The cost of living in the UAE: features & description

The attractiveness of living in the United Arab Emirates is palpable for tourists after the first trip. The beauty of Dubai, the authenticity of Ajman, the luxury of Abu Dhabi, and the leisurely life on the Ras Al Khaimah coast motivate you to return to the UAE, purchase real estate, find a job, and, perhaps, stay here forever.

In this article, we will talk about the peculiarities of life in the Emirates, share statistics on rental prices, and figure out what you need to move there. 

Cost of living in the UAE: general statistics

The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the United Arab Emirates dirham, which, according to the ISO encoding, is designated as AED. On average, the cost per person for a no-frills life on the territory of such an attractive Middle Eastern federal state is 4,000 AED.

Do not rush to enjoy a small amount and pack your things to move to luxury Dubai. This statistic represents an average value. In the large cities of the popular emirates, you will have to spend much more than 4000 dirhams in the UAE per month. 

A more detailed analysis of the cost of living in each of the emirates revealed the criteria that influence the determination of the amount of monthly expenses. Take into account:

  • Location. Obviously, the well-known luxury in Dubai and Abu Dhabi implies impressive expenses for rental housing, transportation, and entertainment.
  • Education. Moving with children or wanting to get a prestigious education in the Emirates requires additional expenses. There are no free educational institutions for foreigners, while the cost of private schools and kindergartens is relatively high. 
  • Trips, transportation. The price of public transport, car rental, toll roads in prestigious megacities — you will have to pay for everything. 
  • Food. The cost of food is low, and here you can eat great food. Of course, lovers of cafes and elite restaurants should think about additional monetary costs.   

However, the statistical figures regarding the cost of living in the UAE are quite inviting and attractive in comparison with other countries that are popular for moving. For example, living in the USA is about 22% more expensive. And this is an average indicator. When comparing housing and food prices in New York and Dubai, the benefits of living in an Arab metropolis are speaking for themselves. 

In the following sections of this article, you will get acquainted with a detailed analysis of the main expenses in the most popular emirates. Sometimes, travellers fall in love with a city or a country instantly and deeply and immediately want to move.

We offer to learn some interesting facts about the UAE since everybody can agree that the Arab world is tempting, attractive, and very specific. 

Interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates

uae map

  1. The United Arab Emirates is a federation consisting of seven independent states: Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah, Sharjah.

Each State is an independent administrative unit. Interestingly, the form of government is defined as an absolute monarchy, but the rulers of the UAE are the president and the Prime Minister. 

  1. There are very good private schools and universities in the Emirates.

For example, a couple of years ago, some of them were included in the 100 best private general education institutions in the world according to Spear’s Schools Index.

Under certain conditions, university students can become holders of a prestigious golden visa for 10 years for themselves and their family. It is worth noting that ordinary visas to the UAE are given for a maximum of 3 years, and buying a home does not give the right to a residence permit and citizenship. 

  1. There is no free medicine for non-residents.

However, there are still a lot of good moments for moving. For example, there are insurances that fully cover the cost of treatment. A separate advantage of the move is that there are many simple over-the-counter medicines freely available.

Living expenses in different emirates 

Of course, the luxurious Arabic flavour in Dubai is attractive and tempting. But you can choose to live in another emirate with lower costs and good conditions.

Calculate your budget, evaluate the charms of popular cities, and decide on the choice of a job or opening a business. And move — The Arab Emirates are hospitable and offer a high quality of life.



Surely, you have seen photos, heard or personally visited the famous sights of Dubai: Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah.

When mentioning the United Arab Emirates, it is Dubai that is remembered first, as it is associated with luxurious skyscrapers, chic streets, sparkling parks, and the beautiful coast of the southern part of the Persian Gulf. Famous American and British comprehensive private schools are located in Dubai.

Despite the relatively high rental prices, the emirate is attractive due to the opportunity to find a well-paid job and make a career. It has a stable economy, no crime, a friendly population and low taxes. However, the last sentence applies to all seven emirates. 

Abu Dhabi 

Abu Dhabi 

In comparison with Dubai, a megalopolis, Abu Dhabi can be called an authentic, highly developed city. This is the capital of the UAE, which demonstrates a clear correlation between Arab culture and the usual benefits of the civilized world.

