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Is Dubai a Good Place to Live Permanently?

Dubai offers an enticing lifestyle for expats with high salaries, tax-free incomes, sunny weather, and lavish attractions. However, the high costs, cultural adjustments, and transitory environment make it difficult for some people to settle there long-term.

Is Dubai a Good Place to Live Permanently?

Cost of Living in Dubai

Dubai has a very high cost of living, especially for housing, utilities, healthcare, and education. Taxes are low, but expenses are quite high compared to other global cities.

  • Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in an average area costs approximately AED 40,000-60,000 per year
  • Buying an apartment starts from AED 800,000+ in less prime areas
  • Utilities like cooling bills can be AED 500+ per month in summer
  • Groceries and dining out 20-30% more expensive than UK/USA generally
  • Owning a car starts from AED 18,000/year for lease, insurance, maintenance
  • Healthcare and education very expensive without employer benefits

Lifestyle in Dubai

Dubai offers an attractive lifestyle for those who enjoy warm weather, beachside living, luxury shopping, fine dining, nightlife, and activities.

However, the car-dependent city can feel very urban and transient. The summer heat of 40°C+ makes it difficult to be outdoors much of the year. While safety and diversity are pros, high prices and superficiality are cons for some residents.


  • Cosmopolitan, multicultural environment
  • Lots of shopping malls, restaurants, bars, events
  • Family-friendly attractions like theme parks, beaches, resorts
  • Low crime rate, generally very safe
  • Pleasant winter weather of 25°C from November to April


  • Very hot +95°F (35°C) weather from May to October
  • Fast development makes the city feel temporary
  • High cost of services and amenities
  • Influenced by corporate/materialistic culture
  • Heavy traffic, dense urban environment

Jobs and Income in Dubai

Dubai offers attractive incomes with no income tax. High salaries and job opportunities draw expats in fields like tech, finance, healthcare and more. However, the job market is quite competitive.

  • Tax-free salaries with higher incomes than UK, USA, etc.
  • Major industries are hospitality, real estate, finance and tech
  • High demand for western expertise and education
  • Need wasta (connections) and familiarity with corporate culture
  • Competitive job market with preference for younger candidates
  • Risk of layoffs in cost-cutting measures

Healthcare in Dubai

Dubai has advanced healthcare infrastructure and services, though the costs are extremely high without employment health insurance. Facilities like hospitals, medications, doctors are expensive for individuals.


  • Advanced private hospitals and clinics
  • Leading doctors and medical technology
  • Internationally accredited facilities
  • Long waits for appointments sometimes

Healthcare Costs

  • Employer insurance required to afford quality care
  • Basic visit fees start from AED 300+ per visit
  • Giving birth costs AED 10,000+ out of pocket
  • Pre-existing conditions often not covered
  • Insurance has 20-30% co-pays frequently

Education in Dubai

Education in Dubai is very costly, especially for higher grades and quality curriculum. While some public schools are affordable for citizens, most expats send children to private schools averaging AED 30,000- 75,000 per year.

  • Public schools only open to Emirati citizens
  • Private schools range from AED 15,000 to 150,000+ per child annually
  • Limited school seats with long waitlists frequently
  • American/British schools follow UK/US curriculum
  • Schools generally high quality but quite competitive

Transit Environment in Dubai

Dubai has limited public transportation though an extensive road system for car travel. With limited walkability, most residents rely on cars or taxis to get around long distances. Traffic congestion is also very high.

  • Limited metro line & tram service coverage
  • Buses available but infrequent/unreliable
  • Heavy traffic & frequent accidents on highways
  • Very hot for walking long distances
  • Taxis affordable using ride-hailing apps
  • Owning a car critical for getting around

Safety and Diversity

Two advantages Dubai offers are low crime rates along with diversity. Law enforcement helps deter most major offenses. And as an expat majority city, Dubai offers openness towards foreigners rarely found in the region. However, stigma exists against certain backgrounds.


