Top 5 Cheapest Emirate in UAE for Expats

cheapest emirate in uae

You might wonder, what is the cheapest emirate in UAE for expats retiring, working, or traveling in the region?

While the United Arab Emirates is an alluring destination for expats looking for better career opportunities and a high standard of living, its reputation as a tax-free and luxurious country also means it can be costly to live in. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to find the cheapest emirate in UAE to make ends meet and save money.

In this blog, we will explore the cheapest emirate in UAE for expats and the cost of living in each emirate. We will also discuss the factors that make the cheapest emirate more affordable than others. 

By the end of this blog, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the cheapest emirate in UAE and how it can provide a better quality of life for expats on a budget.

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me ( or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

What are the cheapest emirates in UAE to live in for expats?

The cost of living in the United Arab Emirates can vary significantly depending on the emirate. 

Some emirates are more expensive than others, making them less ideal for budget-conscious expats. 

Here are the five cheapest emirates in UAE for expats to live in:


Ajman is the smallest emirate in UAE, and it is known for its affordable cost of living. Housing is considerably cheaper than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and the overall cost of living is 33% lower than in the more expensive emirates.

Umm Al Quwain

This emirate is one of the most affordable in UAE, with lower rental rates and living expenses. Umm Al Quwain is a peaceful location and offers a slower pace of life than the larger emirates.

Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah is an increasingly popular emirate for expats due to its natural beauty and relatively low cost of living. It offers a great balance of affordable living and good quality of life, with various outdoor activities to enjoy.

cheapest emirate in UAE
Sharjah is one the cheapest emirate in UAE. Photo by Fahad Bloushi


Sharjah is the third largest emirate in UAE and is a more conservative location. However, it is considerably cheaper than Dubai and offers expats a wide range of housing options.


Fujairah is the only emirate located on the east coast of the UAE and offers a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle. It is also an affordable place to live, with lower housing costs than other major emirates.

What is the cost of living in the cheapest emirate in UAE for expats?

The cost of living in the cheapest emirate in UAE for expats can vary depending on the individual’s lifestyle and needs. 

On average, renting a one-bedroom apartment in any of the five cheapest emirate in UAE can range from AED 12,000 to AED 30,000 per year.

Meanwhile, a two-bedroom apartment can cost between AED 24,000 to AED 40,000 annually.

The public transportation system is not well-developed, and most expats rely on their vehicles or taxis. However, the cost of fuel is relatively low compared to other countries, with petrol prices at around AED 2.25 per liter.

The cost of groceries and dining out is relatively affordable in these areas. A typical meal at an inexpensive restaurant can cost around AED 20 to AED 40 per person. The cost of groceries for a month can range from AED 800 to AED 1,500 per person.

Utilities such as electricity, water, and gas can vary depending on usage. A typical monthly bill for these utilities can range from AED 500 to AED 800.

cheapest emirate in UAE
Your cost of living depends on the which cheapest emirate in UAE you chose to stay. Photo by Karolina Grabowska

How do the costs of utilities compare across the emirates in UAE?

The cost of living in the UAE varies significantly across the different emirates. 

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most expensive emirates, while Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Fujairah are considered more affordable for expats.

Rent is one of the biggest expenses for expats in the UAE, and the cost of housing can vary dramatically across the emirates. 

Food is another expense that can vary across the emirates. The cost of dining out and groceries tends to be higher in Dubai and Abu Dhabi due to their more luxurious reputation.

 However, the more affordable emirates offer a range of affordable dining options and grocery stores that cater to budget-conscious expats. 

Finally, transportation costs can also vary across the emirates. 

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have more developed transportation systems, including a metro system, buses, and taxis. However, the cost of fuel tends to be lower across the UAE.

In the more affordable emirates, public transportation is not as developed, and most expats rely on their vehicles or taxis.

What are the job opportunities and salaries like in the cheapest emirate for expats?

The cheapest emirate in UAE for expats, offers a range of job opportunities in various sectors. 

These emirates have a growing economy with a focus on industries such as manufacturing, trade, and construction. 

Expats can find jobs in industries such as hospitality, healthcare, education, and finance.

Salaries can vary depending on the industry and level of experience. Entry-level jobs in industries such as hospitality and retail can start at around AED 2,000 to AED 3,000 per month, while mid-level jobs in finance and healthcare can pay around AED 8,000 to AED 12,000 per month. 

Senior-level positions in fields such as management and engineering can pay upwards of AED 20,000 per month.

While salaries tend to be lower in these areas compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is balanced by the lower cost of living. Hence, it allows expats to save more money and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

In addition to job opportunities in the private sector, expats can also find employment in the public sector, including government agencies and educational institutions. 

cheapest emirate in UAE
The cheapest emirate in UAE can provide various job opportunities for expats. Photo by RODNAE Productions

How does the quality of life compare in the cheapest emirate for expats compared to the more expensive ones?

