED 7.5 based on the number of zones travelled.
Dubai’s Bus Routes connect those areas where the metro does not run. With a suitable frequency and bus stops all over, this is an extremely convenient mode of transport. Fares are similar to the Dubai Metro.
Several government-registered taxi companies operate in Dubai, in addition to Careem Cabs which is an Uber alternative. Despite their easy availability, it is important to note that taxis can be quite expensive with a minimum fee of AED 12, and increments of AED 1.82 for every KM travelled.
Buying or renting your own vehicle in Dubai is perhaps the best choice to make, especially if you’re looking to stay in the city for the long term.
Your apartment building or home will most likely give you a free parking spot, but parking in the city is paid from 8 am - 10 pm, Saturday - Thursday.
The average cost of paid parking in Dubai is AED 4 per hour.
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