Cost of living in Dubai 2017, is it ideal to relocate here (Updated 2018)

I’ve been working in UAE for more than ten years now and, I couldn’t remember how many from my friends back home asked me the same questions over and over, like,

Is it easy to work in UAE?

Are you planning to retire there for good?

Can we relocate there with my kids?

The third one catch my attentions and alarm me, why? because the person who asked this is, really serious and decided to take a risk to come here and to give up the life they started in the Philippines.

She is in her mid 30’s, has two kids and responsible husband. Both of them are working hard for their future and to support the daily needs of their growing children.

Aside from their regular work, they have an ongoing business which is having an average revenue.

I am comfortable talking to her, I am confident that our friendship is strong and she will not take my honest and frank opinions in bad side.

I asked her what are her expectations and plans for me to see if that is realistic and achievable.

She told me that, she wants to try her luck first to work here, then afterward her husband would follow. Once everything is settled, they will bring the kids to continue their studies here.

Their plans look so ideal and easy, I told her that I am not discouraging nor encouraging her. But I have few questions to her that she can consider , I asked her if she is willing to take the risk of giving up the stable life they have now, if its alright for her to be away from her family for a while, does she accept the facts that coming in Dubai in visit visa is a gamble of their hard earned money, they are not sure if that would be successful.

As per her if it means of providing a bright future for their kids, it would be fine.

We discussed few things including the normal salary and basic expenses here, I gave her the rough estimate base on different situations.

I told her the current salary in market base on my research from different job portal and from some HR personnel I’ve known.

According to her working experience, she is qualified to work in office or sales industry which the salary is ranging from AED 2500.00 to AED 3500.00 gross per month. If she will be lucky enough, she might found a salary of AED4000.00 – AED5000.00 but this is really competitive like in ratio of 2 out of 10 as most of the companies are prioritizing those who have experience in Gulf, but offering the same salary.

While for the monthly expenses, below are the rough estimate.

Scenario 1
-Living in bed space
-Expenses are base on 1 person

Description Amount (AED)
Room rental 800.00
Food Allowance 500.00
Transportation 350.00
Extra expenses (toiletries etc) 500.00
Estimated monthly expenses:  2150.00

Scenario 2
-Living in private room or studio room
-Expenses are base on 2 persons (husband and wife)

Description Amount (AED)
Room rental 3000.00
Dewa (Electricity & Water) 500.00
Internet 320.00
Food Allowance  1000.00
Transportation 700.00
Extra expenses (toiletries etc) 500.00
Estimated monthly expenses: 6020.00

Scenario 3
-Living in shared room or partition
-Expenses are base on 2 persons

Description Amount (AED)
Room rental  1500.00
Dewa (Electricity & Water) 200.00
Internet 100.00
Food Allowance 1000.00
Transportation 700.00
Extra expenses (toiletries etc)  500.00
Estimated monthly expenses: 4000.00

Scenario 4
-Living in private room
-with 1 schooling child
-Expenses are based on 2 persons with 1 child

As far as I know, you need to have your own unit if you will be bringing your kids here.

Below cost doesn’t include yet the kid’s visa and health insurance.

Expenses Amount (AED)
Room rental 3000.00
Dewa (Electricity & Water) 500.00
Internet 320.00
Food Allowance 1500.00
Transportation 700.00
Extra expenses (toiletries etc)  1000.00
School expenses 1250.00
Babysitter 800.00
Estimated monthly expenses: 9070.00

Aside from considering these details, you need to give thoughts on the amount you would be spending in processing your visit visa, amount to spend on your job hunting (approximately AED6000.00 / PHP 75.000-78.000)

She is convinced that they need to study their plans well and consider few things.

I advised her to do a research and check with another person she knows working here and ask their opinions as well.

UAE is a good place to live in but, like a truly wise person, one should have a knowledge in one thing before doing any decision.

