Blog Img

Cost Of Living For Expats In Abu Dhabi 2023

Back to insights, news & events

​You may have seen our articles on the cost of living for Dubai and Saudi Arabia too.

With job opportunities coming in faster than a Formula 1 car racing around Yas Marina Circuit, we thought it would be an ideal time to give you the inside scoop into the living cost of the UAE capital – Abu Dhabi.

Well, first things first…Abu Dhabi just gets it!

A mere one hour's drive from Dubai, the UAE capital is a breath of fresh air. Life feels a little calmer than in Dubai; a family-friendly vibe with a little buzz of excitement! A cool combination of culture, luxury and adventure.

In Mercer's recent Cost of Living 2023 survey, Abu Dhabi secured the 43rd costliest city spot among 227 cities worldwide. Now, you might be thinking it's time to put the brakes on your relocation plans. If I were you, I’d think again. The capital has been crowned the safest city for 6 consecutive years! Sure, it may be pricier than some cities (though not as steep as the likes of New York, London or Singapore), but the unparalleled quality of life makes it worth every penny.

The capital was also recently named the smartest city in MENA for the third consecutive year, 13th globally, as well as being voted world’s best family holiday destination.

Oh, and salaries are tax-free!

Let’s dive in a little deeper:


Population – 1.56 million

Area – 972 Km2

Language – English and Arabic

Currency – AED

Time Zone – GMT +4


Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate of the seven and accounts for about 87% of the UAE’s total area.

It’s a global hub: approx 89% of the UAE population is made up of ex-pats from across the globe (200+ nationalities).

Rent prices are 12% lower than in Dubai, 44% lower than in Singapore and 33% lower than in London. In fact, when it comes to consumer prices, restaurants and grocery shopping, Abu Dhabi is at least 25-30% lower than the UK capital.

*Stats found on Numbeo comparison website


When it comes to housing, Abu Dhabi has something for everyone. Apartment living is particularly popular among individuals and couples who have relocated, offering convenience and comfort. Families, on the other hand, can choose between spacious villas or well-designed apartments, ensuring everyone finds their ideal home.

Let’s use London as an example:

A standard one-bedroom in the city centre will cost you around 50K AED (13.6K USD) per year or 80K AED (21K USD) for fully furnished. A one-bedroom in London 110K AED (30K USD) per year. A one-bedroom apartment outside of the city in Abu Dhabi is around 40K (10K USD) per year, in London, you’ll be spending around 78K AED (21K USD).

Some of the most popular areas to live in include Al Reem Island, Al Khalidiya Park, Corniche area, Al Reef and Khalifa City.


The ADDC Electricity and water company will be your main utility source. Prices differ during the summer and winter months when A/C is being used but will typically cost around AED 800 AED per month for a 900 sq ft apartment. Another AED 300-400 for an internet package and a mobile plan will start from AED 150.


With supermarkets scattered across the city, finding daily essentials, groceries, and household items is easy. From budget-friendly smaller shops to sprawling hypermarkets, you'll have endless options on your doorstep. You'll find familiar household names like Carrefour, Choithrams (offering UK goodies), Lulu Hypermarket, SPAR and Waitrose.

The average price of essential items to add to your shopping list:

Milk - 6 AED

Loaf of bread – 4 AED

Potato (1kg) – 4 AED

Eggs – 10 AED

Apples (1kg) – 7 AED

Bananas (1kg) – 6 AED

Water (1.5l) – 2 AED

Cheese (500g) – 15 AED

Chicken (500g)- 15 AED

Leisure & Dining:

No cheesy sales pitch here, but Abu Dhabi has something for everyone! Whether you're riding solo, looking for weekend family experiences, or are out with the girls/guys ready to party, you’ll find something no matter the budget! You can check here for lots of offers and tips on where to go - and also

Meal for x 2 people in a mid-range restaurant – 250 AED

A latte – 19 AED

A cheeseburger – 13 AED

Cinema tickets x 2 – 100 AED

A cocktail in a bar – 70 AED

A circus show in the mall – 90 AED

Spend the day at Reem mall – FREE (until you buy something)

A fitness class- 55 AED

Tennis court hire – 130 AED

Fitness club membership – 300 AED per month

School fees:

As a leading education hub, Abu Dhabi provides outstanding options for students. With top-tier private schools, public institutions and world-class universities, the educational landscape is regulated by multiple governing bodies like MOE, ADEK, and KHDA.

You’ll find curricula from the UK, US, as well as French, German, Indian, Irish and Canadian systems.

Annual fees on average will be around 30-40K AED for a good school but do vary depending on curricula and school ratings.


The city takes pride in its state-of-the-art hospitals, such as the renowned Cleveland Clinic, and top-notch healthcare facilities that are conveniently available for expatriates. The quality of care provided at both public and private healthcare centres is widely praised.

Under the law, all employers are obligated to provide health insurance coverage for their employees, ensuring that most medical expenses are taken care of. When seeking medical assistance, the response time is reported to be swift, and local pharmacies are typically open 24 hours a day.

A Final Note:

Beaches, concerts, attractions, restaurants, sports events, festivals and so much more. Abu Dhabi is a place to thrive. The government’s passion and commitment to driving the economy forward is an incredible example for the world. Abu Dhabi is poised for long-term growth and prosperity. And the sense of community? Well, you’ve already been invited to a BBQ next week – you better pack your bags!