While the cost of living in the cheapest emirates is lower, expats’ quality of life can still be high.

One of the biggest advantages of living in these areas is the quieter, more relaxed lifestyle. Unlike the busy and crowded cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, these emirates offer a more laid-back and peaceful atmosphere, making them an ideal destination for families and those seeking a quieter life.

While they may not have as many luxurious amenities, it still offers plenty of options for entertainment and leisure. 

Expats can enjoy activities such as golfing, water sports, and hiking, and the emirate is also home to several cultural and historical sites.

In terms of healthcare and education, they have several private and public hospitals, clinics, and schools, offering high-quality services and education to residents. 

While Dubai and Abu Dhabi may have more options and larger facilities, expats living in these areas can still access quality healthcare and education.

What are some affordable housing options for expats in the cheapest emirate in UAE?

Affordable emirates in UAE for expats offer several affordable housing options that can fit different budgets and preferences.

One option is to rent a studio or one-bedroom apartment. Depending on the location and amenities, these units can cost anywhere from AED 10,000 to AED 25,000 per year. 

Another affordable option is to rent a room in a shared apartment or villa. This can be a cost-effective way to save money while still enjoying a comfortable living space. 

The rent for a shared accommodation can range from AED 1,500 to AED 3,000 per month, depending on the size and location of the unit.

For those looking for larger and more spacious living spaces, renting a two or three-bedroom apartment or villa is also an option. Depending on the location and amenities, these units can cost anywhere from AED 25,000 to AED 50,000 per year.

It’s important to note that while the rent prices may be lower than in other emirates, it’s still important to carefully consider the location and amenities of the housing unit to ensure it meets your needs and preferences.

Are there any cultural or social factors to consider when moving to the cheapest emirate?

Yes, there are some cultural and social factors that expats should consider when moving to the cheapest emirate in UAE.

The UAE is a Muslim country, and as such, it has certain cultural and social norms that expats should be aware of and respect. 

For example, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and it is important to be respectful and refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours.

Dress codes are also an important consideration, particularly for women. While the UAE is relatively liberal compared to some other countries in the region, it is still important to dress modestly in public places, including shopping malls, restaurants, and other public areas.

In addition to cultural considerations, expats should also be aware of social norms and etiquette. The UAE has a hierarchical society, and it is important to show respect to elders and those in positions of authority.

 Public displays of affection are not generally accepted, and it is important to be courteous and polite in social interactions.

The UAE is also a very diverse country, with a large expat population from all over the world. Expats should be open to cultural differences and respect other cultures and religions.

cheapest emirate in UAE
When moving to the cheapest emirate in UAE, be mindful of the customs and culture of the country. Photo by Thirdman

How easy is it to obtain emirate residency and work permits for expats?

Obtaining residency and work permits is a relatively straightforward process.

Expats wishing to reside in a UAE emirate must obtain a residency permit, valid for three years and renewable. 

To obtain a residency permit, the expat must have a sponsor, such as an employer, family member, or friend, who is a UAE citizen or a resident with a valid UAE residency permit. 

The sponsor must apply for the residency permit on behalf of the expat and provide certain documents, including a valid passport, a medical fitness certificate, and proof of accommodation.

Meanwhile, expats who want a work permit or labor card must have a job offer from an employer in their preferred emirate. 

The employer must then apply for the work permit on behalf of the expat and provide certain documents, including a valid passport, a medical fitness certificate, and a copy of the expat’s residency permit.

What are some tips for saving money while living in the cheapest emirate for expats?

Living in the cheapest emirate for expats can be an excellent way to save money while still enjoying the benefits of living in UAE. 

To save money further, choose affordable housing. Housing can be a significant expense for expats. But expats can save and opt for affordable housing options such as shared apartments or studio apartments.

Public transportation, including buses and taxis, is relatively affordable. Expats can use public transportation instead of renting a car to save on transportation expenses.

Eating out can be expensive in UAE. Expats can save money by cooking at home instead of eating out at restaurants. Buying groceries from local markets instead of supermarkets can also save money.

UAE also has several local markets where expats can find affordable and unique items. Expats can save money on purchases by shopping at these markets instead of in high-end stores.

In some cases, expats can negotiate prices for goods and services in the UAE. It is worth asking for discounts or negotiating prices to save money.


The United Arab Emirates is a country known for its luxurious lifestyle, tall skyscrapers, and extravagant living. 

However, amidst all the glitz and glamour, some emirates stand out as one of the cheapest options for those who want to live in the UAE without breaking the bank. 

From affordable housing options to budget-friendly activities, these areas have something to offer everyone. 

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 669.2 million answer views on, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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