How to Save Money in Dubai: A Guide to Living and Working Here On A Budget

When we think of Dubai, opulent hotels with extravagant views, sparkling pools and happy hour cocktails come to mind. But as travelers who have experienced the city first hand know, living in Dubai is not cheap. Even if your job here is on the more affordable side — such as being a teaching assistant or entry-level admin assistant — keeping up with all the bills can be a struggle. This is especially true when you’re just starting out in your career and therefore don’t have much money saved up for this kind of thing yet. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make life and save money while you’re in Dubai more affordable so that you don’t need to sacrifice any luxuries along the way.

Basics of Living in Dubai on a Budget

In general, living in Dubai will always cost a little more than living in other cities around the world. This is due to a large portion of residents owning cars (due to poor public transportation), higher electricity and water bills, as well as a larger portion of residents choosing to go with a more luxurious lifestyle. For example, groceries are usually more expensive here than other places. And especially with food delivery services becoming more and more popular, those costs can go up even more. Additionally, staying in a hotel room or renting a small studio apartment will naturally cost more than living in other cities where you’re able to live in a bigger space for a cheaper price.

How to Save Money in Dubai: Plan Accordingly

When you start living in Dubai, it’s best to have a general plan of how you’re going to manage your monthly budget. This can be as simple as making a list of all your bills and how much money you need to earn per month. If you’re employed under an employment visa, you’ll receive a monthly salary. However, you’ll also need to pay for your flight here, health insurance, visa renewals, travel costs, food, and bills. It’s best to plan accordingly for all of these expenses, so that you don’t end up short on cash towards the end of the month.

How to Save Money in Dubai: Use Public transportation

This may sound obvious, but Dubai’s public transportation system is excellent — and it’s completely free. Depending on where you live, you can take the Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram, or various buses that run around the city. If you’re working in Dubai Marina, JBR, or Barsha, you can even use a water taxi to get to work. If you can, try to avoid driving or taking a taxi, as this can really start to add up. Taking public transportation also helps ease some of the stress of driving in Dubai’s traffic. For example, you can take the Dubai Metro from Dubai International Airport to Dubai, where you can then take a taxi to your neighborhood.

How to Save Money in Dubai: Live near the workplace

Unless you already have a ton of money saved up and are ready to splurge, it’s best to live near your workplace. Being closer to your office will help you avoid spending extra time in traffic and will allow for you to avoid paying for a taxi every day. This will also allow you to walk to work, which is great for your health and will help you save some money on gym memberships.

How to Save Money in Dubai: Find the hidden gems

As mentioned before, Dubai’s hotels and restaurants are usually more expensive than other places. So if you have to visit one of these places for work or for a social occasion, try to find somewhere that’s less expensive yet still as nice. You can search for more affordable hotels on websites like TripAdvisor. Or if you’re with a group of friends, you can try to find a place that has happy hour specials. For example, if you bring your co-workers to the Beach Bar & Grill in JBR, a meal there can cost you around 100-150 AED per person. But if you go to the Beach Hut next door, it only costs 50 AED per person. And you’re still able to enjoy the same view and atmosphere as the Beach Bar & Grill.

How to Save Money in Dubai: Shop at the right times

When you’re shopping, it’s best to know what the sales are and when they occur so that you can take advantage of them. For example, Dubai’s weekend sales usually happen on Fridays and Saturdays. These sales usually start on Thursday night and last until Saturday. So you have plenty of time to visit these stores and take advantage of the sales. If you know what to look for and when to buy it, you can save a lot of money while shopping.

How to Save Money in Dubai: Utilize Food Delivery Services

Food delivery services are super helpful, especially if you’re at home on your days off. This way, you’re able to still enjoy a nice home-cooked meal instead of having to eat out. You can also utilize food delivery services if you’re working late and don’t have time to leave the office. Most menus offer a delivery option, and it’s very easy to order from the app. If you’re on a budget, it’s best to avoid the restaurants in Dubai and go for the street food instead. It may not always be clean, but it’s cheap and tasty. There are also plenty of supermarkets in Dubai. They offer ready-made meals and baked goods that are very affordable.

How to Save Money in Dubai: Utilize Coupons

Coupons can be used anywhere, and Dubai is no exception. You can find coupons for restaurants and grocery stores all over social media. There are also numerous websites that offer coupons for products and services. These coupons may be for a specific amount off or for free. If you want to save money, it’s best to utilize coupons whenever you can. They are especially helpful when you’re buying groceries, as you can save up to 30% on your total.

Bottom line

Living in Dubai on a budget can be challenging, but it’s totally doable with the right mindset. Use the tips in this guide to ensure that you’re not spending more than you need to. This will allow you to save money and have more cash to spend on fun things, like travel once you’re able to save up. So now that you know the basics of living in Dubai on a budget, it’s time to get started!

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