Moving to an apartment in Dubai for the first time can be pretty exciting. A feeling of dread, however, can seep in when you realize the payments you have to make for rent, utility, food and so much more. Therefore, it is better to prepare a budget for your potential expenses beforehand.

In this guest post, you will find some suggestions by ServiceMarket, UAE’s leading platform for home services, to help you out in this respect:

How much of the income to spend on rent

There is no hard and fast rule about how much of your income you should spend on rent but a general guideline is available. Financial advisors put that figure between 25% to 30% of your total income. The hard and tried rule is not to sign on to an apartment that will cost you more than the amount of cash in your hand at the end of each month.

Also, since it is Dubai, remember to negotiate rent based on the number of cheques. Sometimes landlords reduce the total rental amount if the number of cheques is reduced. If you find a place using an agency, you will be charged agency fees which can be 2% to 5% of the annual rental amount. Remember to factor that in when you are setting a budget.

[Related: How to convince your landlord to reduce your rent]


After selecting an apartment comes the expense of moving. It is a one time expense for which you need to set some money aside depending on the items you intend to take along. If you are moving easily damaged items like artwork and heirlooms or bulky items like furniture, then it is worth your while to engage professional movers. Some professional movers can also move a few items for you. If you don’t have a lot of belongings, perhaps that is the service you require.

Security Deposit

Most landlords require some sort of guarantee that no damage will be caused to their apartment and they obtain this guarantee in the form of a security deposit which is usually one month’s rent. This is also a one time expense, but refundable. You have to make sure you have enough on hand for this expense as well.


This may be the first time that you have to pay for electricity, heat, gas, internet and cable. The best option is to keep aside AED 1,000 to AED 1,200 every month for utilities. This way you will stay upto the mark and not have to worry about living without them due to non-payment of bills. DEWA registration also needs to be factored into your initial budget. DEWA takes a security deposit of AED 2,000 for an apartment.


One has to eat and food costs money. Apart from food there are other household expenses. For example, you might not have much free time on your hands and would like to book a cleaner to come in once a week to keep your apartment clean for you. The general rule is to account for AED 1,000 to AED 1,500 per month for these expenses.

Renters insurance

You probably own a lot of expensive stuff like a television, a camera, a laptop etc. that you want to protect from theft, fire or any other damages called perils in insurance terminology. Renters insurance is a smart option.

Everyday budgeting

Once you have found a place and settled in, the next question arises: How to budget for everyday life in the apartment. A general rule of thumb of budgeting is 50/30/20:

  • 50% for the fixed expenses which include rent, bills, insurance, groceries etc.
  • 30% for entertainment that is expenses for your enjoyment such as eating out, visiting clubs, shopping, etc.
  • 20% towards savings, which as the name suggests are simple deposits into a separate savings account that should not be touched.

[Related: 5 Leaky Spots In Your Budget You Need To Patch Up]

Of course, this division of your income isn’t set in stone. If you really want to save in the UAE, experts suggest cutting down the 30% set aside for entertainment as much as you can. Perhaps even down to 10%.

There you have it. All you need to know about budgeting for an apartment in the UAE.