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Cost of Living in Dubai for Expats in 2023

Cost of Living in Dubai
Cost of Living in Dubai

If you are considering relocating to Dubai to start a business or take advantage of the many promising job opportunities, it is essential to have an up-to-date understanding of the city’s cost of living.

Dubai’s living costs have undergone significant changes as it has grown into a dynamic center of trade and innovation.

The cost of living in Dubai has increased slightly in 2023, but it is still significantly lower than in other popular expat destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore. This is reflected in Mercer’s latest 2023 Annual Cost of Living Survey.

Dubai vs Other Cities

Dubai has a much lower cost of living than other major expat destinations, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Zurich, and New York.

To give a clearer understanding of this cost difference, let’s take a look at how Dubai compares to these other major cities:

CitySingle Person Monthly Cost without RentAverage Rent in City Centre (1 Bedroom)Taxi Fare (1km)Petrol (1 Litre)
DubaiAED 3,965.3 (USD 1079.73)AED 7,068.17 (USD 1924.62)AED 3.00 (USD 0.82)AED 3.23 (USD 0.88)
Hong KongAED 4,053.4 (USD 1103.72)AED 8,311.05 (USD 2263.05)AED 4.46 (USD 1.21)AED 10.47 (USD 2.85)
SingaporeAED 4,190.6 (USD 1141.08)AED 13,562.39 (USD 3692.96)AED 2.74 (USD 0.75)AED 8.03 (USD 2.19)
ZurichAED 7,106.3 (USD 1935.00)AED 9,642.99 (USD 2625.73)AED 20.48 (USD 5.58)AED 8.41 (USD 2.29)
New YorkAED 5,561.0 (USD 1514.23)AED 13,684.68 (USD 3726.26)AED 6.85 (USD 1.87)AED 4.14 (USD 1.13)

Note: The data in the table above is from Numbeo and reflects the statistics available as of June 2023. Remember that these figures may change over time and may vary based on various factors.

This article provides a thorough overview of expat life in Dubai, examining four key areas that influence the cost of living:

  • Accommodation
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Healthcare

The cost of living refers to the expenses needed to maintain a basic standard of living. This includes necessities such as housing, food, clothing, healthcare, and transportation. It is important to note that recreational expenses are not included in these living costs.

Housing is a significant portion of the budget when considering living expenses. On average, housing accounts for approximately 30% of living costs, followed closely by transportation and food, each contributing 15%.

Monthly expenses also vary significantly depending on family size. For a quick reference, here is a concise breakdown of overall expenditures based on family size:

  • Single person: 30% housing, 15% transportation, 15% food, 10% other.
  • Couple: 25% housing, 15% transportation, 15% food, 10% other.
  • Family of four: 20% housing, 15% transportation, 15% food, 10% other.

These are just averages, and your actual expenses may vary depending on your location, lifestyle, and other factors.

SingleAED 3,477.89 (USD 946,88)AED 3,965.3 (USD 1079.73)
Family of FourAED 11,958.62 (USD 3 255.83)AED 13,842.1 (USD 3768.61)

Note: The data was sourced from Numbeo, with the most recent statistics updated in June 2023.

Dubai’s vibrant landscape is set to become even more alluring in 2023, with a promise of even more captivating attractions, diverse dining options, and rich cultural festivities. This has sparked a significant increase in the number of expatriates who want to make Dubai their new home.

Numbeo’s data confirms this increase in interest from expats, as it shows a substantial rise in the monthly expenses of Dubai residents. Notably, the average cost of living for a single person has increased by 14% from 2022 to 2023.

Similarly, the estimated cost of living for a family of four has increased by 15.8%. This increase in the cost of living is likely due to a number of factors, including inflation, rising rents, and the increasing popularity of Dubai as a tourist destination.

Accommodation, Rent, and Utility Expenses in Dubai

The cost of housing will be determined by your choice of residence, which will be heavily influenced by your intended business location in Dubai.

Here is a brief summary of what you can expect to pay for residential rental properties:

Type of ApartmentCost of Rent per Month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City CentreAED 7,068.17 (USD 1,924.40)
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of CentreAED 4,142.20 (USD 1,127.77)
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City CentreAED 13,230.68 (USD 3,602.21)
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of CentreAED 8,194.29 (USD 2,230.99)

Please note that the information provided is from Numbeo, with the recent statistics updated in June 2023.

Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) is one of Dubai’s most popular residential communities. It is a popular destination for expatriates, as are Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), and Dubai’s Old Town, all of which have relatively stable rental rates.

The average annual rent for a one-bedroom apartment in JLT is AED 74,522 (USD 20,298), which translates to about AED 6,210.2 (USD 1,691.5) per month. Expats are drawn to these areas because of the strong sense of community and the abundance of conveniently located amenities that meet their needs.

Residential Cleaning Services in Dubai

Residential cleaning services are a major part of housing expenses. In Dubai, it is customary to hire domestic help to avail of these services.

The cost of a domestic helper can vary depending on the scope of cleaning required. However, as a general guideline, a full-time domestic helper can charge between AED 2,140 and AED 2,350 (USD 582 – USD 640) per month.

For those seeking part-time assistance, such as a once-a-week visit for a 3-hour cleaning session, the cost would be approximately AED 440 (USD 120) per month.

