Accommodation in Abu Dhabi has witnessed transformative legal and regulatory reforms. Extra flexibility in rental payment options, coupled with the removal of rental price caps, reflects a responsive approach to the needs of property owners and tenants. This could allow expats more flexibility in terms of living arrangements, but it naturally comes with fewer tenant protections, so scrutinising one's rental contract in Abu Dhabi is more important than ever.

Expats moving to Abu Dhabi may have a housing allowance stipulated in their contract, depending on their job. In such a case, the employer will either allow an expat to choose their own accommodation in Abu Dhabi or allocate them a home before relocating. We recommend expats negotiate the above with their prospective employer if it isn't already included in the contract.

Areas and suburbs in Abu Dhabi

Aerial view of Al Ghadeer suburb

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. We recommend newcomers speak to other expats about their experiences, and also consider things such as commute times to work and to local schools for those with school-aged children, congestion and noise level in the area, proximity to amenities, and perhaps also which areas are most popular with expat communities.

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.

See our comprehensive guide to the Best (and Worst) Areas and Suburbs for Expats in Abu Dhabi.

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 hefty 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.


A common choice among expats, apartments are (mainly) smaller self-contained units in larger buildings; referred to as 'flats' in some parts of the world such as the UK. These range from small studios or one-bedroom units to expansive multi-roomed units.


These complexes are similar to apartments but are more luxurious and will generally offer a wide range of facilities. Those at the top of the scale will offer a full suite of facilities including a pool, gym, playground, tennis and squash courts, as well as 24-hour security.


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.

Useful links

  • Property Finder offers a wide range of property listings in Abu Dhabi and is known for providing validated and reliable information.
  • Specialising in apartment properties for sale, Global99 Property Investment is another popular portal in Abu Dhabi.
  • Houza provides comprehensive property listings in Abu Dhabi, including photos, videos and virtual tours.
  • District Real Estate offers detailed property listings and professional assistance.

Renting accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Rent is usually paid annually and in advance. Expats can also explore the option of getting a salary advance from their employer to remain debt-free.

Expats who elect to go the house-hunting process on their own without the assistance of a real-estate agent often opt to rent a short-term serviced apartment while checking out an area and deciding on long-term accommodation. This isn’t strictly necessary, though, and with a good agent, long-term rentals can be secured without the need for temporary accommodation.

Making an application

Once expats have found a suitable area that fits their lifestyle and caters to all their priorities, we recommend they research properties online and contact some local estate agents who will then set up viewings. When the right home is agreed upon, an application is submitted to the landlord, and a contract drawn up. Before the contract can be signed, the estate agent or landlord will check references, do some background checks, and check whether the applicant has the required residence visa, passport and proof of income.


It's usual practice in Abu Dhabi for landlords to demand the entire year of rent be paid upfront, in addition to a security deposit. If this is a financial possibility, expats should use it to gain leverage over the landlord and try and bring the price down.

Deposits, usually the equivalent of five percent of the annual rental cost, must be refunded, as it remains the property of the tenant, but landlords are allowed to make deductions from the deposit or keep the whole amount for various reasons. Deposits are sometimes used to cover unpaid rent, for damages in excess of normal wear and tear, other breaches of the lease agreement or unpaid utility bills. Additional fees to consider include the agent’s commission fee (if an agent was employed).


A lease specifies the period of tenancy along with other important terms and conditions that both parties need to agree on. We urge prospective tenants to fine-comb the agreement and to make doubly sure that all verbal agreements with the landlord are in print and acknowledged by both parties. The tenant and the landlord should also agree on an inventory list of all items in the apartment/condo/villa at the start of the lease.

At the termination of the lease, the landlord and tenant can either choose to agree to renew the lease or end it. We recommend expats try to sign a renewable lease, and then notify the landlord accordingly when ready to leave, rather than having to restart the painful house search all over again after 12 months.

Domestic help in Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, hiring domestic help such as cleaners, maids, nannies and drivers is a common practice among expats. The process is streamlined, but it is crucial to adhere to local laws and regulations to ensure an ethical and legal employment relationship.

The cost of domestic help varies depending on the level of service and qualifications. Additionally, understanding and respecting cultural differences is key to maintaining a harmonious working relationship. When hiring domestic help, it is also important to ensure they have the necessary qualifications and experience. Additionally, verifying that they possess valid work visas is essential to comply with UAE's labour laws.

Using a registered service provider like Tadbeer can offer peace of mind. These agencies ensure compliance with legal requirements and offer ongoing support throughout the employment period. This includes assistance with contracts, visa sponsorship and resolving any employment-related issues that may arise.

For more information on hiring domestic help and complying with UAE labour laws, visit Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and Tadbeer's website.

