Cost of Living in UAE for International Students

    Moving up the charts in recent times UAE has acquired a popular place among the top study abroad destinations for its tax-free earnings, 14.7% cheaper living rates as compared to the USA, and rankings among QS Best Student City. In these rankings, Sharjah stands at 75, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi at 60 and 80, respectively. This reflects UAE’s status of education and Emirati culture.

    It is estimated that the average cost of living in UAE for a single person is 8,200 AED. This is approximately 133.27% higher than the average cost of living in India. Additionally, you would also have to pay an average tuition fee of 27,000 AED(7.47 lakhs INR) annually. Hence, viable accommodation options and cheaper lifestyle choices become important for those looking to reduce their cost of living in the UAE while pursuing higher education.

    Explore: Scholarships to Study in UAE

    Cost Of Living in UAE: Travel Guide

    A one-way flight ticket from India to Dubai or Sharjah would cost you around 17,000-34,750 INR. While traveling, it is recommended you have all the following documents:

    • Offer letter from the accepted university
    • Passport
    • LOR
    • UAE student visa
    • CV and other documents that had to be submitted for your admissions.

    Upon your arrival, you would have to produce all the documents at the Immigration center. After verification, you can pass through customs and declare any restricted items. Finally, you can collect your luggage and head out to your accommodation. However, before stepping into the city, ensure you have around 500-600 AED for your travel expenses.

    UAE Travel Restrictions

    Owing to the recent COVID-19 upsurge, UAE has now banned all flights from India. All candidates returning/planning to travel to Emirates, must now spend 14 days in any other country before setting out for UAE. Thus if you have taken admission to universities of UAE, your classes would be online until the borders open.

    Cost of Living in UAE: Transportation

    The main modes of local transportation include trains and taxis. All the major student cities like Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu-Dhabi have monthly passes for local transportation. Not only is it easier than handling cash, but recharging it periodically ensures you’re never short on transport money. Here are the transportation rates for the three major student cities which you may spend on a daily basis:

    City Taxi fare Local Transport Monthly Pass
    Dubai 12.00 AED 5.00 AED 300.00 AED
    Sharjah 13.00 AED 8.00 AED 250.00 AED
    Abu-Dhabi 12.00 AED 2.00 AED 80.00 AED

    Miscellaneous Costs of Living in UAE

    Apart from local transportation, you would incur costs on other activities like leisure, internet, and other utilities. The below-mentioned chart would give you a concise idea of the same, on a monthly basis:

    City Utility( Electricity, Water, Cooling, Heating) Internet
    Abu-Dhabi 510.87 AED 372.91 AED
    Sharjah 641.30 AED 361.58 AED
    Dubai 666.27 AED 353.70 AED

    Cost of Living in UAE: Accommodation

    Student accommodation in the UAE can either be provided by the universities or they may look for private housing options. Residences provided by UAE universities are of the two types-

    • On-Campus accommodation
    • Off-Campus accommodation

    On-Campus Accommodation in UAE

    Most of the national universities offer on-campus housing to international students. All the accommodations offer 24*7 internet facilities.Some of the rates are tabulated below:

    University Name City Rates( in AED)
    BITS Pilani Dubai 15,000 per semester
    Amity University Dubai 40,000 per year
    Manipal University Dubai 35,500 per year for a single room and 25,500 for triple share
    Gulf Medical University Ajman 2615 per month
    Abu Dhabi University Abu Dhabi 1450 per term for a single room and 7,600 for twin sharing
    United Arab Emirates University Abu Dhabi Hostel fees are 5000 per semester
    American University of Sharjah Sharjah 18,560 per year for twin sharing and 34,360 for a single room
    Khalifa University Abu Dhabi 20,000 per semester

    The foreign universities which have their branches in UAE do not have hostel facilities on the campus. Instead, institutes like the University of Wollongong, Middlesex University, University of Birmingham Hult International Business School etc collaborate with hospitality agencies like The Myriad. These in turn provide hotels for accommodation of international students. The rates and housing types are tabulated below:

