Some call it the million-dirham baby; others estimate the figure should be closer to AED2m. But one thing is clear – the cost of raising a child in the UAE is far from cheap.
So, before you yearn for the patter of tiny feet, you might want to put your financial affairs in order because your bundle of joy is going to cost you. But how much will having a child actually affect your bank balance?
Well, according to figures from Candour Consultancy, raising a child until the age of 18 will cost Dubai parents AED1.2 million.
Look closer at the figures and the biggest chunk of expenditure goes to education at AED400,000, another AED300,000 goes to childcare and babysitting and AED150,000 gets frittered away on toys, hobbies and leisure.
In terms of day to day spending, AED100,000 is spent on food, AED60,000 for clothes, AED60,000 for birthdays and festivities, AED50,000 for holiday costs and, staggeringly, AED20,000 for pocket money. That takes your total spend for one child to AED1.14m.
This total is based on 2011 figures, so if you add two years of inflation based on the Ministry of Economy's average rate of 2.24%, you have a 2013 figure of around AED1.2m.
Divide that figure by 18 and you are looking at around AED67,000 a year, at today's prices, and that's before you factor in long-term inflation or doubling or trebling those costs to account for more children.
Remember the estimates are based on averages, so those families who opt for more expensive schooling, leisure costs and holidays can expect the numbers to climb even higher. Annual fees for UAE schools, for example, range from AED2,500 to more than AED90,000, so it's worth comparing the options of schools and their fees in the UAE if you want to keep your costs down without compromising on education standards.
DOESN'T STOP AT 18
The other thing to consider is that financing a child does not necessarily stop at 18 particularly if you want them to go to university. You need reserves or may have to consider the option of taking an education loan to fund higher education. With property markets increasingly hard to get into, some parents may also be putting down a deposit on your child's first house. So, having a child is a financial commitment you certainly can't take lightly.
Look around the world, and Dubai's average child-rearing rate is on the higher side. In the UK, the cost of raising a child is also AED1.2m, but that figure runs to 21 – an extra three years than Dubai. However, it does not include private education as most British children are state-educated.
In the US, the average cost of raising a child born in 2012 until the age of 18 comes to a bargain rate of AED863,000. The figure drops further in India to AED370,000. It might make Dubai parents wonder the real cost of living in the UAE. Is it costing more to live in a tax-free environment? It’s certainly food for thought.