What’s in it for me? Abu Dhabi Life with a Tax Job

Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque centre

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the second-most populous city in the UAE, after Dubai. In 2019, Abu Dhabi’s population was estimated to be around 1.45 million people in the urban area, contributing to a total of around 3 million in the emirate of Abu Dhabi – the largest of the UAE’s seven emirates. The city is situated on an island off the Persian Gulf from the central western coast, while the majority of the city and Emirate reside on the mainland which connects to the rest of the country.

Like its more famous neighbour Dubai, Abu Dhabi has undergone a period of remarkable growth and modernisation in the past few decades. Effectively a desert in 1970, the city has grown to become a centre for global trade and home to numerous expat communities who have relocated for lucrative earning potential.

Interesting facts

  • Indians are the largest ethnic group in the Emirate at 40%
  • Abu Dhabi was planned by Japanese architect Dr Takahashi in 1967
  • Abu Dhabi means “Father of the Gazelle”, which is literally translated from Arabic.
  • Abu Dhabi used to be famous for its pearl trade

Cost of Living


To legally work in Abu Dhabi, expats must obtain a residence visa sponsorship for employment. This means expats must have an employer sponsor them by offering them a job contract and then applying to the appropriate authorities for the visa. See more here.


The cost of living for expats in Abu Dhabi is high. This is only expected to rise as the UAE’s oil-exporting economy thrives. Though many move to Abu Dhabi to save money in the income-tax-free environment, expats should be aware that the quality of life comes at a high price. This is demonstrated in Abu Dhabi’s ranking of 40th out of 209 cities ranked in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2018, ranking as the 2nd most expensive city in the Middle East behind Dubai.

Salaries in Abu Dhabi have decreased, and many of the allowances included in expat packages can no longer be expected. Having said that, with the right kind of research, tax expats can accurately estimate their costs and take the appropriate steps to achieve the lifestyle they may have imagined.


Rent Per MonthAverage €  Range € 
Apartment (1 bedroom)
in City Centre
1220.00850.00- 1575.00
Apartment (1 bedroom)
Outside of Centre
910.00175.00- 1210.00
Apartment (3 bedrooms)
in City Centre
2310.001700.00- 3640.00
Apartment (3 bedrooms)
Outside of Centre
1700.001210.00 – 2425.00


The Department of Transport (DoT) provides an effective transport system that contributes to the economic growth, quality of life and environmental sustainability of Abu Dhabi. DoT works on the regulation, planning and development of an efficient and well-integrated system, serving the public interest by enhancing mobility and delivering safe, secure and environmentally responsible public transport in Abu Dhabi.

A range of public transport modes in Abu Dhabi are being planned and developed in response to the unprecedented urban expansion and population growth in the Emirate. These include Bus, Ferries, Metro, LRT and other modes of public transport in Abu Dhabi.

For more information, see here.


Due to the number of expats, there is a range of international schools which are all run privately, adhering to high standards. Some schools run British style GCSE’s and A-levels or American style IB programmes. Additionally, potential university requirements should be taken into consideration when deciding between schools and curriculums. Though there are many to choose from, spaces in schools can be limited. Thus, it is recommended to liaise with schools as soon as possible to ensure your child is enrolled in your preferred choice. 

For a greater insight into schooling in Abu Dhabi, check out Kingpin’s in depth guide here.

Other considerations

Utilities (Monthly)Average  €Range  €
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water,
Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment
110.5860.64  –  157.67
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local
(No Discounts or Plans)
0.110.07    –   0.24
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data,
94.4160.64  – 121.29

If you are interested in a move to Abu Dhabi or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about International Tax Opportunities, across Direct Tax, Transfer Pricing or Indirect Tax please contact a member of the team. Alternatively, view our current International Tax vacancies.