Dubai is one of the most amazing cities in the world to explore, from beaches, dining, events, attractions and experiences; but the catch with our wonderful city is, you have to pay an arm and a leg for almost everything! Things don’t come cheap in the Arabian playground. Yes, we may earn more with our tax-free salaries and higher income, but with prices on the rise and school fees so high you need to take out a second mortgage on your property back home to afford them, it can be hard to live life large on a family budget.
A lot of people come to Dubai with the idea of living here for a few years and saving enough money to set themselves up back home. But we can get so engrossed in the opulent lifestyle of brunches, beaches and shopping, we forget about saving. Then we have the kids and that’s when the purse strings become tight and more often than not we give up our indulgently frivolous ways. But what if I told you there are ways to live life large on a family budget? You don’t have to give up everything you once loved when you enter parenthood. You can enjoy the same level of lifestyle you once did and here’s some tips on how.
Find the best deals
With the rise in discount websites and apps such as Groupon, Cobone, The Entertainer and Yalla Banana in this region, it’s easy to find a deal on pretty much anything, from brunches and beach access to spas and super yachts, and you can use these sites to reduce your costs by up to half. We plan our lives by the deals calendar, which is pretty much why we can still afford to brunch, ski, spa, head to attractions and book the occasional yacht party, as well as pay for our daughter's astronomical nursery fees. There is literally a deal for every member of the family to enjoy.
Staycation in neighbouring Emirates
For more cost-effective weekend options, check out neighbouring Emirates such as Ajman, RAK and Fujairah. If you shop around, for the same price as a family brunch in Dubai you can enjoy full or half-board options at hotels including meals, pool and beach access and a room for the night. The quality and service is just as good and it’s not going to break the bank. We’ve been to pretty much every Emirate in the UAE and never stayed in less than a 4-star hotel! It’s a great weekend away for the family to unwind and relax. Check Booking.com, Groupon or Cobone for offers.
By far the biggest expense when planning a family is all the equipment that comes along with it. And if you (or your wife) can only do with a top-of-the-range Stokke stroller or Mamas & Papas everything, you’ll need to get on Dubizzle. Some baby items only have a 3-6 month shelf life before kids grow out of them, meaning you can pick up some bargain top-of-the-range pre-owned items in good condition for relatively cheap. And with some retail outlets charging almost double for the same children’s brands that you’d pay in UK or America it will make a huge difference to your budget.
Another brilliant way to save some money is to get your friends and family to pack an extra suitcase full of all the essential baby items you want from back home – nappies, baby wipes, baby food, toys and even the bigger ticket items like strollers and even car seats are much cheaper, say in India, America or the UK.
Sniff out free events
When we say it costs an arm and a leg to do anything, well, technically that’s not true. If you do some digging you can actually find a lot of events where you can spend the day in luxurious settings and not have to fork out for entry. In November you can check out the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates. It’s free to enter and they have an amazing kids area with bouncy castles and soft play. In December, the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic at the beautiful Emirates Golf Club will be hosting a Ripe Market. Registration is absolutely free, plus you can watch a bit of golf if you fancy it. You can also check out Zabeel and Barsha Pond Park this winter for the Ripe Market and various food truck events or Burj Park - set to the backdrop of the iconic Burj Khalifa - which will host a number of family friendly events throughout the season.
Vip is an ex-music mag director, self professed party animal and new Dad, figuring out how to raise a child in Dubai, this sandpit we call home. You can follow him at: