According to Economist Intelligence Unit, the cost of living in Abu Dhabi has risen eight positions on the index. It is now ranked at No. 83 for 2013, which means it is more expensive to live in the capital of United Arab Emirates compared to Dubai. However, there are several ways to cut costs and boost savings. Many workers will realize that they can still comfortably live in the city as well as send money back home to loved ones.
1. Banking. Workers and employees are generally paid via direct deposit in their bank account once or twice each month. Employees will either be required to open their own bank account or the company will set up one for them for free. Their salary will also be paid in UAE dirhams. The charges to start a bank account in Abu Dhabi are minimal. Workers only need to prepare the necessary documents. Some companies can start your own account for free or to be deducted from your first salary. Sending money back home can also be done via banks and money transfer establishments. Charges can range from 1% to 10% of the total amount transferred.
2. Preparing money in Abu Dhabi. When moving to Abu Dhabi for the first time, workers are recommended to prepare about $1000 to $5000 to conveniently adjust to the new environment. The costs will be used for rent, transportation, fees, food and contingency cash in the next few weeks until you start receiving salary. Expect the first pay check to arrive in 1 to 2 months. The most convenient ways to pay is in cash and credit card. Have some of your US dollars exchanged upon arriving.
3. Transportation. There are different ways to travel around Abu Dhabi. You can try car rentals, buses or taxis. Many workers also lease old cars to save money. Taxis are not very expensive but are usually taken as a second choice to car leases and the bus. Some people also prefer to live close to their area of work so they can easily walk and save on travel costs.
4. Housing conditions. Many workers are provided free housing by their employer in Abu Dhabi. The house or apartment size will depend whether you’re living alone or with family. You will also be provided with extra cash to purchase appliances and furniture in the beginning. As for utilities, expect to pay only about 200 to 300 AED each month if living alone.
5. Living expenses. On the average, workers in Abu Dhabi spend about 50 to 100 AED each day. Dining out in restaurants will cost anywhere from 30 to 150 AED depending on the establishment. Many workers report having saved about 60% to 70% of their salary. The expenses will depend on your lifestyle and allowances, benefits and coverage provided by you company. If you have children studying in Abu Dhabi, expatriates’ kids usually have to study in a private institution which costs a lot. It is quite expensive to raise a family in the city.
There are several establishments available where overseas workers can enjoy some entertainment, shopping and shows. Budgeting and wise spending will be useful in helping you save more in the long run.