Long-term Dubai residents often forget how lucky they are compared with citizens in other major cities around the world. Many aspects of living in Dubai are still quite amazingly cheap.
After accommodation owning a car is probably the biggest expense for many people. One hidden advantage of living in Dubai is that car ownership is quite incredibly inexpensive.
First, vehicles cost the lowest global price, tax free. Second, insurance is inexpensive compared with other countries. Thirdly, petrol is $1.09 a gallon. Fourth, service and maintenance prices are low due to low labour costs and efficient management. Fifth, there are no congestion charges.
Now if you are a home owner, what about the other costs of living in Dubai?
Need to get your garden landscaped, and to employ a gardener? Expect to pay around $3,000 upwards inclusive of labour and materials for landscaping, and then $80 a month for a daily gardener.
Maid service required? Maids cost from $4 an hour and a live-in maid will expect not more than $400 a month plus her $1,650 annual sponsorship fee. This can make having small children a pleasure rather than one of life's rites of passage.
Perhaps you would like to eat out in a hotel restaurant? Recent guests tell me this is around 50% of the current cost of eating out in London. Supermarket bills seem on a par with European levels these days.
However, if you need to call out an electrician there is a big difference. In London the BBC has been paying $100 to change a light bulb, according to a recent internal memo leak, while in Dubai $15 would be considered expensive.
The same low-cost labour is handy if you want to decorate your house or install a gazebo. Note that 'Do-It-Yourself' is not very popular in Dubai.
But what about paying local council tax or community charges? There are presently no taxes on home owners, but the community service charge on an Emaar villa is presently $163 per month; for this you get an efficient dustbin service, maintenance of lakes, lawns and other community facilities such as swimming pools, and 24-hour security.
Now does this not all add up to a pretty good life at a very modest cost? These are certainly living costs that would be the envy of anyone in London, Hong Kong or Singapore. Dubai residents should realize how lucky they are, and the traffic problems are not yet remotely on the same scale as in most major cities.