Asia Destinations Travel Cheaper United Arab Emirates

Cost of Living in Dubai, U.A.E. (Spending Report)

Wondering about the cost of living in Dubai? Heesun and I decided to document some of our spending while we were in the city for 7 nights. Though these expenses were from vacationing, we still learned a lot about day-to-day life by speaking with locals. And though the purchases we made don’t paint a full picture, hopefully it will give you a better sense of how much things cost around Dubai.

Dubai spending report

What We Learned:

Conversations with my friend as well as Heesun’s cousin gave us a better sense of what it’s like to live in Dubai. We learned the following:

-There is no income or property tax.
-If you have children, they will pay for the kids’ schooling.
-An average family normally has 3 cars.
-The average income for someone in finance is at least $100k.
-Employers typically offer a “housing allowance” AKA they will pay for your rent.
-Employers will also pay for your commute if you use public transportation.

Umm, what?! These dayjob perks in Dubai sound amazing. When I learned of all these benefits I was highly considering living there sometime in the future (though the weather makes me hesitate). If any of these facts aren’t entirely accurate, please let us know in the comments below!

Cost of Living in Dubai:

Below are the expenses we documented during the trip. As a disclaimer:

1. I like Asian food…
2. Some of these expenses were from our trip to Abu Dhabi.
3. We stayed in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) because we heard it was the most fun place to stay at (which I feel is quite true). We also heard prices are a bit more expensive there than in other areas of Dubai.

Take a look below:

Currency exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.6 AED

AirBnB place in Jumeirah Beach Residence with 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, kitchen, living & dining room – $1879 for 7 nights.

-Extreme Shawarma – Classic Lebanese Shawarma – $5.56 (20 AED)
-Slice of Margherita Pizza –$5.56 (20 AED)
-Chowking – Singapore Noodle – $5.56 (20 AED)
-Chowking – Bulgogi – $6.67 (24 AED)
-Chowking – Iced milk tea – $2.78 (10 AED)
-(Abu Dhabi) Yin Yang Restaurant – Garlic shrimp vegetable fried rice – $8.89 (32 AED)
-(Abu Dhabi) Yin Yang Restaurant – 7up – $1.94 (7 AED)
-(Abu Dhabi) Yin Yang Restaurant – Hot & Sour Chicken Soup – $2.78 (10 AED)
-20 oz. Water Bottles – $0.50 (1-2 AED) 

Desert Safari Knight Tours Dubai UAE

-Atlantis Water Park general admission- $76.39 (275 AED) , for locker – $11.11 (40 AED)
Desert Safari Tour$56.94 (205 AED)
Abu Dhabi Tour$45 (162 AED)
Dubai City Tour$20.83 (75 AED)
-Dinner Dhow Cruise – $16.39 (59 AED) (Off a deal site –
-Smoky Beach Hookah at JBR – $25.86 (95 AED) for 1 hookah (I recommend this! Hookah on the beach…super relaxing and nice especially at night)

Desert Safari Knight Tours Dubai UAE

-Red label Johnnie Walker Whiskey Pack (2.5 bottles) – $44 (purchased at duty free section in airport)
-100% Agave Tequila – $48 (purchased at duty free section in airport)
-Ndulge Club at Atlantis Hotel on a Thursday night – no cover for girls, guys – $27.78 (100 AED) for cover
-Ndulge Club – $8.33 (30 AED) for water
-Table at White Club on a Friday night – $972.22 (3500 AED) (Total was split among 6 people)
-Beer at Studio One Sports Bar in JBR Hilton Hotel – I forget exactly, but I’m pretty sure it was happy hour and it was still around $8 (30 AED) a beer.

-Taxi – estimated $9.72 (35 AED) for 15-20 minute ride, $16.67 (60 AED) for 30 minute ride, $27.78 (100 AED) for an hour ride,

5 AED for magnet souvenirs
-15 AED for gold camel souvenir
-36 AED for scarf (scarf is required for Shiekh Zayed Mosque entry for females)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi

Tips for Traveling (Affordably) in Dubai:

Alcohol – You’re actually not allowed to drink alcohol in Dubai unless you have a license for it, or if you’re drinking at a hotel. That’s why all bars and clubs are attached to hotels – these are the only places that sell alcohol. This is why alcohol costs a decent amount there. My male friends were spending $30 a drink at some of the nightclubs!

Instead of spending exorbitant amounts on alcohol, you can purchase alcohol at the duty free shops in the airport when you land. When you reach baggage claim, walk to the right side (not the left!) for the best duty free shop filled with tons of alcohol.

-Food – As you can see from the food I ate, I stuck with Asian food…I ate quite affordably, but food in Dubai can be quite expensive especially around JBR. Average meal costs could be around $15-20, but this might not be the case in other areas of Dubai.

-Nightlife – If you want to go to clubs, ladies normally get free entry. They have ladies’ night some nights of the week so check online. These places allow free admission and sometimes free drinks for girls. However, if you go with guys, you normally need at least an even 1:1 ratio of girls to guys or you’re going to have to pay for a table (which is what happened to us at White Club).

-Tipping – After speaking with Heesun’s cousin, Heesun found that people don’t normally tip!


Overall, I would say that Dubai, U.A.E. is a bit on the more expensive end when it comes to spending. But even though Dubai is such a luxurious city, it’s still possible to save on your expenses while you’re out there. It’s also highly possible to save a lot of money if you were to actually live there permanently because of the paid for rent and zero taxes.

Have you traveled to Dubai and/or would you live there? Let us know in the comments below!


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