With expatriates making up almost 85% of the population in the United Arab Emirates, there is a lot of competition for the best housing with the usual Western amenities. Dubai is often at the top of the list for expatriates moving to the country, but Sharjah Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah and the capital Abu Dhabi are also highly popular. Wherever you’re looking to move to, moving to the UAE opens up a whole world of possibilities. With beautiful beaches, world class restaurants, impressive yachts and stunning landmarks like the Burj Khalifa all a part of everyday life, there are many reasons people have for relocating to the UAE.
Once you know which city you’ll be relocating to, and you’ve obtained your residency visa, it’s time to look at expat housing. In 2001, the UAE opened the market to leasehold purchase where expatriates could purchase properties in certain areas of most of the Emirates. There is a huge variety of properties available to expats, from high-rise developments and large villa estates to the increasingly popular expat compounds. These compounds are made up of anywhere from 2-100 villas within an enclosed area, usually with their own communal facilities such as a pool and gym or play area. Other countries in the GCC such as Qatar can also provide you with similar company homes, particularly when you work with one of the national companies such as oil and gas or the national airline.
Expat Housing in Dubai
Dubai, being the most popular expat city in the UAE, has a variety of living areas available to expats. The Springs and Meadows developments are some of the most popular due to their nearby amenities and easy access to the Sheikh Zayed Road – the longest road in the Emirates stretching from Abu Dhabi to Ras al-Khaimah. The Springs offers two to three bedroom attached villas while the Meadows feature three to five bedroom standalone villas. Both complexes are close to several schools including the Emirates International School and the Dubai British School, as well as being close to the Mongomerie golf course. However since these areas are so highly sought after, availability and sky-high rents can be a bit of an issue for expats on a budget.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that many landlords across the UAE will ask for your rent one year in advance, rather than the one month that many expats are used to in the West. These is often room for negotiation here, such as providing a series of backdated cheques, though you may find you can secure a lower price if you can afford to pay your annual rent in one lump sum.
Other popular expat developments in Dubai include Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Discovery Gardens, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence, The Palm Jumeirah and the Arabian Ranches. Renting in these areas can be a great alternative to buying a property, but with the rising cost of rent in the UAE, buying a property is becoming a much more attractive prospect for many expats. Getting around Dubai from all of these complexes is fairly easy, thanks to the wide range of public transport available. Taxis in particular are the most convenient way to move around the UAE, and convenient as they are, it is still important to choose a location that is close to your office or your children’s new school.
Cosmopolitan Expat Areas in Dubai
The Dubai Marina is the embodiment of cosmopolitan living in the UAE, with its upmarket high-rise apartment buildings and villas overlooking the Marina. The trendy lifestyle is perfect for singles or couples who enjoy high life waterfront living and are looking to move to the UAE. If you’re going to be working in Internet and Media City or Knowledge Village, this could be the perfect location for you.
There’s also Downtown Dubai – a mega-development consisting of a mix of aesthetically-designed residential towers and commercial areas. At its centre are the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall and The Dubai Fountain. This area is where you’ll find the spectacular New Year’s Eve Gala. With a huge amount of accommodation available, some of the higher-priced end of the market, the high-rise apartments are always in demand. These apartments are made up of six exclusive towers located at the edge of a man-made lake, offering breathtaking views of the Burj Khalifa Tower and the surrounding skyline.
Purchasing a Property in the UAE
When purchasing a property in the UAE it is important to realise that there is a maintenance fee covering the upkeep of the building’s gardens and any shared facilities. This is in addition to the legal fees and developer/estate agent fees when they apply, so be sure to look into this when looking for properties across the country. If you are purchasing a large property, this can be quite a significant cost, particularly if there are demands for maintenance fees for one year upfront.
It is important to determine a budget when looking at properties in the UAE as the price ranges of the complexes differ massively. The quickest and most efficient way of finding an apartment or house in these areas is to use our Home Search service or talk to one of our relocation consultants in the UAE. A member of our local team will be more than happy to discuss your needs, and help you find the perfect expat housing in the UAE today.