Dubai, thanks to its cosmopolitan culture, tax-free earnings, and trendy lifestyle, has often managed to enchant expats around the world. Every year, millions of expats, especially Indians, Europeans, and Americans move to Dubai to make it their home.
While many of them settle down easily in their newfound Dubai addresses, there are some that end up becoming frustrated due to the lack of thorough planning. Relocation can be a mentally, emotionally, and physically draining endeavor.
The last thing you need to do is to fret over whether you have made the right decision leaving behind your home and moving to a new country. So, if you are toying with the idea of moving here, it is imperative that you get a clear picture of the living expenses in Dubai.
This is whereBlueground’s expertise and resources come to the fore. Here are some factors that you need to be mindful of while calculating and estimating your cost of living in Dubai.
Before you take the leap
You have finally inched closer towards that new job and are about to close the deal. But, before you sign the employment contract, be mindful of the salary package and ensure that it is in line with the current standard of living in Dubai. You can always visit sites like Hays to understand the salary range for your position in the region. Always sign up for a remuneration package that will ensure a comfortable lifestyle.
Single expats must aim for a minimum salary of Dh 10,000 and above, which should be inclusive of one round-trip ticket, health insurance and additional allowances like transportation and mobile. Expat families consisting of four members or less must not settle for a household income less than Dh 20,000 per month, inclusive of at least two round-trip tickets, health insurance for the family and additional allowances like transportation and a mobile plan.
Keep your relocation costs down
Moving to a new place can be a daunting experience. It will be even more taxing if the planning is slipshod. Look over your employment package in Dubai and check if it includes a relocation budget for the shipping of items.
In some cases, employers offer flights and a relocation package, while others just provide an advance. If you have been unable to negotiate a relocation deal from your employer, evaluate if you can afford this expenditure.
Estimate the difference between the cost to relocate and clear your belongings at customs upon arrival in Dubai, versus purchasing new items once you find a place and start settling in.
Renting an apartment in Dubai
To rent an apartment in Dubai, you must have a residential visa (which requires a work visa) and a bank account. Rent in Dubai is usually paid in four to six checks plus the deposit.
Always deal only with real estate agents who are registered with Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). As per the Law, checks should be issued only under the name of the landlord unless they work with a property management company. In such a case, a specific property management license should be presented to you to certify this allowance.
As accommodation can be expensive, some single people living in Dubai share flats as it is more cost-effective.
However, expats with families or single people that can afford to pay the rental fees of a flat/villa, or those with a housing allowance have many options to choose from. Ranging from studio, one-, three-bedroom apartments to villas, depending on the budget assigned.
In Dubai, rent charges vary according to the area. For instance, according to guide2dubai, a single bedroom apartment in popular locations like Jumeirah Lake Towers can cost anywhere between Dh 80,000 to Dh 105,000 per year.
Alternatively, you can get a one-bedroom apartment for as little as Dh 35,000, in Warqaa, a far-flung area. Propertyfinder.ae is a popular housing portal in Dubai to search for apartments that fit your budget.
When apartment hunting from abroad, consider renting with a furnished housing provider like Blueground. Their thoughtfully equipped homes can be rented starting at one month to one year or longer, and include all furniture, appliances, and decor. If your idea of settling into Dubai is going from airport to apartment straight away, their 500+ ready-to-go homes will give you peace of mind
Plan your grocery shopping
For expat Indians, Europeans and Americans there are plenty of options when it comes to purchasing basic necessities. Major supermarket chains like Carrefour, Spinneys, Lulu, Union Coop, Waitrose and Choithrams can be found all across Dubai’s major malls.
It is cheaper to purchase goods from local supermarket chains like Lulu, Choithram, and Union Coop instead of international chains like Spinneys and Waitrose.
You can keep your grocery bill down by choosing the value for money offers available during select times of the month, including festive occasions.
Weigh your eating out choices
Dubai is a veritable gourmand’s paradise with cuisines to suit every palate and budget. While dining out in premium restaurants can be expensive, there are plenty of reasonably-priced restaurants to choose from as well.
Generally, there are two kinds of restaurants. There are licensed restaurants within five-star hotels in Downtown Dubai and Marina that serve alcohol.
