03.1b Life in the UAE

The Cost of Living in Dubai & Co.

The Cost of Living in Dubai & Co.

As the UAE does not collect VAT, some purchases, such as cars, can be very affordable. Electronic goods mght also be cheaper in the UAE than back home,  thanks to the fact that the associated import tax is relatively low. The same goes for regional, everyday products such as groceries. These also tend to be of a very high quality.

On the other hand, other things may be a bit more expensive, especially everyday products which need to be imported. This goes especially for products of well-known brands. Designer clothes can be very expensive in the United Arab Emirates, even more so than elsewhere.

Alcohol is only legal in some parts of the UAE. If it is legal, you can expect it to be more expensive than it would be in Europe. It is definitely recommended to take advantage of the Duty Free when at the Airport.

Electricity, gas and water, are almost exclusively state-owned, and are subsidised by the state in order to make them affordable. This means that incidental rent costs are normally relatively low.  In Summer, the most significant incidental costs is usually the air conditioning. Be aware of this and only turn it on when you are at home.

As the government of the UAE wishes to encourage international investment, cooperation and tourism, the state ensures that costs of long-distance calls are kept as low as possible. Nonetheless, when planning your relocation to the Gulf, you should keep these costs in mind.

These are the Monthly Expenses you should take into Account

There are of course many factors that play a role in determining living expenses. Here are three main factors to keep in mind when sketching out your new life in Dubai:


Renting a one bedroom apartment in a nice suburb will cost you anywhere between  40.000 and 140.000 AED (UAE-Dirham) per year. The incidental rent costs (service costs) vary depending on the size of the apartment and can be expected to fall between 1.200 and 5.000 AED per year.

Salaries of Household Staff: Full time household staff usually have an annual salary of about 12.000 AED.


While citizens of the gulf state have the right to free medical treatment, expats and other non-nationals must pay for any treatment themselves, or acquire Private Health Insurance. We strongly recommend to opt for the latter. You can get private health insurance from about 100 Euro/month per person. The actual cost of health insurance is of course dependent on the age of the applicant and his medical history.

Telephone Costs

While local landline calls in Dubai are nearly always free, domestic mobile phone calls are charged at 15-30 Fils/minute. An internet flat rate will cost you about 200 AED/month.

International Primary Schools

International Primary Schools with European or American staff and educational structure normally charge between 20,000 and 28,000 AED in tuition fees per year. Secondary and Tertiary Education is somewhat more expensive, with annual fees of 30,000 to 90,000 AED.