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Living In Dubai As A Canadian

Canadian expats living in Dubai will need to adjust to the hot climate, the Arabian cuisine, and the local cost of living. Depending on where you are from in Canada, Dubai can be more affordable for expats. Dubai is typically cheaper than Toronto but more costly than Montreal.

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Are you a Canadian considering moving to Dubai? Are you wanting to learn what it’s like in Dubai as a Canadian? Pacific Prime has crafted this article just for you. We are an international insurance broker who has helped insure over a million clients, and today we are here to serve you!

This blog post will dive deep into what it is like living in Dubai as a Canadian. We have sections comparing cultural differences between the UAE and Canada, an analysis of the monthly cost of living in Dubai, and an introduction to the types of visas available for travelers moving to Dubai.

After reading this article, you’ll want to check out our general guide about what to expect when living in Dubai and another article we have about the cost to live in Dubai.

What It’s Like Living In Dubai As A Canadian

Living in Dubai as a Canadian can feel like entering a new world. There are differences in dress code, food, climate, social norms, and public displays of affection. Dubai is a clean, safe, luxurious city with a broad diversity of foreign residents and expats, including those from Canada.

Canadians may have a particularly difficult time transitioning to a spectacularly different climate. Though both Canada and the UAE have four seasons, Canadians will be used to frigid winters but not so familiar with the intense heat of Dubai summers.

Dubai's Futuristic Museum

Let’s discuss some of the cultural differences that show what it’s like living in Dubai as a  Canadian:

Popular Sports: The most popular sport in the United Arab Emirates is football (soccer), but they also enjoy horse racing and camel racing. In Canada, the most popular sport is ice hockey, and it is followed by lacrosse and soccer.

Common Dress: In Dubai and the larger UAE, native women usually wear a light chemise beneath a more ornate dress and loose trousers. They also cover their heads with a scarf called a shawl or hijab. Men typically wear a long, ankle-length garment called a thawb or dishdashah and a light scarf as a head covering.

Cuisine: Common Emirati cuisine in Dubai consists of hummus, falafel, shawarma, rice, saffron, cardamom, poultry, meat, fish, dates, figs, lemons, and coffee, to name a few. Common cuisine in Canada includes poutine, meat pies, pizza, tandoori, maple syrup, salmon, fiddleheads, and smoked meat.

The Arts: Traditional arts in Dubai and the UAE include pottery, weaving, metalworking, poetry, and storytelling. Traditional arts in Canada include sculpture, stone carvings, painting, literature, and the performing arts, such as musicals and singers.

Cost Of Living In Dubai Vs. Canada

One person’s average monthly cost of living in Dubai is CAD $2,702 and $6,222 for a family. The average monthly cost of living in Canada for one person is CAD $2,601 and $5,975 for a family. Dubai’s average cost of living is cheaper than in Toronto but more expensive than in Montreal.

The average cost of living in Dubai is:

Because it is difficult to compare the cost of living in one city to an entire country, we will compare Dubai’s living expenses to those in Toronto and Montreal. This will help you see a range of how Dubai compares to a variety of cities in Canada.

The crowd-sourced data we will cite comes from LivingCost.org and is intended only to give you an idea of what costs may be like in each of these cities. Local prices are constantly changing, so please keep that in mind. All of our monetary values are in CAD.

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai monthly cost of living with the Canadian averages in Toronto and Montreal.

 

Overall Living Expenses Dubai Price Toronto Price Montreal Price
1 person for a month $2,702 $3,366 $2,409
A family for a month $6,222 $7,517 $5,741

 

Read this blog post about Finding a Job in Dubai as a Canadian.

Housing Expenses in Dubai vs. Canada

Rent for one person in Dubai costs about CAD $1,632 a month on average. Rent in Dubai for a family costs about CAD $2,908 a month on average. In Canada, rent on average costs about CAD $1,520 for one person and CAD $2,570 for a family.

Pink Building Amidst Palm Trees, Dubai

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai housing expenses with the Canadian averages in Toronto and Montreal. These are listed as monthly fees.

 

Type of Housing Fee Dubai Price Toronto Price Montreal Price
Rent for 1 $1,632 $2,053 $1,198
Rent for a family $2,908 $3,342 $2,052
1-room apartment downtown $2,000 $2,102 $1,340
Cheap 1-room apartment $1,170 $1,815 $987
3-room apartment downtown $3,782 $3,613 $2,364
Cheap 3-room apartment $2,211 $2,980 $1,731

 

Read this blog post about the Best Places to Live in the UAE to consider your options beyond Dubai.

