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Apartments in Dubai

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Burj Al Arabi Tower artists impression
The Greens apartments Dubai
Jumeirah Beach Residence under construction about September 2004
Al Sahab apartment building in Dubai Marina - living room

Apartments in Dubai

Note, although this page was last updated on 12-May-2010, most information about prices, developments etc has not been properly updated since 2007 and needs more serious revision. Although as of 2009, most rental prices are close to where they were in 2006 after having doubled and halved again in 2007-2008. Mind the gap.

Middle to high end apartments in Dubai typically have a swimming pool and gym facilities. Occasionally a squash court. Rooms are usually quite spacious and most have ensuite bathrooms. Covered car parking may be insufficient for the number of apartments in a building and, in the more densely populated areas, street parking is difficult to find. Bur Dubai area has parking meters (which don't seem to make it easier to find a parking space, just more expensive).

Going down the price scale, amenities become fewer and/or less well-maintained, and bedrooms become smaller.

Most apartment buildings in Dubai will have at least a resident watchman, and the larger, more expensive buildings will have several security personnel with a 24 hour reception area.

Buying Apartments in Dubai
Numbers of apartments under construction in Dubai
Renting Apartments in Dubai - long term

During 2006 and 2007 it was very difficult to find anything to rent, especially one bedroom apartments. Don't waste your time waiting for real estate agents to call you back if you're searching. They'll be deluged with enquiries. If you find something, don't hang about too much wondering if you'll find something better. Chances are you won't, and the one you found will have gone to someone else by the end of the day. This situation may start to ease by the end of 2008 and early 2009 as more apartments are completed.

Apartments can be rented in all styles, sizes, and prices. From cheapish studios to expensive penthouse suites. All rental estimates are given in dirhams per year. In Dubai it is normal to pay the full year's rent in advance. Sometimes you may be able to pay with 2, 3, or even 4 checks meaning you write post dated checks for the relevant amounts.

If you are looking for a studio or 1 bdrm apartment, a common alternative for singles or couples is to rent a room in a shared villa or apartment. Unmarried couples living together are breaking the law but, depending on nationality or culture, the likelihood of having a problem varies from minimal to high. Maids trying to live with boyfriends usually seem to get arrested sooner or later. Western couples will rarely get into trouble. If one partner is Muslim - especially if female - there's more chance of problems. Emirates other than Dubai are more strict in this regard, especially Sharjah. Don't annoy your neighbours.

The better apartments usually have whitegoods included (stove/cooker, probably a fridge/refrigerator, possibly a washing machine, maybe a dishwasher) even if advertised as 'unfurnished'. Apartments advertised as 'furnished' might be fully furnished or may only include white goods. Cheaper and/or older apartments are less likely to have any furniture or kitchen appliances, and if they do, it's probably junk anyway.

A rough guide to apartment rents per year in different areas of Dubai (July 2007):

Expect to pay 5% of the first year's rent as a commision to the real estate agent if you use one. Also 5% as a refundable bond or security deposit. And the final sting in the tail comes from Dubai Municipality who want 5% of your annual rental also - sort of like a council tax. DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) will collect it on their behalf. This is a recent development to try and get more tenants to pay since the collection rate has been very low in the past. Electricity and water may be disconnected if the DM tax isn't paid.

See where to live in Dubai for a little more information on the different areas in Dubai.

Apartments tend to be concentrated in

Shared Villas and apartments in Dubai
Key Money and Rent Caps

Supposedly illegal to ask for it, but often asked for and blatently advertised - especially in the case of commercial property. Rare or non-existent if you go through one of the more reputable real estate agents when looking for an apartment in Dubai.

Key Money has become more prevalent during 2006 with the combination of increased demand and not enough supply, and the caps on annual property rental increases.

Real Estate Agents fees and commissions, security deposits
Dubai Municipality Tax or Housing Fee
DM housing fee for empty apartments
Apartment rentals in Dubai - short term

Apartments are available on a monthly rental basis, normally fully furnished and usually with some sort of servicing and cleaning arrangement. Cost of a studio or 1 bdrm is about 7000 to 15,000 dhs per month depending on location and quality of apartment/furnishings. For better standard (and more expensive) try Better Homes, Asteco, and/or Landmark Properties. They are the more well known and hopefully more reputable agents. Emaar has also recently (June 2006) started a property letting agency.

The most expensive way to rent an apartment is on a nightly basis which will cost about 400-800 dhs per night for a studio or 1 bdrm.

Al Majara apartments in Dubai Marina
Emirates Towers rising above the fog in Dubai
exterior view of Jumeirah Beach Residence (artists impression)
Th Palm Dubai Shoreline Apartments living room

Finding a property to rent or buy and Letting Agents, Real Estate Agents

There are over 1000 real estate and letting agents in Dubai apparently. A handful of the more popular and well-known companies are:

Real Estate agents publish information about current property for sale or rent, although during 2005 and 2006, the speed at which properties were snapped up meant that such publications were often out of date very quickly. They're still good sources of information and pictures for the various apartments around Dubai. Better Homes in particular have an easy to follow and comprehensive booklet.

