International moving to the UAE, whether it is Dubai or Abu Dhabi, will affect your financials and you should be prepared for it. This reference guide, prepared by ServiceMarket will give you a better understanding of the key living expenses in the UAE that you can expect to bear in your first year there.
However, you don’t have to take care of everything on your own. You can book international moving companies to help with the more daunting tasks and make your move an enjoyable and relaxing experience.
Managing Your Living Expenses in the UAE
Living in the UAE, especially in Dubai, can be expensive. The cost of living in Dubai can include rent, education, food, entertainment, clothing, and so much more. So, managing your expenses can greatly depend on where you live and how big your home is. You don’t have to freak out about your expenses. This guide can help you plan things in a better way.
Moving Your Belongings to the UAE
The cost of shipping your belongings to the UAE depends heavily on which country you are moving from, how you plan to move your belongings and the number of items that you are bringing along with you. The costs in the table below are approximate ranges of what you should expect to pay to ship one 25 cubic meter container from each area to the UAE. 25 cubic meters is usually enough to fit the contents of a 2-bedroom apartment or a single car. These costs are based on average quotes received for moving requests made through ServiceMarket. The costs do differ depending on the country of origin. However, the cost to move to and from the UAE is generally similar and the main differences are duties and taxes.
You can use the following table to estimate the approximate cost to ship your belongings to the UAE. The table shows the average cost in AED for one 25 cubic meter container.
|Area||Average Cost in AED for 25 CBM Container|
|Asia (inc India and Pakistan)||14,000-21,000|
|Australia & New Zealand||25,000-31,000|
|USA & Canada||22,000-47,000|
You can use ServiceMarket to get multiple moving quotes from reputable international moving companies for your move.
The total cost of accommodation in the UAE is an accumulation of various elements such as rent, furniture, appliances, utilities, and insurance.
The cost of renting in the UAE differs significantly depending on the area where you choose to live. For example, the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Dubailand is AED 86-170k while a similar apartment in JBR and Marina will cost AED 90-250k. You can find a more detailed breakdown of rent by area in our ‘How Much Does it Cost to Rent an Apartment in the UAE’ article.
There are also other costs that you need to take into consideration when renting in the UAE, such as
- Move-in security deposit: It is typical to pay a 5% deposit to the landlord before you move in. You will get this back when you move out provided the property is left in the same condition.
- Agency fee: You will usually be expected to pay a 5% agency commission fee to the estate agent.
- Ejari: By law, you will need to register your rental contract with Dubai Land Department’s “DLD” Ejari system – this registration costs AED 220 (subject to DLD discretion).
In terms of utilities, your costs will be dependent on your water and electricity consumption, as well as the TV, Phone, and Internet package you choose.
Electricity and Water
According to the DEWA Tariff Calculator, these are the average prices that you should expect to pay depending on the size of property you live in:
|Property type||Typical electricity usage||Monthly cost (AED)||Annual cost (AED)|
|1 bedroom apartment||1600 KWh||472||5,664|
|2 bedroom apartment||2000 KWh||590||7,080|
|3 bedroom apartment||2500 KWh||763||9,156|
|4 bedroom apartment||3000 KWh||935||11,220|
|2 bedroom villa||3800 KWh||1,211||14,532|
|3 bedroom villa||4500 KWh||1,475||17,700|
|4 bedroom villa||6000 KWh||2,058||24,696|
|5 bedroom villa||8000 KWh||2,960||35,520|
|6 bedroom villa||10000 KWh||3,864||46,368|
It is important to realize that these are just average prices and your bill will be dependent on your consumption. If you have a large garden, which needs regular watering, then you should expect your bill to be higher. Running your AC also has a significant impact on cost, therefore DEWA bills are usually higher in the summer months than in the winter. A deposit of AED 4000 for a villa and AED 2000 for an apartment is required by DEWA upon registration. There is also a DEWA connection charge of AED 110 and an additional cost of 5% of your monthly rent amount that is added to your bill each month irrespective of consumption. Some apartments also have a separate chiller cost, so before you move in check if you will be charged an extra chiller cost and how much it is going to be.
Phone, TV, and Internet
The cost of these depends on the package you select. There are two main service providers you can choose from in the UAE: Etisalat and Du. You should compare the various options available to you to make sure you select the best deal – you will sometimes find offers that include free installation, free equipment such as internet routers, or a set number of months added for free. However, you may be restricted to a certain service provider depending on the building you live in. A typical package starts at around AED 300 a month and goes up to around AED 1100 to AED 3000 for a more premium package, with faster internet and more television channels.
