Homefront: 'What are the best places to live in Dubai for a new arrival?'

The Pakistani citizen has a housing allowance of Dh125,000 and will be working in Business Bay

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , January 18 – 2019 :- View of the residential towers and shopping area at the Bay Avenue in Business Bay in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National ) For News/Online/Instagram. Story by Patrick
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I am moving to Dubai early next month and would like recommendations for the best place to live in the emirate. My company has given me a housing allowance of Dh125,000 for my wife and me. I will be working in Business Bay and initially want good public transport connections as I will need to retake my driving test to secure a licence in the Emirates, which could take a while. 

What areas do you suggest in Dubai that will fit comfortably within my budget? I would prefer an apartment and would like two or possibly three bedrooms that can accommodate visiting family members and the possibility of us having a child in the future. I would also like a building that has a gym and a pool. What do you suggest? MK, Pakistan

Renting in Dubai is relatively easy and there are many options open to you. The current rental market favours the tenant so you should have no problem at all in finding your ideal home.

The first thing you have to sort out, however, is your residency visa. Without this, you will not be able to rent anywhere. Ensure that the visa is at the very least under process with a letter from your employer confirming the same. Once this is in hand, the areas I recommend you should look at are Business Bay itself, Downtown/Old Town and, although further afield, Marina/Jumeirah Beach Residence and Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

Business Bay

This area has an excellent choice of apartments and its own metro station. It is a sought-after location, being next to Downtown and just behind Sheikh Zayed Road, and with the development of the Dubai Canal there are lovely water views from many of the towers here. Your rental budget will stretch to spacious two and three-bedroom apartments in this location. The main buildings to consider would be: Executive Towers, Damac Towers, Majestine, Windsor Manor, Westburry and Bay's Edge.


Downtown is the home of Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Dubai Opera and the dancing fountains and is advertised as the "centre of now". As you can imagine, this location is prime but there are many options here too. If you wish to go for three-bedroom apartments you will be able to find these in Damac Maison and Upper Crest only. The choice widens a great deal if selecting two-bedroom apartments. In this category, you will be able to look at many different options along Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, including the area called Old Town.

Downtown is served by Burj Khalifa Metro station and is set back from Sheikh Zayed Road.

Dubai Marina

If you’re OK with a commute of 20 to 25 minutes, then you can also look at Dubai Marina/JBR.

Dubai Marina’s location is great in that it is very close to the beach whereas JBR is on the beach.

Dubai Marina is consistently the most popular living destination for expats and has a wide variety of residential towers to choose from. You can avail of two and three bedroom units in both locations.

The Marina has two Metro stations and a tram system and easy access to Sheikh Zayed Road for when you do get your car.

Jumeirah Lakes Towers

Lastly I suggest you also look at JLT. This area has approximately 80 mainly residential towers with different styles and sizes. JLT gives you a good selection of apartments to choose from so choose wisely. The towers surround two lakes and a park and are set back from Sheikh Zayed Road, again served by two Metro stations.

Making a decision

All of the above suggestions will fall into your chosen categories in terms of budget, amenities, transportation and type of apartment. If you are able to pay the rent in one cheque, this will add to your negotiating power when it comes to the actual final rent.

On the one hand, I would suggest you take your time in selecting your property and definitely recommend you enlist the services of a Rera-qualified agency. Renting in Dubai, however, doesn't take long so I advise you to start looking within two to three weeks of a target move-in date. I would say that a large proportion of all apartments available for rent are ready for immediate occupation.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 35 years in London and Dubai

The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com