A country’s cost of living is an important aspect to consider when you are planning on living there – whether it’s just for the year or the long term. One of the areas that the Expat Insider survey, conducted by InterNations, looks at every year is cost of living and how countries rate against each other. Destinations with lower living costs help expats to balance their books. Countries with a higher cost of living need to offer good expat salaries if expats are to enjoy a good quality of life. In 2017 the UAE scored very badly when it came to cost of living – coming in towards the bottom at 41st out of 65 countries. So to make the most of their income, expats need to manage their cost or living in Dubai. To do this you need to consider the following:
Housing in Dubai
Rentals in Dubai can be eye-wateringly expensive, so try to stick to the broadly accepted guideline that your rental should amount to no more than 20% of your annual income. Smaller apartments can be found for as little as AED38K a year if you choose to live a less popular location like Al Waqaa.
Desirable locations are much more expensive. A villa consisting of 4 to 5 bedrooms can easily reach AED 350 000 while the Palm’s villa prices can reach a breathtaking AED 1 000 000 a year to rent. Try to familiarise yourself with prices, locations and housing types by looking at Dubai’s classified advertisements online. Customise your searches according to your budget size and the type of home you need – then add factors like areas in. You may have to compromise a bit in terms of location, but if it lowers your cost of living in the long term, it’s definitely worth it.
Food in Dubai
Dubai is home to many familiar supermarket chains. You won’t have to look hard find Waitrose, Carrefour, Spinneys and Choithrams – but as with every city, it’s important to shop at a place that’s friendly to your budget. You are likely to find that while there is no added VAT or GST, staple food items can be more than they would normally cost – this is because they have to travel a lot further to end up in Dubai. Try and shop local – organically grown local chickens are a lot cheaper than the poultry imported from abroad as is the regionally grown fruit and vegetables.
Transport in Dubai
Petrol is relatively affordable in Dubai and so are cars. If you decide not to opt for your own car, then the primary forms of public transport in Dubai are the Metro, taxis, buses and water taxis. Compared to other similar cities, taxis in Dubai are relatively cheap, well maintained and strictly regulated by the Dubai Road and Transport Authority. Dubai’s network of buses is also very affordable and quite extensive and is a great option when travelling from the metro to your destination. If you are using public transport consider buying a NoI card. The NoI card is a smart card, which can be used on buses, trams, waterbuses and the metro. The NoI card has a number of value-added benefits and the big bonus is that you don’t have to carry cash on you.
Healthcare in Dubai
Dubai has one of the best public healthcare systems in the world with a high standard of medical care and state-of-the-art facilities. To access the medical facilities run by the government you will need to apply for a UAE health card. Between 2014 and 2016 a law was introduced that mandates companies to provide their employees with a health insurance plan that includes at least a basic level of cover, as specified by the government. Employers are not however required to pay health insurance for their employees’ dependents.
If you are a South African expat living in Dubai and would like to know more about how you can maximise your finances through financial emigration, accessing your South African retirement annuity and our tailor-made tax solutions for South Africans around the world, contact FinGlobal today.