The classified advertisements of newspapers are also good places to look. The Gulf News has large sections with apartments for sale and apartments for rent.

Supermarket noticeboards are good sources for shared villa rentals.

Internet websites are becoming more and more popular with the well-known craigslist having recently set up a Dubai section. Many of the real estate agents have comprehensive searchable databases for rentals and purchases of Dubai apartments.

Areas where expats can buy apartments

Apartment areas - descriptions and more information

Al Barsha

Newer apartments so usually good standard. Not quite as expensive as other locations, close to Internet City and Mall of the Emirates. Many buildings under construction so keep looking for rentals.

Bur Dubai (foreigners cannot own property)

Established, popular area with expats, quite busy, traffic and parking a bit of a problem especially in the evenings. Handy to Bur Juman Center and Karama. Quite a few hotel apartments in this area.

Burj Al Arabi
Business Bay
City of Arabia

Cheaper part of town to find rentals (traffic jams will be irritating), more densely populated. Sort of a CBD for Dubai. Not so popular with western expats looking for rental accommodation. Will be interesting to see if/how it changes with the development of the Deira Palm Island.

Discovery Gardens

Near Ibn Battuta Mall. Large complex will stretch between Sheikh Zayed Road and the Emirates Road. First ones should be completed towards end of 2006 or early 2007.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
Dubai Lagoon
Dubai Land (Dubailand)
Dubai Marina (200+ buildings, Emaar Properties development)

Big man-made hole in the ground with water and boats and the occasional whale shark (in 2005-2006 there was one), surrounded by cranes and noise. Expect it to become more and more popular as buildings are completed and facilities developed. Planned completed date supposed to be around 2008 sometime (update: no chance, and traffic has become choked up with too many cars on too few roads along with the Al Sufouh Tram construction). Some buildings already complete with rents up to 90,000 dhs per year for 1 bdrm. Corniche at the Dubai Internet City end has a bit of life now and there's a good selection of restaurants. Al Habtoor and Grosvenor House hotels newly opened in the area. Medium sized shopping mall and hotel - Dubai Marina Mall about halfway between Dubai Marina and JLT metro stations. Traffic around the JBR residence area seems to be permanently gridlocked in evenings till late.

Dubai Sports City
Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (TECOM)
The Gardens, Jebel Ali (expatriates can only rent, not buy)
The Greens Apartments, Al Barsha

Emaar development - one of the first available for expat purchase. Good functional apartments but somewhat bland with all the look-alike buildings. Popular location for people working in Internet and Media City. Rents continue to rise - expect to pay 80,000 or 90,000 dhs for 1 bdrm in July 2006.

Selling prices in July 2006 are about 550,000 dhs for studios up to 1.5+ million dhs for 3 bdrms with study.

Green Community, Jebel Ali

Very popular apartment rentals (because they're cheap) with long waiting lists to get in. Forget it unless you know someone moving out.

International City

An 800 hectare Nakheel development in the Al Warsan area of Dubai (at the junction of the Dubai-Hatta Road and Emirates Road, near Dragon Mart). First apartments handed over in October 2006, 75% by end of 2006 and the remainder by mid-2007. Cheaper rentals, probably attractive to those living in Sharjah who are commuting to Dubai. Limited facilities (no underground parking, swimming pools etc) for most buildings. Five districts - The Central District, Dragon Mart (Dragonmart), The Forbidden City, The Lake District, and The Residential District. The residential area has clusters of buildings named after countries or regions - China, England, France, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Morocco, Persia, Russia, Spain, Thailand - with the architecture and style of that region incorporated into the design of the International City apartments.

Jumeirah Lake Towers (80 buildings, Nakheel Properties development)

Large apartment tower development across Sheikh Zayed Road from Dubai Marina. Has 4 big puddles or ponds. Some buildings are expected to be completed towards the end of 2006 and early 2007 with most supposed to be ready during 2007 and 2008. Also has offices and retail space. Residents will probably not be able to move in before mid 2007 (entire development was originally scheduled for completion by end of 2006).

Jumeirah Village
Jumeirah, Umm Suqiem (rentals only except for UAE nationals)
Karama (only rental properties except for UAE citizens)
Lamcy Plaza Area (only rental property for foreigners)
Mirdif (Mirdiff)

A little out of town but some people like that. On the airport flight path so can be noisy. Apartments as such not really available but a large number of smaller 2 bdrm terraced houses are something to consider as an alternative.

Sheikh Zayed Road (Trade Center to Defence Roundabout)

Noisy on lower floors with SZR traffic but good location. Expensive.

Note that the information on this page is for a small representative sample of the apartment buildings in Dubai.

Last update Sunday 02-Feb-2014
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