It is possible to find properties to rent which are already furnished in the UAE. However, these are typically more expensive and are much harder to look for. Therefore, there are chances that you will need to buy furniture for your new home. The following table gives an indication of the typical prices you should expect to pay to furnish your home.
|No of Bedrooms||Total in AED|
On top of this, you will need to budget for any other home appliances that you choose not to bring with you like a toaster or a microwave. If you’re on a budget, you should look for second-hand furniture, appliances, and other home items on classified sites such as Dubizzle and apps like Melltoo.
As a parent, you will also have to take the cost of education into account. However, if your employer pays for your kids’ education as part of your package, then you don’t need to worry about the expense. The cost of education depends on the school that you select and the grade/year of your child. You are usually expected to pay the school fees on a per-term basis – and the school year in the UAE is typically made up of three terms. There are some schools that are significantly more expensive than others in the country. The following table will give you an indication of the average cost for each education level:
|Education level||Average Cost per Year (AED) per Child|
|Nursery / Pre-school||45,000-58,000|
|College / University||63,500-292,000|
Note that there are schools that are cheaper and more expensive than this. KHDA’s website is a very helpful place to start as you can easily see what each school has to offer and its annual prices.
The availability of public transport depends on the area where you live. If you choose to live on the outskirts, then getting out and about in the UAE without a car can prove to be expensive – taxi costs quickly add up. Irrespective of where you live, you might want to consider renting or buying a car so you may get around easily. Obviously, the costs associated with this will depend on the brand and model of the car you want to drive. However, according to Zigwheels, Rentalcarsuae, and Bevip, the following prices can give you an idea of the average costs associated with each vehicle type. Note that you will also need to pay additional costs such as car insurance and registration if you choose to buy your car.
|Vehicle type||Cost to rent (AED)||Cost to buy (AED)|
|Hatchback||1,500 – 3,100||32,000 – 69,000|
|Sedan||1,400 – 65,000||49,000 – 222,000|
|Wagon||5,000 – 14,000||112,000 – 532,000|
|SUV||2,400 – 31,000||68,000 – 420,000|
|Coupe||15,000 – 120,000||140,000 – 1.7 million|
|Convertible||21,000 – 93,000||120,000 – 1.65 million|
You must have an idea by now about how much it will cost you to move and settle in the UAE. But before you think about relocation, you should be aware of some other costs as well. This section is going to shed some light on these other expenses. However, please note that this part is not going to include all costs that you will face. We have skipped some essential daily costs such as food and entertainment.
You can check out our guide on how much it costs to maintain a home in Dubai for some details on other costs associated with maintaining a home in the UAE. Some other costs that you may face include:
It is a good idea to check the terms of your tenancy contract to understand who is responsible in case anything goes wrong in your property, such as a clogged drain or a broken AC. Some buildings have an in-house maintenance team who will help you out in such cases. However, in most cases, the responsibility will fall into the tenant’s hands. Depending on the issue, you can expect to pay AED 150 to AED 250 an hour for a handyman, excluding the cost of any spare parts needed. Alternatively, you can choose to take out an annual maintenance contract, which typically includes property call-outs, basic AC maintenance, and basic plumbing and electrical issues, and costs AED 3,000 to AED6,000 depending on the size of your home.
If you have a garden then you may want to consider hiring a gardener to help you maintain it. Hiring a gardener to come a few times a week for basic maintenance can typically cost you between AED 200 to AED 600 a month, depending on the size of your garden. You can read more about how to go about getting a gardener in the UAE in our “How to Hire a Gardener in Dubai” guide.
Life in the UAE can get hectic, which is why many people opt to have help with cleaning their homes. A part-time cleaner will typically cost AED 35 an hour. However, some people choose to have a full-time cleaner at home. You can read our guide on the cost of hiring a full-time cleaner vs a part-time cleaner to get a better idea of the costs associated with both options.
UAE is the land of opportunities. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people from around the globe wish to move to the country. If you are among them, you should know about the living expenses in the UAE first. We hope that this article has helped you get an idea about how much you should expect to pay when you move to the country.
Moving is not an easy task. But don’t worry! You can always count on companies like ServiceMarket for help. You just have to provide them with relevant information and they will connect you with the best international movers and packers in Dubai. Their professional service will make the moving process simpler for you.
Disclaimer: Data in this article is based on averages taken from various sources and should be seen as indicative only.