Accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Expats moving to Abu Dhabi may have a housing allowance stipulated in their contract, depending on their job. Their employer will either allow an expat to choose their own accommodation in Abu Dhabi or allocate them a home prior to relocating.

Expats wanting to rent a property in Abu Dhabi will find that lease rates are on the decline, and newer areas of Abu Dhabi may even experience a brief oversupply that will further increase affordability. But rental prices are still expensive, especially in the highly sought-after on-island locations. The most popular areas are Bateen and Karama for houses, and Al Khalidiya and Corniche for apartments.

Types of accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in Abu Dhabi, the former being more expensive. In the case of unfurnished apartments, even appliances will be absent, which could mean a large start-up cost for expats.

Expats planning to rent an unfurnished apartment should approach their employer about a shipping allowance or a stipend to furnish the property. Those with a housing allowance should make sure there is a separate allowance to cover the costs of purchasing standard household items.

Villas are perfect for expats with families or those with sufficient resources. These come in various shapes and sizes: freestanding villas, semi-detached villas in which properties share one adjoining wall, and townhouse-style villas in which two adjoining walls are shared. Regardless of the type, the properties tend to be large and are most frequently available off-island, in Khalifa City A.

Finding accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Expats are advised to use a real estate agent to help secure housing in Abu Dhabi. Even if one manages to discover a great deal on their own, an agent will likely be present upon signing the lease, and it's best to let them do the legwork as well. Expats can ask their employer for agent recommendations or consult print and online listings. Tenants pay a five percent commission to agents, as well as a five percent security deposit upfront.

Renting accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Rent is paid annually and in advance. Expats can also explore the option of getting a salary advance from their employer to remain debt-free, as bouncing a cheque is a crime in Abu Dhabi. 

There are no council taxes or permit fees associated with accommodation in Abu Dhabi. However, unless an expat is living in a company apartment or house, they’ll have to pay for utilities like water and electricity in addition to rent. These are generally affordable, but those living in large villas may find themselves financing a hefty power bill due to constant air conditioning.

Factors to consider when seeking accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Before picking an area to live in, expats should decide what their priorities are and what they’re willing to sacrifice. Each area of Abu Dhabi has its own unique set of pros and cons; it's recommended that newcomers speak to other expats about their experiences, and also consider:

  • Commute times to work and to local schools for those with school-aged children

  • Congestion and noise level in the area

  • Proximity to shops and restaurants

  • Which areas are popular with expat communities


I am an American Expat who has called Abu Dhabi home since August, 2008. I work here in the travel business. Abu Dhabi is an exciting place to live and work. There is something here for everyone from glitzy shopping malls and nightclubs to desolate desert dunes and beautiful beaches. I made the "Big Move" and am here to share my experiences with those considering the same. Most good, some not, but I promise I will be honest.

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