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What is the Cost of Living in Dubai for Expats in 2024?

Young expat family watching Dubai sunset

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Whether you're considering a move to Dubai to set up a business or simply to capitalise on lucrative job opportunities, it's crucial to have a current understanding of the cost of living in the city.

As Dubai continues to flourish as a vibrant hub of commerce and innovation, the dynamics of its living expenses have evolved significantly. The cost of living in Dubai has seen a slight rise since 2023, but is still far below other popular expat hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, which is a primary factor as to why Dubai has been ranked at #1 for expats in 2024.

The overall cost of living in Dubai compared to other major cities can be seen below in Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey in 2023

City Ranking in Cost of Living

Compared to living in some of the world’s major expat hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, Zurich, and New York, 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 (1 bedroom)

Taxi Fare (1km) 

Petrol (1 litre)


AED 4,064.9

(USD 1,106.7)

AED 7,959.76

(USD 2,167.19) 

AED 3.00

(USD 0.82) 

AED 3.05

(USD 0.83)  

Hong Kong

AED 4,274.8

(USD 1,163.9)

AED 8,295.60

(USD 2,258.63) 

AED 4.70

(USD 3.06)

AED 11.25

(USD 2.85) 


AED 4,093.6

(USD 1,114.5)

AED 9,982.42

(USD 2,717.90) 

AED 2.70

(USD 0.74)

AED 7.68

(USD 2.09)


AED 6,405.9

(USD 1,744.1)

AED 9,552.54

(USD 2,600.85)

AED 20.15

(USD 5.49)

AED 7.54

(USD 2.05) 

New York

AED 6,025.7

(USD 12,824.5)

AED 15,286.91

(USD 4,162.14)

AED 7.99

(USD 2.17)

AED 3.72    

(USD 1.01) 

Information is from Numbeo (Most updated statistics: May 2024)

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 3,965.3

(USD 1079.73)

AED 4,064.9

(USD 1,106.7)

Family of Four

AED 13,842.1

(USD 3768.61)

AED 14,198.6

(USD 3,865.8)

Information is from Numbeo (Most updated statistics: May 2024)

With more attractions, restaurants, and cultural festivals planned for 2024 in Dubai and JLT, there is an even bigger appetite for expatriates to relocate to Dubai. Numbeo data has reflected the increased interest from expatriates with a rise in monthly expenses living in Dubai. The average cost of living in Dubai for a single person increased by 2.5% in 2024 compared to 2023. The estimated cost of living for a family of four also increased by 2.5%.

Moving through 2024, experts have suggested Dubai residents may see some slight increases in living expenses as the year progresses. This includes rental prices hiking up to 20% due to an increasing population as well as an increased influx of investors and professionals. Further incremental increases in costs are expected to be seen with paid parking, Salik tolls, and remittance fees. However, as of March 2024, Dubai’s inflation has witnessed a slight dip, attributable to lower prices of specific goods and services, notably in the food and transportation sectors.

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 7,959.77 (USD 2,167.16)

Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre

AED 4,871.70 (USD 1,326.39)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre

AED 15,243.75 (USD 4,150.33)

Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre

AED 10,354.80 (USD 2,819.24)

Information is from Numbeo (Most updated statistics: May 2024)

The Jumeirah Lakes Tower (JLT) is one of the best areas in Dubai to live for singles and families. It is among the most popular districts 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 74,522 (USD 20,298) per year or AED 6,210.2 (USD 1,691.5) per month. Expats choose to live in these areas because of the community, and nearby amenities are usually more suitable for their needs.

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 range of AED 1,500 to AED 4,000 (USD 408 - USD 1090) per month (dependent on factors such as live-in, live-out) and a part-time domestic helper that comes in once a week (3-hour service) would cost around AED 360 to AED 480 (USD 98 to USD 130) 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. International school fees range between AED 3,567 to AED 107,928 (975 –29,490 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 over 80 universities 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. The average cost for an undergraduate degree would range from AED 40,000 to AED 100,000 (USD 10,890 - USD 27,226) per academic year. The average cost for a graduate degree would range from AED 50,000 to AED 120,000 (USD 13,613 to USD 32,671) per academic year.

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 2024 Toyota Corolla is the most commonly driven car in the UAE and fetches a price of AED 74,900 (USD 20,392). Implementing a 20% deposit, a 60-instalment payback plan, and considering other costs, it would come in at AED 14,076 (USD 3,832) 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 2024, a used 2018 Toyota Corolla (3 years old) fetches an average price of AED 50,000.

The petrol price in Dubai as of May 2024 varies from AED 3.22 (USD 0.90) per litre for Special 95 to AED 3.34 per litre for Super 98 (USD 0.91), which is significantly cheaper than the worldwide average of 4.96 (USD 1.35) AED per litre.

Public Transportation

Transportation Fares/Prices in Dubai

Average Cost

Cost of Taxis in Dubai

Minimum Starting Tariff

Per additional 1 km


AED 12.00 (USD 3.27)

AED 1.97 (USD 0.82)

Buses (single ticket)

Within 1 Zone

2 Adjacent Zones

More than 2 Zones

AED 4 (USD 1.09)

AED 6 (USD 1.63)

AED 8.50 (USD 2.31)

Buses (monthly ticket)

For 1 Zone

For 2 Zones

For all Zones

AED 140 (USD 38.12)

AED 230 (USD 62.62)

AED 350 (USD 95.29)

Average price of 1 L petrol

AED 3.05 (USD 0.83)

Information is from Numbeo (Most updated statistics: May 2024)

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.

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 legislation where 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. 

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 employees earning less than 4,000 AED (USD 1,090) monthly 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 2023 guide to mandatory health insurance in Dubai. 

Job Loss Insurance

Dubai now offers an extra layer of financial protection for expats against sudden job loss. The Involuntary Loss of Employment (ILOE) scheme, effective from 2023, provides income protection for the first three months after an unexpected job loss.

The insurance premiums for the ILOE scheme are affordable and tiered according to your basic salary:

  • For salaries up to AED 16,000 (4,355 USD): 
    • AED 5 (USD 1.36) per month/AED 60 annually (USD 16.33)
  • For salaries more than AED 16,000 (4,355 USD): 
    • AED 10 (USD 2.72) per month/AED 120 annually (USD 32.67)

Only Dubai Insurance is authorized to issue ILOE policies. Subscribers can receive 60% of their average basic salary over the last six months before job loss, paid within two weeks from the date of the claim.

So, as an expat looking to make your way in Dubai, the ILOE scheme offers you a greater sense of security as you navigate the city's vibrant professional landscape. It's not just the luxury lifestyle that makes Dubai appealing, it's also the comprehensive social support structures like the ILOE.

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. Our JLT website also includes resources and tips on the best gyms, restaurants, entertainment and facilities in Dubai’s premier neighbourhood, Jumeirah Lake Towers. 

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


Setting Up A Business in Dubai 2023

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