April 15, 2021

What is the Cost of Living in Dubai for Expats in 2022?

Family in Dubai watching the sunset

Whether you are moving to Dubai to set up a business or simply looking for better job prospects, it is helpful to have a good idea of what the cost of living in Dubai is before you move here.

Although living costs in Dubai have risen substantially in the past decade, the UAE's commitment to enacting regulations that will help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic has caused a decrease in the cost of living in Dubai in 2021. Furthermore, the cost of living has also decreased due to the UAE's desire to attract top global talent. Dubai ranked #42 in Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey for 2021.


Compared to living in some of the world’s major expat hubs like Hong Kong, London, New York, and Singapore, Dubai costs far less in terms of cost of living. 

To put this price difference into perspective, here is how Dubai stacks up against these cities:


Single person monthly cost without rent 

Average rent in city centre (studio apartment)

Taxi Fare (1km) 

Petrol (1 litres)


AED 3,477.89

(USD 946,88)

AED 5,141.89

(USD 1 399,92)

AED 2.48

(USD 0.68)

AED 2.47

(USD 0.67)

Hong Kong 

AED 4,019.24

(USD 1 094.27)

AED 8,354.93

(USD 2 274.69)

AED 4.13

(USD 1.12)

AED 9.14

(USD 2.49)


AED 4,334.80

(USD 1 180.18)

AED 8,750.48

(USD 2 382.39)

AED 8.54

(USD 2.33)

AED 7.12

(USD 1.94)

New York 

AED 5,013.16

(USD 1 364.87)

AED 11,326.22

(USD 3 083.65)

AED 6.85

(USD 1.86) 

AED 2.99

(USD 0.81)


AED 3,655.77

(USD 995.31)

AED 7,746.21

(USD 2 108.97)

AED 2.29

(USD 0.62)

AED 6.57

(USD 1.79)

Information is from Numbeo (Most updated statistics: January 2022)

In this article, we will dive deeper into the cost of living for expats in Dubai within 4 key areas: 

  1. Rent
  2. Education
  3. Transportation 
  4. Healthcare

Expenses of Living in Dubai

Living expenses are expenditures that are required for necessary survival. It would consist of housing, food, clothing, healthcare, and transportation, to name a few. Any recreational fees would not be accounted for under living expenses.

When determining living expenses, housing makes up a considerable chunk of the budget. On average about 30% of living expenses will be put into housing, followed by transportation and food, making up 15% each. The monthly expenses vastly differ with family size as well. Here is a small overview for a quick reference for total costs depending on the size of your family.




Single Person 

AED 3,435.71 (USD 935.35)

AED 3,477.89 (USD 946,88)

Family of Four

AED 11,863.31 (USD 3 229.69)

AED 11,958.62 (USD 3 255.83)

Since 2021, Dubai has become more affordable due to a consistent decline in rent, property prices, cost of education and transportation among others. Numbeo data showed that the average cost of living for a single person decreased by 89.2% in 2021 compared to 2020. The estimated cost of living for a family of four also decreased by 32.6%.

Housing, Rental & Utilities

Residential costs will depend on where you choose to live, and where you choose to live in Dubai will be highly dependent on where you will do business. 

Here’s a reference of what you can expect in terms of rental costs of a residential property.

Type of Apartment 

Cost of rent per month

Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre

AED 5,141.89 (USD 1 399.92)

Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre

AED 3,281.72 (USD 893.47)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre

AED 9,766.53 (USD 2 659.01)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre

AED 6,792.74 (USD 1 849.38)

The Jumeirah Lakes Tower (JLT) is one of the most popular communities in Dubai. This is a popular district for expats, alongside Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), and Dubai's Old Town, which all have relatively similar rental prices.

The average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in JLT is around AED 66,236 (USD 18032.23) per year or AED 5,519.66 (USD 1502.68) per month. Expats choose to live in these areas because of the community, and nearby amenities are usually more suitable for their needs.

Dubai Rental Price Comparison: Top Places to Live in Dubai for Expats



Dubai Residential Cleaning Services

Cleaning services for accommodations also fall under the housing category in living expenses. This service is usually provided by hiring domestic help which is quite common in Dubai. The rates vary depending on the basis of cleaning but typically a full-time domestic helper would expect a salary of AED 2,700 (USD 735) per month and a part-time domestic helper that comes in once a week (3-hour service) would cost around AED 390 (USD 106) per month.

