Cost of Living in Dubai: Accommodation, Transportation, and Food

If you’re planning to work and live in Dubai, that’s one of the basic questions you need to ask and find the answer to. It’s the fundamental information you need to know before you actually go hunting for a job. Unlike in some countries, there are no minimum wage rates or standardized salaries in Dubai. What you would receive as compensation is largely dependent on how well you negotiate. Salary expectation is a basic question employers ask of applicants. It’s best to report to an interview with one specific figure, expressed in AED, in mind – the lowest monthly salary package you are willing to accept for any job you’re applying for.

Although this economic concept might involve a combination of many other factors, the quality of life you would have in Dubai is largely a factor of three things: your cost of living, lifestyle and your purchasing power. Since purchasing power is anchored on future earnings, it’s important to know what to expect in cost of living to give you a base figure for salary negotiations.

Factors in Dubai’s Cost of Living

In Dubai, cost of living revolves around three basic factors. Let’s examine each in the context of living in Dubai.


This is perhaps the largest single expense you would need to seriously take into consideration. Real estate is a thriving industry in Dubai as it becomes even more New York-like. Competing with commercial development, costs of residential buildings have gone up considerably in recent years. With the surge of businesses, the influx of foreign workers in Dubai has raised the demand for living spaces. Flats, villas and living quarters have become a scarce resource in Dubai because of the surge in demand. Therefore, rent is a huge consideration.


Although Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority or RTA runs a very smooth operation, the number of passengers Dubai buses serve daily is just too much. The vehicle volume in Dubai’s main thoroughfares, particularly along Sheikh Zayed Road is overflowing at peak hours. Traffic is usually heavy, making it even more difficult for buses and taxis to turnaround quickly. Transportation is an issue in Dubai because many of Dubai’s business centers are located nowhere near residential areas.


This is probably the least of your concerns. Despite the inflation and the state of the world’s economy, food has remained affordable in Dubai across all salary levels. Eating out is another story. But that’s an experience even laborers at construction sites in the Industrial Areas in Al Quoz can afford from time to time.

So, what are your options if you want to live in Dubai? How much should you make? That’s a question you need to answer yourself. Salaries in Dubai vary within a wide range depending on what you are selling (your qualifications) and how you are selling it (negotiation skills). It’s not unusual in Dubai to find an executive secretary making more than a sales representative in the same company. Even two secretaries working the same jobs can have different compensation packages.

Let’s take a look at your cost of living factors with respect to your options.

Your Options in Dubai


Depending on location, there are studio-type flats in Dubai that rent for under AED 3,500 a month. You’d find these in Deira or at Bur Dubai and in similar places. The high-end living options available at places like the Dubai Marina or Jumeirah start at AED 8,000 a month. Some people decide to share living space and split the cost. Other high-end compensation packages normally have company-provided villas or flats.


Dubai bus fare is AED 2 per ride. Taxi fares start at AED 3. In Dubai, however, aving your own car is the cheapest, fastest and the easiest mode of transport. People with international driving licenses have a definite edge as jobseekers. But all drivers are required to obtain a UAE driving license in due time. If you have neither a car nor a valid driving license, you have another option besides taxis and Dubai bus: car lifts. People who have their own cars usually ferry friends and officemates to and from work.


Food is a wonderful, cultural experience in Dubai. Since the world is represented in this small community, you’d find all sorts of exotic and delectable options. Chances are, you’d even find your favorite dish, whether that’s Indian Beryani or Italian pasta. Cost is not an issue. People in Dubai are blessed in that respect. Everyone can afford to eat anything they fancy. Whether you feel better cooking your own meals or you prefer ordering it from Dubai’s vast selection of restaurants, you’d find what you like here.

A Hint for Dubai Jobhunters

A key housing point to remember in interviews is to ask your employer if they provide their staff with free accommodation. There are companies in Dubai that offer free accommodation in staff houses even to their rank-and-file employees. Especially for job hunters that would fall in the low-income range, it is always good to join companies that provide free accommodation because the housing always comes with food allowances and transport service. As part of salary packages, cost of living allowances given in the form of free accommodation and transport service is a better option. It frees you from making these necessary arrangements yourself.

Join us. Boost your Dubai career!