Then there are restaurants that do not serve alcohol that will allow you to keep your Dubai living expenses on the low end. If you want to dine on a smaller budget, opt for cooking at home during weekdays and reserve eating out for the weekends.
Budgeting for a single person vs. a family living in Dubai
Unlike a single person, a family living in Dubai will have to account for additional costs such as education, daycare, and nanny services.
Education especially can be a heavy financial burden for expats in Dubai, with primary fees at international schools ranging from Dh 20,000 to 80,000 annually. For high school education, it ranges from Dh 35,000 to Dh 100,000 annually.
Transportation fees are added on top of the primary tuition fees. Meanwhile, daycare and nanny services can range from Dh 2000 to Dh 4000 per month.
Dubai is known for its active nightlife, and if left unchecked, a single person living in Dubai can run up huge bills. Be prudent in your choices and opt for Happy Hours to get discounts on drinks as well as food if you are on a budget.
Ladies Nights are popular among single working women who can enjoy nights out without paying a penny.
For families living in Dubai, there are numerous entertainment and recreational activities to suit a variety of budgets. An hour in an indoor entertainment center where you or your family can enjoy fun-filled activities such as rock climbing and ice skating can cost a minimum of Dh 90. However, you can always look out for offers and deals on Grouponwhich may help you save on your entertainment expenses.
Look out for your utility bills
Your rent in Dubai does not cover your utility bills. Meaning, water, electricity, gas, mobile, and internet charges are always paid separately.
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) fees that include electricity, water, and garbage for a 914 square foot flat can range from Dh 300 to Dh 1000 per month. In some areas, chiller (air conditioning) charges are applicable. This can go up to Dh 1000 per month during the peak summer season and can be as low as Dh 300 in the winter.
The Lootah gas charges for a family are usually between Dh 75-Dh 100 per month.
Look out for the cost of home telephone rental and call charges, an internet connection, and your mobile phone contract.
Be ready to shell out a minimum of Dh 100 per month, depending on the subscription offered by service providers such as Du and Etisalat. Internet plans (60 Mbps or above, unlimited data, cable/ADSL) often range from Dh 250 to Dh 500 per month.
Choose your mode of transport
Dubai has a solid and affordable public transportation network in place with a metro line, tram, and bus services.
Taxis are also easily available 24/7. In Dubai, you are free to choose your mode of transport.
If your workplace is far from where you live and it’s inaccessible through public transportation, then, by all means, rent or buy a car. Car leasing costs can be as high as Dh 2,500 per month, including car insurance.
If you purchase a car instead, then the insurance would be approximately Dh 5,000 annually calculated based on the car’s value. You can allot Dh 600 for petrol, and your car service will be around Dh 2,000 every three to six months.
A checklist of hidden costs
Well, now that you have factored in the entire cost of living, you may feel that you are ready to move to Dubai. Not quite. Expats relocating to Dubai often make mistakes in their haste. They often forget to consider the ‘hidden’ costs. According to Expat Eco Dubai, this is what a checklist of hidden costs looks like:
Real Estate Agent Fee: 5% of the rental value of your property
Deposit on property: 5% of the rent value for one year for unfurnished; 10% for furnished flats
Municipality Tax/Housing Fee: 5% municipal tax on rent included in 12 equal parts in your monthly DEWA bill
Ejari Registration: Dh 195
DEWA (electricity & water) Deposit: Apartment: Dh 1000 (deposit – refund on leaving), Dh 110 (connection, non refundable); Villa: Dh 4000 (deposit – refund on leaving); Dh 110 (connection, non refundable)
Lootah gas deposit: Dh 1000 (deposit- refund on leaving)
Telephone, Internet, TV: Installation charges from Dh 180- 200
Emirates ID Card: Dh 170
UAE Driving License: Eye Test: Dh 110; Transfer from International to UAE: Dh 400
Salik Tag (toll road transponder): Cost of SALIK subscription: Dh 100, including Dh 50 for the cost of tag and Dh 50 for the prepaid toll balance will be added into your Salik account
Moving to a city like Dubai is exciting and adventurous. Regardless of how great the city is, there will naturally be a settling-in period. To make the adjustment as hassle-free as possible, a proper estimate of the cost of living in Dubai is crucial.
By knowing the real cost of living in Dubai, you can look forward to a stress-free and enjoyable long-term stay.