Dubai Education Costs 

Public Schools 

While expat kids are allowed to attend both public and private schools in the UAE, they must pay fees regardless of which type they select, as free government schooling is only available for Emirati nationals. For expats interested in public schools, the annual tuition fee has been capped at AED 6,000 (USD 1,635) per year.

International / Private Schools 

Dubai has just over 200 private schools servicing around 300,000 Emirati and expat students. Out of all the emirates Dubai is the only one that has implemented annual tuition caps forbidding schools from increasing their rates at unreasonable amounts every year. On average, International school fees range between AED 13,630 and 21,400 AED per year (3,710–5,830 USD).

It must be noted that school fees also depend highly on the school location, it varies with a significant deviation, and a complete overhaul can be seen here.

Higher Education

Dubai has 65 colleges with a multitude of different disciplines. They cater to both Emirati and expatriate students. However, public universities in Dubai use Arabic as the medium of teaching whilst most private universities teach using English. Regardless of the university, expatriate students are required to take Arabic language development classes. The average cost for an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree in total would be AED 173,400 (USD $47,209) or AED 54,800 to 82,200 (USD $14,919-22,379) respectively.

For a full breakdown on Dubai University fees, click here.

Dubai Transportation Costs

Dubai Metro Train travelling through the city

Car Ownership

The cost of buying a car greatly depends on the condition. To give a benchmark, the 2018 Toyota Corolla is the most commonly driven car in the UAE and fetches a price of AED 70,900. Implementing a regular 20% down payment, a 5-year payback plan, and considering other costs, it would come in at AED 20,800 per year excluding the down payment. However, when buying a used car, depreciation usually takes 20-40% off the total price of the car. As of 2020, a used 2018 Toyota Corolla (2 years old) fetches an average price of AED 48,878 (a ~32% discount).

The price of gasoline varies from AED 2.82 per litre for Special 95 to AED 2.94 per litre for Super 98, which is significantly cheaper than the worldwide average of 4,48 AED per litre.

Public Transportation

Transportation Fares/Prices in Dubai Average Cost
Taxis (per 1 km) AED 2.48 (USD 0.68)
Buses (single ticket)

AED 5 (USD 1.36)

Buses (monthly pass) AED 300 (USD 81.68)
Average price of 1 L petrol

AED 2.47 (USD 0.67)

In the JLT area, there are two Dubai Metro stations making it extremely convenient for employees, residents and visitors to access areas in the premium district, DMCC. There is also a bus service that travels around the community with stops throughout. 

For more information on Public Transportation in Dubai, you can visit the Dubai government's official website.

Dubai Healthcare & Insurance

Dubai Health Authority has implemented new legislation whereby all residents, including expats, must have private medical insurance. While locals can be covered under the government-funded scheme, expats will need to be covered under private health insurance schemes, which are usually purchased through their employers. 

Out of all seven emirates, Dubai is especially recognised for its high standard healthcare system. As an expat, you will be able to take advantage of both public and private healthcare facilities.

Health Card

While Dubai’s medical public facilities are free for locals, expats can receive a 50% discount with a health card. Health card fees are as follows:

  • Expatriate Fee up to 10 years – AED 120 (USD 32.67)
  • Expatriate Fee from 18 and above – AED 320 (USD 87.12)
  • Nationals Fee up to 10 years – AED 25 (USD 6.81)
  • Nationals Fee from 18 and above – AED 120 (USD 32.67)

The above fees are one-time payments to obtain a health card. Health cards must be reissued in place of an expired one (dependent on age). To apply for a health care card, expats can visit the Dubai Health Authority website.

The Essential Benefit Plan

There’s also something in place for lower-income employees or non-working residents. Launched in 2014, the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP) is the minimum level of health insurance cover that all residents in Dubai must have. It provides essential benefits at affordable prices. Below is a breakdown of the annual premium package fee for an EBP based on gender, job and age:

  • Employees: AED 650-725
  • Dependents (aged 0-65): AED 650
  • Non-working married females (aged 18-45): AED 1,600
  • Elderly parents: AED 2,500
  • General domestic help: AED 650

For more information, please visit Pacific Prime’s 2021 guide to mandatory health insurance in Dubai. 

Living in Dubai: Is It Really That Expensive for Expats?

Dubai has become a top contender for cities to live in for expats, yet remains one of the more affordable expat destinations.

Thinking of moving to Dubai for business? If you want to learn more, download our free 'Dubai Free Zone Guide' to learn everything you need to know about moving and setting up in the right free zone.

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Topics: Living in Dubai, Expat Life in Dubai

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