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How to find a suitable accommodation

Как найти подходящее жильё

After completing the documents for moving, opening a bank account, the task of finding suitable housing comes to the fore. It can be bought or rented by choosing an apartment, studio, townhouse or villa. There are almost three dozen districts in Dubai, in which several hundred residential complexes are located, differing in distance from the center and cost, as well as a set of unique features. It is important to choose the one that will suit you and your family members in all respects. And, of course, it is desirable that there are more fellow countrymen among the neighbors.

Rent or purchase


Dubai remains the most popular emirate among Russian-speaking expats. Some migrants from CIS countries choose Abu Dhabi, but there are significantly fewer of them. Due to recent events, the demand for housing has increased. Of all those arriving in the UAE, about a third go with the aim of moving to permanent residence. Such migrants are interested in ready-made apartments. Real estate in buildings under construction can be bought much cheaper, but people want to move into their home right away. In objects under construction, people often buy space for the purpose of investing funds, This type of investment brings up to 10% of income per year, depending on the community and the luxury of the building itself.

For those who arrived in the Emirates under a contract for several years, the most profitable option is to rent a house, especially if you consider that in recent years the rent has significantly decreased.

It is recommended to discuss the issue of housing with your employer. In some cases, employers may provide temporary housing until you find something suitable. Also, many of them take on a partial payment for the rental of the object that you choose.

How to search and choose a neighborhood


The main criteria when searching for an area are proximity to work, availability of shops, medical institutions, parks for recreation. If there are children, it is important that there is a kindergarten, a school, places for walking and entertainment for the child nearby.

Dubai is a construction city: new residential and work complexes are constantly being built there, all this is done quickly with the involvement of a large number of heavy construction equipment. In addition, the construction site is a constant dust and dirt. Pay attention to the proximity of construction sites: noise and dirt are negative factors for living, but, on the other hand, it will most likely be possible to reduce the rent.

You can search for suitable places through agency websites. In houses where premises are rented, a “To Let” sign and the number of the landlord or agent who can be contacted and find out the details of the lease are posted on the windows.

If you have found a suitable place, it is recommended to come to it several times at different times of the day, look at the noise level, traffic intensity, neighbors. Good options are sorted out very quickly, so there is not much time to think. Nevertheless, before proceeding to the execution of the contract through an agent, make sure that he has accreditation for this type of activity.

Regardless of nationality, expats prefer to rent housing in central areas, although it is more expensive. There are fewer indigenous people living here, so the atmosphere is much more democratic: it’s easier to get dressed, not wake up every day at 5 a.m. from the imam’s call to prayer and generally live a more familiar life.

Everything you need to know about renting


As mentioned above, rental prices have declined in the last few years. This is due to the fact that many landlords pay a mortgage and they are interested in their premises not being empty for a long time. To do this, they are ready not only to reduce the price, but even to allow the first month to live for free.

Rental price by area

In addition to a set of necessary amenities, the dwelling must correspond to financial capabilities. The cheapest apartments in Dubai are located in the International City area, where a rented dwelling costs 33,000 dirhams per year. Dubai South, IMPZ, Dubai Sports City are also considered available. They will have to pay from 40 to 50 thousand dirhams per year. Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Festival City, Palm Jumeirah are among the five most popular and expensive places. Here the annual rent costs in 145 000 – 170 000 dirhams. The most expensive community is the City Walk: the rental price starts from 190,000 AED per year.

Rules for concluding a lease agreement

  1. Usually the contract is concluded for at least one year, but if the landlord does not mind, the period may be less: 6 or 3 months.
  2. The contract describes all the rights and obligations of the parties. Clarify any incomprehensible nuance, because then you will have to answer for everything.
  3. If the landlord pays for utilities, then the rent will be higher.
  4. Before signing the contract, carefully examine all the premises: serviceability of equipment, integrity of furniture, upholstery, quality of repair: absence of torn wallpaper, cracks on tiles, etc. If something is found, it must be entered into the contract (or the owner of the premises must fix it).
  5. A deposit must be paid for the rent, which will be refunded after the end of its term. The amount must be specified in the contract.
  6. Before signing the agreement, a lawyer must check: make sure that there are no errors, inconsistencies, or other violations in the document.
  7. Oral agreements in the event of conflicts are not taken into account: everything must be recorded in writing.

