Living in Dubai

Dubai, and indeed the Middle East, does most things differently to any other part of the world and accommodation and property are no exception. There are a few laws that people need to bear in mind when moving to Dubai.

Technically, it is illegal to live with people who are not your immediate relatives (that is, brother, sister, mother, father, son or daughter) and it is also against the law to live with a partner who you are not married to. Having said though, it is still common for Western couples to live together and for friends to share apartments or villas. As long as you’re not drawing attention to yourself and you don’t upset your neighbours, the authorities will generally turn a blind eye.

The other thing about renting in Dubai is that it is quite common for landlords to ask for an entire year’s rent upfront, meaning that tenants have to either ask their employer for an advance on their wages or they will need to secure a bank loan.

In recent months, this practice has relaxed considerably due to the financial crisis and lack of available credit, as for some time banks stopped lending money to people earning less than Dhs20,000 a month. Now it is more common for landlords to accept rent in four payments and even up to 12, however they will generally expect more money in return for the flexibility.

Check out to get a better idea of prices.

Dubai Marina

Studio: Dhs50,000 to Dhs75,000 per year
Shared accommodation: Dhs4,000 to Dhs6,000 per month

Part of New Dubai, this is one of the trendiest areas in town. Jumeirah Beach Residence (aka JBR) is hot property and prices here are generally more expensive than anywhere else in New Dubai, however you can find reasonably priced property in other parts of the marina. Those living at the marina have the popular The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence on their doorstep with its multiple restaurants and cafes, boutiques and supermarkets.

Jumeira and Umm Suqeim

Shared accommodation: Dhs3,500 to Dhs5,000 per month
Villa: Dhs200,000 to Dhs250,000 per year for four bedrooms, plus a maid’s room

These two areas follow the coast and are filled with massive villas. It is more ‘local’ than many other suburbs so you’ll find larger villas and more white four-wheel drives and kanduras (local male dress) than anywhere else. Expats who live here are either sub-letting a room in one of the villas or are wealthy families. The central location is what makes it popular.

Al Barsha

Studio: Dhs50,000 per year
Shared accommodation: Dhs3,500 to Dhs4,500 per month

This is a popular place with expats due to its affordable living and good location. There is a variety of villa and apartment-style accommodation and it’s close to one of the largest and most popular malls in Dubai, Mall of the Emirates. The thing about Al Barsha is that not only is it in the middle of the desert, it’s also largely under construction. It’s not pretty, but it is convenient and reasonably priced. It’s also close to the soon-to-be-opened Metro and has good links to Dubai’s main arterial road, Sheikh Zayed Road.

Bur Dubai

Studio: Dhs40,000 to Dhs50,000 per year
Shared accommodation: Dhs3,500 to Dhs4,500

Bur Dubai is one of the cheaper parts of town, but it’s also one of the oldest. It tends to be full of Indian and Pakistani expats, mostly men, and is riddled with traffic. Despite this, it is still popular with those looking to save on accommodation and has a great central location.