Is Dubai really cheaper for expats nowadays

Published:  30 Jul at 6 PM
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For a generation of expat professionals, Dubai has been a 21st century icon and a source of comparative wealth.

The futuristic city balancing between water’s edge and desert sands is a glittering playground for the wealthy and famous as well as supposedly presenting an opportunity for expat professionals to join in its endless entertainments and luxurious lifestyle. Shopping till you drop isn’t just a buzz-word here, it’s compulsory. However, beneath the glittering surface, things aren’t quite what they used to be as the emirate’s property market is still shuddering from the effects of 2008.

Dubai’s once thriving real estate scene used to feature $1,000 per square foot apartments in the fantastic Burj Khalifa, with the ultra-wealthy queuing up to buy. Nowadays, the price is $650 per square foot, still unaffordable for the average expat professional who’s attempting to cope with ever-escalating prices across the board. A staggering 90 per cent of the emirate’s three million population are incomers working or even retiring in the city, with renting now considered a better option than purchasing a home.

Even although money shouts rather than talks in this city, renting makes sense for another very good reason, as visas are linked to jobs, contracts eventually end and losing the job means leaving the country. Culture shock is another issue needing to be factored in, with getting around in the searing heat a real problem for those arriving from colder climes. Again, the cost of renting a luxury, airy villa complete with pool in a gated community is unaffordable for the majority of expats at around $4,750 a month, and apartments in prestigious districts don’t come a lot cheaper even when corporate housing allowances are factored in.

Online headlines reporting Dubai has fallen in the list of the world’s most expensive expat locations make interesting reading, but often miss out on the reality of expat life overseas. Surveys tend to resemble a comparison between apples and oranges, rather than being tell-it-like-it-is guides intended to help expats decide on the next career-oriented destination for their talents. Now that an ever-increasing number of would-be expats worldwide are taking off for a new job and a new life in an unfamiliar country, objective reports are more important than they’ve ever been.

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