Cost of Living in Abu Dhabi 2017: It’s that time of year again where I’ve been traipsing around town to compare how prices of ordinary goods have changed since last year. Although a good number of items have actually stayed the same in price again, the biggest difference this year is that taxis have gone up.
I was also surprised to find how much the supermarket landscape has changed in the past year – for a long, long time Lulu has been the cheapest supermarket in the city but I’m not convinced this is the case anymore as I’ve found a number of items recently to be cheaper at both Carrefour and the culprit known for being the most expensive – Spinneys! The short story seems to be that as usual, supermarket shopping is not that simple in the city and you’ve still frequently got to visit several places to get everything, and this certainly seems to be the case more than ever if you’re looking to keep your supermarket bill down.
As in previous years, for the sake of consistency I visited Lulu hypermarket for the prices and you can compare these to previous years by clicking on the cost of living posts for 2014, 2015 and 2016 if you like.
Another point to note about this visit to Lulu was that a number of products that have been readily available in previous years were either temporarily unavailable, or no longer kept in stock.
To make it easy to see what’s gone up, down or stayed the same, I’ve used the following self-explanatory key:
Price up: ↑
Price down: ↓
Price stayed the same: →
Since the price deregulation which came into effect in August 2015, petrol prices have been all over the place with some months up and some down, though mostly prices are down overall since the deregulation began.
The price is currently set for September 2017 as follows: one litre of ‘Special’ fuel, the most common one will now set you back Dhs1.78. This is actually up from Dhs1.75 from the previous month, but in fact down considerably from the August 2015 price of Dhs2.14.
So to give you an example, on our car – a Toyota Prado Landcruiser with a tank range of around 990km, we average 13.5litres per 100kms, so it costs us around Dhs238 to completely fill our tank (vs Dhs 218 this time last year).
MISC GROCERY BASICS
→ Milk 1 litre, Dhs5.50
↓ Pasta (Barilla brand) 500g, Dhs9.25
→ Pasta (Lulu own brand) 400g, Dhs2.90
→ Rice 2kg, varies depending on the brand and type from anything between Dhs7 to Dhs30.
→ Toilet paper (Fine brand) 10 rolls x 400 sheets, Dhs17.50
→ Facial tissues (Fine brand) 200s x 2ply, Dhs4.50
→ Ariel automatic washing powder 3kg, Dhs35.60
↓ Tea (Twinings fruit teas) 25 bags, Dhs15.25
→ Tea (Lipton yellow label) 50 bags Dhs8.95
→ Coffee (Nescafé red mug) 100g, Dhs14.50
↓ Granulated sugar 2kg, Dhs13.50
↑ Granulated sugar 2kg Lulu own, Dhs5.50
→ Heinz Baked Beans 410g, Dhs5.25
↑ Large wholemeal loaf (Lulu bakery), Dhs6.75
→ Large French stick, Dhs2
→ Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 500g, Dhs14
→ Eggs, six local (not free range) Dhs4
× Eggs, six local free range, not available currently
→ Eggs, six French imported free range certified organic, Dhs15.50
→ Whole grilled cooked chicken (served hot), Dhs13.90
↑ Uncooked chicken breasts, around Dhs13-26 per 500g depending on which local brand you buy
→ New Zealand beef rib eye steak, Dhs85.90 per kg
↓ New Zealand beef round steak, Dhs38.90 per kg
× New Zealand beef shank, not currently available
↑ New Zealand beef rump steak, Dhs62.90 per kg
→ New Zealand beef mince, Dhs50.90 per kg
× Australian beef mince, not currently available
→ Australian rump steak, Dhs49.90 per kg
↑ Australian round steak, Dhs47.90 per kg
× Australian beef shank, not currently available
↓ Australian rib eye, Dhs75.90 per kg
Brazilian and Indian beef is also available which tends to be cheaper, it just depends what you prefer and are willing to spend on.
→ Pork – Pork is available in the ‘only for non-muslims’ section behind closed doors in some supermarkets (Spinneys and Waitrose), or what we like to call the ‘naughty pork section’. But – as you’d imagine in a country where eating pork is against the religion, it’s expensive. A small packet of Waitrose own brand proper fresh unsmoked back bacon, 12 slices (not that fatty processed stuff) would cost around GBP4 in the UK, but you’re looking at spending around Dhs35-50 for the same packet here (although I’m told Abela supermarkets have some great prices on Pork products).
FRUIT AND VEG
↑ Bananas, from Dhs6.45 per kg
↑ Navel oranges (Australia), Dhs6.95 per kg
↑ Apples, Royal Gala (New Zealand), Dhs8.95 per kg
↓ Carrots (Australian import mostly), Dhs4.95 per kg, Carrots from China 1.95 per kg
↑ Peppers / capsicums (local), green Dhs7.95 per kg, orange Dhs13.95 per kg
Peppers / capsicums (Holland), range from ↑ Dhs21.95 per kg for green and red and Dhs22.95 for orange peppers.
↓ Broccoli (Spain), Dhs13.95 per kg
↓ Pineapple (Indonesia), Dhs5.95 per piece from Lulu – but if you buy them from Spinneys or Waitrose, pineapples will set you back more than that per kilo!
↑ Potatoes (Cyprus), Dhs3.65 per kilo
(I’ve included these items because they are easily available in almost every country and therefore act as a good indication of the difference in costs globally).
