Expat Housing in UAE: Costs, Options, and Tips

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a popular destination for expats from all over the world. The country offers a high standard of living, excellent job opportunities, and a tax-free environment. However, one of the biggest challenges for expats is finding affordable housing.

This article will discuss the cost of housing in the UAE, the different options available to expats, and some tips for finding a good deal. It will also cover the process of buying property in the UAE for expats.

Expat Housing in UAE: Housing Options

There are a few different options available to expats when it comes to housing in the UAE. Expats can choose to rent a property, buy a property, or live in a company-provided accommodation.

Renting is the most common option for expats. There are a number of different websites and agencies that can help expats find a rental property.

Buying property is also an option for expats. However, there are a few restrictions on foreign ownership of property in the UAE. Expats can only own property in certain areas, and they must obtain special permission from the government.

Some companies provide accommodation to their employees. This is usually a furnished apartment or a villa.

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Renting in the UAE as a Foreigner

Renting in the UAE as a foreigner is a relatively straightforward process. However, there are a few things you need to know before you start your search.

First, you will need to have a valid residence visa. This visa will allow you to rent a property in the UAE. You can apply for a residence visa through your employer or sponsor.

Once you have a valid residence visa, you can start your search for a rental property. There are a number of ways to find rental properties in the UAE, including:

  • Online listings: There are a number of websites that list rental properties in the UAE. Some of the most popular websites include Property Finder, Bayut, and Dubizzle.
  • Real estate agents: You can also work with a real estate agent to find a rental property. Real estate agents have access to a wide range of properties, and they can help you find the right property for your needs and budget.
  • Word-of-mouth: You can also ask your friends, family, or colleagues if they know of any rental properties in the UAE.

When you are looking at rental properties, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  • The rent: The rent for a property in the UAE will vary depending on the size of the property, the location, and the amenities.
  • The security deposit: You will need to pay a security deposit when you rent a property in the UAE. The security deposit is typically equal to one month’s rent.
  • The lease agreement: You will need to sign a lease agreement when you rent a property in the UAE. The lease agreement will specify the terms of your rental, such as the rent, the security deposit, and the duration of the lease.

Once you have found a rental property that you like, you will need to sign the lease agreement and pay the rent. You will also need to provide the landlord with a copy of your residence visa.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Property in the UAE

There are many factors to consider when buying a property in the UAE. Here are some of the most important factors:

  • Down payment: You will need to make a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price of the property.
  • Mortgage terms: Mortgage terms in the UAE are typically 25 years.
  • Property taxes: Property taxes in the UAE are relatively low.
  • Maintenance and repairs: The cost of maintenance and repairs in the UAE can be high, especially if you own a house.
  • The location: The location of the property will affect the cost of the property, the availability of amenities, and the commute to work or school.
  • The type of property: There are apartments, villas, townhouses, and commercial properties available in the UAE.
  • The condition of the property: Is the property in good condition? If not, how much will it cost to renovate?
  • The legal status of the property: Is the property freehold or leasehold? Is the property registered with the Land Department?
  • The market conditions: Are property prices rising or falling? Is now a good time to buy?

Buying Property in the UAE as a Foreigner

Foreigners can buy property in the UAE in designated freehold areas. The property must be residential, not commercial. It must also be freehold and worth at least one million AED (USD 272,255). The property must be completed; it cannot be under construction.

Here are a number of steps involved in buying property in the UAE as a foreigner, including:

  • Do your research: Before you start looking for a property, it’s important to do your research and understand the property market in the UAE. This includes knowing the average prices for different types of properties in different areas. You can use online resources or real estate agents to help you with your research.
  • Find a property: Once you have a good understanding of the property market, you can start looking for properties that meet your needs and budget. You can find properties online, through real estate agents, or by word-of-mouth.
  • Inspect the property: Once you have found a few properties that you’re interested in, it’s important to inspect them in person. This will give you a chance to see the property in person and make sure that it’s in good condition.
  • Hire a lawyer: It’s important to hire a lawyer to help you with the purchase process. The lawyer will be able to help you understand the legal requirements for buying property in the UAE and negotiate the terms of the purchase.
  • Make an offer: Once you have found a property that you want to buy, you will need to make an offer to the seller. The offer should include the price that you are willing to pay and the terms of the purchase.
  • Negotiate the price: The seller may not accept your initial offer. In this case, you will need to negotiate the price with the seller.
  • Sign the purchase agreement: Once you have agreed on a price with the seller, you will need to sign the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement will specify the terms of the purchase, such as the price, the terms of payment, and the date of possession.
  • Pay the deposit: Once you have signed the purchase agreement, you will need to pay the deposit. The deposit is typically equal to 10% of the purchase price.
  • Transfer the title: Once the deposit has been paid, the seller will transfer the title of the property to you. This will make you the legal owner of the property.

What Documents will I Need?

