Is Dubai Expensive?

Is It Expensive To Live In Dubai? (Cost of Living)

Dubai has a reputation for its luxurious and expensive living standards. It is often portrayed as a city that millionaires live in or travel to. Is Dubai really expensive to live in, and what makes it expensive?

Dubai is an expensive city to live in. The most costly aspect of living in Dubai is housing. There are different income brackets, and living costs are dependent on whether you are in the low, middle, or high class. Personal preference on how income is spent influences whether Dubai is expensive.

Although Dubai is considered an expensive country to live in, it has been made to look more expensive with the depiction of a lavish lifestyle with fancy cars, penthouses, and luxury entertainment. However, it has been ranked less expensive than many other cities such as London.

How Expensive Is It To Live In Dubai?

How Expensive is Dubai UAE?

The Mercer 2023 Cost of Living Survey did a ranking of 227 countries. In 2020, Dubai ranked relatively high as the 23rd most expensive city out of the 209 cities surveyed that year. It was cheaper than cities such as New York and Singapore but slightly more expensive than Abu Dhabi and Bangkok.

However, one year later, in 2021, Dubai dropped its ranking to 42nd in the same survey. Moving down in the order indicated that Dubai was a little more affordable, increasing its attractiveness to expats and UAE citizens.

Out of the total number of countries surveyed in 2023, Dubai still reaches relatively high ratings by coming in at 18ᵗʰ spot, and is therefore considered one of the more expensive countries to live in. Countries ranked as more expensive in 2023 include Hong Kong, Switzerland, New York, and Tokyo.

Whether living in Dubai is expensive also highly depends on your lifestyle and choices. If you are a conservative spender by cooking your food at home, living in a less expensive area, and don’t indulge in luxuries, then living in Dubai will not be that expensive compared to many other countries.

However, if expensive material possessions or an apartment in a more affluent area is important to you, it will be expensive to live in Dubai. This idea pertains to most cities in the world, not only Dubai.

Although Dubai has been labeled an expensive place to work, you should not necessarily be discouraged from living there. You can save costs on many aspects of living, such as food and transport.

What Makes Dubai An Expensive Place To Live?

What Makes Dubai So Expensive?

Rent and housing is the most significant expense in Dubai, even when the rent prices appear to fall sometimes. The rent also depends mainly on location, so some areas are wealthier than others.

For instance, traveling will also add to your costs if you live further from facilities such as the metro. If you have children, education costs are another considerable expense in Dubai. Well-known daycare places or schools can cost up to 5,000 AED per month.

Travel costs don’t need to be too expensive in Dubai, depending on how you want to get around. The metro is the cheapest option, and you can get a travel pass for about 230 AED a month and travel as much as you like.

However, many people prefer to have a car which works a lot more expensive. Especially if you plan to move to Dubai and require a driving license, this will cost you more than 5,000 AED.

Utilities such as electricity and internet can be costly, depending on plans and where you stay. The electricity bill for a one-bedroom flat is approximately 200 to 300 AED a month. Living in Dubai certainly requires an air conditioner during the hotter months, and sometimes this is included in the bill but can be an additional cost.

Food in Dubai is expensive if you choose to eat at restaurants. Yet it can be affordable if you cook at home and buy food from local and cheaper markets. Insurance is highly recommended as paying for medical care up front will most likely leave a dent. Companies usually cover the medical insurance of their employees.

Cost Of Living In Dubai

Cost of Living Dubai

The cost of living in Dubai varies according to which earning class you belong to. There are three main classes regarding earning brackets: low, middle, and upper. The upper class makes anywhere from 35,000 to 300,000 AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham).

This category represents what most people believe Dubai to be; a wealthy population that can afford luxury goods. People who earn in the middle-class category make around 7,000 to 30,000 AED a month and can still live relatively well while saving some money. The middle-class earnings will provide rent for a condo, a car, and daily life provisions.

A cheap condo or studio in Dubai will rent for 3,500-5,000 AED per month. If a person can afford this and save a bit as well, it’s a good indication that you are in the middle-class bracket.

The low class earning bracket includes about 2,000 to 6,000 AED monthly. For reference, this is approximately 544 to 1,633 USD. Most of the income covers necessities like rent, food, bills, and transport, leaving very little to none for saving. Someone with this type of income usually has to share a room or studio living space.

If you have an income from the low-class bracket, then certain simple aspects of living will be difficult to attain. For example, going to a medium-range restaurant costs around 1,500 to 2,500 AED. Also, recreational expenses and material things like clothing or home décor will add up quickly in this income.

To many people, the appeal of Dubai is the flashy shopping malls, restaurants, and other entertainment. These may tempt you to buy things you may not really need. In this way, saving can be difficult, and expenses can be high.


Dubai is considered one of the more expensive cities to live in. This is primarily due to renting and housing costs and general day-to-day living expenses. Lifestyle and income depending, Dubai can also be relatively reasonable in terms of cost of living.


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