UAE: Expats excited about affordability
According to the latest Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are quickly making their name as affordable places for expats to live.
Even though Dubai ranks number 55 on the list of most expensive cities, Abu Dhabi is only a bit more expensive with a rank of 50, which it shares with Frankfurt in Germany, the survey said.
The Mercer survey reviewed 214 cities across five continents and measured the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, Some of the items included housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment in the local area.
"While across the UAE, the cost of living has remained relatively stable, we are seeing that accommodation costs have continued to decrease in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, driving down the overall cost of living for expats," stated Dr Markus Wiesner, the head of Mercer's Dubai office.
The most expensive city in the Middle East is Tel Aviv in Israel ranked at 19.
While some regions are seeing a continuous rise in costs, like Riyadh, Dubai's residential rental market continues to decrease.
"Many tenants have been moving from larger units to smaller ones due to a reduction in household income and adoption of a more cautious approach towards household expenditure. Moreover, there has been an increase in available accommodation for rent, as many investors, unable to sell their properties, have been placing those units on the rental market," it said.
This phenomenon is exactly why expats are finding the city a bit more comfortable in terms of price for their budget.
Here are what some local expats have said about their experiences in the region.
Naoshad Pajan, chemical engineer, resident of Bur Dubai
"My expenses have gone down from 2009, because my friend circle is not partying so much any more! Jokes aside, the cost of having a life outside home – going out, eating out and such like – has gone up slightly, say by four or five per cent. But, on the other hand, the rents are stable. And the thing in Dubai is that you can choose your lifestyle. Being single, I can save about 60-70 per cent of my salary, my major expenses being the car and the rent. Two years ago, I was saving less."
Kim Thomson, publisher, resident of Mirdiff
"I would say the cost of living has gone up by about five per cent. It is not the rent that is up, but food and electricity. The cost of shopping for provisions has definitely increased. Also, we do not go out often, as I find that a meal outside is quite expensive. Luckily, the car does not cost my anything, as it is a company car. But we do not manage to save much at the end of the month."
George Gomes, Hotel apartment manager, resident of Bur Dubai
"There has been no major change in the cost of living in Dubai in the past one year. For an average family with one child, I would put the minimum monthly salary essential for leading a normal life in Dubai at around Dh14,000. The major chunk of salary for a person like me goes into paying the house rent. I have lived in Dubai for the past 17 years and believe the emirate knows how to fight back. I am sure that Dubai will see much better times in future."