Cost of Living in the United Arab Emirates



Domestic Expenses

An average single-bedroom apartment in the UAE will cost about $1000 a month while a villa would naturally cost more, averaging $3500 per month. As a general rule, rates may be higher or lower depending on the length of the contract and the quality of the rented space. Single expats find it helpful to keep in touch with each other as a way of easing their challenges in a new country. Some actually live together and divide the rent among themselves to allow for long-term cost savings.

Expatriate families may expect reasonably expensive options due to their more complicated needs. A typical 3-4 member family may have utility bills ranging from $2000 - $5000 including power, water and telephone. Weekly groceries can total up to $813 including petrol, assuming the majority of the meals will be cooked at home. Part-time domestic help costs around $800, but may come relatively pricier when hired on a per-hour basis.  

"Everything is tax-free in the UAE. However, I personally think that food products are more expensive here compared to my home country."- Maurheen, Expat in Dubai, UAE


The UAE Educational System is mainly patterned after British and American standards but most schools are oversubscribed, leading to long waiting lists and the need to plan for the children's education with long foresight. Primary schools cost up to $18000 DHS for a three-term school year and may or may not include book and transportation costs. Fees also vary according to the number of enrolled school hours. 


Expats will love the variety of world cuisines offered by the Emirates but get nostalgic with each chance to taste something familiar from back home.  Indian restaurants have the most affordable menus and are quite famous for their hot delectable meals such as curries and peppery soups or rasams. Servings can come as cheap as $5 DHS each and are common favorites everywhere you go. Higher-end restaurants can charge a minimum of $25 per serving while food deliveries are known for their fast, reliable and free service. 

"Food in the supermarkets is quite a bit cheaper than in Canada, as is petrol. As almost everyone knows, rents are sky-high in the UAE, but we are not affected because we live on a university campus."- Scott Rousseu, Expat in UAE


Buses rule a considerable portion of the Emirate streets and charge $1 DHS for one ride, $3 DHS for a day's worth of rides or $40 DHS for a one-month pass. Next to rented cars, taxis come in the handiest for anyone who needs to get around town, whether for business or pleasure. Flag-down rates for metered taxis range from $2.50 DHS to $3 DHS plus $1 DHS additional per kilometer for the luxurious cabs. Taxis that exclusively service airport and hotel clients don't apply this scheme and simply rely on fare bargaining. In general, taxi drivers don't expect tips, but always appreciate them. Many are expats themselves and get excited by the thought of driving passengers from their own resident country.

They say quality of life is only worth as much as the last amount of work one puts in it. In the Emirates, rewards can come in manifolds.



Expat Services in United Arab Emirates