  1. hello I am Anika and I have 6 years of IT Business analysis experience on corebanking and other projects. I am MBA degree holder, INSHA ALLAH going to visit dubai in Feb 2011. Can you guide me what type of jobs suitable for me and which salary criteria or other benefits required for me and my son? plus if you can give me good recruiters contacts so it will be great for me to apply directly to them. by the way your provided info is so much knowledgable, Allah bless you for your these efforts. can you share your contact details on my email address as given above. thanks

  2. Hi Everyone!!

    I have completed my MBA in Finance and am looking out for a job in Dubai bt have not been successful. I am an Indian citizen. Can you help me as to where i can find a job and what kind of companies should i try looking out for and will i get a finance oriented job like financial analyst/associate/treasury post etc.. and the pay that i can expect on a monthly basis.. can u please help me what can i do to find a job out there as all my try is all failing me completely since 2 months!

    Thank you in advance and looking forward to hear a positive response!

  3. Thanks abunch!
    Message percieved and easily digestable by any reader/job junter most especially in regards to Acomodation/transport and salary negotiations.
    Would as well appreciate it if an opening in Telecommunications arises with speciality in Service Delivery(switching-NOC background)-Bachelor of Engineering in Telecommunications Engineering with 6++ experience and Lecturing in Electronics.
    please do keep up the good work and spirit.

  4. Hi ,

    When i moved to the UAE with my family i bought this report on-line, its called the cost of living report uae . it was nice , i did not have to worry about doing a lot of research before moving and looking for a place to stay . I looked in the report , compared it with my budget and took a place in Mirdiff directly from the owner . so i saved around 4500 dhs on commission for a real state agency. the report was like 3500 dhs but it paid off i guess . here is the link , i think they update it every year and this year they have other GCC countries:

  5. rapheal antony says:

    Hi Guys,
    I have A experience of 3 years in Retail Banking Sales And im From India. My Annual CTC is INR2.5 Lacs.Now I got A offer in Abu-dhabi First Gulf Bank in a position of sales Executive For Credit cards With Offer Of AED 4000 To 5000 Plus Incentive Without Accommodation. Im New To there Is It A good Pay For A guy With Age of 23+ And Im Single Can You Gudie Me.
    Thanks &Regards
    Rapheal Antony .L

  6. This is not a good offer for this much of experience This should be 9000 AED
    At this lavel

    I hope this is not a direct offe from the company


  7. hi omveeer,
    thanks For Ur suggestions i don’t know that it will be a direct offer from a FGB bank is it the manageable Task that we handle The cost of living of abu Dhabi with AED 4000-5000 with incentives i just want to clarify the things

    thanks& regards
    Raphael Antony.L

  8. hi,
    i got an offer for 6000dhs in dubai,am a textile engineer with 4 yrs experience…have friends in dubai to help me ou in getting accomadation…please tell will this be a good offer or am underpayed in dubai?am planning to shift to dubai…

  9. Priyesh Gupta says:

    i am looking for jobs in general insurance companies / insurance brokers in Dubai. I have a total of 10.5 yrs (incl. 6 yrs in Gen. Insurance) of experience. i have a family with a kid (5.5 yrs) to support. one of my female married friend in Dubai is getting around 7500 AED with her husband also working. What package should i ask for in Dubai, having required qualifications to work in Insurance industry there. What is the cost of kids’ education in Dubai. i can also move without family for an year’s time or so.

    Pls suggest.

  10. Hi Sir
    I am studying Diploma in Business Management here in UK,after 2 years i got the degree in graduate in business management,but i am not sure about completion of my degree.i am also working in take away with 2 years experience of shift incharge,can u please guide me about jobs i can get in dubai.or any sugesstions.Thnx alot

  11. Dear Nash,

    I have got a offer for 6000AED in Gulf Bank as a relationship manager for Bancassurance(sales job)
    I am single Having 4 year exp in India and getting 500000 INR in india will you suggest me to go my concern is-1) Gaining experience in Dubai is valid in India after 5 year if at all I would like to come back again India. 2) What would be growth and opportunity in Dubai considering yearly appraisal and getting better jobs.3)Will marriage soon within a year.

    Kindly suggest consider as case study…Thanks


  12. Hi ,

    Am Mridula, an Indian national working as a Software tester in Deloitte Consulting,Bangalore.I have a total experience of 5 years. I am seeking for good job opportunities in software testing in Dubai as my husband who works in Shell Oil, is relocating there.

    My domain is Finace /Banking and Telecom billing. Also I have experiece in CRM.

    Could you please let me know for any job sites/portals, where I can post my resume and receive job updates? Also, Could you please advice on the salary paskage for a 5-year experienced in Software testing field?

    Thanks a lot!