Food Expenses in Dubai vs. Canada

On average, individuals living in Dubai spend about CAD $617 on food expenses each month while individuals in Canada spend about CAD $732 on food expenses each month. Many groceries are significantly more affordable in Dubai than in Canada

Average restaurant prices are fairly comparable between Dubai and Canada, with the average Dubai restaurant being slightly cheaper. This largely has to do with your food preferences, however, as there are plenty of extravagant luxury restaurants available in Dubai.

Food expenses for expats in Dubai will largely depend on the way they choose to spend their money.

Average Grocery Expenses in Dubai

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai grocery prices with the Canadian averages in Toronto and Montreal.

 

Type of Food Dubai Price Toronto Price Montreal Price
1 qt of milk $2.38 $3.96 $2.98
1 lb of bread $1.71 $3.46 $4.08
1.2 lb of rice $2.49 $3.80 $3.89
12 eggs $4.80 $5.28 $4.94
2.2 lb of cheese $19.10 $19 $17.80
2.2 lb of chicken breast $12.40 $17.80 $16.70
2.2 lb of apples $2.89 $4.93 $4.50
2.2 lb of oranges $2.53 $5.34 $5
2.2 lb of potatoes $1.44 $3.64 $2.68

 

Average Restaurant Prices in Dubai

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai restaurant prices with the Canadian averages in Toronto and Montreal.

 

Type of Restaurant Meal Dubai Price Toronto Price Montreal Price
Lunch $13.90 $22.30 $19.40
Dinner for two $93.20 $92 $88.10
Fast food meal $11.40 $13.50 $14.50

 

Transportation Expenses in Dubai vs. Canada

The average monthly transportation expenses in Dubai are CAD $260. The average person in Canada will spend CAD $174 a month on transportation. A monthly public transportation ticket in Dubai is more expensive than in Montreal, Canada, but less expensive than in Toronto, Canada.

Jet Skiing Near Dubai's 7-Star Hotel

Below is a chart that compares the average Dubai transportation prices with the Canadian averages in Toronto and Montreal.

 

Type of Transportation Dubai Price Toronto Price Montreal Price
Local transport ticket $2.79 $3.42 $3.61
Monthly transport ticket $112 $160 $98.50
Taxi ride for 5 miles $16.10 $21.30 $19.90
¼ gallon of gas $1.22 $1.64 $1.79

 

Moving to Dubai from Canada

Canadians moving to Dubai from Canada will need to secure a residence visa. Depending on the type you apply for, the residence visa can last for 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 years. To apply, you will need a copy of your passport, a recent colored personal photo, and an entry permit.

Jumeirah Beach Street, Dubai

This is the full list of required documents to apply for a UAE visa for Canadians.

Here are the types of residence visas for expats from Canada moving to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates:

  1. Golden Visa: The Golden Visa is for long-term residents who have foreign talent coming to the UAE to live, work, or study.
  2. Work Visa (inside the UAE): There are three types of work visas for expats moving to the UAE to work inside the UAE. These are the Green Visa, the Standard Work Visa, and the Domestic Worker’s Visa.
  3. Work Visa (outside the UAE): The Virtual Work Residence Visa is for expats who move to the UAE and work virtually from inside the UAE, such as for a Canadian company back home.
  4. Retirement Visa: Retired expats from Canada who are over age 55 residing in Dubai or the UAE can get a long-term Retirement Visa for 5 years.
  5. Student Visa: Expat students who move to Dubai to study apply for a Student Visa that lasts for up to one year at a time.
  6. Residence Visa for Family Members: Employers and employees who have a valid UAE residence visa can sponsor residence visas for their family members. There are specific requirements for who can be sponsored.

Read here to learn more about the general provisions for residence visas in the UAE, and read this comprehensive guide about moving to Dubai.

Long-term Canadian expats in Dubai may want to learn how to become a citizen of Dubai.

Check out this blog post about Moving to Dubai from Canada.

Conclusion

Living in Dubai as a Canadian will certainly have its adjustments, but it will also be very exciting. One thing you will want to learn is if health insurance is free in Dubai or not and then plan accordingly.

If you’d like to learn more about your health insurance options in Dubai, reach out to Pacific Prime today, and we are happy to give you free expert advice. We also provide a free resource on our website for all expats moving abroad!

It is an insurance quote generator that lets you compare insurance quotes from a number of insurance companies in the same place. It is an invaluable tool available to you as you prepare to get healthcare coverage while living abroad.

In addition to our quote generator, you may also be interested in our blog posts about Living in Dubai as an American and Living in Dubai as a UK/British Citizen.

Thanks for reading!

Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung