2024 Dubai relocation guide: Navigating housing, utilities, transportation and healthcare costs

Are you moving to Dubai? This overview covers the basics costs of living in the Gulf's most vibrant city, helping you prepare for your move.
Planning to relocate to Dubai? Perhaps you’ve been offered a secondment or you’re moving for a new job. Either way, the city’s cost-of-living will likely differ in many ways from where you’re from. This article serves as a foundation-level guide to help you navigate its economic landscape, offering clear insights on cost of living, in an era when cost of living is increasingly dominating the headlines. 

We’ll cover the basics of housing, utilities, transportation, and healthcare. This guide aims to equip you with information to make informed decisions about your budget and lifestyle as you transition to your new home, but we strongly advise you to explore other services, like cost-of-living calculators and realtors, to gain a more thorough understanding before you move and keep those expat relocation costs as low as possible. 

1. Housing


Prices vary considerably depending on desired areas. Downtown Dubai, The Marina and some of the golf estates and villa locations command a premium, with modern apartments commanding top dollar, while more family-friendly communities like Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC), JLT and South Dubai offer budget-friendly options.
Expect studio apartments to start around AED 70,000 (US$19,000) per year, while 1-bedroom flats average AED 90,000 (US$25,000) and 2-bedroom apartments can range from AED 150,000 (US$25,000). For luxury penthouses in coveted areas, be prepared to pay above AED 200,000 (US$55,000) annually.

Popular online platforms like Bayut and Property Finder offer convenient avenues to explore rental listings, compare prices based on your budget and desired location, and connect with reputable agents.


Dubai offers freehold ownership for apartments and villas, allowing you to invest in your future. However, be prepared for a significant upfront investment compared to renting.

Studio apartments start around AED 400,000 (US$110,000) to 900,000 (US$272,000), while 1-bedroom apartments average AED 700,000 to AED 850,000 (US$190,000 to US$230,000). 2-bedroom villas can range from AED 2 million to AED 3 million (US$550,000 to US$820,000), with luxury options exceeding AED 10 million (US$2.7 million).

Before diving into the world of mortgages, thoroughly research available products and understand down payment requirements to plan your finances effectively.

Read more about whether you should rent or buy in Dubai here
large dubai apartment block from ground level

2. Utilities

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is the sole provider for both electricity and water in the emirate. You'll need to register with DEWA upon moving in, providing necessary documents like your tenancy agreement and passport.

Air conditioning 

Air con is essential in Dubai's hot climate, impacting your electricity bill significantly. Expect average monthly costs for a typical two-bedroom apartment to range from AED 400 to AED 600 (US$110 to US$165), with larger homes or higher usage pushing the figure even higher.


Water costs are generally lower than electricity, with the average two-bedroom home clocking in around AED 100 to AED 150 (US$27 to US$41) per month. Being mindful of your water usage can help keep these costs down.

Internet and Phone

Several providers offer internet and phone packages, with options ranging from basic broadband to high-speed fiber optic connections. Expect to pay around AED 200 to AED 400 (US$55 to US$110) per month for a decent internet package, while bundled plans with phone services can reach AED 500 (US$135).

Most residents opt for prepaid mobile phone plans, offering flexibility and control over spending. SIM cards are readily available and affordable, with basic plans starting around AED 50 (US$14) per month.
dubai metro train

3. Transportation


Dubai's modern metro system offers a clean, efficient, and affordable way to navigate the city. With three lines covering key areas, it's a popular choice for residents and tourists alike. Single fares start at AED 3 (US$0.80) and increase based on distance and zone crossed. NOL cards provide convenient reloadable options for frequent users and you can find more information about NOL card costs here


Dubai's extensive bus network offers the flexibility to reach smaller streets and neighborhoods not covered by the metro. Fares are affordable, starting at AED 2 (US$0.55) per trip. Be prepared for longer travel times compared to the metro, especially during peak hours.


Taxis are readily available and convenient for point-to-point travel. Metered taxi fares start at AED 5 (US$1.35) with additional charges for distance and time. Downloading taxi booking apps like Careem, Uber or Hala can offer better convenience and sometimes lower fares.


While owning a car offers personal convenience, consider factors like parking costs, potential traffic congestion, and fuel expenses. Comprehensive insurance is mandatory, and public parking can be expensive, especially downtown. Leasing a car might be a more economical option for short-term stays.

Car Cost Calculator is a good resource you can use to look at up to date average costs in Dubai. 

4. Food and Groceries


Major chains like Carrefour, Spinneys, Waitrose, and Lulu Hypermarket offer a wide range of groceries at competitive prices. Expect to spend around AED 250-350 (US$68-95) per week for basic groceries for a single person, AED 400-600 (US$110-165) for a couple, and AED 600-800 (US$165-220) for a family of four. Local markets or smaller grocers often offer cheaper produce and staples.

Numbeo provides a breakdown of individual grocery items and their costs here

Eating out

Dubai offers very affordable options for eating out. Budget-friendly options include street food vendors serving shawarma and falafel for under AED 20 (US$5.50), and casual eateries offering hearty meals around AED 50-80 (US$14-22). 

Mid-range restaurants average around AED 100-150 (US$27-41) per person, with upscale establishments reaching higher. Alcohol adds significantly to the bill, as it's only available in licensed venues such as hotels. Websites like TripAdvisor can provide you with more information about the cost of eating out in Dubai compared to your home. 

5. Healthcare

Health Insurance

Mandatory for most expats, health insurance plans vary in coverage and cost. Employer-provided plans often cover basic hospitalization and outpatient care, while individual plans can offer more comprehensive coverage, including dental and vision care. 

Expect to pay between AED 35,000-55,000 (US$10,000-15,000) per year for family plans, depending on coverage and age. 

Note that UAE citizens and some residents can access public healthcare, but if you’re about to move to Dubai it’s unlikely you have access to this.