  13. wasim akram says:

    Dear Friends,
    can anybody help me out,as I am looking for a job in accounts.And what is the minimum salary I should expect in AED as an accounts executive. currently I am working in india and getting 2000 AED as per UAE currency.Please reply so that I can look further to start for job search in dubai.

  14. Hi i m working for a travel agency based in uk…currently based in india…have an experience of 3 years in tele sales and 1 year in travel and tours-sales…i m looking for a job in travel and tourism field as its one of the booming country…currently drawing an average salary of AED 4200.can u pls help my with your guidance


  15. Hi,

    My name is Ashish, M from India. I have 11 yr experience here in customer service department as customer care manager. Worked in Industries like Satellite tv & Consumer durable. Currently earning approx 7 Lac INR per annum. In Dubai what salary should i expect. Also would like to know about how much is living cost in 2 bhk flat / appt.

    Pl guide, would be thankful.

  16. Abdul khan says:

    i completed my after graduate i am doing some networking courses because i am interested i am CCNA,MCITP,CCNP Certified. so my question is that i want to job in dubai cani i able to get good job in Dubai.
    reply soon

  17. hi Nash

    an excellent website for newcomers in Dubai, i am planning to come to Dubai in jan 2012 for job hunt, currently working in a bank n dealing in foreign trade finances for last 4 years, also have an experience for 2.5 years in warid telecom which is owned by dhabi group in Pakistan and one of the leading telecom companies here (exposure there was in supply chain management & branding) kindly guide me, what is the average salary here keeping in view the exposure i have…also giv me contacts/sites to drop cv.
    thanx n regards

  18. Hi,

    I am presently working for an oil and gas company as a Contract Manager in Nigeria. I have recently been offered a job as a Contract Officer in Dubai with a salary of 13,000 AED per month inclusive of housing and transportation costs. Please, kindly advise if the job is worthwhile. Would it be easy to get another job in a managerial role elsewhere in Dubai and is the salry reasonable as I plan to bring in my family after a year. What is the monthly salary one should ask for that would be reasonable. Thank you for your anticipated response and well done on the website.

  19. Hi i got a offer in healthcare groups… and offered a pay of AED 3000 including food and accomodation… Is that fine to lead a comfortable life… Am single who dont spend much..

  20. HUDA LAIQ says:

    Hy iam a Pakistani Resident, Me and my Fiancee are planning to relocate there in Dubai, after getting married We both have 2.5 Years of Experience in HR and He is planning to go alone taking 90 days Visa quit his present job in Pakistan soon after getting married and move there for a good opportunity , Do you think is it some thing wise we are going for ? Iam really perplexed and a job of how much initially he could expect there ? plz help me

  21. I liked this content/ article. I would certainly recommend the same to others as well.visit:mumbaiflowerplaza dot com(send gifts and flowers to Mumbai).

  22. Can you tell me how much a General/cosmetic dentist would/should make on a in the UAE. I am an American graduate and have and have 18 yrs experience. I know it wont compare to what we have here but I would like a change. I have 3 kids so I would need to be able to send them to good schools. Thanks.

  23. Rookantha Rajapakse says:

    I am from Sri Lanka and I have graduated in Bachelor of Science with honours in Applied Science stream (2010) . Now I have been working in an coconut based food manufacturing and exporting company in Sri Lanka from 15/11/2010. So I am looking for a job opportunity which match with my educational qualifications and working experience. or I would like to join with a company as a Management Trainee. In Sri Lanka we are really underpaid and over worked so I will not be able to develop my personal life. please understand my situation and help me on this.

    If you want to look on to my CV I can email it to you. please send me your email address if possible.

    Look forward

    Thank you

  24. Manikandan says:

    Hi ,
    I am working in IT with 5.7 years of exp. now I got an offer in Dubai for 7800 AED. they said, accommodation(1BK Apartment) & transport will be provided. is it a good salary to live with my family(wife+ 1 year child) ?

    Also i need the info on the house accommodation whether it will be full furnished ? or we need to buy all the things?

    please reply me

  25. I want to ask that my husband works in Al Ain,he gets 1500 drhm and he wants to call me in Al it possible that I could live with my husband in Al Ain.What should I do?

