Moving to Dubai: Best residential areas to rent by budget

Whether you need space, amenities or loathe traffic, there is a residential area to fit your needs

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Every year, thousands of people pack their bags and move to Dubai. The city has thrived and become a sprawling expanse where communities have emerged in pockets away from the more established hot spots.

But not all residential areas are created equal, and what suits one person might be another's worst nightmare. So which spot is right for you?

Here, The National looks a bit closer at some of these communities to pick some gems based on individual needs.

Best for: Budget

Maybe you want to maximise your saving potential, or perhaps you are on a modest income overall. Either way, there are parts of Dubai that will offer a decent place to live for minimal rent.

For solitary residents, a studio apartment is an affordable choice with Elite Sports Residence in Dubai Sports City offering units for less than Dh30,000 ($8,170) a year.

A bit further inland is Damac Hills, which has 400-square-foot studios available fully furnished for between Dh30,000 and Dh40,000 a year, with some landlords accepting 12 cheques.

Families looking for space without breaking the bank might be better off with sister site Damac Hills 2, previously named Akoya, where a four-bedroom villa will set you back between Dh50,000 and Dh60,000 a year.

Couples hoping to spend as little as possible on rent might try looking in the Al Qusais area, where two-bedroom apartments are advertised for about Dh30,000.

But be warned, the area is close to Dubai International Airport, which operates 24 hours a day, and that may be difficult for some to get used to.

"If you are looking for a place to stay that is not far out of town, but still gives your wallet a break, then consider looking into the apartments in Jumeirah Village Circle [JVC]," said Leigh Wilmot, area manager for Treo Homes.

"While traffic might not be your best friend getting in and out, once you are in the community there are plenty of little shops and restaurants that will service every need that you might have right at your doorstep."

Two-bedroom apartments in JVC start at Dh50,000 a year for 1,300 square feet.

Best for: Space

Some locations offer green spaces and fewer high rises to avoid that cramped city feel.

On the more expensive end is Arabian Ranches, which offers 2,700-square-foot villas with three-bedroom properties starting at Dh180,000 a year.

According to one industry expert, it's important to look for quality.

“It’s worth noting that in Dubai, the biggest developers like Emaar – such as Springs and Arabian Ranches – have a long-standing track record of producing genuinely high-quality projects and integrated communities that deliver that aspirational Dubai lifestyle,” said Simon Baker, managing director at haus & haus.

Heading further out along Al Qudra Road are Mira, Mira Oasis and Town Square where the villas are slightly smaller, but the green spaces and parks are just as good to stretch your legs in.

Rents in those areas start at about Dh130,000, and apartments in Town Square start at Dh54,000 for a two-bedroom unit.

If you prefer to be a bit closer to the action, the Springs and Meadows areas can offer a more suburban vibe that is only a short drive from the Marina.

The Springs is more suitable for a smaller budget, with prices starting at Dh100,000, and Meadows may make your eyes water with three-bedroom villas starting at Dh270,000 a year.

If you want to be right next to a new mall, Dubai Hills has apartments and villas to suit most budgets.

“Dubai Hills has become extremely popular recently for its central location, lush green spaces, privacy, and quality master plan – this is a rental good tip for 2023,” Mr Baker said.

Best for: Beach

Whether you want to exercise, socialise or enjoy some peace and quiet, a popular pastime in Dubai is to hit the beach, and people may choose to reduce travel time by living as close to the water as possible.

A two-bedroom apartment on a high floor in Jumeirah Beach Residence will have you close to the beach, as well as several restaurants and cafes. Rents are about Dh120,000 a year.

A two-bedroom place in The Torch tower near the Marina comes in slight cheaper with apartments going for about Dh95,000 a year.

Those with a larger budget could opt for the famed Palm Jumeirah, where more than 60 kilometres of beach was added to the Dubai coastline. The sky is the limit when it comes to price on the Palm, but apartments start at about Dh145,000 a year for 1,500 square feet.

"For those who do not have any form of budget constraints, there are always options like the Le Cote and Le Rive buildings down in the Port de La Mer project by Meraas," Mr Wilmot said.

"A one-bed apartment there can start at Dh150,000 and go all the way up to Dh480,000 for a three-bedroom apartment.

"While prices are higher, there is something very special about living out on an exclusive man-made island with 270 degree water views and the very iconic Dubai skyline in the background."

Best for: Commute

Traffic is notorious in Dubai, and no one looks forward to gridlock when trying to return home after a day at work.

The trick to avoiding heavy rush-hour traffic in the emirate, regardless of where you work, is to avoid the popular roads taken by everyone else.

Hessa Street, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail and Umm Suqeim are known for heavy traffic, and occasional accidents can cause delays.

Al Qudra is also used throughout the winter for sports competitions due to its connection to the cycle track.

It can sometimes be reduced to one lane or closed completely for a few hours at weekends to accommodate athletes.

"If you are looking to miss the traffic and also have a place that offers you a cozy town house then look into the Dubai South project by Emaar," Mr Wilmot said.

"While it is a little further out of town, you can definitely find a really nice home that is away from the action. It's a great option for those that work from home or only have to venture out occasionally."

Best for: Hustle and bustle

Dubai is known for its active social scene, whether it be a 6am rooftop spinning session or a late-night round of crazy golf.

If it is too soon for the suburbs, Downtown Dubai and the Marina offer a 24-hour lifestyle where you will never be left without something to do.

Right next to the largest mall and the tallest building in the world are several residential buildings along Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard.

Old Town is across the road from Dubai Mall and the Palace Downtown Hotel and offers low-rise accommodation with a historic vibe.

One-bedroom apartments start at Dh85,000 a year and residents have access to community pools and small playgrounds for children.

Beyond that, there are any number of skyscrapers to choose from, with studio apartments available at Dh90,000, with the potential for truly spectacular views.

At the other end of the city is the popular Marina. Rents here start as low as Dh45,000 a year for a studio, however make sure to view the property because it is probably on the smaller side.

Two-bedroom places start at about Dh75,000 and can come with views of the water.

"One last option if you are wanting to stay in the midst of all of the action is the very popular Jumeirah Lakes Towers," Mr Wilmot said.

"Depending on the tower and the view that you have, a two-bedroom apartment can go for between Dh100,000 to Dh250,000 per year.

"There is plenty going on in JLT. Whether you are the night owl or the run in the park at 5am type of person, you will find many like-minded people in the area."

Updated: January 20, 2023, 7:59 AM