In 2021, the Emirate ranks #42 in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey, so the city is more affordable than San Francisco, London and Paris. The area where you choose to reside is one of the major aspects determining how expensive the cost of living in Dubai will be for you.
For instance, a 1-bedroom apartment in the center of Dubai can be rented for AED 5.5K (USD 1.5M) per month, while a property set a bit further away will cost you about AED 3.6K (USD 1K). Additionally, monthly living expenses, which include utilities, travel and transportation, groceries and leisure/hobbies, amount to approximately AED 3.2K (USD 870K) for 1 person, and about AED 11.8K (USD 3.2K) for a family of 4.
As a rule, health insurance in Dubai is provided by a sponsor/employer, so you do not have to worry about any additional medical expenses.
UAE residents have to renew a driving license in Dubai every 5 years, while for UAE and GCC nationals the term duration is 10 years. A driving license renewal can be done online via the RTA website, RTA Smart App, Dubai Drive App or via self-service machines at any Customer Happiness Center.
It is important to settle any traffic fines before a renewal. If you are under 21, you will require only a valid Emirates ID, however, those older than 21 years old have to provide an additional eye test certificate. The fees amount to AED 120 (USD 32) for customers younger than 21, and AED 320 (USD 87) for drivers over 21. After applying for a renewal and paying the required fees, you will obtain a temporary driving license. It will take between 5-15 days to receive a regular driving license.
Selling property in Dubai is far from a complicated process with the help of a qualified real estate agent. After finding a specialist, you will need to sign a ‘FORM A’, to formally mandate brokering and marketing with that agent. After the form has been submitted to the DLD’s Trakheesi system for a final approval your property will start being advertised on a number of platforms, both online and offline.
As soon as you find a buyer, you will have to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, or ‘FORM F’, which is a legally binding contract between the seller and the purchaser. Another necessary document that is needed during the selling process is an NOC letter from the developer, which can take 5-7 days to be issued.
The final step of concluding the sale is the ownership transfer, where the following must be provided: MOU, NOC, copy of the title deed, a cheque to the seller, 4% DLD fee and an original passport copy with a valid visa/Emirates ID.
To begin with, the investment property market in Dubai offers higher rental yields than many other mature real estate markets. In fact, the average ROI here ranges between 5% and 9% as property prices per square foot are significantly lower than in other cities across the globe, such as London, Hong Kong and Paris. Thus, it is an affordable location to own luxury real estate, besides, there is also no stamp duty and property taxes as well.
In order to attract more investors, in September 2021, the DLD had reduced the minimum required amount, which allows purchasers to apply for a 3-year residence visa through investment, from AED 1M (USD 272K) to AED 750K (USD 205K). Visa holders can avail family sponsorship, which enables bringing a spouse and children to the country as well.
In order to start investing in Dubai real estate, you have to identify the investment purpose first. Besides being used as private residence, properties can be rented out and resold, which are perfect options if you are looking to generate some income. The main factor that affects the price of the property is its location and the nearby amenities.
Of course, if the property provides easy access to public transport links, healthcare and educational establishments, as well as retail stores, then its value will most certainly be higher.
Furthermore, if you are willing to invest in Dubai real estate, you have to remember the property transfer fee of 4%, which is divided equally between a seller and a buyer. Other expenses regarding a property purchase include insurance, an NOC fee, an annual maintenance fee and commission of the real estate agent (about 2% of the property purchase price).
In Dubai, UAE residents are allowed to buy properties only in designated freehold areas. Off-plan developments are a very attractive option, since their prices are lower and developers offer flexible payment plans. Also, you can apply for a mortgage, and banks can cover 80% of the property price, if your investment property in Dubai is under AED 5M (USD 1.3M), while in the case of properties over AED 5M (USD 1.3M), you can obtain a 70% loan.
Villas are especially popular in the Emirate, since expats relocating to Dubai with their families opt to choose spacious properties with a study/flexi-room, open green spaces and a set if amenities. Ultra-luxury real estate in the areas, such as Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina is also worth considering, as Dubai is one of the most popular destinations worldwide among HNWIs.
When investing in property market in the UAE, many individuals tend to secure a long-term income by becoming a landlord. It is worth noting that residential real estate can generate from 5 up to 12% ROI, which really high in comparison with European capital cities. Of course, a landlord has many responsibilities, including maintenance, repairs and restoration, however it is possible to hire a property management company to save the time and efforts. As a rule, apartments offer a higher ROI than townhouses and villas.
When renting out a property, you will only be charged with a 5% VAT tax and an annual maintenance fees payable to the DLD. It is recommended to purchase compact residences such as 1-bedroom apartments and studios with established infrastructure. Once you purchase a property, you can hire a real estate agent, who will find for you a tenant. As soon as the tenant moves in, you will start receiving a regular income on a daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly basis, depending if a rental is short-term or long-term.