  26. harpreet singh says:

    dear sir,
    I Harpreet Singh from Punjab i hav recently completed my diploma in mechanical engg and NDT Level 2.I have been offered a job in Sharjah they are offering me 2000AED/ mnth + food nd accomodation. after reading the article i m little confuse so can u please give advice on that.
    u cn mail me on


  27. Anand Desai says:

    Dear Sir
    I am Anand Desai. I have completed BE in Mechanical Along With PGD In Piping Design & Engineering.
    Also I have completed Diploma in Fabrication Technology & Erection Engineering.
    I have Experience of about 3 years in Project Department.
    I am searching for a suitable opening in Gulf region especially in Dubai please suggest me any good companies where i can apply for job.
    Waiting for Reply
    Thanks & Regards
    Anand Desai

  28. Dear Sir,

    I have 4 years of total experience in IT(Software development), and i am having offer of 6500 AED per month + accommodation + Transportation(Office Pick and drop).

    Is this a good offer?
    Should i go for it?
    How much avg. money can i save per month?

    I really appreciate if you get some time to answer my query.


  29. HI,

    I recently returned from USA and have worked there as Websphere administrator with one of the top three banks of world and now currently working for the same bank from India, i have over 4 years of experince as WAS administrator (System Analyst). I have my masters in electrical enginering from USA but have not worrked as Electrial Engineer in any part of career but have done some internship. I wanted to check with you what salary I can expect and i am married and what is the best field to apply jobs for , websphere/electrical.

    Thanks in advance, please reply to my query when you get some time.


  30. Hi ,
    I am working in IT with 5.7 years of exp. now I got an offer in Dubai for 7800 AED. they said, accommodation(1BK Apartment) & transport will be provided. is it a good salary to live with my family(wife+ 1 year child) ?

    Also i need the info on the house accommodation whether it will be full furnished ? or we need to buy all the things?

    please reply me

    • Hi Mani,
      Are you from India? What the the company which gives you this offer? I am also get same kind of offer.

  31. Dear Sir,

    I have been offered 210000 as annual salary. Is it enough to have a good living in dubai with this package with my partner. Please advise.


  32. Pankaj Anand says:

    I am a photographer, looking for a job in any magazine/publication. Please guide me how to go about looking for a job in Dubai. I am currently working as a freelance Photo Researcher at Architectural Digest magazine in India. I jave a keen interest in photographing interiors/architecture.I am open to other kinds of photography as well. I am coming to Abu Dhabi to shoot a wedding on the 25th of Jan for three days and have 4 extra days to spare there. Please let me know which suitable places i can apply? What is the scope of photography industry? How much salary(approximate) can i expect if i get a job?
    Look forward to you reply.
    Thank you.


  33. Hello Sir,
    First of all many thanks for all the details you provided in this page. I have following question related dubai cost of living:

    I am getting an offer for Dubai where employer is offering followings per month:
    – 8500 AED
    – Full furnish Studio apartment
    – Home – Office – Home transport
    – Medical insurance for whole family
    – Yearly Gratuity
    – 500 AED additional as school fees

    I am looking for saving at least 5000 AED per month after doing all manadetory expenses as following:
    1. We all are pure vegetarian.
    2. We will cook food at home at least for 6 days a week.
    3. No body of us Drink or Smoke.
    4. Our kid will start pre nursery school. We would take a good Indian or International school.
    4. Once in a week we would go for outing.
    5. We would have phone + internet + cable

    Please advise, considering offered salary and above expenses, would we able to save 5000 AED per month?

    Additioanl Expenses:
    1. My company is providing medical insurance for me and my family.
    2. My wife will not be working here so I really don’t need transportation for my wife.
    3. Will I get a good primary school for my kid within range of 1500-2000 AED per month?
    4. I am assuming following monthly expenses:
    Groceries (Food Items + Cosmetics + Cleaning Items + other): 2000 AED
    Internet and Cable: 300 AED
    Water and electricity: 400 AED
    Misc Expenses: 500 AED
    Total: 3000 – 3500 AED per month

    Please let me know if my above assumption related to monthly expenses are valid?

    Thanks in advance.

  34. cassian pereira says:

    i will compplete my engineering in june….is there any job in dubai for extc engineer

  35. hey can u plzz tell me any good company job related to supply chain nd logistics…iam juzz married nd eish to move to dubai..soo how much shud i get ma salary per expecting atleast AED8000 plzzz sugesst me n help as soon as posblr..thank u



  37. Praveen Kumar says:

    Hi to everyone

    I am a BE-EEE fresher, I get job opportunity in dubai, my salary is around 3500-4000AED. This is enough for Living there ? and importantly i have to send around 15000-20000 INR to my home.

