Ajman Versus Dubai. What Is the Cost of Living in the Smallest Emirate?

Ajman Versus Dubai. What Is the Cost of Living in the Smallest Emirate?

Ajman is the smallest of the UAE’s seven emirates, accounting for less than 1% of the country’s territory. At the same time, it has a population of half a million people living primarily in the capital that gave the name to the whole emirate.

The city of Ajman is rapidly growing and developing, not least thanks to its own port, a special trade zone, and its proximity to Sharjah and Dubai. There are essentially no borders between the three cities, which form a continuous urban area. There is, however, a perceptible difference in lifestyle and quality of life. While ultra-modern Dubai is considered the UAE’s richest and most expensive city, the more traditional Ajman, located less than 50 kilometres away, is one of the cheapest. Then again, people also earn less in Ajman. So, what is the cost of living in Ajman? We compare here the costs of living and monthly expenses in Ajman and Dubai.

Photo: en:User:MMuzammils (Wikimedia)


No matter where you decide to live, you will have to spend more on housing each month than on anything else. Whether you rent or repay a mortgage, you can end up spending up to half your monthly budget on housing. It goes without saying that the city has a number of districts, and the price of a flat depends on a dozen factors. The price tag can vary significantly. For the purposes of convenience, we will compare the costs of buying and renting a flat downtown. To be clear, we are not comparing the quality here, only the cost. 

Please note. The prices in the following table are in the local currency. One dirham (AED) is just over a quarter of a dollar. Just divide the sum in dirhams by four to get the price in dollars. Subsequently we present all the prices in dollars, for your convenience.

To get an idea of what life in Dubai is like for expats, check out our article on the best areas of the city for foreigners.

Downtown Ajman
Downtown Dubai
Purchase of a studio flat
Approximately AED 150,000
From 600,000 AED
Purchase of a three bedroom flat
From AED 700,000
From 2,500,000 AED
Rental of a studio flat for one year
Approximately AED 15,000
From 55,000 AED
Rental of a three bedroom flat for one year
Approximately AED 50,000
From 170,000 AED

You must add on the cost of the home internet and utilities, namely water, gas and particularly electricity (an air conditioner tends to use a lot of power). So let's compare living in Ajman to one in Dubai. Anyone living alone in an Ajman flat can expect an average monthly utility invoice of just over USD 50. In the case of a family, the figure would be higher by about USD 30. In Dubai, energy and water cost twice as much. A monthly internet invoice is USD 70 in Ajman and almost 50% higher in Dubai

Photo: Mahmoud Farrag (Wikimedia)

Healthcare and Education

While you may not go to the doctor every month, you should still budget for the cost. It is worth nothing here that healthcare is practically the only thing that costs the same in Ajman and Dubai. In both cities, you will have to pay at least USD 70 for a single visit to the doctor.

Similarly, you won’t be able to save much money on annual medical insurance living in Ajman, as the basic service package costs between USD 2,000 and USD 2,700 per person. If you need to insure a family of four for a year, you will need thousands of dollars more. Meanwhile, an insurance policy covering a wider range of procedures might be seven or ten times as expensive. 

As in the case of healthcare, the cost of education in the UAE varies considerably. So, in Ajman, how much will be the cost of living with children? For example, attending kindergarten and primary school is almost three and a half times cheaper in Ajman than in Dubai. In the latter city, kindergarten costs over USD 700 a month; primary school  over USD1,000 a month. In Ajman, the figures are lower: USD 260 and USD 320 respectively.


Comparing Dubai to Ajman it's important to pay attention to transport. There are multiple travel fares for trips on public transport. Dubai is also divided into seven zones. The cost of a trip depends on the number of transfers and zones covered by your route. The average trip will cost you USD 1.37 in both Dubai and Ajman, but a monthly pass in the latter costs half as much: approximately USD 40. On the other hand, Dubai is the only city in the country with a metro system - Ajman is unlikely to build one any day soon. 

A taxi trip in Ajman likewise costs half the price in Dubai, specifically USD 5,5 or more per five minutes. If you drive, it is also cheaper to refuel in Ajman, where a litre of petrol costs under 90 cents, compared to more than a dollar in Dubai.

Food and Drink

What about food prices in Ajman and in Dubai? A trip for groceries, to a restaurant and a snack are all 1.5 to 2 times cheaper in Ajman than in Dubai. Some things, such as a business lunch, can cost a third of the price in Dubai. A dinner for two in an Ajman restaurant can cost less than USD 50 while the average bill in Dubai starts at USD 70. By contrast, fast food is only about a dollar cheaper in Ajman. A burger, fries and drink combo will cost you about USD 7 versus USD 8-9 in Dubai

Speaking of drinks. Half a litre of coke costs half a dollar in an Ajman café and twice that in Dubai. Cappuccino, too, is twice as expensive in Dubai: over USD 5 for a cup. A pint of beer costs around USD 12 in a Dubai bar and USD6 in Ajman. 

That is right: alcohol is sold in both cities, but you should drink either at home or in a bar. You can be arrested and fined for drinking alcohol and being inebriated in a public place. By the way, as of 2023, the alcohol licence for Dubai stores became free, while you don’t need one in Ajman. At the same time, however, you cannot buy alcohol in Ajman and travel to Dubai with it.

Photo: Hamza Izourane (Wikimedia)

A pint of beer in an Ajman store costs under USD 3; a bottle of wine, around USD 10. In Dubai, beer isn’t much more expensive, while a bottle of good wine will cost you around USD 15. 

The following tables compare the prices of several basic products in Ajman and Dubai stores. Everything is cheaper in Ajman, except for rice. 

The food basket in Dubai may work out to be 50% more expensive than in Ajman.

Milk, 1 liter
USD 1.5
USD 1.9
USD 1.3
Rice, 1 kg
USD 1.8
Eggs, 12
USD 2.20
USD 3.4
Cheese, 1 kg
USD 6.60
Chicken fillet, 1 kg
USD 7,9
USD 18.3
USD 26.3

Fruits and vegetables cost almost the same.

Apples, 1 kg
USD 2.2
Oranges, 1 kg
USD 1.6
USD 1.6
Tomatoes, 1 kg
USD 1.4
USD 1.5
Potatoes, 1 kg
USD 1.1
USD 6.4

Personal hygiene products are cheaper in Ajman.

USD 5.4
USD 4.2
Four rolls of toilet paper
USD 3.2
Cold medicine
USD 6.7
USD 9.3
USD 17.7
USD 22.1

A pack of cigarettes costs USD 6 in both Ajman and Dubai. Smokers should remember that smoking in public is prohibited in the UAE, as is smoking in a car if any of the passengers are under 12. 

Clothes and Other Expenses

How do clothes expenses effect on Ajman living cost? Just like almost all essential goods, clothes are cheaper in Ajman. By way of comparison, you can buy jeans and a pair of sneakers there for USD 135, whereas you will have to pay at least USD 150 in Dubai

A simple haircut costs USD 8 or more in Ajman, whereas the prices start at USD 12 in Dubai. A monthly gym pass will cost you USD 45 in Ajman and at least USD 75 in Dubai. You can buy a cinema ticket for USD 10 in Ajman, but will have to spend about three dollars more in Dubai.

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So How Much Do You Need to Live in Ajman?

ll in all, is Ajman good place to live? If you exclude healthcare and private school expenses, which can reach any level, a modest life in Ajman should cost one person about USD 900 a month, including rent and utilities. 

Cover photo: pj soans (Wikimedia Commons)

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