Cost of Living: Abu Dhabi vs. Barcelona – English

Have you ever watched one of those Españoles en el Mundo (“Spanish Around The World”) TV shows? It is very often stated how advantageous or how high wages can be in this part of the world, but the million dollars question is always… What should be a decent salary in UAE to justify leaving my beloved country?

It is perfectly human to type the above question on Google, but the results will be so spread and confusing that it will be very difficult for any of you to get clarity on this fundamental question. My advise is simple: i) Ask someone like you (like you means, same origins, same standards, same/similar qualifications, lifestyle, etc. in case you know someone already on the ground), or ii) (and this is the purpose of the post) do your research indirectly and find a realistic view of how much is life going to cost you and start from there, as easy as that!

Today’s post is not about writing, but about giving some numbers. Depending on where you come from you will certainly notice that “western-style” life here is all but unexpensive! So be ready for some good and bad surprises after reading the table. The beauty of it is that all numbers are real, hand picked, and of course were true at the moment the original post in Spanish  was writen. Please let me know if you disagree strongly in some specific point.

The following table compares different cost categories between Abu Dhabi city (AUH), and my home land main city Barcelona (BCN):

Housing, leisure and “restricted” articles are certauinly the most expensive stuff you fill find over here. Not surprisingly, transportation-related expenses, as well as utilities and personal services are substantially cheaper compared to mainland Europe

Compared to many European capitals, housing costs are pretty high in Abu Dhabi these days. However the current trend is prices are slowly going down every quarter as new quality units are coming to the market. Besides that, we shouldn’t find surprising at all the fact that transportation and fuel costs are much lower, as we are living in an oil producing company, of course! Buying a car, as well as credit for such a purchase are pretty much accesible here. We should consider that there is no associated VAT and only this could already make a substantial diffferent in a vehicles price.

Something that striked me at the beginning was utilities price, which is more than affordable. The drinkable tap water we have in our houses is predominantly coming from the sea, being processed in desalination plants, and has very high associated production costs. However, for some reason, Abu Dhabi government seems to highly sibsidize electricity and water costs for nationals and expats alike!

Unsurprisingly, wine and spirits are expensive, and fine dining, as well as leisure in general are very expensive here. As an example, having a nice diner in a hotel for a couple including wine could easily reach around 100 euros (although I must precise that portions are usually quite generous… ;P).

Last but not least, please note that health and education are 100% private sector for expats. A decent insurance coverage is usually provided by the employer sponsoring the employee and the family. Education could eventually be partially covered by certain employers, but is very costly and should definetly considered as a big cost item in your calculations.

As you all may know, income taxes for individuals are 0.0000%, but that doesn’t mean that the government is not taking money from our pockets. There are certainly numerous and frequent fees for different government paperwork (visas, licenses, etc.), public parking fees, and… of course the famous traffic camera fines… I got 5000AED (~1000 euros) only on my first year as a driver in the Emirates! A real nightmare!

As a conclusion, if you ever come to visit: please bring some whisky bottles, I will invite you for a shawarma, and buy tonnes of cigarrettes to bring back home and resell them!!! ;P

Hopa that helps, ciao ciao ciao ciao!


One response to “Cost of Living: Abu Dhabi vs. Barcelona – English

  1. Pingback: Coste de la vida en Abu Dhabi·

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