→ McDonalds Big Mac medium meal, Dhs23
→ McDonalds Big Mac Sandwich, Dhs14
→ Ikea hot dog, Dhs5
→ Ikea hotdog and drink combo, Dhs6 (with free refill)
→ Ikea ice cream, Dhs1
→ Coca Cola 500ml, Dhs2
→ Cinema ticket normal, Dhs35, ↑ VIP/Gold Dhs160
→ Hourly maid rate, Dhs35-45
→ Regular cappuccino coffee in branded coffee shop (Costa, Nero, Starbucks etc), around Dhs18
→ Bus fare, Dhs2 per single journey from any A to B anywhere in the city regardless of distance
↑ Taxi fares:
6am-10pm: flagfall Dhs5, 1km up to 50km Dhs1.82, booking fees (if you call and book in advance) Dhs4, minimum fare Dhs12
10pm-6am: flagfall Dhs5.50, 1km up to 50km Dhs1.82, booking fees Dhs5, minimum fare Dhs12
The first five minutes of waiting time are free, then it costs Dhs0.50 per minute
→ From the airport the flagfall is Dhs20 for small vehicles or Dhs25 for large
A tricky one to pinpoint as there are options at all ends of the scale. If you want to eat out exclusively in five star hotels then you’ll find eating out expensive, and very expensive! Even a sandwich at lunch time can set you back the best part of Dhs50 depending on where you buy it from! But, as with everything and everywhere in the world, there are a wide range of options available so you don’t have to spend a lot if you don’t want to. If you’re more willing to explore and try new things, you can eat extremely cheaply in many local independent restaurants around the city. You can still pick up a filled roti bread direct from the backstreet bakery for Dhs2 at lunch time or a sandwich for Dhs5 from the Carrefour café as well as dropping between Dhs20-50 or so on branded high street coffee shop sandwiches – it just depends on you.
↑ Alcohol also tends to be expensive but not always as bad as you might think (especially if you’re comparing prices to bars in a place like London), and again, it tends to vary depending on the standard of the hotel you’re drinking at. A (not necessarily very good) glass of wine can cost anything from a cheap Dhs35 (maybe less in happy hour) to an average Dhs50-70 for a mid range wine and up to Dhs80-120 plus for a decent glass (yup, just one glass!).
This is another one that varies wildly according to where you look and what it is you are looking for. You can still find share accommodation for around Dhs5000 per month in Khalidiya including all bills based on three friends sharing, but it’s worth noting that officially, unmarried couples and members of the opposite sex not from the same family are not permitted to share by law.
Property is one thing in the emirate that people constantly complain about the price of, though according to official reports, rent has actually continued to decrease throughout 2017. According to an article in The National, prices have dropped somewhere between 3 and 5 percent since 2016 depending on the type of property and location. Read the full article here.
A good place to start if you’re looking for information on property prices is Property Finder.
↑ Although the price of renting a home may have gone down over the past year, an important point to note when budgeting is the new Municipality Fee that was introduced at the start of 2017 – all rental contracts now incur a fee of 3%, calculated on the value of the rental contract and payable through your utility bill. The municipality fee pays for public services including those such as landscaping and street cleaning.
Household utility costs have also risen for 2017. With The National reporting expats seeing a 31.76% increase in water bills and a 27.6% increase in electricity bills for 2017. The costs listed below are those for expats (different rates apply for Nationals).
- Water: for average daily consumption up to 5000 litres the price is Dhs7.84 per 1000 litres. For consumption over 5000 litres the price is Dhs10.41 per 1000 litres.
- Electricity: for average daily consumption up to 200kWh the price is fils26.8 per kWh. For consumption over 200kWh the price is fils30.5 per kWh.
- Water: for average daily consumption up to 700 litres the price is Dhs7.84 per 1000 litres. For consumption over 700 litres the price is Dhs10.41 per 1000 litres.
- Electricity: for average daily consumption up to 20kWh the price is fils26.8 per kWh. For consumption over 20kWh the price is fils30.5 per kWh.
At the end of the day, you’ll find some things more expensive here and some things cheaper. Some things are much cheaper, and some much more expensive depending on where you shop and what you buy. If you have the time and inclination, you’ll also get the best deals (not to mention the freshest produce) at the markets.
For info on the markets of Abu Dhabi take a look at my previous posts for:
- Mina Port markets: Fishmarket, Iranian Souk, Fruit & Vegetable Market and the Plant Souk
- ‘The Market’ at Mushrif Mall – a permanent air-conditioned indoor market. This is still a great place to buy the freshest and cheapest fruits and veg, fish and meat though quite a few vendors have closed down since the original post was written. Meat is best pre-ordered in advance to get exactly what you want.
- Ripe Organic Market at Mushrif Park (not on during summer months)
- Ripe Organic Market at St. Regis, Saadiyat (indoors during summer, outdoors during winter)
- Mawasim Organic Market at WTCAD. Although this market has now stopped at WTCAD, Mawasim have a permanent shop of their own which is great. You can find it on the corner of Al Dhafra Street & Al Khaleej Al Arabi streets, or call them on +971 2 554 4038.
It also comes down to what you buy – if you have very specific tastes and only want to buy imported international brands (there’s not much you can’t find here!), then in any supermarket you’re likely to find your bill to be very high, but if you look around and start experimenting with local produce and local brands you will soon find your shopping can be very cheap – and discover a whole new world of tastes and ideas in the process!
IMPORTANT TO NOTE –
One of the quirks of supermarket shopping here is that you’ll often find two stacks of exactly the same product next to each other on the shelf… One priced very high, and the other very reasonably. This is because one is the imported overseas version, and the one next to it is the same branded product, but produced in a regional factory. The products are exactly the same, just priced differently, so that’s something to watch out for if you want to save some cash!
That’s all til next year on this subject, but with VAT set for an early 2018 introduction it’s going to be an interesting one…
The only area where you save is the cost of accommodation. Living in Dubai is far more expensive than Sharja. Basic commodities prices are basically the same, but accommodation prices are cheaper.
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