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. Dear Nash

    I have been offered a job in Dubai for 12,000 AED + Medical Insurance + Annual Leaves, and I have 2 dependents with me, my wife and my younger sister.

    Please advise how I will manage to live in Dubai.

  2. hi,

    Iam Indra, male 28 married from India. Recently got an offer from one of the leading banks in dubai with a salary of 9500 AED per month (no accommodation or fooding or transport provided by the company) . Is this enough for a couple to survive there ? If not, please let me know for how much should I bargain. I have a total work exp of 6 years in banking in India and my present package is INR 6.5 lacs per annum. What do you suggest? should I accept the offer ?


  3. Hi
    I am a recent graduate in electrical engineering and I have a 9 months internship experience in Europe. A medium sized company in Dubai is offering me 4000 AED/month + Accommodation + Car. Should I go?

  4. hi… i had an offer for 4800/- without accomodation and have accepted it and here for about 3 months now. I feel it too difficult to manage and would like to switch job asap. advise plz

  5. i have 8+ years exp in retail industry in india. here too i’m into retail field. but i dont prefer being in retail anymore if in retail may be into admin etc

  6. Clifford Hawthorne says:

    I am a Canadian that wants to seek employment in Dubai. I am an operating engineer that can operate many different machinery especially in the paving industry. I have over 30 years experience as a superintendent/foreman and would like to know where I can find employment in the paving industry. I am also a gradesman and have been building roads for many years. I have owned my own paving company and would like to seek out employment overseas especially Dubai, etc. Your input would be appreciated. THANKING YOU IN ADVANCE…

  7. Dear Nash,

    I am considering a move from the U.S. to UAE. I would like to spend 5-6 years there then return. I would like to know the overall state of the economy there. My off would be in Abu Dhabi and not Dubai. A transfer to Dubai in the future would not be out of the question. We are a family of 4 with two school age children. Current compensation is Monthly AED 54,000 – 57,000 + Family Medical + Bonus. I have yet to accept and have not researched the “bonus” offered yet. Seeing your earlier post of annual vs. monthly compensation..the above is correct of monthly. I wouldn’t want to share housing etc. What is your estimate of a “comfortable, no worries lifestyle” salary in that area. I don’t want this to be a work to live venture and would like to enjoy what the area has to offer as well as put money away for the future.

    Thank in advance for your reply,


  8. hey hi………..
    what is the scope of online marketing in dubai….?????

  9. What are the salaries of Nutritionist vs. I.T Content manager?

  10. Hi Nash,
    Gud pm.
    Im working as NICU nurse here in NGH earning 7000 sr.accomodation, shopping trip,bonuses and twice a year vacation, 30 d 30 days annual leave plus 15 holidays….
    But my family is not with me..
    i am planning to apply in abu dhabi same position, for me to get my husband and child..How much salary do i need to ask from my employer and how about the benefits of nurses in pretigious hospital or well -known hospital ther.please help me..

  11. Hi Nash, What would be the cost of decent/worry free living for a family of 4 in Dubai. 2 adults and 2 toddlers? can you break down rent/health/grocerries/school/leisure/transportation. This way i can negotiate my salary.


  12. hi lora,
    I ‘ am a fashion designer from Pakistan I’ have been asked to come to dubai as I am a fashion stockist in a fashion house in dubai . what are the opportunities for a fashion stockist in dubai and how many couture fashion houses are there plus how mch cn I earn ( I am a hautecoutureier).I’ will be selling design hautecouture ensembles it’s not a job. or commission bases.

  13. hi nash,
    I ‘ am a fashion designer from Pakistan I’ have been asked to come to dubai as I am a fashion stockist in a fashion house in dubai . what are the opportunities for a fashion stockist in dubai and how many couture fashion houses are there plus how mch cn I earn ( I am a hautecoutureier).I’ will be selling design hautecouture ensembles it’s not a job. or commission bases.

  14. Hai dears,
    I got offer from bubai for 6000 AED per month.(No accomodation,No food)Free visa,yearly 1 month leave.Is it worth?Hw much i can save per month atleast 4500 Rs per month???

  15. Hello,

    I got Offered of Rs.3000/- AED plus Accomodation + Conveyance free
    It is easy to servive all other Expenses
    How can i save my Maximum amount

  16. Hi all,

    I have got an offer in UAE for 13000AED per month including all. Is that a good offer? i have my wife with me. Should i go for this? how much i can save from here if i lead medium class life.


  17. Hi,

    good feedback from all the users,

    i got a jod from Emirates bank with an salary offer of 4500AED without accomodation,food, and transportion, is it good offer to accept for 2 people to live? kindly advise at the earliest.

    • Hii Somu,

      am patsy here.. for me personally, even with the given 5,000dhs offer I received is insufficient for me.

      I find that seeing for a job in dubai is a challenge. so you think would it be sufficient for me to use one month to hunt for a job ?

      best regards,

  18. Hii Dubaians,

    Have just been offered 5,000dhs ( without accomodation / travel expenses )

    Is that sufficient to live ?

