The general lack of taxation has a significant impact on the cost of certain items, e.g. cars. On the other hand, the cost of accommodation is high, as is that of certain food items, particularly imported foods. If you buy internationally recognised branded foods and household goods, you might pay higher prices than in your home country, but there are usually plenty of cheaper locally and regionally produced alternatives that are of excellent quality. Clothing can also be expensive if you favour designer labels – this isn’t peculiar to Dubai – although there’s little need for winter clothing.
However, after a high increase of rental prices in 2008, a radical decline could be observed towards the end of 2009, with rental prices decreasing up to 50%.
The price of wines and spirits, where these are permitted, is slightly lower than in the UK but higher than average European prices. Electronic goods, such as televisions, hi-fis, DVD players, photographic equipment and computer hardware and software, are generally less expensive than in Europe, mainly because of lower import duties.
Utilities, such as electricity, water and gas, are subsidised to some extent by the region’s governments, which own the services (except for bottled gas supplies) in order to provide inexpensive electricity and water, mainly for the benefit of the local population. Utilities are therefore cheaper than in most European countries. However, at the height of summer, air-conditioning costs will escalate, rather as the cost of heating increases in winter in colder climates. Newcomers sometimes make the expensive mistake of keeping their air-conditioning on even when they’re out, but this is unnecessary, as air-conditioning systems reduce the temperature in your accommodation quickly when activated on your return home.
You should also allow for the cost of international telephone calls, although these are kept low by Dubai’s government, who wants to encourage international business and investment in the region.
Your cost of living will obviously depend on your lifestyle. When you’re negotiating a work contract, it’s usual for your prospective employer to produce detailed cost of living figures for his country, which are useful in helping you to decide whether the proposed job is financially attractive or not.
Average major expenses for a couple with two children are shown below:
- Housing: A 2bedroom flat in a decent neighbourhood costs between AED100,000 and AED140,000 per annum.
- Schooling: High school costs about AED40,000 (depending on school fees can be up to AED90,000) per annum, while primary school costs between 20,000 to 28,000 AED per child at schools where the UK, US or European curriculum ist taught by teachers from those countries.
- Utilities: Depending on the size of your home electricity and water can cost between AED1,200 and AED 5,000 and a full time maid costs at least12,000 AED per annum.
- Car rental: cars can be leased for AED1,500 per month which would mean an annual cost of AED18,000.
- Telephone: local calls are free, local calls from mobile phones are 15-30 fils per minute. Internet flat rate costs approximately AED250 per month.
- Insurance: car insurance is 4-7% of the vehicle value, home insurance starts at AED190 for a coverage of AED50,000.