My simple advice to all who are aspiring to relocate here is to do your research, know the pros and cons and consider a lot of things before taking a big risk that will affect your family’s future.

And for the other two questions;

Is it easy to work in UAE? – it depends on the situations, capabilities, and determination of one person.

Are you planning to retire there for good? – No, no matter how long we work here, we will never be a permanent resident here, at a certain age we will be going back to the Philippines and it is our turn to start our life over again.

If you have any questions about living in Dubai, feel free to send me a message and I will do my best to give the accurate answer.

Summary about cost of living in Dubai (Updated as of September 16, 2018):

  • Four-person family monthly costs: 9,663.60AED without rent .
  • A single person monthly costs: 2,847.22AED without rent.
  • Cost of living index in Dubai is 44.48% lower than in New York.
  • Cost of living rank 302th out of 530 cities in the world.
  • Dubai has a cost of living index of 55.52.
Restaurants Range Range
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 25.00 AED 10.0045.00
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course 150.00 AED 80.00260.00
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) 24.53 AED 13.0030.00
Domestic Beer (1 pint draught) 40.00 AED 20.0050.00
Imported Beer (11.2 oz small bottle) 40.00 AED 20.0050.00
Cappuccino (regular) 14.93 AED 10.0020.00
Coke/Pepsi (11.2 oz small bottle) 2.64 AED 1.255.00
Water (11.2 oz small bottle) 1.29 AED 1.002.00
Milk (regular), (1 gallon) 18.72 AED 15.0026.50
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) 3.21 AED 2.005.67
Rice (white), (1 lb) 2.72 AED 2.005.44
Eggs (regular) (12) 7.37 AED 5.0014.00
Local Cheese (1 lb) 14.61 AED 8.1622.68
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1 lb) 8.91 AED 5.0018.14
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) 13.10 AED 10.0022.68
Apples (1 lb) 2.94 AED 2.005.44
Banana (1 lb) 2.43 AED 2.003.63
Oranges (1 lb) 2.55 AED 2.004.54
Tomato (1 lb) 2.01 AED 1.254.54
Potato (1 lb) 1.36 AED 1.002.72
Onion (1 lb) 0.89 AED 0.501.81
Lettuce (1 head) 3.81 AED 3.008.00
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 1.56 AED 1.003.00
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 30.00 AED 25.0065.00
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 15.98 AED 15.0030.00
Imported Beer (11.2 oz small bottle) 15.80 AED 15.0035.00
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) 20.00 AED 10.0021.00
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 5.00 AED 3.007.50
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 205.00 AED 170.00350.00
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 12.00 AED 5.5012.00
Taxi 1 mile (Normal Tariff) 2.82 AED 2.004.02
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 20.00 AED 15.0030.00
Gasoline (1 gallon) 8.27 AED 5.689.46
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) 65,000.00 AED 40,000.0091,500.00
Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) 59,096.02 AED 35,000.0074,000.00
Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment 596.04 AED 300.001,000.00
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) 0.35 AED 0.101.00
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 350.66 AED 240.00500.00
Sports And Leisure
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 292.72 AED 125.00500.00
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 74.84 AED 35.00150.00
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat 40.00 AED 35.0048.00
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child 1,901.67 AED 800.003,600.00
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child 34,404.20 AED 15,000.0060,000.00
Clothing And Shoes
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) 195.46 AED 70.00400.00
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) 164.54 AED 70.00300.00
1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) 291.40 AED 140.00500.00
1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes 276.81 AED 130.00500.00
Rent Per Month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 5,784.88 AED 2,700.008,333.00
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 3,582.21 AED 1,700.005,500.00
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 9,511.90 AED 6,000.0015,000.00
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 6,906.93 AED 4,800.0010,000.00
Buy Apartment Price
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment in City Centre 946.27 AED 557.411,799.99
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre 686.52 AED 550.00999.99
Salaries And Financing
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) 11,800.89 AED
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate 3.86 2.505.00
Last update: September 2018

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