  • Low rates of violent crime or theft
  • Strong law enforcement presence
  • Some financial/cyber crime concerns
  • Generally very safe for residents


  • Majority expatriate population
  • Welcoming towards Westerners
  • Tolerance and integration of cultures
  • Less acceptance towards certain faiths, LGBTQ+, marital status

Key Takeaways

  • High salaries but very high cost of living especially for housing, healthcare and education without employer benefits
  • Lavish amenities and attractions but lack of long-term belonging
  • International diversity and safety but stigma against some groups
  • World-class infrastructure offset by heavy traffic and urban density
  • Overall good place to live short term but challenging to settle permanently


In summary, while Dubai offers an alluring lifestyle and career opportunities, the high costs, cultural adjustments, and transient nature make permanently settling there unrealistic for many people long-term. The city caters best to young professionals and expats wanting to spend a few years advancing their career. For empty nesters and families looking for their forever home, Dubai likely appeals more as a second residence or retirement destination providing an escape from the Western rat race.


  1. How much salary is enough to live comfortably in Dubai?
    To live comfortably in Dubai with mid-range housing and lifestyle expenses for a family, expert estimate salaries between AED 30,000 to 50,000+ per month.

  2. Is healthcare free in Dubai?
    Healthcare is not free in Dubai and quite expensive without employer insurance. Even with insurance monthly premiums and co-pays apply.

  3. Can I buy property in Dubai as a foreigner?
    Yes, Dubai allows foreigners to buy freehold property with some restrictions on location. Investors cannot buy property outright in areas exclusively held for Emirati nationals.

  4. Is it better to rent or buy property in Dubai?
    Renting is generally recommended over buying in Dubai as a foreigner since you cannot get a mortgage and may need to exit quickly. Rent to own options exist from some developers too.

  5. Which are the best areas to live in Dubai?
    Popular areas for expats include Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Arabian Ranches, and The Palm Jumeirah. Neighborhoods vary from very urban to suburban.

  6. How much is a monthly utilities bill in Dubai?
    Expect to budget AED 500 to 1,000+ per month for basic utilities if living alone or in a 2 bed unit depending on size. Family villas see bills of AED 2,000+ per month.

  7. Is public transport good in Dubai?
    Public transport is still developing in Dubai. The metro serves key areas while buses and trams have limited reach. Many expats rely on cars, taxis or car sharing to get around.

  8. What languages are spoken in Dubai?
    Arabic and English are the official languages. Given the diversity English is most common. Within communities many other languages like Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, Chinese, Farsi, etc. are used.

  9. Can I get permanent residency in Dubai?
    No, Dubai does not offer permanent residency options, only renewable visas tied to employment or investment of at least AED 1 million in property.

  10. How hot does Dubai get?
    During summer months from April to October, Dubai sees very high temperatures of 40°C (105°F) on average peaking around 50°C (120°F). Winter is cooler and comfortable in the mid 20°Cs (70-80°Fs).

  11. Is dating allowed in Dubai?
    Dating is common in Dubai amongst expats, though public displays of affection or intimacy before marriage are still frowned upon and illegal. Cohabiting without marriage is also prohibited.

  12. Can singles buy property or get mortgages in Dubai?
    Unmarried owners cannot buy property in certain areas like The Palm Jumeirah. Getting a mortgage also requires proof of marriage for expats.

  13. Is Dubai welcoming towards the LGBTQ+ community?
    No, same-sex relations and identification is still criminalized in the UAE. Dubai is not an LGBTQ+ friendly place though some visitor discretion occurs.

  14. Does Dubai have good hospitals?
    Yes, Dubai is recognized for advanced healthcare infrastructure including reputed facilities like American Hospital Dubai, Dubai London Clinic, Mediclinic City Hospital and more.

  15. Is designer shopping cheaper in Dubai?
    Dubai offers luxury shopping with no sales tax. However with the cost of living, designer goods are on par if not more expensive than the USA or UK excluding tax savings.

  16. Do all expats live a glamorous life in Dubai?
    No. While pictures highlight Dubai’s extravagance, many expats including laborers struggle with poverty, debt and challenging conditions not pictured.

  17. Will Dubai’s property prices continue rising?
    After sharp declines from 2008-2010, Dubai’s property prices have kept increasing ahead of incomes. But tightening measures are expected to balance growth going forward.

  18. Do you need a car to live in Dubai?
    Yes generally, Dubai’s limited public transport and hot climate make owning a car critical for getting around and basic errands.

  19. Are pets allowed in Dubai?
    Yes, Dubai allows domestically common pets like cats, dogs, fish, hamsters with some import restrictions. Fees and regulations apply for licensing them.

  20. Is Dubai a party place?
    Dubai has developed a thriving nightlife scene catering to tourists and expats. However, alcohol laws and privacy limit more extreme clubbing environments seen elsewhere.

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