Some tips on how to protect yourself when renting a home

  1. According to the unwritten rules, rent is paid by checks, which the owner of the premises fills out immediately, and then they just need to be repaid on time. If you are asked to pay with one check, it may be fraud, so it is not recommended to do so.
  2. Before entering into an agreement, make sure that the person you are talking to is really the owner. To do this, ask for a copy of the title deed.
  3. Remember, subletting is prohibited! At the same time, the phenomenon is quite common. To rent such housing is to put yourself at risk of being left with nothing.
  4. If you cooperate with an agent, check the availability of the license and its relevance in the list of agents in Dubai.
  5. The contract must be registered in the Ejari system: this gives the right to protect interests if a conflict situation arises.
  6. It is recommended to insure the house and property immediately after entry. Usually the owners insure their premises themselves, but not the property. If you make your insurance, then in case of fire, theft, it will cover your personal losses.

Hidden payments

In addition to the monthly fee, there are also additional:

  1. A refundable deposit, which is usually equal to a month’s rent. If, after the release of the premises, repairs are required, the owner has the right to withhold part of this money to cover expenses.
  2. Registration in Ejari with additional fees costs 595 dirhams.
  3. A real estate agent usually charges 5% of the cost for work, but not less than 3000 dirhams.
  4. There is also a municipal fee. It is 5% and is divided into 12 months.
  5. Unlike in Russia, where there is a centralized connection to heating, in the UAE they are connected to the cooling system.
  6. Connection to water, electricity, gas supply networks, telecommunications providers, as well as sewerage, garbage collection are paid separately.

Everything you need to know about buying


If you decide to move to the UAE for permanent residence or invest for further earnings, then real estate should be acquired as property.

Visitors got the right to buy real estate in 2006. However, there are restrictions on the areas. You can buy into full ownership only in Freehold districts. There are 23 of them in Dubai. In Leasehold areas, villas, apartments, land plots for development can be rented for a long-term lease for a period of 10-99 years.

What an expat teaches along with buying a property

Purchase of real estate worth from 205 thousand. AED gives the right to obtain a residence permit. The more expensive the object, the longer the residence permit is issued. Real estate for 1 million AED gives the right to receive an investor visa for 2 years, for 5 million AED – for 5 years, for 10 – respectively for 10 years. In addition, the owner has a number of opportunities:

  • live on the territory of the principality;
  • free to enter and leave;
  • leave for a long period with a stay outside the UAE for more than six months;
  • open a bank account and take out a loan;
  • work, engage in commercial activities;
  • get local rights;
  • use medical services;
  • teach children in local schools and universities.

Approximate prices for different types of real estate in Dubai (in dollars)

  • studios – the most budget option – from 200 thousand;
  • apartments up to 70 squares with one room – 300-400 thousand;
  • two-room apartments (100-110 sq.m.m) – from half a million;
  • villas from 100 sq.m. m – from 250 thousand to 20 million;
  • townhouses – from 145 thousand to 2.5 million

Step-by-step instructions for buying real estate

  1. Choose a suitable object in the Freehold zone. It is better to invite an experienced realtor who knows the market.
  2. Enter into a purchase and sale agreement. This is an exclusively written agreement, which reflects the responsibility of the parties, the purchase price and payment terms, the address of the object, additional payments related to the purchase.
  3. Sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). In Dubai it is called “Contract F”.
  4. Pay the deposit. It is usually 5-15% of the purchase amount. If the transaction fails due to the seller’s fault, the money will be returned to the buyer, if due to the buyer’s fault, then to the seller as compensation.
  5. Get a No Return Certificate (NOC). It costs from 500 to 5000 AED and gives the right to transfer ownership rights.
  6. Apply for a Title Deed in the Dubai Land Department.

Realtors charge from 2 to 5% of the purchase price for the work. You also need to pay a one–time registration fee to the Land Department – 2% (another 2% will be paid by the seller).

As in the case of rented housing, you will additionally have to pay for connection to water supply, electricity, cooling and telecommunications systems. The owner is obliged to pay the maintenance costs of the building annually.