    University Name Residence Name Accommodation rates (in USD) and types
    University Of Wollongong Al Salam Apartments 5,000 for a 1-Bedroom and 140,000 for a 2-Bedroom yearly
    Mercure Hotel Apartments 78,000 for a 1-bedroom and 93,600 for a 2-bedroom yearly
    Signature Hotel Apartments & Spa 66,000 yearly for 1-bedroom
    17,971 yearly for 2-bedroom
    The Myriad( Studio housing, rooms and apartments available) Depends on the type opted for.
    University Of Birmingham DSOA University Residence 2300 monthly for twin sharing and 3,900 for single room
    Uninest Student Residences 2950 for twin sharing and 4,500 for single room
    Middlesex University The Myriad ( Only rooms available) 3,200 per month for single share & 2000 for twin share

    Cost of Off-Campus Accommodation in UAE

    For those seeking other accommodation options like private housing, or rented flats to share with their friends, such options are also available in UAE. Usually rented flats are the most preferred form of accommodation for off-campus accommodation.

    The total cost of renting a flat usually depends on various factors like proximity to the university, apartment type, etc. Renting a full flat will cost you around 8,922.07 AED per month, which is 107,064.84 AED annually. Add to this your monthly utility costs of 1026.93AED.

    As you can see, the total expense of renting a flat is about triple times higher when compared to the on-campus housing rate of 35,500AED per year. Thus it is advisable to share your flat with college mates to reduce your cost of living by a considerable amount.

    Other than rented flats, popular housing options include agencies like Uninest and The Myriad. Some foreign universities partner with these to provide accommodation to their students.All the flats are fully furnished, and the inmates have access to Wifi and other amenities 24*7. The rates are as follows:

    Residence Location Rates (in AED)
    Uninest Dubailand Twin En suite room-2400 per month
    Studio Ensuite room-4900 per month
    The Myriad Dubai 1590 per month for a single room. Cinema, cafes, etc open to inmates.

    However, with every new set of housing options that are available, comes different pros and cons. If we were to suggest you, always opt for on-campus housing. Here’s why:

    University Accommodation Private Housing
    No additional cost for utilities No obstruction of privacy
    Better student connectivity Friends/family allowed to stay over
    Cheaper than private housing Interaction with the city commoners

    So make your choice depending on your needs and priorities.

    Apart from the cost of basic utilities, accommodation, and transportation, students may indulge in leisurely activities like cinema, gym, and other fitness activities. A brief comparison for the three major cities is given below:

    Activities Abu Dhabi Sharjah Dubai
    Fitness Club 269.14 AED 186.36 AED 249.24 AED
    Cinema 40.00 AED 45.00 AED 40.00 AED
    Restaurant meals 30.00 AED 20.00 AED 35.00 AED
    Alcoholic beverages and cigarettes 37.32 AED 40 AED 44.74 AED

    On the basis of the above statistics, the average cost of living in UAE for an international student is estimated to be 35,000 AED per year(7,07,975.44 INR).

    Points to Remember:

    In addition to the cost of living in the UAE, applicants are advised to keep the following things in mind:

    1. Which accommodation is best for you: Yes, costs are important for those on a budget. But it can be a little tricky sometimes. Prioritize your needs, plan well and come to a conclusive decision. Remember, you would need to stick with your choice for at least a year.
    2. Research extensively: For an Indian student, who’s stepping to study abroad for the first time, things can be messy. Although we have provided you with a detailed comparison of costs, research your preferred city and find out how life would be there.
    3. Choose your locality wisely: For those opting for private accommodations, it is important to choose your locality wisely. You must consider the distance from university, neighborhood, locality type, and availability of other essentials like medicine stores, etc.

    Cost of Living in UAE vs US, UK, Germany

    Studying in the UAE is cheaper when compared to other top destinations like the USA, UK, etc. We get a clear idea when the average annual costs of living in other destinations are listed together :

    • USA- 48,483.53 AED
    • UK- 62,257.27 AED
    • Germany- 1,30,024.02 AED
    • Malaysia -27,731.11 AED

    Thus the average annual cost of living in UAE,i.e,35,500 AED( 7,07,975.44 INR) is significantly lower when compared to destinations like the US or UK which cost around 62,257.27 AED (12.41 lakhs INR). In a nutshell, the UAE proves to be a feasible destination for those seeking global exposure at affordable rates.


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