Off-plan property in Dubai is property under construction, and is a popular option with end users and investors. Mostly, this is due to the fact that it has a lower purchase price than ready to move in units and there is a possibility to resell off-plan property before its completion, thus, gaining higher capital appreciation.
Moreover, the majority of developers in Dubai require only a 5-10% down payment and you automatically become a full-fledged owner. The remaining amount can be paid during construction and upon/after handover, depending on the payment plan. Another perk of purchasing off-plan property is that it comes brand new with the latest technology, design and lifestyle features and on-site facilities.
There are a number of reasons why it is good to invest in real estate market in Dubai. For instance, property prices in the Emirate are significantly lower than in Europe, America or Asia. Moreover, real estate investment is the best option in terms of reducing inflation, since there is a direct correlation between the demand for real estate and the level of economic indicators.
Not forgetting a 3-year investor visa, which you can obtain when purchasing a ready to move in property for a minimum of AED 750K (USD 205K) or a 5-year investor visa when buying a ready unit for an initial cost of AED 2M (USD 545K). As a residence visa holder, you can easily bring your spouse and children to the UAE. Finally, real estate investors will be keen to learn that rental properties in Dubai can generate an ROI as high as 8-10%.
Foreign nationals can purchase real estate in Dubai only in areas designated as ‘freehold’. Foreigners (people who don’t live in the UAE) as well as expats, who acquire property in freehold areas, may acquire freehold ownership rights over purchased real estate without restriction, or leasehold rights for up to 99 years.
The title deeds are issued by the Dubai Land Department and there is no age limit as to who can own real estate in the emirate of Dubai. The popular freehold areas in Dubai include Downtown Dubai, Business Bay, Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai Investment Park, DAMAC Hills, Palm Jumeirah Island and many more.
The UAE Government had approved amendments to the ‘Executive Regulation of the Citizenship and Passports Law’ in January 2021, which allows several categories of foreign nationals, their spouses and children to obtain Emirati citizenship. These amendments stipulate certain conditions for each category and allows the foreign national to obtain Emirati citizenship whilst retaining their original nationality. The following categories of foreigners can be nominated for UAE citizenship: doctors, investors, inventors, specialists, intellectuals, scientists, and individuals with creative talents.
There are certain eligibility conditions for each category of nominees. For example, an investor must own a property in the UAE, while an inventor must have one or more patents approved by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy (MoE) or any other reputable international body, as well ashave a recommendation letter from the MoE. The acquiring of the UAE’s citizenship is possible only through the Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts, Executive Councils Offices and the Cabinet, based on the nominations of federal entities.
The emirate of Dubai offers real estate for sale in different price categories, where interested investors can find both affordable properties and luxury real estate for sale. The price of real estate is greatly influenced by its location. The least expensive areas to buy an apartment in the emirate are Dubai Production City and International City, while the districts of Serena and NSHAMA Town Square offer less expensive townhouses for sale. Villas with the most affordable prices can be found in the areas of Al Warsan, DAMAC Hills (AKOYA Oxygen) and Serena by Dubai Properties.
The price of apartments in Dubai varies depending on the number of bedrooms in the property and the location. Investors can find affordable properties in areas of Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai Investment Park and International City. The starting price for a 2-bedroom apartment with a floor plan area of 2,044 sqft in the Jumeirah Lake Towers community is AED 130,000 (USD 35,000).
More expensive properties can be found in the districts of Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah, Business Bay, Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai. At the moment the most expensive real estate in Dubai is an ultra-luxury residence with 5 bedrooms and a living area of 25,208 sqft in Atlantis The Royal Residences, Palm Jumeirah. The price for this real estate constitutes AED 180,000,000 (USD 49,000,000).
After obtaining a 3-year investor visa, which is available by investing in the country’s economy, owners will receive a renewable temporary residence visa in the emirate of Dubai without having to seek employment. According to the rules of the Dubai Land Department, this type of visa can be obtained through a minimum property investment of AED 750,000 (USD 205,000). Real estate should be residential and 100% ready for occupancy.
In the case of acquiring an off-plan property, investors will become eligible for a 3-year investor visa, once the construction is completed and the development is commissioned.
Expatriates, as well as foreign nationals can buy property in the emirate of Dubai only in freehold areas. When purchasing real estate in specially designated zones, owners can use the property at their own discretion, both for personal and investment purposes, including the resale of real estate, rental of property, the ability to issue it as a gift and /or pass it on by inheritance. Freehold areas in Dubai comprise Meydan City, Emirates Hills, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Hills, Al Barari, and Dubai Creek Harbour, just to name a few.
The cheapest property in the emirate of Dubai is a studio of 511 sqft in The Square, Al Mamzar. The price for this type of real estate constitutes just AED 180,000 (USD 49,000). If you’re looking to get a visa based on your property investment, you would need to invest at least AED 750,000 (USD 204,000) in order to obtain a 3-year investor visa, which allows for a family sponsorship, including a spouse, children, and parents. Benefits of this type of visa include the right to open a bank account, to reside in the UAE, as well as to acquire a UAE driving license.