Dubai among world's most expensive cities for expats
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Dubai among world’s most expensive cities for expats

Dubai among world’s most expensive cities for expats

UBS ranked global cities based on factors including purchasing power, expat family living costs, millenial products and other data points


Dubai is among the most expensive cities globally in terms of cost of living for expat families and the price of a cup of coffee but performs more favourably for purchasing power and millenial products, according to a study by Swiss bank UBS.

The emirate stood behind only Geneva and Brussels in a 13-city cost of living list, which measured basic monthly expenses like food and clothing and ‘expat extras’ including accommodation, international school tuition, language lessons and household help for a family with children.

UBS estimated basic expenses in Dubai were around $1,311.10, with extras accounting for the majority of costs at $4,545,89. This meant a total of $5,856.99 with accommodation ($2,745.60) the highest expense.

In contrast, Brussels stood at $6,159.22, with schooling ($2,356.76) the largest expense and Geneva at $6,326.73 with accommodation ($2,397.80) the largest expense. At the bottom of the ranking was Mumbai with a total cost of $2,338.45 and Jakarta with $2,985.79.

A wider list of 77 cities based solely on price levels placed Dubai in 36th, Manama in 39th, Doha in 49th and Riyadh in 60th, while Zurich, Geneva, Oslo, Copenhagen and New York made up the top five.

Regional cities performed more favourably in terms of purchasing power with Dubai in 14th having climbed from 27th in 2015, Doha in 19th from 37th in 2015 and Manama in eighth from 17th in 2015. Riyadh stood in 24th and Los Angeles, Zurich, Miami, Geneva and Luxembourg led the list.

Another table of 11 cities showing the costs of key millennial products, including iPhones, laptops, avocados, jeans, trainers, a cup of coffee, Netflix subscription and big mac, also placed Dubai in a more competitive position.

For the total basket the UAE city was the second cheapest location at $2,004.30, ahead of only Hong Kong at $1,825.04.

Dubai was found to be among the cheapest places to buy a laptop ($644.81) and jeans ($51.60) but the most expensive for a cup of coffee ($5.70).

Another study recently released by Deutsche Bank ranked Dubai the most expensive place globally to buy a summer dress and pay for a monthly broadband subscription.

The bank’s survey found an internet connection of 8Mbps cost $85 in the city and a summer dress $63, compared to $7 and $28 in the cheapest locations Russia and Indonesia respectively

Deutsche Bank ranked Dubai in 14th for the cost of renting a mid-range two-bed apartment with an average price of $1,787 compared to $289 in the cheapest location on the 50-city ranking, Bangalore.


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