Skip to main content

A place to call home

The UAE is awash with estate agents and developers ready to help you find your new home, and there are properties to suit all tastes and budgets.

If relocating, you will more than likely stay in a hotel (which should be included in your relocation package) until you find somewhere suitable.

Renting is most common amongst expats in the UAE because, on the whole, they are a highly-transient bunch that may only stay a few years. The market and the economy is better set up for renting than buying houses, and with the huge boom in the construction industry seen over the last few years, prices have dropped in the rental sector.

There are no specific restrictions to expats owning a property. That said, research suggests that buying a property should be a long-term plan, only if you have the financial resources to sustain it, long-term job security and a dependable sponsor. If you lose your job, you will lose your residency visa and possibly your home too.

A word of caution

Each of the seven autonomous Emirates will have separate property rules and regulations. So don’t expect the rules in Abu Dhabi to be the same as Dubai, or anywhere else.

Tips on renting and buying

  •  Never accept a rental property without viewing it.
  • Research whether your potential home is next to a mosque. It may be cheaper but will also be a lot louder!
  • Check that your agent is officially registered. In Dubai, ask to see their RERA card.
  • Before renting, check your contract for yours and your landlord’s responsibilities. Check for hidden costs.
  • Before buying a property, make sure you get independent advice before you sign the contract and check that your developer or agency is legitimate.
  • If you already live in Dubai, you can get lower rent by moving from an older apartment to a new one. With new complexes springing up all the time, developers dangle a carrot of cheaper rents to entice you in.
  • Visit this popular property portal.
  • The UK Government has produced a handy (and comprehensive) guide on ‘how to buy, rent or let property in the UAE’.

Where to live

There are seven Emirates: Ajman, Umm Al-Qaiwain, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah, but expats tend to live in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sharjah. It’s a good idea to live as close to where you work as possible to avoid long commutes. 

Dubai

It has a skyscraper-lined horizon, opulent and lavish artificial palm islands, and huge shopping malls. Dubai is the most lively of expat destinations but also the most expensive. On the positive side, it caters for every single taste, hobby and activity. A downside is that the traffic in Dubai can be terrible and one blogger commented that: ‘Even if you take a taxi, it’s a case of not if but when you have an accident’.

There is accommodation to suit all tastes in Dubai. See this Quora discussion on Dubai’s residential areas.

Abu Dhabi

It is the Emirates’ capital city but the second largest city after Dubai. Being much smaller, Abu Dhabi is less congested than Dubai. This makes it easier to travel about and, even though there are no trams or metro, people get around by cars, taxi and bus. It still has the same beautiful beaches, thriving expat community and opportunities for leisure and shopping as Dubai, but the slower pace of life and larger amounts of green space make it more appealing for families.

There are around twenty schools offering a British curriculum and eleven American schools, teaching the International Baccalaureate.

See here for the pros and cons of living in Abu Dhabi.

Sharjah

The third largest city, Sharjah is considered the cultural capital of the UAE because of its historic buildings, various museums, galleries and traditional souks. Like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it has beautiful beaches but with additional views of the Hajar mountains. It is a ‘dry’ emirate; no alcohol is sold here, and the cultural traditions and laws are adhered to more rigidly than in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Wherever you settle, a secure home will require insurance, so contact our expert advisers for a free quote. 

To compare life in Sharjah to Dubai visit Living in Dubai.

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. See our cookie policy for more information on how we use cookies and how you can manage them. If you continue to use this website, you are consenting to our policy and for your web browser to receive cookies from our website.

You are now leaving the Aetna International website

Links to various non-Aetna sites are provided for your convenience only. Aetna Inc. and its subsidiary companies are not responsible or liable for the content, accuracy, or privacy practices of linked sites, or for products or services described on these sites.

Continue

You have been redirected to an Aetna International site. InterGlobal is now part of Aetna, one of the largest and most innovative providers of international medical insurance. We have combined our businesses to create one market-leading health care benefits company. This means we can better serve people who depend on Aetna International and InterGlobal to meet their health and wellness needs.

Please read the terms and conditions of the Aetna International website, which may differ from the terms and conditions of www.interglobalpmi.com.

You may not be able to access certain secure sites and member pages on the Aetna International website unless you have previously registered for them or hold applicable policies.

To continue, please close this message or navigate using the links above.

Close

You have been redirected to an Aetna International site. InterGlobal is now part of Aetna, one of the largest and most innovative providers of international medical insurance. We have combined our businesses to create one market-leading health care benefits company. This means we can better serve people who depend on Aetna International and InterGlobal to meet their health and wellness needs.

UltraCare policies in Thailand are insured by Safety Insurance plc and reinsured by Aetna Insurance Company Limited, part of Aetna International. You can access our plans by following the links below:

Please read the terms and conditions of the Aetna International website, which may differ from the terms and conditions of www.interglobal.com/thailand.

You may not be able to access certain secure sites and member pages on the Aetna International website unless you have previously registered for them or hold applicable policies.

To continue, please close this message or navigate using the links above.

Close

You have been redirected to an Aetna International site. InterGlobal is now part of Aetna, one of the largest and most innovative providers of international medical insurance. We have combined our businesses to create one market-leading health care benefits company. This means we can better serve people who depend on Aetna International and InterGlobal to meet their health and wellness needs.

UltraCare policies in Vietnam are insured by Baoviet Insurance Corporation Limited, and reinsured by Aetna Insurance Company Limited, part of Aetna International. You can access our plans by following the links below:

Please read the terms and conditions of the Aetna International website, which may differ from the terms and conditions of www.interglobal.com/vietnam.

You may not be able to access certain secure sites and member pages on the Aetna International website unless you have previously registered for them or hold applicable policies.

To continue, please close this message or navigate using the links above.

Close