Best Places to Live in Abu Dhabi If You Are an Expat

Best Places to Live in Abu Dhabi If You Are an Expat

The city of Abu Dhabi is attracting an increasing number of expatriates. This can be attributed to the abundant job and business prospects, a well-established infrastructure, and the availability of modern housing options.

So, where to live in Abu Dhabi? Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, encompasses a total of 57 districts, including various suburbs. Among expats, several residential areas in Abu Dhabi have gained popularity as preferred neighbourhoods, such as Khalifa City, Mohammed Bin Zayed City, Al Raha, and the islands of Yas and Al Reem. Keep reading for further information on the best places for expat to live in Abu Dhabi.

Khalifa City

One of the best places to live in Abu Dhabi is Khalifa City. Khalifa City, comprised of Khalifa City A (formerly known as Khalifa City), Shakhbout City (previously Khalifa City B), and Zayed City, stands out as one of the most peaceful and family-friendly residential areas in Abu Dhabi.

The proximity to the airport and a convenient 30-minute commute to the city centre make Khalifa City and Shakhbout City highly sought-after by residents. These areas are home to some of the best nurseries in Abu Dhabi and prestigious schools such as the Canadian International School and the GEMS American Academy. Additionally, Shakhbout City offers a spacious park with dedicated play areas for children, adding to its appeal. That's why Khalifa Citi is probably the best area to live in Abu Dhabi with children.

Both Khalifa City and Shakhbout City are well-served by large supermarkets and a variety of small shops, providing convenient access to daily essentials. Shopping enthusiasts can indulge their passion in nearby malls, such as the expansive Yas Mall located on Yas Island.

In terms of housing, Khalifa City and Shakhbout City primarily offer villas and townhouses, with ongoing development in the area. There are plans for the construction of over 2,000 villas, with 800 already available for sale.

Real estate prices in Khalifa City and Shakhbout City are comparatively affordable compared to other neighbourhoods in Abu Dhabi. Four-bedroom villas start at 2.6 million AED ($708,000), while six-bedroom options start at 6.6 million AED ($1.8 million). Renting a villa in Khalifa City can range from 85,000 to 250,000 AED per year ($23,000 to $56,000), depending on the number of bedrooms.

Mohammed Bin Zayed City

The next one of the best places to live Abu Dhabi is Mohammed Bin Zayed City. Mohammed Bin Zayed City is a serene and peaceful area located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. It offers convenient accessibility, being just a 30-minute drive to the city centre and a 15-minute drive to the airport. Additionally, it takes approximately 40 minutes to reach Dubai from Mohammed Bin Zayed City. One notable advantage of this area is the excellent public transport system, making commuting easier for residents.

Mohammed Bin Zayed City is an excellent choice for families looking to settle in Abu Dhabi. The area offers a wide range of conveniently located educational facilities, catering to students of all ages. From well-regarded kindergartens to renowned schools like The Cambridge High School and Private International English School, parents have access to quality education options for their children. Moreover, universities such as Zayed University and the Abu Dhabi Campus of Al Ain University provide higher education opportunities within close proximity. So, if your family with children or teenagers search for the place to live in Abu Dhabi, take a look at this district. 

The area boasts a well-developed infrastructure that includes medical, shopping, and entertainment facilities, ensuring residents have all their needs conveniently met. Here are some of the best places to enjoy leisure time in Mohammed Bin Zayed City:

  • Large shopping centres such as Mazyad Mall, Capital Mall and Dalma Mall. These malls are perfect destinations for shopping enthusiasts, with a diverse array of shops, restaurants, entertainment zones, cinemas, and fitness facilities to cater to your needs.
  • MBZ Park is an ideal destination for leisure activities in Mohammed Bin Zayed City. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll, exercise in the outdoor gym, visit the playground, or simply have a picnic amidst the park's serene surroundings.
  • Ultimate Sports Academy and Al Forsan International Sports Resort offer a wide range of activities, for example, archery, paintball, sword fighting and equestrian sports.

Mohammed Bin Zayed City primarily consists of villas and townhouses, offering a variety of housing options. Compared to other areas in Abu Dhabi, property prices here are relatively more affordable. It's important to note that Mohammed Bin Zayed City is not a freehold zone, which means expats are unable to purchase property here with full ownership rights. However, renting a place in this area poses no obstacles, providing expats with flexible housing options.

Below you can find the list of communities that offer the best properties in Mohammed Bin Zayed City, one of the best Abu Dhabi neighborhoods.

  • Renting a three-bedroom villa of 325 square metres in Mohammed Bin Zayed Centre would cost you around 105,000 AED a year ($29,000). A more spacious villa with 8 bedrooms and the floor area of 697 square metres costs around 260,000 AED a year ($71,000).
  • Zone 22 offers a 4-bedroom villa of 520 square metres for rent at 120,000 AED a year ($32,000).

Al Raha

The next one of the best residential areas in Abu Dhabi is Al Raha. Al Raha, also known as Al Raha Beach, is a highly sought-after district located on the mainland of Abu Dhabi Emirate. Renowned for its beautiful beaches and convenient proximity to the airport, it takes just a short 15-minute drive to reach. Furthermore, the vibrant Abu Dhabi city centre is easily accessible within a half-hour drive from Al Raha, making it a desirable location for residents.