Here are some of the documents that you will need to buy property in the UAE as a foreigner:

  • Passport: You will need to provide a copy of your passport to the seller and the lawyer.
  • Visa: You will need to provide a copy of your visa to the seller and the lawyer.
  • Proof of funds: You will need to provide proof of funds to the seller and the lawyer. This can be in the form of a bank statement or a letter from your bank.
  • Purchase agreement: You will need to sign the purchase agreement in front of a lawyer.
  • Title deed: The seller will transfer the title deed of the property to you once the purchase is complete.

It’s important to be aware of these documents before you buy property in the UAE. By following these steps, you can ensure that your property purchase is smooth and hassle-free.

Cost of Housing in the UAE

The cost of housing in the UAE varies depending on the city, the type of property, and the size of the property. In general, Dubai is the most expensive city in the UAE, followed by Abu Dhabi. Sharjah and Ajman are more affordable options.

How Much Does Rent Cost in the UAE?

The average rent for a studio apartment in Dubai is around AED 40,000 per year. A one-bedroom apartment will cost around AED 70,000 per year, and a two-bedroom apartment will cost around AED 100,000 per year.

Here is a general overview of the cost of renting in the UAE:

  • Studio apartment: AED 30,000-50,000 per year (USD 8,100-13,600)
  • One-bedroom apartment: AED 70,000-100,000 per year (USD 19,000-27,220)
  • Two-bedroom apartment: AED 100,000-150,000 per year (USD 27,220-40,530)
  • Three-bedroom apartment: AED 150,000-200,000 per year (USD 40,530-54,440)
  • House: AED 500,000-1,000,000 per year (USD 136,130-272,220)

How much Does Buying Property Cost in the UAE?

The cost of buying property in the UAE is also high. The average price of a villa in Dubai is around AED 1 million. A townhouse will cost around AED 500,000, and an apartment will cost around AED 300,000.

Here are some examples of the cost of buying property in different emirates:

  • Dubai: The average price of an apartment in Dubai is AED 1.5 million (USD 405,300). The average price of a house in Dubai is AED 5 million (USD 1.36 million).
  • Abu Dhabi: The average price of an apartment in Abu Dhabi is AED 1 million (USD 272,220). The average price of a house in Abu Dhabi is AED 3 million (USD 810,600).
  • Sharjah: The average price of an apartment in Sharjah is AED 500,000 (USD 136,130). The average price of a house in Sharjah is AED 1 million (USD 272,220).

Extra Costs Associated with Buying Property in the UAE

In addition to the purchase price of the property, there are other costs associated with buying property in the UAE, such as:

  • Legal fees: Legal fees in the UAE are typically around 1% of the purchase price of the property.
  • Mortgage fees: Mortgage fees in the UAE are typically around 1% of the loan amount.
  • Property registration fees: Property registration fees in the UAE are typically around AED 2,000 (USD 544).
  • Stamp duty: Stamp duty in the UAE is typically around 4% of the purchase price of the property.

If you are considering buying property in the UAE, it is important to factor in all of the costs involved. 

Tips for Finding Affordable Housing

Finding affordable housing can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember that there are resources available to help you. 

Here are some tips that can help you find affordable housing that meets your needs:

  • Understand the housing market: Before you start your search, it’s important to understand the housing market in your area. This includes knowing the average rent for different types of properties in different areas. You can use online resources or real estate agents to help you with your research.
  • Network with people in the know: Talk to people who work in the housing industry, such as real estate agents, property managers, and housing counsellors. They may be able to give you tips on finding affordable housing or connect you with resources that you didn’t know about.
  • Be prepared to compromise: You may not be able to find the perfect housing unit that meets all of your needs and is in your ideal location. Be prepared to compromise on some factors, such as the size of the unit, the location, or the amenities.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate: The asking rent is not always the final rent. You may be able to negotiate a lower rent if you’re willing to sign a longer lease or make some concessions, such as paying a higher security deposit.
  • Be patient: Finding affordable housing can take time. Don’t give up if you don’t find something right away. Keep looking and you’ll eventually find something that meets your needs and budget.

What about Buying in Australia from the UAE?

This is where Odin Mortgage can help you. We can help Aussie expats and foreign investors in UAE to secure a home loan to buy Australian property.

Odin Mortgage is the leading mortgage brokerage that specialises in helping Aussie expats and foreigners buy property in Australia. We have a team of experienced mortgage brokers who can help you understand the Australian mortgage market and find the right loan for your needs.

Contact us today if you’re looking to buy property in Australia. 

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Frequently asked questions

The most popular areas for expats to live in the UAE are Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ajman. These cities offer a variety of amenities and attractions, as well as good job opportunities.

The cost of living in the UAE varies depending on the city and lifestyle. However, in general, it is more expensive to live in the UAE than in many other countries. The cost of housing, transportation, food, and entertainment can all be high.

Yes, expats can buy property in the UAE. However, there are some restrictions on who can buy property and where they can buy it. For example, expats cannot buy property in freehold areas unless they have a residency visa.

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