Transportation Costs in Dubai

Transportation Costs in Dubai
Transportation Costs in Dubai

Owning a Car in Dubai

The amount of money you invest in a car is largely dependent on its condition. The 2023 Toyota Corolla, which retails for AED 73,900, is a popular choice in the UAE.

If you make a 20% down payment, finance a car for 5 years, and include additional costs, the annual cost will be approximately AED 20,800 (not including the down payment).

Despite this, when purchasing a used vehicle, it is critical to remember that depreciation typically reduces the total vehicle price by 20-40%. For example, a used 2018 Toyota Corolla (with 3 years of service) has an average price tag of AED 50,000 in 2023.

Fuel Cost in Dubai

The price of fuel in Dubai varies from AED 3.02 per liter for Special 95 to AED 3.14 per liter for Super 98. This is significantly less expensive than the global average of AED 4.48 per liter.

Please note that the fuel prices listed are for the month of August 2023 and they are subject to change monthly.

Public Transport in Dubai

Public Transport Fares in DubaiAverage Cost
Taxis (per 1 km)AED 3.00 (USD 0.82)
Buses (single ticket) 

Within 1 Zone

2 Adjacent Zones

More than 2 Zones

AED 4 (USD 1.09) 

AED 6 (USD 1.63)

AED 8.50 (USD 2.32)

Buses (monthly ticket) 

For 1 Zone

For 2 Zones

For all Zones

AED 140 (USD 38.12) 

AED 230 (USD 62.63)

AED 350 (USD 95.29)

Average price of 1 L of petrolAED 2.90 (USD 0.79)

Note: The data was obtained from Numbeo, with the most recent statistics being from June 2023.

JLT is well-served by two Dubai Metro stations, which provide seamless connectivity to the prestigious DMCC district. This makes it very convenient for employees, residents, and visitors alike. The community is also served by a well-structured bus service with multiple stops strategically placed, further enhancing accessibility.

For more information on Dubai’s public transportation offerings, valuable insights can be found on the official website of the Dubai government.

Dubai School Fees and Other Costs

Public Schools

Expat children in the UAE can attend either public or private schools, but fees are required for both types of schools, as government-funded education is only available to Emirati citizens. The annual tuition fee for public schools is capped at AED 6,000 (USD 1,635) for expats.

International or Private Schools

Dubai has over 200 private schools that serve around 300,000 Emirati and expat students. Dubai is the only emirate that has set annual tuition limits to ensure that schools do not raise their fees excessively each year. The tuition for international schools ranges from AED 12,723 to AED 64,093 (USD 3,464 – USD 17,455).

It’s important to note that school fees are also significantly influenced by location, showcasing considerable variation. You can explore a comprehensive overview here.

Higher Education

Dubai has a diverse range of 65 colleges that offer courses in a variety of disciplines to both Emirati and expatriate students. Arabic is the primary language of instruction at public universities in Dubai, while most private universities offer courses in English.

For undergraduate degrees, the average cost spans from AED 40,000 to AED 100,000 (USD 10,900 – USD 27,333) per academic year. Graduate degrees, on the other hand, average between AED 50,000 and AED 120,000 (USD 13,616 – USD 32,680) per academic year.

Dubai’s Healthcare and Insurance Costs

In Dubai’s ever-evolving landscape, the Dubai Health Authority has put forth legislation ensuring that every resident, expatriates included, has private medical insurance.

While Emiratis benefit from a government-sponsored healthcare program, expats typically find coverage through private health insurance, often facilitated by their employers.

Dubai’s healthcare system stands out for its premium quality. As an expatriate, you’ll enjoy the privilege of accessing both the public and private healthcare amenities in the city.

Dubai’s Health Card

Dubai generously provides free medical services to its locals at public healthcare facilities. For expats, a health card can unlock a substantial 50% discount. Here’s a breakdown of the health card fees:

  • Expatriates under 10 years: AED 120 (USD 32.67)
  • Expatriates 18 and older: AED 320 (USD 87.12)
  • Emiratis under 10 years: AED 25 (USD 6.81)
  • Emiratis 18 and older: AED 120 (USD 32.67)

Note: These are one-time fees for health card procurement. Renewals are necessary upon expiration, which varies based on age. To apply for one, simply head over to the Dubai Health Authority’s website.

The ILOE Safety Net

Adding another feather to its cap, Dubai introduced the Involuntary Loss of Employment (ILOE) scheme in 2023. This initiative promises expatriates a financial cushion, safeguarding them for the initial three months post an unforeseen job loss.

The premiums for the ILOE are structured as:

  • Salaries up to AED 16,000 (USD 4,355): AED 5 monthly (USD 1.36) or AED 60 annually (USD 16.33)
  • Salaries exceeding AED 16,000 (USD 4,355): AED 10 monthly (USD 2.72) or AED 120 annually (USD 32.67)

Dubai Insurance holds the exclusive right to issue ILOE policies. On successful claims, subscribers stand to receive 60% of their average salary (from the past six months prior to job loss), disbursed within two weeks.

Dubai for Expats: Is it Expensive or Affordable?

Dubai has emerged as a magnet for expats worldwide, and the best part? It’s still among the more budget-friendly choices for global professionals.



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