  19. Ibrahim Abdul Rehman says:

    Hi Nash,

    I am offered 4000 Dhs as a sales officer for a marketing company in Dubai. Is it a good start keeping in mind that I do not have a driving licence and UAE Experience in Sales. Would appreciate your input.


  20. Hi,

    Thank you for this valueable information. I am a Canadian Citizen I have a diploma in business marketing. I’m working in the finance industry as a supervisor for Citi for the past 3 years.

    I am considering to move to the U.A.E what kind of salary should i expect based on my work experience, education and citizenship.

    thank you


  21. hi,

    i am getting 19.37 lacs Indian Rupees per annum in india at my current job.

    What should i demand for my package in DUBAI , I m an MBA and engg graduate in sales and marketing. i have two kids.


  22. Dear Nash,

    I am an advertising senior executive with 16+ years experience out of which 8+ are in management CEO level. I’m exploring the possibility to relocate in Dubai and I was wondering if you could provide me with some contacts of executive search companies specialized in this area of expertise. Thank you in advance for your answer and for the well put together web site.


  23. Dear Nash,

    Do you know of any Dubai Recruitment Agencies, with a local number I can call. Someone like you only her in Dubai or any assistance that i can go in UAE?

  24. Dear Nash,

    Do you know of any South Dubai Recruitment Agencies, with a local number I can call. Someone like you only her in Dubai or Any assistance that i can go in UAE?

  25. Hi,
    I am Software engineer with 6 years of experience.I got one offer in Dubai. They are offering me AED-9000 per month with FREE accommodation and free transportation.I wuld like to save min 50,000 INR t 1 Lac INR. Is this package sufficient or how much i need to earn t save as mentioned?
    Kindly advise please. its very urgent.
    Thank you so much in advance.


  26. Hi,

    I have 7 years exp in various sectors like Corporate sales, Banking and currently associated Logistics, I have been offered job at one of bank in Dubai, where as they offering me 4500 AED without accommodation & transportation, Will this salary be enough for both husband and wife to live in Dubai??? Please help

  27. hi
    My uncle is living in UAE more than 3 years working as Document controller. He has got HSSC only getting roundabout 3500 UED.
    What is his chances of progress and in how many years?
    Please guide us

  28. Dear Nash,

    I am a 3.8 Years Software professional… I have a offer from dubai in banking domain ..I have been offered 9000AED/Month without accommodation and dey have assured by this year end they will increase this salary by at least 1000 AED….Need your kind advise whether this s a good offer as per my exp… will I be able to save 5500 AED after leading a moderate life style… please advise ASAP….

  29. Hi Guru’s,
    I am from India – ICWA from India and having 7 Years of work experience – having master degree and two post graduate certificates too in financial management & Business Management.

    I am bachelor rightnow and will be going to marry after one year. i have been offered 12000/-pm all inclusive with accomodation and other things.

    how much saving practically possible with average lifestyle and accomodation place in UAE.

    i am comparing / evaluating with my indian opportunities. your immediate responce is highly encouraged.

  30. Hi,
    this is a great site. I am a canadian citizen and I’m looking for opportunities in u.a.e. I have 2 years plus management experience in the financial industry and a marketing background. I wanted to know if I get a job, in u.a.e how much salary should I ask for per month.

    thank you

  31. I got on offer from a Company in dubai, which is offering me between AED 11,000 – AED 12,000 + Annual Bonus upto 3 months of monthly salary, will it be sufficient for a recently married couple to have a decent standard of living. How much I would be able to save? Please reply

  32. Nazia Parween says:

    respected sir,
    i am persuing MBA from India and want to work in UAE……what should i do to get job there…My specialization is in Finance… me plz

  33. I am from India & I am single, I got job in Dubai. I am in software sales company is gng to paied me 8000AED per/mth.

    I have to manage accomdation & food.

    Pls can anyone tell me its a gud amount for single or not & how much I can save.


  34. hi,
    could you please advice me on the best websites or the ways to find job in hotel industry and also guess the salary scale i will get in dubai hotels if i have 9 years experience in the hospitality field?

  35. Dear Sir / Madam,

    I have a Bachelors in Math w/ 3 yrs experience and considering teaching Math – Jobs in Dubai, do you have any idea what schools should i consider?


  36. surinder says:

    i am surinder meena i am pursuing MBA (marketing, hr) i am fresher i want a job in uae or other country where they provide good salary is it possible to get a job for fresher and pre placement before completing the degree of MBA plz contact me if it is

  37. Hi

    Recently i got a offer from dubai based company precedence technologies as a n/w engineer, i have 1 years experience they are offering me 5000 aed per month w/o accomodation, please give me urs opinion on the same, also i want to know about the company where i need to check?? expecting your reply soon…

  38. surinder says:

    hiii i dont want my reply is on related to accdomation……
    i want to know i am pursuing MBA from india i want job in dubai i am fresher can u help me in getting job mobile no +919019234243

  39. F
    Dear Nash,

    Firstly, your website, knowledge and sincere advise is excellent, I commend you on your good work.
    Myself and my husband are hoping to move to the UAE in 2 yrs time, we are planning ahead! I am a nurse manager with 12 yrs experience, I am currently studying for an MBA which I will finish in 12 months time. I hope to look for assistant director of nursing posts or a management position of the equivalent. My husband is an automotive engineer who is also doing a business masters at the moment. He is experienced in automotive design and sales with 15 yrs experience.

