The Average Cost of Living for a Single Person in Dubai

The Average Cost of Living for a Single Person in Dubai

Ranked among the world's most frequently visited cities, Dubai exerts a magnetic pull on expatriates from across the globe, enticed by its balmy climate, political impartiality, professional prospects, and elevated quality of life. Prior to relocating to this renowned emirate, meticulous financial planning is essential, particularly when factoring in potential property rentals. Delve into the details to uncover the projected average expenditures for a single person in 2023, which aspects warrant careful consideration, and strategies to optimise your savings.

Range of Salaries and Prices in Dubai

The cost of living in Dubai has witnessed a notable uptick in recent years. Nevertheless, it would be inaccurate to assert that living expenses for foreigners are steeper here compared to other major cities. In line with research conducted by The Economist, metropolises like New York, Hong Kong, Geneva, and Tokyo exhibit living costs at significantly higher scales. Employing the "coffee index" as a reference point, a cup of coffee in Hong Kong commands a minimum price of $6.21, whereas in Dubai, based on data from the consulting company ECA International, the average cost of a cappuccino is approximately $6.

When devising a budget, individuals contemplating a move to the emirate should consider their salary projections. Unskilled workers in Dubai typically earn around $1,600-2,000 per month, while specialists in specific fields may command salaries of up to $80,000. Simultaneously, the city's mean salary hovers around $3,500. Today, we will analyse the projected average monthly expenditures for a single person in Dubai, encompassing housing, utilities, food, transportation, and communication services.

Housing and Utility Expenses

In Dubai, expatriates allocate a significant portion of their earnings towards housing. Ideally, one could consider purchasing their own apartment if financially feasible. Real estate prices in Dubai align with metropolitan standards, with a minimum cost of $2,000 per square metre. In the esteemed Dubai Marina district, this figure escalates to $4,500.

Purchasing residential property with a mortgage is a viable option, even for foreign nationals. The mortgage terms are notably accommodating: 

  • Interest rate — starting from 4.99% per year.
  • Loan term — extending up to 25 years.
  • Initial down payment — starting from 20%.
  • The share of mortgage payment shall not exceed 50% of monthly income.

If this alternative isn't attainable, you can opt for renting a property. The most budget-friendly apartments are located in Deira. A modest apartment in an older building will typically demand around $1,000 per month (note that furnishings might not always be included in this price). For rentals in more upscale neighbourhoods, the cost can range from $2,500 to $3,000. In Dubai, it's customary to make annual rental payments upfront, unless a distinct payment arrangement has been negotiated with the landlord.

Photo: Simon Infanger (Unsplash)

Many expats rent accommodation in the emirate of Ajman to save money. Here, rent rates vary between $600-800 per month. You can go from Ajman to Dubai by public transport or taxi. The journey to the centre will take approximately 40-50 minutes.

If you intend to rent an apartment, it's important to factor in the additional costs:

  • Agency fee — ranging from 2–5% of the annual.
  • Registration fee — $60.
  • Deposit to the owner — typically 5–10% of the monthly rent.
  • Utility meter connection fee — approximately $30.
  • Administrative fee — approximately $10.
  • Security deposit for utilities — starting from $550.
  • Housing fee — equivalent to 5% of the annual rent.

Upon registering the lease agreement in the Ejari database, water and electricity supply will initiate automatically, albeit at the tenant's personal cost. During warmer periods, utility expenses may escalate, reaching approximately $250-300 due to the necessity of keeping the air conditioner running. Click here to learn more about paying utility bills in Dubai.

Monthly Expenses on Food

Food is the next highest expenditure. The array of options is extensive: you can opt for purchasing groceries at supermarkets for more budget-friendly prices or explore premium establishments. Deira is home to the most economical shops, while Waitrose and Spinneys stores offer upscale items and gourmet delicacies, albeit at considerably higher prices.

Below are the approximate prices for commonly purchased food items in local supermarkets:

  • Chicken breast, 500 g — $4.35
  • Large eggs, per dozen — $3.76.
  • Potatoes, 1 kg — $1.11.
  • Bread, a daily serving — $1.04.
  • Cottage cheese, 500 g — $8.00.
  • Tomatoes, 1 kg — $1.30.

Photo: nrd (Unsplash)

To cut down on grocery expenses, consider shopping at the Deira market. Here, you'll find the freshest selection of fruits, vegetables, and meat at highly appealing prices.

Numerous expatriates opt for dining at cafes or purchasing ready-to-eat meals. Quality is not a concern, as even street eateries operate under stringent regulatory oversight by the authorities. A shawarma, for instance, typically amounts to $1.50, while a meat-filled flatbread is priced at $1. On occasion, a pizza might reach up to $10. Prices for fast food in shopping malls are somewhat elevated. For instance, a burger could be around $8, and a cup of coffee ranges between $4.50 and $5.

Dinner for two at an inexpensive pub will cost a minimum of $50, and at a budget Italian restaurant — $85. This price includes an appetizer, main course, and a bottle of wine. In the centre of Dubai, the prices are much higher: one portion of a milkshake in a cafe will cost $26 and a glass of beer — $12.

