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Cost of Living

United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Cost of Living

A survey at the beginning of 2012 showed that the cost of living in Dubai had fallen in the twelve months prior when over 400 goods and services were taken into account in 140 cities to compile the figures. Dubai has fallen 16 places and is now ranked as the 94th most expensive place to live in the world. This has been attributed to the strength of the US dollar, falling inflation and lowered rents.

Like living in any country if you are prepared to shop around and not want international imported products it is easier to live on less money. But while the surveys show the cost of living as such may have fallen when it comes to buying everyday goods, it doesn’t take into account the costs of setting up a new life in the UAE and the annual cost of maintaining that life.

The attraction of the UAE way of life with the lovely weather, beautiful beaches and shopping with all the tax free salaries might sound like dream come true but there are many hidden costs and charges that are not apparent at first glance. If you have a relocation package with your employer some, or if you are very lucky all, of the costs might just be paid for you. But if not, or you have to pay for some of them the list can long, and even more costly if you are bringing a spouse and/or children.

So, where to start? First things first, a residency visa, then there is a medical permit and work permit. How about the e-gate card for speedy travel though the airport, National ID card, driving licence and alcohol licence? You will need to make provision for private medical insurance or get a government health card. The government health card will help you get low cost treatment but there are medicals to be passed, blood tests to be taken and then an annual fee per family member. Having a car to get around will be great but don’t forget the yearly registration fee, a SALIK or toll tag so you can drive on the main roads and a fee every time you pass through a toll gate.

Deposits for housing and deposits for the utilities to be connected, huge upfront payments will be needed before you can move into your new place. When you have moved in and got the water and power going the monthly bills can be high. What about housing fees, calculated as 5% of your yearly rent? To keep you cool and calm you will need an air conditioning company contract just in case anything goes wrong. Then to keep in touch with friends and family left behind there are internet fees, telephone fees and if you have any time to watch the TV there is yet another cost for that as well.

Much as you love your children getting them a decent British education can be costly and school fees can be one of the major outgoings from your salary per year.

Even taking into account all the extras that are needed to get started and then the annual renewals the UAE is a wonderful place to live. The people are welcoming and friendly and despite stricter laws than many expats are used to there is a feeling of safety and order everywhere you go.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.


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Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.