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Myths about life in Dubai

Myths about Dubai can distort your perception about living here. Rent is too expensive, you can’t have pets, all children must know Arabic to go to school – these are just some of the false stereotypes that people hear. Let’s learn more about and then debunk these common myths.

Myth 1. Rent is very expensive in Dubai

This just isn’t true. There are many types of both expensive and budget accommodation options. It all depends on your personal preferences, financial abilities, the type and size of the property, the location, and the amenities available at the complex.

Let’s take a look at an example. A one-child family that earns about AED 15K (USD 4K) wants to rent a 2-bedroom apartment in a neighbourhood with good social infrastructure: schools and kindergartens, recreation areas, shops, and so on. If their monthly housing budget is roughly AED 3.6K (USD 1K), then they will be able to rent an apartment in one of the following neighbourhoods:

Neighbourhood Average yearly rental price for 2-bedroom apartments as of July 2023
Al Muhaisnah AED 39K (USD 10.6K)
Al Qusais AED 43K (USD 11.7K)
Al Warsan AED 46K (USD 12.5K)
Al Quoz AED 50K (USD 13.6K)
Dubai South AED 55K (USD 14.9K)

Let’s do the maths: with a monthly income of AED 15K (USD 4K) and a housing budget of AED 3.6K (USD 1K), the family has about AED 11K (USD 3K) remaining for their other monthly expenses. With proper budget planning, this will be enough for groceries, clothing, entertainment, tuition fees, utilities, and any other expenses.

In comparison to other major metropolitan cities, Dubai has the most affordable rental market. Let’s take a look at the yearly rental prices for 2-bedroom apartments in a few other cities, as of July, 2023:

Dubai AED 46K (USD 12.5K)
Sydney AED 132K (USD 36K)
London AED 235K (USD 54K)
Hong Kong AED 290K (USD 79K)
Niseko AED 304K (USD 83K)

Myth 2. You must be employed by a UAE company to receive a work visa

This isn’t mandatory. In addition to work visas that are issued to foreign workers only at the behest of their employer, it is also possible to receive a Green Visa. This visa can be obtained by freelancers, students, investors, and those who are self-employed.

The Green Visa is valid for 5 years and allows the following:

  • to live, study, work, open a bank account and use other services in the UAE;
  • to to sponsor parents, sons under the age of 25 and unmarried daughters of any age;
  • to avoid needing a local sponsor or employer.

Note: To learn more about the Green Visa program and how to receive this type of visa, see this article.

Myth 3. It is difficult to find accommodation if you have a pet

Although not every neighbourhood in Dubai allows pets, there are many Pet-Friendly Communities to be found. If you are planning on moving to Dubai with your furry friend, we recommend you to consider the following neighbourhoods:

  • Jumeirah Village Circle;
  • Dubai Hills Estate;
  • Downtown Dubai;
  • Jumeirah Lake Towers;
  • Dubai Sports City.

These neighbourhoods have parks where you can walk with your pets, veterinary clinics and pharmacies, pet shops, grooming salons, pet-friendly establishments, as well as other amenities.

Note: For additional information about the best pet-friendly communities, read here.

Myth 4. Dubai is a very expensive city to live in

According to Numbeo a single person can expect to spend about AED 3.6K (USD 1K) per month on living expenses in Dubai, as of 2023. This amount does not include the cost of renting accommodation.

In order to calculate the cost of living for a three-person household made up of two adults and one child, we need to consider the basic costs of groceries, transportation, utilities, tuition fees, and clothing:

A single shopping cart of milk, bread, a 12 count carton of eggs, 2.2lbs of meat,

2.2lbs of potatoes, 2.2lbs of rice, 1.5 litres of water, and 2.2 lbs of apples

AED 84.4 (USD 23)
Public transport – monthly pass AED 319.5 (USD 87)
1 litre of gas AED 3 (USD 0.86)
Utility costs – electricity, heating, cooling,

water, and garbage disposal – for a 915-sq.-ft apartment

AED 697 (USD 190)
Gym membership – monthly pass AED 260 (USD 71)
Yearly tuition fees for one child at an international school AED 46.2K (USD 12.6K)
Clothes and shoes from mass-market retailers AED 778.6 (USD 212)

Based on these prices, a three-person family can expect to spend approximately AED 8.6K (USD 2.3K) per month, not including the cost of housing.

Myth 5. Children must know Arabic to go to school

There is a huge selection of international schools available in Dubai. Education takes place in various languages, depending on the school and program chosen.

It is possible to choose between European, British, American, and other education systems, for example:

School Education System Teaching Language
German International School Shrjah German  English and German
Dubai British School British  English
 Al Mizhar American Academy American  English
 Russian International School Russian  English and Russian
 Our Own High School, Al Warqa Indian  English

If you would like your child to learn Arabic, you can enrol your child in a children’s language centre. Some of the of the most popular ones in Dubai include:

  • Headway Institute FZ-LLC — full-time courses for children from 3-13 years old;
  • Iqra’a — for children from 3-16 years old with the option of homeschooling;
  • The Arabic Language Centre — courses for children from 3-16 years old with the option of attending a camp.

Conclusion

It is possible to live comfortably in Dubai on a wide range of income levels, with or without pets, as a single person or with a family. For example, a three-person household with an average monthly income of AED 15K (USD 4K) can rent accommodation, pay for all the mandatory expenses, and even afford entertainment, transportation, and tuition. By sticking to a well-planned budget, monthly living costs in Dubai will amount to roughly AED 12.1K (USD 3.3K), making Dubai an ideal place to live.

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