Utilities 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 such as water and electricity in addition to rent. These are generally affordable, but those living in large villas may find themselves footing a hefty power bill due to constant air conditioning.


In Abu Dhabi, electricity is supplied by the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), which manages the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity throughout the emirate.

Expats should be aware that the voltage in Abu Dhabi is 220/240 volts at 50 Hz. It is essential to ensure that any electrical appliances brought from abroad are compatible with this voltage. Plug adaptors may be necessary, as the standard plug type in Abu Dhabi is the British-style three-pin plug.

To get electricity connected to a new residence, expats will need to apply through EWEC's customer service. This process typically involves providing personal documentation such as a passport, visa and Emirates ID, along with a tenancy contract or proof of ownership. There may be a connection fee which varies depending on the property type and location.

For more information on electricity services, billing and energy efficiency initiatives in Abu Dhabi, visit the EWEC website.


In Abu Dhabi, the provision of domestic gas, primarily used for kitchen gas stoves, is a well-organised sector, served predominantly by two private companies: SERGAS and Emirates Gas. These companies ensure a reliable and safe supply of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) for cooking purposes. Additionally, ADNOC City Gas caters to a broader clientele, supplying natural gas through an underground pipeline network to residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Expats looking to set up a gas connection can conveniently register online with basic documentation such as a passport or Emirates ID and a tenancy contract.

For more information on gas services and to set up a connection, visit SERGAS, Emirates Gas and ADNOC City Gas.


Water supply in Abu Dhabi primarily relies on two sources: groundwater and desalinated seawater. The latter is particularly crucial as it provides 100 percent of the drinking water across the Emirates. 

EWEC is responsible for water desalination in the UAE, while the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC) and the Al Ain Distribution Company (AADC) are responsible for regulating the domestic water supply, ensuring that residents have access to water that meets safety and quality standards.

Despite the rigorous regulation of the water distribution infrastructure by ADDC and AADC, there are concerns about the water travelling through ageing pipes in certain areas and the cleanliness of water tanks and pipes. There are also concerns with the perceived lack of minerals in desalinated water. Therefore, while tap water in Abu Dhabi is officially safe to drink, many expats and residents choose to use bottled water or water purifiers for drinking and cooking purposes.

For expats moving to Abu Dhabi, it is advisable to familiarise themselves with the water supply arrangements in their area and consider installing water purifiers if deemed necessary. Regular maintenance and cleaning of water storage facilities in residential properties is also recommended to ensure the best water quality.

For more information on water services in Abu Dhabi, visit ADDC and AADC.

Bins and recycling

In Abu Dhabi, the management of waste and recycling services is efficiently handled by Tadweer, the emirate's Waste Management Centre. Tadweer has established numerous recycling stations and Community Recycling Centre units (CRCs) across Abu Dhabi, facilitating the segregation and recycling of various materials.

These facilities enable the disposal of a wide range of recyclable materials, including clear and coloured glass, paper, cans, bottles, wood, cardboard, mobile phones, used batteries, plastic, wool, metal, cotton, textiles, electronic waste and expired medicines. The CRCs are equipped with separate hatches for different types of waste, including hazardous household items, ensuring safe and efficient recycling practices.

Tadweer has also introduced large-capacity green recycling containers in central locations for the collection of dry recyclables like paper, cardboard, PET bottles, aluminium cans and glass. These containers are part of an initiative to enhance recycling efforts and waste segregation in the city. For general waste, black bins are provided, intended for non-reusable waste such as single-use plastic products, food waste and broken glass.

Expats in Abu Dhabi should familiarise themselves with the colour-coded bin system for effective waste segregation. It's crucial to be aware of the types of waste that can be disposed of in each bin.

Abu Dhabi's commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in these initiatives, aiming to increase recycling rates and reduce landfill waste. For more information on waste management and recycling services in Abu Dhabi, visit Tadweer's website.


In Abu Dhabi, internet connectivity is primarily provided by two major companies, Etisalat and du. Both providers offer high-speed internet services, including optical fibre connections, boasting some of the fastest speeds globally. Etisalat, in particular, is recognised for offering the highest-speed fibre optic service on the planet.

Expats need to be aware of the censorship policies in the UAE. Some websites and online content may be restricted or blocked, aligning with local regulations and cultural norms. Thus, when selecting an internet provider, considering the availability and limitations of services is crucial.

See more in our deep dive on Keeping in Touch in Abu Dhabi.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

  • Comprehensive Family coverage, wherever you go
  • Paediatric coverage for well-child visits & immunizations
  • Access to dental and orthodontic care
  • 24/7 multilingual Customer Service

Get a quote from Cigna Global

Moving Internationally?

Sirelo logo

International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.

Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Get your free no-obligation quotes from select removal companies now!