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Living In Dubai – What To Expect

Expats living in Dubai can expect to have access to the best healthcare in the world, to communicate with about 65% of Dubai’s population in English, and to join a competitive job market. Expats make up a large percentage of Dubai so you will often be among other foreign travelers.

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Are you an expat wanting to know what to expect when you live in Dubai? Are you a global traveler or a frequent business traveler who will spend a lot of time in Dubai? Perhaps you are none of these but are simply curious to know what to expect in life in Dubai.

Pacific Prime has created this article with the intent of answering these questions.

This article is the core article in a series all about the reality of life in Dubai, so we will go on to introduce you to topics such as the pros and cons of Dubai, the cost of living in Dubai, how to find a job in Dubai, and what healthcare is like in Dubai.

We will then direct you to several blog posts that dig even deeper into these topics. We highly recommend you take the links to learn more about the specific topics that interest you the most.

If you ever come across questions that are unanswered, reach out to Pacific Prime and our insurance experts.

What Expats Can Expect When Living in Dubai

Expats who live in Dubai can expect a sunny climate almost all year long, to shop at the largest shopping mall in the world, to feel safe in a city with one of the lowest crime rates globally, and to have a wide diversity of real estate options from modest to luxurious.

Sunset Ship Voyage By Dubai's Towering Skyline

Here is a list of some of the pros of living in Dubai as an expat:

  1. English is spoken by 65% of people in Dubai. If English is your native language or a second language you speak, it can make it very easy for expats to communicate in Dubai.
  2. Dubai has excellent international schools. If you are part of an expat family in Dubai, you will have options to put your children in international schools with world-renowned curricula.
  3. Dubai’s transportation is growing in sophistication. Dubai has launched an extensive transportation system with trams, metros, buses, taxis, and more.
  4. Dubai has some of the best healthcare in the world. Dubai’s healthcare is technologically advanced and provides cutting-edge care, and private hospitals have attractive accommodations that bring medical tourism.
  5. Dubai has international dining options. While Dubai has delectable Middle Eastern and Central African cuisine, expats can also find international restaurants from all around the world.

Here is a list of some of the cons of living in Dubai as an expat:

  1. Dubai’s internet restrictions. The government in Dubai has made internet restrictions on sites that seem to be contrary to Islamic morality, and this may be a big change for some expats.
  2. Dubai doesn’t have designated addresses. For expats who come from a country where postal addresses are standard, it may be difficult to get used to finding locations based on word of mouth and surrounding landmarks.

We have several articles that discuss in detail what it’s like living in Dubai and what expats can expect when they get there. Check out the following posts on our blog:

Cost of Living in Dubai as an Expat

Dubai locals and expats on average spend USD $1,975 a month on living expenses if they are single. Families on average spend USD $4,546 a month on living expenses in Dubai. The cost of living in Dubai is considered more affordable than the average in New York, Toronto, and London.

Burj Khalifa, World's Tallest, Against Dubai Backdrop

Rent for expats in Dubai costs USD $1,193 on average if they are single and USD $2,125 on average if they are a family of four. This differs greatly from the averages in New York, Toronto, and London, which are as follows:

  • Rent in New York is USD $2,541 for 1 and $3,789 for a family
  • Rent in Toronto is USD $1,500 for 1 and $2,442 for a family
  • Rent in London is USD $1,951 for 1 and $3,238 for a family

To see even more about what it costs to live in Dubai, check out our blog post titled The Cost to Live in Dubai.

Also, the following chart shows the average monthly living expenses in Dubai for a variety of categories. Each expense is compared to the averages in New York City, USA, Toronto, CA, and London, UK.

Every monetary value below is in USD unless specifically noted as either AED, CAD, or GBP.


Average Monthly Living Expenses in Dubai as an Expat
Type of Living Expense Dubai, UAE Cost New York, USA Cost Toronto, CA Cost London, UK Cost
Overall Expenses for 1 $1,975

(AED 7,254)

$3,879 $2,460




Overall Expenses for a Family $4,546

(AED 16,700)

$8,148 $5,493




Rent for 1 $1,193

(AED 4,390)

$2,541 $1,500




Rent for a family $2,125

(AED 7,805)

$3,789 $2,442




Food for 1 $451

(AED 1,650)

$751 $581




Food for a family $1,172

(AED 4,300)

$1,935 $1,530




Transportation for 1 $190

(AED 700)

$255 $250




Transportation for a family $485

(AED 1,780)

$663 $632





The information in this chart comes from

We have the following in-depth articles about the cost of living in Dubai as well that expats will want to read:

Finding a Job in Dubai as an Expat

To find a job in Dubai as an expat, you’ll want to learn about the job market in Dubai and what recruiters expect from applicants. This can include learning how to revise your CV to meet Dubai expectations, the best times of year to apply for a job, and what jobs are currently in high demand.

Gevora Hotel View At Golden Hour, Dubai

To get you started on how to approach this daunting task, we’ve written several blog posts for you that can make it easier. Each includes tips about how to apply for a job, as well as lists of careers that Dubai tends to have an interest in hiring.

These articles include:

Healthcare in Dubai for Expats

All Dubai residents, including expats, are required by law to have health insurance. Insurance can be given to employed expats through their employer, but dependents may not be covered by these benefits. If that’s the case, expats will be required to purchase a private insurance plan for them.

To learn more about how the Dubai healthcare system works and your options as an expat for insurance, read our website page about health insurance in Dubai for expats.

Burj Al Arab Hotel silhouette in Dubai, UAE

We also recommend several of our blog posts that break down healthcare and health insurance in Dubai in such a way that it is easy for expats to know what they need and how to do it. 

If you’d like to learn about private health insurance and the number of plan options available to expats, Pacific Prime is happy to help. Talking to an insurance expert can help answer all your questions.

You’re also invited to use our free insurance quote generator to see dozens of insurance quotes side by side. Looking at the plans, their benefits, and their costs can give you an idea of what it will cost you to get insurance, and it can help you see which providers offer coverage in Dubai.


You should have a much better idea of where you can learn more about each of these topics related to living in Dubai as an expat. This article is like a touchstone that is intended to help you find the topics you’d like to dig deeper into.

Read the articles that interest you, and you’ll be more prepared for Dubai!

Expats will likely also find value in our articles Moving to Dubai – A Comprehensive Guide, The 14 Most Common Diseases to Watch Out For When Traveling Abroad, The 5 Best Travel Insurance Companies, and The Best Places to Live in Dubai.

If you’re not completely set on Dubai, however, you can check out The Best Places to Live in the UAE, The Best Places to Live in Europe, and The Best Places to Live in Asia.

Happy travels!

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