If you eat at home and from time to time go out to low-cost restaurants, your monthly expenses should be about $400-500. This is the cost of living for a bachelor, as generally food expenses of a single woman are less.


Dubai boasts a plethora of shopping malls catering to diverse tastes and budgets, offering a wide range of clothing options. Notably, the world's largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall, is situated here, housing an impressive array of 1,200 stores showcasing famous brands.

Merchandise within city shopping malls is frequently categorised by price levels across different floors, offering a convenient shopping experience. The Day to Day discount centre garners significant popularity among budget-conscious individuals. This establishment offers an array of items such as groceries, electronics, clothing, and souvenirs at competitive prices. For the most economical shopping venture, the huge Al-Karama market is a prime choice. This locale allows for haggling with vendors, enabling you to acquire a T-shirt for a mere $2, a sweater for $5, and jeans for $8.

If you love branded items at an affordable price and are ready to wait for a sale, the Dubai Shopping Festival is worth a visit. It takes place annually from December to the end of January. Items can be up to 70% off. In addition, clothing sales are held in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but discounts during fasting may not be as substantial.


Transportation expenses in Dubai are influenced by your choice of public transit and the distance you travel. A solitary ticket for public transportation typically falls within the range of $1.20 to $1.50. For frequent bus or metro usage, investing in a monthly pass at $90 could be more cost-effective and yield savings. Taxis, on the other hand, command slightly higher fares, with costs calculated based on the taximeter at approximately $0.70 per kilometre. It's crucial to factor in potential traffic congestion, as this may incur additional costs of up to $10.

Photo: Ravigopal Kesari (Unsplash)

Petrol prices in Dubai are notably affordable, with one litre costing approximately $0.70. However, it's important to consider air conditioner usage, especially during traffic congestion, as it can impact fuel consumption. Additionally, Dubai features toll roads, requiring drivers to pay between $0.80 and $1.00 when passing through the SALIC electronic toll road system gateways.

Keep in mind the substantial fines for speeding, starting at a minimum of $60. In Dubai, it's advisable to adhere to traffic regulations and drive cautiously.

Communication Services

Mobile communication expenses in Dubai can be substantial. Acquiring a SIM card alone can range from $15 to $40. For local calls within the emirate, the rates stand at approximately $0.20 per minute, while calls beyond the emirate are priced at $1 per minute. Internet usage is calculated per second, averaging out to around $3 per hour. However, many individuals rely less on such mobile operator services due to the prevalence of complimentary Wi-Fi access points available across public areas.

Local service providers present a fundamental home internet plan encompassing over 200 channels, 250 Mbps internet speed, and complimentary landline calls, priced at $100 monthly. Premium packages, excluding VAT, come at an additional $60. The cost of the highest quality packages can reach up to $270 per month.


Health insurance is a mandatory requirement for all foreigners residing in Dubai. If you are employed in the emirate, your company will manage your insurance coverage. Certain employers even offer comprehensive family medical insurance. Yet, if you opt to secure health insurance independently, the minimum cost for an individual is approximately $170 per year.

Note: It is important to remember that the insurance company will not cover the treatment of chronic diseases for the first six months.

Photo: National Cancer Institute (Unsplash)

Upon the client's request, additional medical services can be added to the insurance package. The cost of comprehensive insurance can sometimes escalate to around $1,500 annually. The overall package price hinges on several factors, including gender, age, employment status, and salary level. Notably, the UAE authorities offer support to low-income employees, earning up to 4,000 AED ($1,000) per month, as well as their dependents, granting them preferential insurance options. This allows them to access a basic medical service package for up to $180 per year. For clients aged 60 and above, insurance costs are estimated to be approximately $680.

To prevent such predicaments, it is advisable to regularly verify the insurance's expiration date. Applications for certificates can be submitted at any authorised insurance company.

Sports and Entertainment

Dubai has many attractions and recreation amenities that you can visit free of charge: exotic parks, colourful fountains, public beaches. You can enjoy the mesmerising aquarium from the Dubai Mall for free and take a walk along the canal embankments in Downtown.

For city tours, you will have to pay an average of $50. A visit to the famous Burj Khalifa costs about $45. The price for ice-skating at the entertainment centre is $15.

Relaxing on private beaches is also not free: the entrance fee is about $1.50 and an umbrella and a sunbed will cost $8 to $9.

Sports enthusiasts will discover numerous sports centres and fitness clubs scattered across the emirate. Subscription fees vary based on the level of amenities, typically averaging around $100 per month. Nevertheless, for those seeking cost-free options, jogging remains an accessible activity in various city parks and along the coastline, where dedicated running tracks abound.

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In a Nutshell

At first glance, the cost of living in Dubai may appear substantial, but this perception changes when compared to other major global cities. Given the elevated standard of living and average incomes, the emirate's prices are quite reasonable. To lead a comfortable lifestyle, an individual typically requires an average of $1,500 to $1,700 per month, excluding housing expenses. This amount covers communication services, grocery purchases, dining out, public transportation, and entertainment. An added advantage is that expatriates relocating from colder climates can save on clothing expenditures, as the warm climate negates the need for winter attire.

Cover photo: Dovi (Unsplash)

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