Mama Expat in Dubai: 5 money related info you need to know..


Living in Dubai is very different from the carefree holidays you can have here. Actually living here can be financially challenging, especially with being sucked into the glam lifestyle promoted everywhere. So here are the top 5 things you need to know when you join the expat life so you’re in the loop.. I hope it helps!
1. It is not completely tax free!

Yes there is no income tax and that’s awesome but there are other types of tax’s that will cost you. Road tolls on certain roads everytime you pass it will cost you a couple of dirhams but it adds up to be a considerble amount and you could be topping up your Salik (road tax) large amounts every month! Sometimes using different roads to avoid the toll extends your journey, can be stuck in traffic (as everyone is avoiding the tolls) and you can get very lost.

There is a 10% tax on resturant service and hotel revenues you pay when staying at a hotel or eating out, plus the tip you might leave behind. There’s 50% tax to bring alcohol into the country and a 30% tax on purchase of alcohol (with a license).. but there are offers on ladies nights or happy hours at several venues.

When you pay utility bills for your rented accommodation, 5% municipality tax is taken, so you’re essentially paying council tax as it’s apparently used for waste collection, street lights ..etc. Also, Value Added Tax (VAT) is to be introduced in 2018 at 5%.
2. Saving money will be difficult.

Your salary might be the selling point and maybe you have plans to save as much as you can during your time here.. until you realise these plans are non-existent. The cost of living here is high.. the rent, groceries, healthcare.. and if you want to enjoy the good food, designer brands, attractions and events.. might halt your saving plans for a while. Do your research beforehand.. check out best offers by companies like The Entertainer, Groupon, Insydo..etc and grab bargains at sales!

3. Rent and upfront deposits are very expensive!

Landlords ask for the entire yearly rent to be paid in approximately 4 cheques. Cheaper if you can do 3 cheques or less but more expensive if you find 5 cheques or more (logic? idk??). Then there is a deposit you have to pay upfront on top of the first cheque. On top of that.. theres bills, housing fee, DEWA bill (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority).. blah blah blah.. Agree to what you can afford!

4. Free video and calls via apps are blocked

Includes Whatsapp calling and video, iphone FaceTime, Snapchat calls and video, Viber..etc. Recently Skype has been blocked too.. so calling from your network provider will cost a fortune. Unsure what the reason behind this is but with thousands of expats here needing to speak to family and friends back home, there’s a hell of a lot of money to be made in that! So likelyhood is that you will be calling alot less and messaging via social media alot more, so get your gran on Facebook today!

5. Having offspring isn’t cheap either

Giving birth here by (god forbid) no insurance will see you forking out thousands; each test and checkup during pregnancy, delivery, the doctors involved and any extra procedures you may need such as an epidural. I had to pay 5 AED for a cardboard sick bowl that I asked for but never used. 5 AED!! KMT.. Secure a good insurance that will cover these things or pay for a pregnancy and delivery package provided by hospitals OR give birth in a different country..

Schooling isn’t free and many choose to put kids under 2 into daycare. School fees have gone up recently so that’s something to consider.. now the second most expensive apparently (read it here). 

But heyyy .. petrol/gas is cheap 😁

**this is a requested informative post for too many people that ask me too many damn money related questions. Sorry had to reign the banter in**


4 Comments Add yours

  1. tam says:

    So the whatsapp and snapchat blocks are legit? How else are Etisalaat gonna make a bitter buck of course 😒


    1. mamabasic says:

      Most people its blocked for, currently mine isnt blocked but they basically said “haha wait next week” .. sad times😢😢

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing. Most people think you get rich in Dubai. Not anymore. Now that they have introduced Emiratisation, they are termininating people’s contracts to employ locals, it will get worse. No no whatsapp calls either. I have family there.


    1. mamabasic says:

      If however you own a buisness or are wealthy, it’s the perfect place due to tourism and the tax side of things is still cheaper than the UK for example.. yes I have heard of these cases, thats why it’s important to not spend more than you have just to enjoy the luxury! Let’s hope it doesn’t get too bad x

      Liked by 1 person

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