Stressed about living in Dubai? We’re here to make your big move to the UAE a little bit easier, with quick tips to kickstart your search. To start off, consider the following to help you shortlist areas in Dubai.
- How long do you plan to stay in Dubai?
- How many people will be living with you? Will you be living by yourself or with your family?
- What kind of area would you like to live in?
- Would you like to live in a villa or an apartment?
- How far are you willing to travel to work or to school?
- Do you have kids and are there any schools close by?
Where should I live?
The UAE has many residential areas ideal for families. Dubai communities such as the Meadows, Springs, Emirates Hills, The Lakes and Jumeirah Park have an abundance of parks and greenery. There are also a number of schools and nurseries located nearby, making it easier for your kids to travel to and fro. Malls and supermarkets are at close proximity to many of these communities and, most importantly, they have plenty of security in place to ensure the safety of your family. [Compare schools | Compare nurseries]
If you’re less concerned about schools and nurseries but still want a mall, the beach, or dining places close by, check out neighborhoods such as Dubai Marina, Tecom, The Greens, or Downtown. For people who prefer a quite area, developments such as Mirdiff, Arabian Ranches, Motor City, or Jumeirah Village will work well. To navigate around the city you can always use google maps.
[If you’re moving here, generally read our full guide on banking, telecoms, cars, healthcare, schooling etc: Moving to Dubai or the UAE: An expat guide]
To get a better idea about rents, contact real estate companies. Sites such as Propertyfinder.ae or Dubizzle.com have listings and information on the current rents. For further help on deciding which community to move to, take advice from friends or family already living here. You can even get in touch with future colleagues to get a few suggestions on areas close to work, or work timings to work out your commute.
Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a place, there are plenty of options across the UAE. Start your search by looking at projects and communities by master developers such as Emaar Properties, Dubai Properties, or Nakheel Properties. See if their communities fit your requirements, as they have projects available to buy and rent all over UAE.
Renting in Dubai
If you are leaning more towards renting a place, keep in mind…
- You may be asked to pay a full year of rent in advance – negotiate for as many checks as possible but make sure you budget or organize a loan – and order your checkbook. [Related: Negotiating your rent]
- Post-dated checks are the most common way for tenants to pay rent. If you can pay rent for the whole year at one go, you probably will get a better price during rent negotiations.
- You might need to carry the cash for you first rent especially if your company is not providing you with accommodation. [Compare personal loans]
- Always negotiate your rent and don’t settle for the first amount given to you. During negotiations try to get a fixed rate on your rent, as the property market can fluctuate and you don’t want to be paying high rents within a year of moving.
- You can always stay in a hotel apartment before signing a lease, especially if you aren’t sure about the area you have chosen.
- Before signing a tenancy contract, check with the landlord on maintenance costs and responsibilities. Remember to carry out all necessary check before signing the contract. [Compare home insurance | Related: Know your rental rights as a Dubai tenant]
- Besides rent, other costs you will have to factor in are the security deposit, water and electricity deposits, real estate commission and municipality tax.
- After signing the tenancy contract, get your place registered with Ejari.
- According to UAE law, sharing accommodation with the member of the opposite sex is forbidden. Bachelors sharing accommodation in residential areas and tenants setting up partitions without permission from authorities is also prohibited.
[Related: Know your rental rights as a Dubai tenant | How to negotiate your rent in a rising market | 10 things you need to know about buying UAE property | The real cost of buying property in the UAE]
Buying in Dubai
Buying a property is a big decision and requires careful consideration. The main factors to consider are:
- How long you intend to stay in the UAE (selling costs add to the buying costs)
- The area you want to invest in
- Price differences in renting a house or buying [Cost of renting vs buying in the UAE compared]
- How you want to finance your investment [Compare home loans in the UAE]
A few examples of places you can buy a house include Arabian Ranches, Emirates Hills, Greens, Discovery Gardens, Jumeirah Village, Dubailand and Business Bay.
If you want to take out a mortgage and buy a property, consider:
- The cap on borrowing for mortgages in the UAE. It varies for expats and locals and whether you are a first-time buyer or not. [Further information on the mortgage law]
- Aim to secure your mortgage before buying a property. With loan approval you will have a better idea on how much you can spend on a new house and which properties are affordable. Remember, many banks will give you a mortgage for selected properties. [Compare home loans in the UAE]
- Compare all home loans products in the market and keep an eye out for early settlement, arrangement and loan transfer fees. These can set you back quite a bit especially if your plan is to switch loans or settle it earlier than expected. [Related: The real cost of buying property]
- Ask yourself before taking a home loan, would you want a fixed rate or a variable rate? How long would you take to repay your loan? Would you like to be able to transfer your loan?
- To prevent risk of flooding or fire, invest in getting your new home insured. [Related: Compare home insurance | What you need to know about home insurance]
- Home owners can get multiple entry visas to the UAE and can stay in the country for up to six months even without a work permit. Therefore, if you aren’t sure about the length of your stay, you can still visit Dubai at regular intervals and get your visa renewed on arrival.
The key is to start early, do your research, figure out your requirements and be patient.