Best areas to rent in Abu Dhabi for middle income earners

The UAE capital is one of the most family-friendly emirates, with plenty of top schools, restaurants and attractions

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Abu Dhabi is a leading destination for workers from all over the globe who are keen on changing up their careers and embarking on a new way of life.

With its family-orientated lifestyle and diverse housing market, Abu Dhabi has been high on the wishlist of job seekers ready to broaden their horizons for many years.

The capital is home to some of the world’s most notable attractions, including Ferrari World, The National Aquarium, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Not only does Abu Dhabi have a growing competitive job market with high salaries, but it also has a fast growing population.

While rental prices are slightly higher than neighbouring Dubai, the prices in the capital are offset by more affordable utility costs.

Whether you’re looking for a spacious villa in one of the many gated communities or a high-rise apartment with stunning views of the Arabian Gulf, there are plenty of rental options in Abu Dhabi.

Experts recommend that no more than 30 per cent of a person’s salary be spent on rent, so home hunters with an income range of Dh15,000 to Dh25,000 a month would need to look for properties going for between Dh50,000 to Dh100,000 a year.

Here, The National takes a closer look at some of the most popular neighbourhoods in the emirate right now.

Best for families

Abu Dhabi is one of the most family-orientated emirates, with plenty of neighbourhoods featuring schools, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and recreational facilities.

One neighbourhood recommended by property experts is Al Reef.

“Al Reef is very popular with families as it offers a wide range of accommodation in the same area, from studios to 3 bedroom apartments at rates cheaper than Yas Island or Al Raha Beach but in the same vicinity,” said Andrew Covill, director at Henry Wiltshire International.

“It offers a fantastic option for villa living at an affordable price with 2 to 5-bedroom townhouses with decent-sized gardens and even some with small pools,” he said.

Situated close to Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Reef is a family-friendly gated community that has four villages; Arabian Village, Mediterranean Village, Contemporary Village and Desert Village. Each boasts 1 to 6-bedroom villas with gardens, swimming pools and a community gym.

Villas in Al Reef start from 2-bedrooms up to 5-bedrooms, making it a suitable option for smaller and larger families.

Rental properties in Al Reef Villas start from Dh80,000 per year for a 2-bedroom villa all the way up to Dh142,000 for a 5-bedroom villa.

However, if you prefer to live in an apartment, Al Reef Downtown also has options for families. Prices start from Dh66,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment, all the way up to Dh83,000 per year for a 3-bedroom.

There are also a variety of schools nearby, including Raha International School in Khalifa City and Ryan International School and Maple Bear Nursery in Al Reef.

Khalifa City is another popular choice among parents in Abu Dhabi since it's close to the motorway to Dubai for commuters.

The neighbourhood is known for housing the prominent head offices of Etihad Airways, but is also a popular location for families since it's nearby reputable schools such as Humpty Dumpty, Noah's Art and Little Smarties for families with small children.

There's also the International School of Choueifat which follows the SABIS curriculum, Gems Education American Academy Abu Dhabi which has both the American and IB system.

Raha International School, which is one of Abu Dhabi's best schools, is also close by.

The neighbourhood is also home to some of the city's best universities, including Zayed University, Khalifa University and Abu Dhabi University.

Properties in this family-friendly area can typically go for Dh49,999 a year for a 2-bedroom house in a gated community, all the way up to Dh115,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment with golf course views.

There are also local groceries and mini-marts across the suburb, including Spar, Geant and Spinneys.

Raha International School is one of the best schools in Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Best for singles or couples

People moving to Abu Dhabi alone or with a partner are spoilt for choice when it comes to affordable rental options in the capital.

Al Reem Island, Al Raha, Corniche Area, Yas Island and Khalifa City are all popular neighbourhoods for those in this salary bracket.

“Reem Island is always popular for young professionals favouring a high-rise lifestyle close to the city and Al Maryah Island with a large two-bedroom apartment with maid's room and office in the iconic Sky Tower available for around Dh120,000 a year,” said Mr Covill.

Al Reem Island has a wide range of supermarkets, cafes, parks, bars and restaurants, as well as nearby malls such as Shams Boutique and the newly-built Reem Mall.

The residential area has a wide variety of affordable 1 to 2-bedroom apartments that have stunning views of Abu Dhabi city and the neighbouring Al Maryah Island, as well as the Saadiyat Cultural District.

Rents typically go for Dh86,000 a year for an unfurnished 1 to 2-bedroom apartment, complete with all the amenities such as a gym, swimming pool, concierge and parking.

Al Raha is also another popular neighbourhood, thanks to its proximity to Abu Dhabi International Airport (a 15-minute drive) and Al Bandar and Al Zeina, which is some to several bars, restaurants, and supermarkets such as Waitrose, Spinneys, as well as gyms.

Unfurnished studio apartments in this area typically start from Dh55,000 a year, with many landlords accepting up to four cheques.

Yas Island is home to Yas Marina Circuit which plays host to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix every year. Photo: Shutterstock

Yas Island is one of the most up-and-coming neighbourhoods in Abu Dhabi that offers residents a plethora of exciting entertainment options in the capital, including Ferrari World, Yas Mall, Yas Marina Circuit, Etihad Arena, Warner Brothers and Yas Links golf course.

Yas Bay is also home to an array of restaurants, bars and gyms. While Yas Marina Circuit – which hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix every year – boasts some of the best restaurants and bars Abu Dhabi has to offer.

There is a range of affordable apartment options for those moving to Abu Dhabi in this salary bracket. Properties located in the Water's Edge Community typically start at Dh50,000 a year for an unfurnished studio, Dh47,000 for a 1-bedroom and Dh67,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

“As for couples, living in Water's Edge is a good option with modern brand new apartment near Yas Island's attractions,” said Petra El Adem, senior sales consultant at Betterhomes.

For those with an extra budget, luxury development Mayan is also another recommended option.

“A newer option is Mayan on Yas Island, which is a modern low-rise development with views across the golf course and out to sea – with a private residents' beach and pedestrian access to the hotels and restaurant,” said Mr Covill.

“Many people are now moving to this locality for work as up to 10,000 people will decamp from TwoFour54 in Khalifa Park to the new purpose-built offices in Yas Bay.”

Mayan is slightly pricier than Water's Edge, with starting prices at Dh50,000 for unfurnished studios, Dh75,000 for a 1-bedroom and Dh140,000 for 2-bedroom apartments.

The Mayan building comes with all the amenities including a gym, swimming pool, beach access, and is close to Yas Mall, Yas Bay, and Etihad Arena.

The Corniche Area is a perfect choice for those who want to enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life while still enjoying sprawling views of the Arabian Gulf.

Properties in this neighbourhood can go for as little as Dh38,000 a year for a 1-bedroom apartment, up to Dh160,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment with uninterrupted sea views.

The Corniche is one of the most popular neighbourhoods since it's close to the beach, Abu Dhabi Marina area and the Abu Dhabi fish market.

Updated: September 11, 2023, 1:09 PM