Which areas do Russians prefer

Jumeirah Lakes Towers

Very wealthy Russians acquire real estate for housing in the Emirates. Those who need to combine living with work, choose Jumeirah Lakes Towers. There is a SEZ, many offices of international companies, and near the highway, which is easy to get to the airport. Residential complexes are built on the shores of artificial lakes. The cost of the studio starts from 125 thousand dollars.

Dubai Marina is a luxurious area with more than 200 residential complexes with dazzling views of snow–white beaches and blue waters of the Persian Gulf. There is everything you may need for entertainment both day and night, so the community is more often chosen for young couples to stay. A loft-style studio will cost $150,000.

Discovery Gardens is better suited for a calm, measured family life. Developed infrastructure, green recreation areas and many sports grounds for active recreation. Here, two-room apartments can be bought for $ 70,000.

The richest Russians buy luxury villas on the island of Palm Jumeirah, which cost several million dollars. This is a fairly isolated area, where there are no crowds of tourists and company staff, but there are private beaches, private pools, piers for yachts and much more.

How to connect utilities

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority

In the UAE, the supply of water and energy resources, as well as sewerage services are handled by state regional authorities. In Dubai, it is the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), and in Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC).

Both organizations are engaged in:

  • delivery of services;
  • activation of accounts upon check-in (it takes 15 hours from the moment of check-in);
  • accrual of sets;
  • disconnecting the system during eviction and reconnecting when moving;
  • sending notifications about system shutdown during maintenance work;
  • by issuing certificates of absence of arrears.

How to activate the service

  1. Fill out an application on the official website of the company.
  2. Prepare and provide a package of documents:
    • a copy of the lease agreement for the tenant or a certificate of ownership (you can purchase and sale agreement);
    • copies of passports (if the dwelling is removable, then the tenant and the owner);
    • if the application is submitted by a third party, a notarized power of attorney from the owner/tenant.
    • identification number in the Ejari system (for the tenant).
  3. Pay the deposit and the connection service.

In Dubai:

  • connection in a small room costs 100 dirhams, in a large one – 300;
  • registration – 10 dirhams;
  • targeted fees for the introduction of innovations – 30 dirhams.

The deposit (refundable) for apartment owners is 2000 AED, for villa owners – 4000 AED.

You can pay for DEWA services:

  • by bank card;
  • from an electronic wallet;
  • via the company’s website or its mobile application;
  • via the Etisalat payment machine;
  • Tayseer;
  • EasyPay;
  • Auto Pay;
  • Apple Pay;
  • from ENOC/EPPCO gas stations.

You can pay for ADDC services:

  • online on the ADDC website;
  • at ATMs;
  • via internet banking;
  • in exchange offices;
  • ADDC App;
  • by phone.

The gas supply in Dubai is produced by Emirates Gas, in the metropolitan region – SERGAS. Companies supply gas in cylinders. To activate the delivery, you need to register on the company’s website, activate your account and request new cylinders, paying upon delivery. Approximately the same system operates in Abu Dhabi. Here you will need an identity card and a lease agreement (or a certificate of ownership) to register.

To disable services, it is necessary to inform the company about this and pay for the supplies.

How to choose an internet provider


The telecommunications sector of the Emirates is represented by two companies: Etisalat and du, providing high-quality coverage. The majority of the population are active Internet users, since almost all services have been digitized. At the same time, there is strict censorship on the Internet. Providers are strictly prohibited from broadcasting pornography, controversial political shows, any content promoting terrorism, LGBT, gambling. You can not use dating sites and some social networks.

To connect to an Internet provider, you need to submit an application. This can only be done by persons over the age of 21. You can sign up online or in person at the company’s office. The connection takes 7 working days and is performed in 3 stages:

  1. The client submits an application and documents.
  2. The client pays for the connection (if the package includes only the Internet, then 200 dirhams, if also TV, then an additional 150);
  3. The company installs and tests equipment. The company provides new customers with a router, a set-top box and a home phone with a wireless handset.

Documents for Etisalat:

  • completed application;
  • copy of passport with visa stamp;
  • the original and a copy of the identity card.

Documents for du:

  • passport with visa or ID card;
  • a document certifying the place of residence, for example, utility bills.

The rates depend on the validity period, the number of minutes and traffic.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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