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Renting Property

United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Renting Property

Renting property in the UAE is a long-term commitment. As an expat, it is important to think this decision through before signing any contract. Below is what you need to know about renting accommodation in the UAE as a foreigner.

Foreigners moving to the UAE for work often have their accommodation arranged for them by their employers. If your employer does not provide accommodation, they may pay you a housing allowance. It is important that you discuss this in your contract before signing it.

Before you sign a rental property contract, find out what kind of accommodation unit you are getting. The house provided should have enough rooms for all your family members. Also, discuss with your employer and find out what kind of house it is. Is it a villa, apartment, or guesthouse? Get these details sorted before settling in the UAE.

On the other hand, your employer may not provide accommodation. Perhaps you are moving to the UAE to start a new life and business. It may be impossible to start looking for a house immediately. Your best bet is to find somewhere temporary to stay. This helps you get acquainted with the area better and also start hunting for a new place to live.

Expats can also sublet single rooms from already rented houses. Renting a room is always cheaper and helps you save money as you settle into your new environment. There is a caveat to renting a room though. It is a cultural taboo to share the same house with a member of the opposite sex if you are not married to each other. Fortunately, many expats are quite accommodating. Nevertheless, look for a room to sublet with members of your own sex just to be on the safe side.

Housing options in the UAE

There are three types of accommodation facilities available in the UAE: estates, high-density houses, and the suburbs. These housing options suit both the single expat and the foreign couple with a family.

Estate Living

Estates comprise detached houses clustered in gated communities. Estates suit expats with families. Houses in estates often have manicured lawns, backyard space for playing, and 24-hour security.

Expat families tend to form communities within the estates. This provides a sense of familiarity and belonging for a new expat who just moved into the UAE. These houses often have amenities like public gymnasiums and shops within the estate. Estates also provide a quite environment away from the busy city.

The only downside of the estates is that they are located far from the main city. Only move to the estates if you have a personal means of transport. You must also be mentally prepared for the long commute to the city.

High-Density Houses

High-density houses comprise apartments located in the city center. They can be furnished or unfurnished, serviced or not serviced. High-density apartments suit the single expat working in the city. These lavish apartments also suit the married couple raising a family.

City apartments do not come with a private outdoor space like the estates. Even so, you have the advantage of being close to the city. It is easy to access amenities like shopping malls, hospitals, and arcades in the city. There are plenty of public parks near high-density houses as well. These form a good playing ground or a place to relax and read a book.

There will be plenty of opportunities to play in the parks or have a family meal in one of the city restaurants. Commuting to and from work is also faster and cheaper compared to living on the outskirts of the city. Within the apartments, you will also find shared amenities like a public pool or gym.

Living in the city has only one trade off: you have to contend with the noise of the city. Many of the high-density houses connect to the city via major highways. If you are ready to drive on the ever-busy UAE highways, then living in the city is a good idea.


Suburbia comprises single villas spaced out from each other. Villas are large enough to accommodate private gardens and swimming pools. You may also have to hire a housekeeper and a gardener to keep your house in order. Villas have private parking and the neighborhood streets are quiet.

Suburban villas suit expat families as well. Their serene environment is perfect for raising kids in or retiring from the city life. The streets are quiet and safe.

The down side of villas is that they are quite isolated. They are also located far from city amenities such as malls and arcades. Villas are often quite expensive and will suit the expat couple working in high paying jobs.

Tips for renting property in the UAE

Remember that renting property is a long-term commitment. Rental contracts are valid for a year. You can only cancel the contract after the year is up. Therefore, here are a few things to think about before signing any rental contract.

Ensure you choose a location you are comfortable with. Do you prefer a convenient apartment within the city or the suburbs? Location also determines your proximity to amenities and the safety of the neighborhood. Your location will also dictate how fast you can get to the city, depending on traffic.

Expats should read and understand the legal contracts between them and their landlords. Fortunately, rental agreements in the UAE favor both the property owner and tenant. Violation of the contract by either party can attract stiff penalties. Think about where you are going to live before committing to a contract.

In the past, rental agreements required the tenant to pay a year’s rent before moving in. It is now possible to negotiate and pay for three months while the rest is paid for through post-dated checks. Hire a real estate agent to help you find rental property that is suitable for you and negotiate a good rate for the property.

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