As the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is globally known as a hub for ultra-modern architecture, luxury shopping and a lively nightlife scene, not forgetting extravagant tourist centers that attract lots of tourists far and wide. Dubai is also an income tax-free city with a huge advantage for those who work and live in the city. That fact, coupled with some other attractive offers have made a lot of people believe Dubai is the right place for them to make a fortune, who would blame them for thinking that? After all, many have come and made good lives for themselves here.

While some see the city as an outlandishly expensive one due to the lavish lifestyles many people in the city live, and well as the cost of accommodation – which by-the-way, has dropped considerably over the past couple of years; someone with a monthly income as low as 5,000 dirhams or lower (which is quite common within the Asian expat community) can still manage to survive and even save some money in Dubai, provided they do only the needful and cut down unnecessary expenses.

To fully achieve this, there are things one must embrace and also cut out. Based on an extensively thorough research which also includes the current economic state of the city, here are some great tips on how to survive and still save on a low salary in Dubai.

Room sharing

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the city’s expensiveness is the costs of accommodation, as it is in most commercial hubs in other parts of the world.

Room sharing in Dubai is absolutely normal, provided one follows the laid down rules of city as regards to people staying together; and it is generally of the many ways to cut down monthly expenses when one is just starting out. Different factors are to be considered when opting for this accommodation type and they include the location of the property, your compatibility with your roommate-to-be, and most importantly, the cost.

There are several websites in the city whose main purpose is to help you find a place of your choice, including your perfect match, using the above mentioned parameters and it is wise to know that on the average, the cost won’t consume more than 30% of your income.

Use the public transport more

Owning a private car on an AED 5,000 salary is somewhat far-fetched especially when one is trying to avoid taking a car loan, which leaves one with only one realistic option; Public Transportation. The public transportation in Dubai consists of buses, ferries, and the metro which are all controlled by a single body; The Road and Transport Authority (RTA). You can enjoy access to the city’s transportation by getting the Nol Card which was introduced by the UAE government to make access to the public transportation easier than it used to be, and most importantly, cashless. The city’s transportation system operates in zones so you should carefully select your own travel zones i.e. your home, work and other places you visit regularly, when you’re getting the Nol card which costs an initial AED 70 (and includes AED 20 e-purse value) for the blue class. As a salary earner, you have to subscribe to a 30-day pass that will ensure you have a guaranteed way of getting to work and coming back to your base. Be prepared to part ways with a reasonable amount of AED 350 for such great benefit that covers your movement for 30 days.

Cook your own food

Let’s say you love to eat out and you spend an average of 30 dirhams on a meal in an inexpensive restaurant in the city, which is by all indications, a fair price. Let’s also assume you’re a disciplined person who only eats twice per day on that same cost, that’s AED 60 daily, and during the course of 30 days, you would have spent nothing less than AED 1800 only on feeding. You’ll definitely have to focus on other expenses and when feeding is already making you spend AED 1800, it’ll definitely hinder you from achieving your monthly goals and perhaps from doing the necessary things you need to do. Cooking your own food at home won’t cost you up to that and the fact that it will help you reduce your cost is definitely worth a shot, and additionally, there’s always an inner peace when you eat what you have cooked yourself.

Only shop for the things you need and not the ones you want

This is one of the hardest things to adhere to and almost everyone goes through this particular stage at a certain point in their lives. Bringing oneself to only do the needful and leave the unnecessary ones out can be a bit difficult, especially in Dubai where luxury shopping really lives, one can easily feel intimidated which is why you have to shun distractions and only buy the things you need which are actually the things you can’t do without like the food stuff, toiletries, and other important things; not the things that can actually wait till you really have the money to get them; like that pair of new shoes, or that expensive wallet.

Stay far away from personal loans

When it comes to personal loans, you always have to look at the bigger picture. You look at the “tomorrow” not the “right now”, because personal loans mess up your life and suck the life out of you eventually. Personal loans are already becoming a necessity in a world where one always need help to survive, even the rich need them so why shouldn’t you, right? The truth is that most rich people take personal loans to fund a project or a business which will bring huge returns for them, making the loan very easy to pay back but for someone who is on a low salary to take a personal loan just to live through the trying times is absurd because it will only become an extra burden on you and on the long run, you might have to forfeit the benefits you used to enjoy before taking the loan if you can’t cope anymore or can’t foot the interest that comes with the loan; this happens far too often in the UAE. So it is very ideal to endure whatever it is you’re going through at that very moment, maintain a low profile and enjoy your life on a very low key, after all, you’re a free human who is living without the thoughts of having to pay back a debt at the end of the month.

Avoid taking a car loan

This is also very similar to taking a personal loan but the difference is you’re taking this with a clearer purpose which is to fund getting your own private car. Cars are widely seen as liabilities which is a fact that can’t be denied, so for someone who is on a salary of not more than AED 5000 to opt for a car loan is from all indications not too good. Even if you won’t find that stressful, how about the cost of maintaining the car which can on the long run? It is very advisable to stay away from all kinds of loan when one is earning a low salary in Dubai and the UAE in general.