While the googled pictures of the Dubai skyline of 1990 and 2020 are a testament to its rapid transformation and booming economy, it may not give you an accurate picture of the living cost in the city. According to Mark Roemer Oakland, despite its tall skyscrapers and ski park in the middle of the desert, living in Dubai can be surprisingly affordable.
1. Housing cost – The most important living cost in any city is housing. Fortunately, the property market in Dubai is as diverse as it gets. For an affordable living cost, you can move into one of the numerous studio flats and with a fat bank account, you can move into one of the city’s many grand villas. The rent prices also differ according to the area you live in. For instance, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, Barsha, and other established places have high rental costs while Mirdiff, Dubai Silicon Oasis, and Al Nahda are more pocket-friendly.
2. Utility Bills – Utility bills are another primary recurring cost that is of great importance to any resident in the city. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is a public service infrastructure company that provides power and water connection to most households in the city. Since you are living in a desert, the monthly utility bill also varies greatly in the summer and winter due to changes in air conditioning usage. For a 900 square feet apartment, the average DEWA bill is around AED 607 (the local currency) or USD 165. On the other hand, a basic TV and internet package along with a postpaid mobile plan costs you around AED 500 or USD 136.
3. Grocery bills – Your monthly grocery bill in Dubai depends on your lifestyle and shopping preferences. UAE is a land blessed with oil instead of silt. That’s why the country imports most of its food that leads to a higher average price compared to other nations. For instance, chicken breasts may cost you around AED 27 (USD 7.35) in Dubai, while the same costs around USD 3-4 in the United States. A liter of milk may cost you less than one dollar in the US while the same costs half a dollar more in Dubai. So, it’s better to opt for seasonal local produce, look out for discount bundles and stick to affordable supermarkets like Union Cooperative or Lulu Hypermarket instead of expensive retailers like Spinneys or Waitrose.
4. Commute – The infamous desert heat forces you to opt for public transportation or your own car in Dubai instead of bikes. Fortunately, the cost of fuel is extremely cheap in Dubai and for public transportation, you can buy the monthly pass for around AED 350 (USD 95). The cost of transportation can be cut down if you can get affordable housing near your workplace.
Mark Roemer Oakland suggests that you also consider other costs like schooling, healthcare, and entertainment before you decide to become a resident of the city. For instance, the average cost of living for bachelors in the city is around AED 3k to 5k per month and this figure gets inflated three to four times for a family of four.