    From the research I have done its difficult to ascertain the salary I could earn. There is info on new grad nurses but not senior management positions, can you advise.
    For my husband, is it difficult to find a position for him with Arabic?

    What is a realistic salary to negotiate at these levels?

    We have been to Dubai on many occasions and it is where we see ourselves in the future!

    Look forward to hearing from you.

  40. Devisha says:

    I am a student of Chartered accountancy course.
    Can you please let me know the cost of living and safe areas to live in Dubai.

  41. Hi,
    I’m lebanese and im 21 years old.There is this job vacancy as a key account specialist in sales in a multinational FMCG company (you can say salesman). They pay is 3500$ but i dont know yet if it includes accomodation or anything else. But lets say it doesnt so i can expect the worse deal to be that the salary is 3500$ (12 800 AED) in total (no accomodation and no transportation..), would it be enough for everything? ( im a person that likes to party and go out, AND live decently, not in a hole :) ) Thanks for the help!!

    • oh and im currently working in an outside marketing agency (handling customer relations and mainly below the line promotions and activities) that is working WITH the same multinational FMCG company in lebanon as an account executive..i get 1000$ and barely have expenses..maybe none..

  42. Sarah Raine says:

    Hi Nash ,

    I am desperately ,(i don’t want the hiring company to know yet , tehe) looking for a Job in Dubai as a customer care call representative or related. I have around three years of working experience in Jordan, in the biggest telecom company there. I am a highschool graduate though, and my BSc is underprogress, is this really relevent?, I plan to complete my BSc in the future, not now. Even more important is I am trying to find the quickest way to get hired, as my family are going to be visting there in 6 weeks, And I want to be there by then. Anways , please advise, is there anything I can do to shorten my Job hunt? What kind of Salary should I expect?


  43. Dear Nash,

    Thank you for your remarkable insights…

    I am working in international relations with 13 years of experience in Europe, US and Africa. I do speak 4 foreign languages. Have checked Job Sites list but don’t see many NGO, international/regional think tank organizations. I would appreciate your advice for a job in development, humanitarian field.


  44. Dear sir,

    I have been offerd 15500 AED monthly(BANK–IT Dept).My wife is house wife.I have 5+years of IT Experience. please suggest still its worth to come to dubai.Package will be sufficient or not for 5+years of it experience in dubai(In Banking sector).

  45. Hi,

    I am a Canadian Citizen and my education was also acquired in Canada. I have total 7 years of banking experience and 4 years of managerial experience. What salary expectation i should have if i am considering to move to U.A.E

    thank you

  46. Hi. I am a computer technician and I have 13 years experience. I wanna work in Dubai. but my english level is between intermediate and upper-intermediate. not perfect. speaking is not fluently. Is it enough ? thanx

  47. hello I am a chartered accountant from India. I am getting an offer of 7000 AED gross salary. Will it be good option to go for it.


    • 7000 AED salary is normal. But my english level is between intermediate and upper-intermediate. not perfect. speaking is not fluently. Is it enough ? also, I am living in Turkey. if you wanna my cv, I will send. see by

  48. Hi thanks for putting such a useful forum,
    i need certain immediate suggestion from the expert.
    I am a Indian( 3.7 Years exp Senior Software Engineer)working in a MNC in India,Right now I am earning INR 5.5 L\ Annum.
    I have a offer from China System,Dubai.They have offered me 9000 Dhrms/M without accommodation, and they will also provide health insurance, 1 month paid leave ,air ticket.
    I am middle class person not looking for very lavish life style.
    Please suggest me
    1.Is this offer is good for me or not,will I be able save 6k dhrms per month?
    2.Any idea about china system which is located in Bur, much a 3.7 years exp guy can expect from this company? stay with wife in near future with a 1 BHK flat how much I need to earn to save at least 6k dhrms/M

  49. Eda Begaj says:

    Dear Sir,

    I am offered a job as a waiters in an italian Bar Restorant. The salary is seven hundred american dollars. plus four hundred merican dollars for accomodation. I would like to go and work, but I dont know anything about the cost of living. Will I survive with such salary? What about the tips, because the employer told me I will earn more than one thousand american dollars from tips client leave.

    Thank you in advance!

    • Eda Begaj says:

      I would really appreciate a quick answer, because I have to fill in an application form within Tuesday.

      thank you!

  50. I’ve posted the same question 4 times but no one replied to me so far. My questions doesnt even show up on the posts