Felt that tiny lump in your heart saying ‘Dubai is the one for me’ and decided to take that leap? Hold your horses. First look into how much savings you have, and check if it matches the money you need to shell out during your first few months in Dubai. Consider your spend as an investment, as you first need to sow a little bit of your resources before amassing its many fruits.

Cost of Living in Dubai

Here’s a sample cost breakdown for all you newbies out there:

1) Accommodation. Wondering where you can stay while settling in? Check with friends or relatives living in Dubai if they can share some space.  You can pitch as little as AED 800 – to AED 1,200 for the utilities.

2) Food. For your meals, you can have a daily budget of AED 80. For breakfast, feast on 12 delicious pieces of Samoon bread (similar to our pandesal) for just AED 3.95.  This is best finished with Dubai’s famous chai (tea with milk) at AED 2 per cup. Lunch can be a combo burger meal for only AED 28. As for dinner, a home cooked chicken when shared with a friend would barely cost each of you AED 15. In total, you’ve spent only around AED 50 and you can allocate the extra budget for snacks or save it for a bigger treat next time.

3) Transportation. You are very much in good hands with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) that has made travel by metro, bus and trams quite easy. The good thing is, there is only one card called the Nol (fare in Arabic) card that you need to carry with you at all times. Depending on the number of zones you traverse, you will only be charged between AED 4 – AED 8 for one way. You can use the same card when using Dubai road or water taxis.

4) Shopping. Who said all clothes in Dubai are expensive? Dubai is full of hypermarkets where you can buy clothes at extremely low prices. Take for example, T-Shirts. You can find many with a starting price of AED 10 up. As for clothing shops in the mall, the sale events which happen very frequently will allow you to save as much as 90% with every shop.

5) Leisure. By all means treat yourself for the hard work you’re putting in. Go see a movie for around AED 85 which includes your favorite popcorn or nachos with cheese and jalopeños. With the money saved throughout the week, you can get yourself a signature burger for AED 60 which you can eat and enjoy by the beach or in a park while chilling with friends.

Say you’re all settled and have now started moving up the career ladder. Slowly, you are able to upgrade your lifestyle and at one point bring your family or loved ones to join you in Dubai. Life starts to be really good. Life is no longer just about surviving, it is also about living.

However, how much does it cost to start living the life you’ve been dreaming of?

1) Rent. You can move into your very own studio, one bedroom or two bedroom apartment. Your decision of course would be based on if you are going solo or if you are moving in with your family. Depending on the location, you may spend up to AED 3,500 – AED 6,500 per month.

2) Education. Your kids’ education cost as per Filipino school administrators in Dubai can range from AED 5,956 for preschoolers to AED 15,065 for 12th-Graders. Should you prefer international schools, there are institutions with a starting fee of around AED 13,000.

3) Luxury goods. For the love of designer bags, shoes and accessories. Your eyes might have strayed to the likes of Gucci, Prada, Chanel and even Hermes. Not to worry, Dubai is a place where pre-loved items in perfect condition are sold at almost ¼ the original price. You can now have that dream LV bag at only AED 3,900 which was originally sold for AED 40,000. 

4) Wheels. For transportation, you can switch from a normal NOL card to a gold card and get to ride a separate cabin with more comfortable front-facing seats with proper arm rests. Luxury Uber cars are always around at AED 15 for the initial plug down.

At this point, you can consider buying a secondhand car in good condition at AED 10,000. Alternatively, you can buy a brand new car with zero down payment and a monthly amortization starting at AED 1,500. If you remain rather undecided about the car to buy, you may temporarily rent a car for as low as AED 58/day with monthly deals.

5) Recreation. The higher your salary goes, the less limited you are in experiencing the best that Dubai has to offer. You can choose to watch movies not just in 3D but in 4D giving you a truly immersive cinema experience. You can go cruising on a yacht as you enjoy a bottle of champagne.  Or, you can choose to have brunch with your new besties in Dubai’s finest resto bars.

We Filipinos often put our family’s needs first. It is the reason why we keep sending as much money back home. However, you need to remember that while your family’s needs are important, it’s equally important to support yourself and to make sure that you put away some money for a rainy day. Also, it is imperative to know that spending for yourself is not about extravagance or selfishness, it’s about not forgetting to reward yourself, a reward that you so much deserve for working extremely hard.

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