Living Standards and Prices in the UAE

Living Standards and Prices in the UAE

12.01.2021 (updated 01.20.2023)

  • AX Blog
  • Living Standards and Prices in the UAE

Most people who plan to relocate to the United Arab Emirates have a rough idea of the local price level. Before moving, however, it is important to calculate in detail how much it might cost to live in the UAE today. A potential ex-pat needs to estimate how much it would cost to rent or buy a house, how much you would have to pay for food, electricity, water and gas, and how much money you would need to take with you in the beginning.

More foreigners are considering moving to Dubai, so we will discuss the cost of living in the Emirates as an example of this city.


Housing and Utility Bills in the UAE

These expenses include:

– apartment rentals;

– investments in the purchase of housing;

– payment for utilities.

The cost of utilities is rather high in the UAE. During the hot weather, which lasts for more than six months in the Emirates, residents will pay at least 3,600 AED ($ 980) a month for water and electricity usage.

Electricity and water are paid based on meter readings. Living in a studio in Dubai, a single person will pay about 257 AED ($70) a month for lights and water. If two people share an apartment, they will have to pay from 440 AED (120 $) up to 550 AED (150 $) a month for utilities.

There is another subsection of rent payment in the UAE, a housing fee, which usually amounts to 5% of the cost of the rent. For example, tenants who pay AED 5,500 ($1,500) per month must pay an additional AED 275 ($75) as a housing charge.

Renting a Property

To rent a small studio without furniture and appliances in Dubai costs about 4,000 AED ($1,100). In high-end areas of the city, such as Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residents, the rent will be at least AED 9100 ($2,500).

Buying a Property

Many people prefer to immediately buy their own homes in the UAE, especially since in this case, with investments of 750,000 AED ($ 204,000) and above, you can expect to receive a residence permit for a period of three years.

Foreigners in the UAE, who are not residents of the country, can qualify for a mortgage on an equal basis with locals. However, they will have to pay a higher down payment, from 50%.

A square meter of residential real estate in major areas of Dubai will cost at least 7300 AED ($ 2,000). In the Silicon Oasis, its cost will be AED 5,500 ($ 1,500) and in Palm Jumeirah, AED 18,300 ($ 5,000).

Property Tax for Foreigners and Other Unforeseen Costs When Buying a Home

Buying a villa or apartment includes the following expenses:

– Contribution to the Dubai Land Department (DLD), which is 4%, payable immediately after signing the contract. It can be made by the buyer or both parties to the transaction (investor and seller). Sometimes developers pay a portion of the fee, as it helps to attract new customers.

– Together with the fee for the Land Department, are assessed administrative fees: AED 580 ($ 160) – for apartments and offices, 430 AED ($ 120) – for land, 40 AED ($ 10) – for property under construction (off-plan).

– Registration fee. For properties valued at less than 500,000 AED ($ 136,000) it will be 2000 AED ($ 550) + 5% VAT, and for more expensive properties – 4000 AED ($ 1100) + 5% VAT.

– The state fee that the buyer pays upon receipt of the certificate of ownership is 250 AED ($ 70).

– Fee for the services of a real estate agency – 2% of the value of the villa or apartment + 5% VAT. Additional services of a lawyer will cost from 6000 to 10 000 AED (from $ 1600 to $ 2700).

The future owner of the property purchased on the mortgage will pay the bank charge fee of up to 1.5% of the loan amount for processing the loan. In addition, the buyer will have to pay up to 0.25% of the amount + 290 AED ($ 80) for the registration of the mortgage at the Land Department.

How Much Does it Cost to Live in the UAE?

Life in the United Arab Emirates is more expensive than in many other countries of the world. There is no subsistence rate in the UAE, but salaries in the country are high. For example, a salary of 4400-7300 AED (1200-2000 $) is considered low. This is what unskilled workers, waiters, babysitters and cashiers earn.

The average pay in the Emirates is AED 19,600 ($5,300) and the average high salary is AED 90,000 ($24,500). In Dubai, the pay is slightly higher: the lowest pay is about AED 4,800 ($1,300), the average is AED 21,500 ($5,800) and the average high is AED 99,000 ($27,000).

The UAE has a much higher standard of living than many countries. However, the cost of everyday goods (food, clothes, shoes), utilities and public transport are also high. How much do locals spend and what do they spend their money on?


In the center of Dubai, in the most popular neighborhoods among travelers, the prices of goods in stores are two to three times higher compared to the prices on the outskirts.

Average food prices in the UAE as an example of Dubai’s prices:

Boneless chicken breast, 1 kg. 28 AED ($8)

Milk, 1 liter. 7 AED (2 $).

Eggs, 12 pcs. 14 AED ($ 4)

Tomatoes, 1 kg. 5 AED (1,5 $)

Cheese, 1 kg. 40 AED ($11)

Apples, 1 kg. 8 AED (2 $)

Potatoes, 1 kg. 4 AED (1 $)

Bottle of beer, 0,5 L 13 AED (3,5 $)

Bottle of red wine 54 AED (15 $)

Bottle of Coca-Cola, 2 L. 8 AED (2 $)

Bread, 1 piece. 4 AED (1 $)

Cafes and Restaurants

In the restaurants in the center of Dubai, one sandwich will cost 33 AED (9 $) and a cup of coffee, 22 AED (6 $). For sweets here, you will pay 36 AED (10 $).

Lunch or dinner for two at a budget restaurant costs an average of AED 183 ($50) to AED 318 ($80).