  38. Dear Sir,

    I am an MCA with 3.8 years experience, currently working as a sr web developer , earning 25000 INR per month, im looking for a job of sr web developer in dubai.I apply throu sites like bayt, gulf talent, naukri gulf etc but no success so far…

    can you provide me with list of good HR agencies or consultants,, and a salary structure suitable for my profile…

    Thanking you.

  39. Hi Everyone

    I am an accountant having 5 years of experience. I ma planning to move to Dubai from London. Can anyone advice? How much average accountant gets there? whats the cost of living? Visa guide also welcome & job sites.


  40. Hi there…

    I’m going for an interview here in SA on the 29th of January for hospitality. Can you give me any info onwhat to expect in this tipe of interview?

    Thank you

  41. Mohammad Aquib Siddiqui says:

    I have completed my MBA specialized in Marketing & Sales from Mumbai University, India in 2011. I have 1.9 years of work experience in Corporate sales which was prior to my MBA. I want to work in gulf countries specially Dubai but i am not getting the right source from where one can search, apply or get in touch with companies in gulf. Please help

  42. Hi,

    Im looking for the job in Dubai, I’m a graduate and I have 2 years 6 months experience as Senior data associate at Crisil LTD (A standard and poors company). Just wanted to know is there is openings in financial sector specially for structure finance.

    Also, could you please let me know what salary range should I expect as compare to my education & experience.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Best regards,

  43. Mohd Arshi ansari says:

    I am from delhi(india) having more then 7 years of experience in Selling Life Insurance product in a good company. Currently i have got an offer from a consultant who hire for Dubai company to work as a freelancer(Agent) and the salary(subsidy) they are giving me for one year is AED 5000 with good commission. Just want to know if i go on the contract would there be chances to join any bank or any other Insurance company. and what is the scope of life insurance there?
    Please advise whether i accept or reject the offer

  44. hi there, (south African with british passport eu)
    I hold a Bed Degree in foundation phase education, majoring in Special needs education and english, as well as Bed honours degree in remedial education and learning support. I have three years experience as well as hold a management position at my current school. My husband and myself are looking to move to dubai for atleast three years in order to save and live a comfortable lifestyle. My husband works for a composite decking company and has worked his way up the ladder from manufacturing, design and installation of decks, training staff, and now sales (salesman of the month most months) he would want to stay in this industry and has experience in, waterproofing and building from early in his career. what is the best route to take? should i find a job first and he comes with me and searches from there? as well as what salary range i should expect, i would prefer to stay in pre-school or secondary school? Great site, your advice would be greatly appreciated.

  45. Hi Nash,
    First of all many thanks for all these valuable information. These really helps me.
    I am relocating to Dubai from India in April,2012. My company is offer 8800 AED + Accomodation (Studio apartment in International City) + Transportation (Home – Office – Home) + Family medical..

    My Family Size: Couple + 3 year old Kid.

    We have a very simple lifestyle. We do not drink alcohol, do not smoke, and do not go to clubs. We usually go for outing once in a week which includes eating out and watching a movie.

    Based on above facts, I calculated following fixed monthly expenses
    Food and groceries: AED 2000
    Utilities (Electricity + Internet + Cable + Phone) : AED 1000
    Kid schooling (Including transport): AED 1000
    Misc expenses (Taxi, Eating out, Outing etc): AED 500

    Please advice whether my above analysis is realistic or not? Should i be able to save 4000-5000 AED per months?

    Thanks in advance

  46. Hi

    I am a Zimbabwean with 8 years experience in residential architectural drafting.I hold a diploma in mechanical engineering and worked in this field for 17years prior to my switch to the architectural field which is my passion having done part time architectural work while i was working in mechanical engineering. I have experience with AutoCad and Revit Architecture. In the past 3years I have started implementing Integrated Project Delivery using Revit for building houses for some of my clients using the design-build form of contract.

  47. Hi all,

    I need your suggestion i em looking for job in dubai. about my qualification i simply science graduate and having one year experience in auto cad software.

    could anyone tell me how much opportunities are there for a guy like me in dubai.

  48. Vanashree says:

    Hi i am Vanashree from India,having 7+years experience in Hospitality in reservations and sales department on Managerial level,i am looking for a job in hotel industry at Dubai.Can i get a chance to work in Dubai ? Looking for positive reply….

  49. Md salatur says:

    Dear sir i am salatur from india.i will complete my BCA in 2012 so i want to live in dubai internet cities but confussing about my education will it compatible to work me in dubai after comleting my BCA i want to know about my quetion pliz kindly reply.

  50. Hi, I am working as a process leader in a domestic BPO, want to join telecom in dubai, please help.