In addition to the Arab Louvre, the emirate is famous for its comfortable service and good conditions for students. The usual bustle of the capital is felt in the city centre. There are large shopping malls and universities.

On the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, life is no less comfortable, and here you can find inexpensive food markets and relatively cheap, comfortable housing. It is worth noting that the cost of living in Abu Dhabi is about the same as in Dubai. 



The third most populous emirate of Sharjah has successfully received widespread love and the title of the cultural capital of the state. It is a calm, well-maintained emirate with a developed infrastructure.

Most of the population of Sharjah are foreigners. By the way, the cost of housing for rent and investment is 19% lower compared to Dubai. Interestingly, the residents of Sharjah go to work in Dubai, but they do not want to move there. The place attracts with its tranquillity, lack of glamour and noise.

Sharjah has delicious food, many hospitals, educational institutions, and shopping malls. The housing is characterised by good quality and a large area. By the way, the locals prefer a measured conservative lifestyle and are friendly to foreigners. 

Ras Al Khaimah


The northernmost emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is attractive to investors who purchase unplanned real estate at low prices. However, the state is suitable for everyone — you can find a well-paid job and rent inexpensive apartments.

The city of the same name is popular among tourists — it is the industry that is flourishing and developing intensively in Ras Al Khaimah. The emirate is also attractive to businessmen due to the presence of a large RAKEZ-free economic zone.

It is obvious that in Ras Al Khaimah you will be able to get a job, make a career, and open your own business. Remarkably, only in this emirate, are there mountains and 62-kilometre clean beaches washed by the Persian Gulf. Ideal living conditions, isn’t it?



Ajman is the smallest of the seven emirates, the cutest and most profitable to move to. Compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the cost of consumer goods and rental housing is 50% lower.

Ajman is a beautiful coast with comfortable service, cosy infrastructure and low prices. At the same time, Ajman is considered profitable for investment and is excellent for job search.

The Emirate offers many business opportunities due to the presence of a free economic zone and professionally developed logistics. Accordingly, there are jobs with stimulating salaries. 

Price comparison

Prices are presented in dirhams as this is a national currency in the UAE. The average cost or price range is taken into account based on the calculation for 1 month.

The Emirate Rent Products School Transport
Dubai 9000 300 from 9000 2—12
Abu Dhabi 9000 300 from 5200 2—12
Sharjah 2500 120 from 4000 2—13
Ras Al Khaimah 1000 120 from 2000 6—10
Ajman 1000 120 from 2000 6—10

Do not forget about paying for utilities. There is also a significant price difference. For example, in Dubai you will have to pay about 3000 AED, and in Ajman — 500 AED. 

UAE or other countries? Let’s compare


Sometimes travellers claim that in other countries popular for moving, prices for housing and consumer goods are lower than in the UAE. It is possible, but it is incorrect to compare only the cost of certain items.

It is important to take into account the service, the peculiarities of the mentality, the crime rate and other parameters.

  • India. A generalised price comparison shows a difference of 200% — Dubai is much more expensive than Delhi. However, in other aspects, India loses: just compare the crime rate, medicine and other conditions. 
  • Canada. The comfort level of life is slightly lower than in the UAE, while Canadian prices are 10% higher. The implementation of business ideas in Canada is becoming more difficult for foreigners due to the lack of free economic zones and high taxes. 
  • United States of America. America is a land of opportunity, a vast continent with a diverse population. High wages and an abundance of jobs are combined with high taxes and even higher real estate costs in large cities. 

As a result, the UAE looks the most attractive. The Emirates is ready to accept people who are looking for work, want to buy investment property or get a prestigious education.

The cost of groceries and rental housing is comparable to the level of wages and phenomenal opportunities to start a business. 


Is there a minimum wage limit in the United Arab Emirates? 

No, this indicator has been terminated since 2023. At the same time, the legislation states that remuneration must meet the needs of the employee. 

How much will it cost to live in Dubai for one person? 

Depends on your needs. If you rent a small studio and buy groceries at the supermarket, you can expect expenses in the range of 15,000 dirhams. At the same time, for entertainment lovers, 50,000 dirhams may not have enough. 

Is a salary of 2000 dirhams considered normal in Dubai? 

No, it is considered a low wage. This may not be enough to cover basic needs and live a comfortable life.

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