Dubai vs. New York: Cost of Living

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Jamie Marshall

How does Dubai stack up against the “Big Apple” cost-wise? If you’re planning to relocate, are the surprises in store going to be nice ones, or unpleasant ones?

We’ll look at a few of the usual parameters used to determine “cost of living” – the prices of a bag of commodities and services that are pretty much fixed to your usual lifestyle expectations.

At the end of the day, are you going to be better off (dollars in pocket or bank account) in Dubai than New York after these expectations have been met and paid for?


I’m confident that Dubai is going to come out on top. For a start, if you drive a car, the cost of your gasoline/petrol is going to be a lot cheaper. Currently, a litre of gas costs just AED1.68/$US 0.46 in Dubai.

Convert that to US gallons and the cost is $1.75 a gallon. It is possible to buy gas in the outer regions of New York City for about $1.95 a gallon, but in downtown Manhattan, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2.50 and $3.60 a gallon.

How does Dubai’s metro stack up against the NY Subway network? This is a bit trickier to compare, but the base fare for a 3km ride on the Dubai Metro is AED 1.80/$US 0.49, whereas the base fare on the NYC subway is $US 2.75/AED 10.10.

However, the NYC ticket allows you to take a single ride, including transfers within the system, for a much greater distance than an AED 1.80 will. Travelling the full length of Dubai’s Red Line, from Rashidiya Station to Jebel Ali, will cost just AED 5.80/$US 1.58 – a trip of 52km, 32.4m.

That’s almost double the distance from Yonkers to Battery Park.

Dubai’s taxis are regulated by the Dubai Road Transport Authority, metered, and the costs of trips are clearly set out on a number of websites. That 26km ride from Yonkers to Battery Park would cost approximately AED 60-70 in a Dubai taxi.

By contrast, the same trip in a New York Yellow Cab would average $US 65, and could be considerably higher, depending on traffic conditions. That’s more than three and a half times higher than the Dubai fare.


New Yorkers, if television and movies are an accurate guide, are a population of apartment dwellers. I’ll restrict this section to a comparison of apartment costs, but add a link to allow the readers to also get an estimate of the costs of renting villas – essentially stand-alone or terrace houses.

Both New York and Dubai have one thing in common – it all depends where you live. The “hotter” areas will cost more; or maybe in New York’s case, that should read “cooler” – and I’m not referring to temperature.

The article linked here is close to eighteen months old now, but it begins by noting that average costs of a Manhattan two-bedroomed apartment were just over $4000 per month.

It goes on to point out that the average price of a one or two bedroomed apartment should not be more than one-fortieth of your annual income, and then looks at areas where it is still possible to find places – either studio apartments or two bedroomed – within that budget.

You can, it seems, but often at the cost of a commute of more than an hour each way to central Manhattan.

In the case of Dubai, the latest cost of living stats are much more recent – January 2016. A 45m2/480sq. ft. studio apartment in a normal (i.e. not premium) area will cost AED 4700 a month to rent.

That’s $US 1300 per month, so Dubai may be a little cheaper – but perhaps not all that much in terms of housing costs.

You can do your own research with the rental accommodation ads on You can filter according your budget or desirable size/area.

For the uninitiated, the apartments in International City seem much cheaper than average, but there is a reason for this. Just search keywords Dubai/International City/apartments/conditions and you’ll soon get a pretty clear picture why.

This apartment is a far more typical example of a nice small apartment (yes, by Dubai standards, 980sqft is regarded as small) in a very good area. AED 80000 per year, or $US 1800 per month.

It is unfurnished, but the rent includes built in kitchen appliances, use of an in-house gym, and a pool.

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