How to Budget as an Expat in Dubai

It’s not a hidden fact that Dubai is one of the most expensive cities to live in, with cost of living rising and even more so as we anticipate the Expo 2020 event. As we are here temporarily, when we go back home to our respected countries, let us not leave Dubai broke. We share some tips in budgeting our expenses and make sure that we set aside money for our future.

With all the luxury of choices available in cars, hotels, entertainments, and living in general, Dubai offers plenty of opportunities for work as well as for spending. So let’s not be blinded by these flashy material items and always keep our reality in check.

Budget Tips in Dubai

Dubai may offer a life of luxury as it is commonly portrayed in media outlets outside. But if you are an upcoming expat or current expat, you will need to learn how to economize as much as possible and learn the value of money.

Living Quarters

Staying in affordable accommodation is one of the best choices to avoid getting bankrupt, as housing affordability remains an issue for expats, try not to spend more than 35% of your salary on rent. Newly developed area is one of the best choices to get an apartment with low rent. Many buildings offer apartments for sharing so watch out for those. You can also stay in accommodations near your work so you won’t have to spend much on your daily commute.

Currency Exchange

Although banks give special offer rates, try to assess if that’s the best option for you. You have to always check the rates before exchanging your currency, as we believe that currency exchange offices gives more rates.


Discover the surrounding area to find a local supermarket is the best way, as there are many overpriced supermarkets that import their products from abroad. Try to get the minimum needed food not to be wasted. Go to Carrefour, Union Coop, Almaya, West Zone, etc. as grocery items cost cheaper.

Avoid Expensive Brands

Dubai has the most luxurious life ever with so many stores inside its malls. Try to avoid unnecessary shopping, also try to find out the bargains and follow sales and discounts. Wait for shopping season so as you can get better prices to items that are more expensive to buy.


It’s useful in the long run to save for your own car instead of wasting your money on renting one. Don’t buy an expensive luxury car, just get a car which facilitate your transportation. Another tip (when you are searching for a job), having a driving license is always a plus and you can use it as an added skill to get better salaries when applying for jobs.

Dining Out

There are thousands of places to spend a good time in Dubai but try to avoid luxurious places and expensive restaurants. Cook your own food at home is the best way. If you don’t have enough time, opt for a cheap restaurant or a moderate one.

Learn to Budget 

Determine a threshold limit depend on your salary, expense list and do the math well to avoid passing this limit.Try to resist the urge of having more than one credit card.

Remember that you are in Dubai to work and for work (well, most of us anyway). So never lose sight of your goals in making sure that you save money on a monthly basis. We can’t be here forever (as there’s no permanent residency for expats) in the UAE. So it’s better to be prepared for our future and make sure that we secure it or else we face consequences of wasting time and efforts and of course, money in the process.

Do you have some Dubai budget tips? Share with us your experience and tell us how much you can save per month.

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