Cost of Living in UAE

April 25 , 2021 by: Amanda Goh

United Arab Emirates (UAE), located in Western Asia, is an attractive destination for many expats. The UAE is made up of 7 different emirates, with Dubai being the most expensive. The cost of living in the UAE is relatively high, depending on where you choose to live in.

Before moving to the UAE, it is important that you consider the costs which you may need to fork out each month.

Note that the official currency in UAE is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED). Some exchange rates are:

If you are a potential expat, read on to find out more about the cost of living in UAE.

Basic Salary

As UAE attracts various workers from around the world for multiple roles, salaries can vary widely. While there are high-paying jobs in UAE, there are also low-paying jobs available.

Although they do not have a minimum wage, the government issued a guidance to basic salaries in 2013. Some of these include (Last Updated 2019):

Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE. Photo by pawldotio on Unslpash


While your housing may be covered by your employers in UAE, you should also be aware of its costs. The average rent in the UAE ranges up to 50,000 AED a year for a studio apartment, while a one-bedroom apartment can cost up to 100,000 AED.

As the UAE attracts multiple expats a year, it is relatively easy to find housing here. You can expect to spend about half of your salary on rent alone, when residing in the UAE.

Dubai is the most expensive city to find housing in, while Abu Dhabi comes in second. If you are looking to reside in a budget friendlier area, you can look into residing in Sharjah, Fujairah or Al Ain.


Although rent may be costly, groceries are pretty affordable. Some example s of food prices include:

Do note that while groceries are relatively affordable, alcohol in the UAE is not. A bottle of wine in Dubai may cost around 70 AED.

If you are not one to cook, eating out can be affordable too. Of course, this depends on the lifestyle you will be leading in the UAE. Dinner can cost an average of 100 AED for one. There are also cheaper alternatives that can be found all around the country.

Photo by “The Lazy Artist Gallery” on Pexels

Public Transport

UAE has good public transport services — you will be able to get by without purchasing a car. Here, you can choose from various services including the metro, bus, and taxi. Furthermore, the cost of public transport services are reasonable.

A bus trip can cost you from 2-5 AED, depending on the route and location you want to travel to. you can also choose to purchase a monthly pass that can help you cut some costs, if you will be traveling daily.

While a taxi ride may cost more, from 30 AED onwards.

If you are not fond of taking public transport, you can also own a car. Owning a car in the UAE is affordable. Depending on what kind of car you prefer, it can cost around 50,000 AED. Fuel costs in the UAE is also fairly reasonable.


As expats, you will be required to pay for public and private health insurance. In the UAE, it is compulsory for you to have health insurance, else you cannot receive a residence visa.

While some employers may cover your health insurance, others may not. It is important that you check before going over.

Health insurance can cost around 10,000 AED a year for one person, depending on which health insurance policy you choose.

Overall Thoughts

While the cost of living in the UAE is fairly high, there are ways you can reside there on a budget. This would mean residing in a cheaper area and taking public transport around. Groceries and public transport in the UAE is also fairly reasonable.


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