Spanning an area of 5,200 square kilometers, Al Raha boasts a diverse selection of over 3,000 properties. This district is renowned for its excellent infrastructure and provides residents with a wide range of essential amenities. These include hospitals, pharmacies, a shopping mall, an international school, a variety of dining options, and much more. All that makes Al Raha one of the best places to live in Abu Dhabi for expats.

Al Raha is open for expats buying or renting real estate. Studios start at 900,000 AED ($245,000), 1-bedroom flats cost from 1.2 million AED ($327,000). Prices for villas begin at 7.7 million AED ($2.1 million). You can find expensive high-end flats at the centre of Al Raha, while properties at the shore cost less.

64,000 AED ($17,400) is a starting price for renting a studio in Al Raha for 12 months. Prices for 1-bedroom flats begin at 85,000 AED ($23,000) and flats with several bedrooms cost between 120,00 to 300,000 AED ($32,700 to $81,700). You can rent a villa for 12 months from 160,00 to 300,000 AED ($43,600 to $81,700).

Popular communities offering real estate in Al Raha:

  • Al Muneera offers a diverse range of housing options, encompassing townhouses, villas, and flats with varying numbers of bedrooms. Residents can enjoy a multitude of amenities, such as a swimming pool and a water park, enhancing their leisure and recreational experiences within the community.
  • Al Bandar offers a wide selection of residential options, ranging from studios to penthouses, catering to various preferences and needs. The complex boasts an appealing embankment lined with numerous restaurants, creating a vibrant dining scene for residents. Additionally, Al Bandar features a marina, further enhancing its waterfront charm.
  • Al Zeina is a complex with flats, townhouses and villas.

Yas Island

Yas Island is also one of the best neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi. The man-made island of Yas is 20 km to the east of the city centre. The total area of the island is 25 square kilometres.

The area of Yas Island is particularly appealing to families due to its abundance of excellent schools, including notable institutions like Yas School and Sabis School Yas Island. Moreover, Yas Island offers outstanding healthcare facilities, such as the Burjeel Medical Centre located in Yas Mall. In terms of entertainment, residents and visitors alike can enjoy the thrilling experiences offered by Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World, and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, making it a haven for leisure and recreation.

Yas Island presents a diverse range of housing options, including flats and villas, catering to different preferences. As a renowned tourist destination with numerous attractions, property prices on Yas Island tend to be on the higher side. Renting a villa for a year can amount to up to 550,000 AED ($148,000), while a two-bedroom flat may cost up to 120,000 AED ($32,700).

Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is an attractive option for expats as it falls under the freehold zone, allowing them to purchase property without any hurdles. Studio apartments are available starting at 450,000 AED ($122,500), while 1-bedroom flats start at 535,000 AED ($145,700). For those seeking a 2-bedroom flat, the starting price is 900,000 AED ($245,000). Villas on Yas Island start at a minimum price of 1.7 million AED ($462,900).

The area is still developing, with lots of new residential complexes and private villas to be built soon.

Al Reem Island

What else places in Abu Dhabi to live are there? Al Reem, a natural island, is a coveted destination within Abu Dhabi. Renowned for its pristine white sand beaches, a picturesque ocean-side golf course, and opulent real estate, Al Reem offers a luxurious lifestyle. The island also houses a plethora of malls, ensuring convenient shopping experiences. Families residing in Al Reem benefit from top-tier educational institutions and well-regarded nurseries, including Repton School Abu Dhabi, Playhouse Nursery, Mosaic Nursery, and Hummingbird Nursery. Access to the mainland is facilitated by two connecting bridges. All that makes Al Reem the best place for wealthy expats to live in Abu Dhabi.

Al Reem offers a number of housing options: luxury flats, high-end penthouses and huge villas on the ocean coast. You can rent a villa for 12 months for 200,000 AED ($54,500) or a 2-bedroom flat for 115,000 AED ($31,300).

Both UAE citizens and expats can buy properties on Al Reem Island. Studios cost from 430,000 AED ($117,000), 1-bedroom flats start at 560,000 AED ($152,500), 2-bedroom option start at 750,000 AED ($204,200) and the lowest price for a 4-bedroom villa is 4 million AED ($1.1 million).

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In a Nutshell

The Abu Dhabi government has outlined ambitious plans for the city's future. Under the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a comprehensive strategy for the city’s economic development, the UAE's capital aims to establish a secure and sustainable living environment for its residents. So, what are the places to live in Abu Dhabi for expats? The real estate market in Abu Dhabi is experiencing significant growth, witnessing the construction of new villas and residential complexes across the mainland and islands. Simultaneously, efforts are underway to enhance existing areas of the city. As real estate prices remain relatively affordable, an increasing number of foreigners are choosing Abu Dhabi as a destination for work or property investment. In this article we have reviewed the best abu dhabi residential areas - from suburbs to city centre. So we hope that you can choose your best place to live in Abu Dhabi. 

Cover photo: kevinvillaruz (Pexels)

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