Dubai is the most luxurious and populated city within the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is home to thousands of expats, nationals and travellers alike. Dubai is not the cheapest place to live by any means, but if you know where to look Dubai surprisingly can be done on a budget and is an expat-friendly haven.
From luxury lofty apartments and grandiose hotels to sand-swept desert guesthouses. Dubai is known for it’s expensive accommodations; let’s talk about how to live on a budget in Dubai.
Here’s what to expect to pay when living in Dubai;
The cost of housing in Dubai
The price of accommodation in Dubai is relatively expensive compared to other top expat cities. In 2014, Dubai was rated the second highest in hotel prices around the globe, yet was rated as one of the best places in the world to live according to an American global consulting firm - and rightfully so!
- Guesthouses: $300 - $700 per month
- Living with a local family is the best way to learn culture, eat fantastic food and gain access to the best tours. Living with a family is also the cheapest option as an expat. The price varies, but most rooms are furnished and include one to two meals a day.
- Hostels: $44 - $260 per night
- Hostels are as cheap as $44 a night, and even the lowest budget hostels are luxurious. Hostels are well furnished and decorated and often include a full meal plan.
- Apartments & Hotels: $45 - $405 per night
- In Dubai, apartments and hotels are essentially the same. It’s not easy to find an apartment complex that charges per month rather than per week. Hotels can be pretty pricey, but even the lowest budget hotel, again, is incredibly luxurious. You can’t beat the services offered at these hotels.
How much does food cost in Dubai?
If the price of accommodation is getting to you, it may be a relief to know that food is relatively inexpensive in Dubai. A meal at a local restaurant is less than $6 per plate on average. A week’s worth of groceries could cost $10 or less. 2 lbs of tomatoes cost less than $2. On average, a cup of gourmet coffee is about $4.80 while 2 liters of Coca-Cola is about $1.40
How much does transportation cost in Dubai?
Transportation in Dubai is cheap if you utilize its metro system. A metro pass for one month is about $65. A taxi trip, such as a commute to the office, for 5 miles is about $6.81 - which is about $408 per month. A gallon of gas costs about $1.92.
Healthcare in Dubai
Healthcare is important if you plan to study abroad in Dubai or if you have chosen Dubai to work abroad. Unlike other parts of the world, Dubai’s government hospitals offer just as good of care as its private hospitals, though private hospitals have more amenities. Hospitals generally take a deposit of around $1,361 or more, depending on which type of room you choose to stay in. Rooms vary between $260 and $580 per night, depending on the hospital.
The average cost of entertainment in Dubai
Entertainment is around every corner in Dubai is not lacking by any means. From a quiet movie, luxurious shopping or a sky-high nightclub, Dubai has it all. Dinner for two at a nearby restaurant will average about $40, depending on the restaurant of course. Two tickets to the movies will run $20, while two tickets to the local theater will cost $68. A cocktail at a nightclub is about $15 - a beer is $10.
Study abroad in Dubai: The cost of education
If you've chosen Dubai as a possible city for a study abroad program, you are in luck!
A summer study program at a local Dubai law school costs approximately $1,960. $10,209 is the price you can expect to pay, per year, as an undergraduate studying full-time in Dubai. On the high end, you can expect to pay $19,068. This all depends on the quality of the school you have chosen of course.
What to expect as an expat in Dubai
You can live like a king in Dubai, or you can live like a local. In a land rich in opportunity, luxury and culture, your choices are truly limitless. With Dubai’s pricey accommodations, but cheap local living, you can get by on minimum wage, especially when living with locals.
It’s not recommended to spend your time in hostels, apartments or hotels, as the cheapest option is to stay with a local family as a guest or become part of a homestay. Entertainment is on the pricey side, but offers the life that only celebrities can dream of! Whatever path you choose, Dubai is sure to offer a luxurious yet affordable lifestyle.