There are many shopping malls around the country, but the majority of the most famous are in Dubai. The most prestigious are:

– Dubai Mall;

– Gold and Diamond Park;

– Mall of Emirates.

Locals often visit the Day to Day chain stores, where they can buy food as well as household goods.

Prices of clothing in the UAE depend on the place of purchase and the chosen brand. So, a pair of jeans from Levi’s costs 235 AED (64 $), a summer dress from an inexpensive brand (Zara, H&M) – 211 AED (57 $) and sneakers (Nike, Adidas or similar brands) – 329 AED (90 $).

Public Transportation

Dubai has a well-developed public transport system. To travel around the city, you can take a bus, metro or tram. You can pay for travel with the unified transport card, NOLL, with which you can pay for travel on all public transport, including ferry rides, as well as pay for sightseeing and parking.

The fare depends on the distance you travel. When you enter the subway or bus, you must put your card in the terminal – the account will be frozen at 7.5 AED ($2). When you leave, re-apply your card and the system will automatically calculate the fare from the boarding point to the final destination and refund the difference back to your account.


Taxis charge about AED 7 ($2) for boarding and about AED 3.6 ($1) for each kilometer you travel. Waiting and idling in traffic cost just over AED 29 ($2).

To take a taxi from the airport to the city center, you must pay a minimum of AED 36 ($10).

Crossing the borders of the Emirates will cost about AED 18 ($5).

Personal Vehicle

Gasoline in the UAE costs around AED 3.6 ($1) per liter, but the cost when traveling around the metropolis is quite excessive. Fuel is spent, among other things, for standing in traffic jams and for cooling the car interior with air conditioning.

In the Arab Emirates, there are also toll roads. There are high fines: for speeding, you will need to pay from 300 ($ 80) to 3000 AED ($ 800), depending on the severity of the offense.

To pay the toll it is necessary to buy a special card for the electronic toll system, Salik, which is attached to the windshield of the car. When you pass under an arch, the system deducts 4 AED ($1) from your account automatically. The card account is topped up through a terminal or mobile app.

Mobile Phones

Local mobile communications are represented by operators Etisalat and Du. The cost of a SIM card for the first is 147 AED ($40) and the second is 55 AED ($15). Their subsidiaries also offer services: Virgin Mobile from Du and Swyp from Etisalat. They are focused on working through mobile applications.

One minute per outgoing call within the UAE costs AED 0.7 ($0.2), and to talk to a foreign subscriber, you will have to pay AED 3.6 ($1).

To buy a SIM card you will need to show an identity card and to recharge the number, you will need a special payment card, which you can buy at any local public institution.


Mobile Internet in the country is charged by the second: one hour costs about 11 AED ($3), but there are a large number of free Wi-Fi spots in different locations, especially in large ones.

Home Internet costs about 367 AED ($100) per month.


For a visit to the gym each month a client will have to pay a minimum of 367 AED (100 $).


Despite the constant heat in the UAE, you can cool down by visiting an ice rink. One visit will cost about 47 AED ($ 13).

Tours in major cities cost on average AED 183 ($50). A visit to the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa is much more expensive at 550 AED ($150).

The metropolis also has an oceanarium, which you can see for free, and you do not pay to visit the famous singing fountains.

To spend time on the city beach, money is not necessary, but the entrance to the private area will cost about 7 AED ($ 2). An umbrella and sun lounger here will cost a vacationer AED 29 ($8).

Medical Care

The Emirates has a law on compulsory health insurance. Local employers are required to take out health insurance for employees. It is also recommended that it cover family members. However, regardless of whether you or your relatives have a job with a local company, you should have a policy anyway.

The Essential Benefits Plan costs 550-650 AED ($150-$180) per year and is available to citizens with an income of 4,000 AED ($1,100) or less per month. The policy will cover about AED 150,000 ($41,000). For each visit to the doctor, the holder will have to pay 20 percent of the cost of the service, but no more than AED 500 ($135) per visit and AED 1,000 ($270) per year.

During the first six months of the agreement, the insurance company will not reimburse the cost of treatment. After that period, however, even chronic conditions can be treated.

Insurance for those with higher incomes is tailored individually. On average, a quality health policy will cost 10,000 AED ($2,700) per year, but much depends on the age and number of people insured. For a thirty-year-old ex-pat, comprehensive insurance will cost AED 5,500 ($1,500) a year, and for a family of four, about AED 33,500 ($9,000).

Pregnancy care in the UAE is included in the insurance package. Each health plan must cover eight prenatal visits to a gynecologist and three prenatal scans, including blood tests, with a maximum copayment of 10%. The insurance must cover up to AED 7,000 ($1,900) for normal delivery and AED 10,000 ($2,700) for a C-section due to medical necessity.

An ex-pat who fails to take out a policy will have to pay a fine of AED 500 ($136) for each month spent in the UAE without insurance.

The Outcomes: Is It Expensive to Live in the UAE?

Let’s summarise. Is it expensive to live in the UAE? Definitely! This country cannot be counted among the cheapest, but it provides ex-pats with many opportunities and a high standard of living. So, if you want to move to the UAE, prepare for all the possible costs in advance, so that you do not have any unpleasant surprises.

We will help you realise your dream of owning your own home in the United Arab Emirates. The AX CAPITAL real estate agency in Dubai has collected many current offers of villas and apartments for sale in the UAE. Buy property in Dubai and other emirates with us conveniently, profitably and reliably.

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