Sharing Villas in Dubai
Sharing villas and houses in Dubai and UAE
It is common for single people, couples, and even families to share a villa, apartment or other residential accommodation, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other emirates. Strictly speaking this is probably falling afoul of rules that say unrelated men and women should not be in the same room (or car) together but generally that's not a concern, at least not in Dubai, and probably not in most other emirates except for Sharjah. As with unmarried couples living together in Dubai, don't draw attention to yourselves and there's less chance of problems. More than one family in a villa, and large groups of bachelors (with 10 or 20 per room) became the focus of a Dubai Municipality "One Villa One Family" campaign during 2008 to move the bachelors out of villas, and reduce the number of families sharing villas. Some groups of singles sharing villas with one or two people per room were also affected but as of February 2009, that policy looks like it might become redundant, thankfully. The Municipality villa sharing rules do not apply to villas and apartments in freehold areas of Dubai as far as we know.
Note for those newbies coming to Dubai where the word "villa" conjures up images of palatial mansions with pool decks and panoramic views over the Mediterranean, a villa in the UAE is just what many expats would call a house, townhouse, terraced house, etc in their home countries. A bungalow is not really equivalent since it is rare to see a single storey unit in the UAE. Of course some villas really are somewhat grand, and it is common to have much larger rooms and more bathrooms than many expats are used to (more so for Europeans than North Americans).
Rental costs for shared villas
A room in a villa in Dubai can vary from 2000 to 7000 dhs per month but below 3k per month is not going to be much of a room. In the more popular villas in Jumeirah and Umm Suqueim areas of Dubai, 5k-7k is a typical rate and you may even get an ensuite bathroom with that. During 2007 and 2008 it became more difficult to find something as the cost of renting skyrocketed but from the end of 2008 and into 2009, rental costs are starting to fall and availability is increasing. It is usual to pay for villa shares on a monthly, bi-monthly, or tri-monthly basis, which is another factor that appeals to residents who aren't able to stump up the 1 year's rent in advance often asked for by landlords (although that's rapidly changing in 2009).
Much cheaper sharing arrangements are available in more run down villas in less popular areas. Sharing a room with one (or more) other tenants is also a way to find cheaper accommodation (and more aggravation). There were reports that one undesirable effect of the shortage and high cost of accommodation in Dubai in 2008 was landlords offering a sharing arrangement to young females that was more horizontal in nature, in return for discounted rent rates. As the supply of units increases in 2009 these special offers should diminish.
Finding a villa share in Dubai
As with flat or villa share arrangements in other countries, the most common way to find a room to let in a Dubai villa share is through the classified advertisements - either online or in one of the UAE newspapers. Supermarket noticeboards are also a possibility, and occasionally online discussion forums. The irony of a local newspaper permitting classified ads for an illegal activity such as private tutors in Dubai, private taxi services, or villa shares sometimes leaves new residents scratching their heads for a while but after a few months of living in Dubai it's possible to read those sections of the newspaper without blinking too much.
Newbies to the UAE may be excited at the prospect of sharing a villa with a variety of different nationalities, and learning about all sorts of interesting cultural quirks and foibles. Unfortunately, just like living with a partner, friends, or family, those quirks and foibles can become enough to make you wonder what you ever liked about your flatmate or housemate in the first place. Over time, people learn what and who they can and cannot live with but if you're new to the game of shared accommodation, then start with as much familiarity as you can find (and try not to breed too much contempt).
Living, washing, cooking, eating, cleaning arrangements are as varied as the number of different nationalities living in Dubai and the UAE. The residents might all muck in and cook together or live entirely independently. It's quite common to share the expense of a maid to deal with cleaning if the inhabitants are mostly single and professional workers. Large numbers of laborers sharing villas are less likely to spend their hard-earned salary on the luxury of a maid. Families sharing villas are more likely to have segregated sections, each with its own kitchen, and make their own cleaning and cooking arrangements.
One Villa, One Family
During 2008, many families, and a few singles and couples, were chucked out of their villa sharing arrangements as a result of the Dubai Municipality's "One Villa, One Family" campaign. In 2009 that started to change to a "One Villa, maybe more than One Family" rule if villa sharers applied for a licence and gave money to the DM (but not for singles).
Last update Saturday 24-Oct-2009
- Cost of living Dubai - a rough guide to prices of goods and services, mostly applicable to other emirates also
- Dubai apartments - an introduction
- Dubai areas - brief comments on different areas of Dubai
- Dubai rent index - average prices
- One Villa, One Family - more about the DM policy of no villa sharing ... well ok maybe some sharing if money is paid for a licence
- One Villa, One Family and sharing villas in Dubai - add your comments, advice, suggestions
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