The 7 Best Places to Live in Dubai
Dubai is a luxurious wonderland.
This is the place where ancient traditions meet a cutting-edge approach to city-building – an approach that’s seen the creation of the world’s biggest mall, its tallest skyscraper, and Palm Jumeirah, a man-made archipelago like no other.
And you’ll never be alone as an expat. According to data from the United Nations and World Bank, 88% of the UAE’s population comes from abroad, and Dubai is perhaps the most attractive destination of all.
Here, you can enjoy beautiful beaches, bountiful sunshine, and fascinating cultures – all while paying barely any tax.
You deserve to find a home that matches the city’s excellent reputation, but with more than 200 neighbourhoods (and counting) to choose from, it’s not easy. Don’t worry, though – we’re here to help.
Whether you want an area with the best culture, the best parks, or the best chance of finding a bargain property, we’ve got you covered, from Abu Hail to Za'abeel.
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The best neighbourhoods in Dubai for cheap property
Dubai is not the easiest place to find bargain-level properties – but this just means that getting in on the ground floor of a new investment can pay off big time.
The average two-bed apartment here costs just AED 587,500 ($160,000), and it’s more than worth it.
This gorgeous area has clusters dedicated to several different global locations, including England, France, Italy, Greece, China, Morocco, and Persia.
Because of this, you can explore a huge variety of cultures simply by walking around your neighbourhood. Grab an Afghan kebab on one road, then find an Indian, Korean, and Italian restaurant round the corner.
Get your shopping fix at the enormous Dragon Mart, then relax at one of the area’s numerous spas – or book your place on a desert safari and keep exploring.
Dubai is a stunning man-made city in the middle of the desert
You can get a three-bed house in this community for AED 1.5 million ($408,000), on average.
That investment will land you a quiet life on the eastern edge of Dubai, though you’ll still only be a 25-minute drive from the beach, as well as all the fun of the city centre.
Like many areas in Dubai, Serena is in the process of expanding, but it already contains three charming neighbourhoods that come with plenty of cafes, restaurants, swimming pools, gyms, playgrounds, shops, and a clinic.
You can also go walking or jogging along various trails, or just get your exercise by joining the local equestrian and polo club.
The best neighbourhood in Dubai for green spaces
It’s not easy to find large green spaces in the middle of the desert, which makes Mushrif Park even more impressive.
If you live in the lovely Mirdif, 1,297 acres of fun for all ages will only ever be a five-minute drive away, at most.
Go horse riding, enjoy a refreshing dip in one of the pools, and explore the galaxy at Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre – or just go for a walk, and take in the stunning flora and fauna.
The best neighbourhood in Dubai for culture
You can find breathtaking malls and architecture wherever you go in Dubai, but to get truly immersed in Emirati culture, your best bet is Deira – also known as Old Dubai.
Located on the shoreline, you can use your free time to explore the traditional souks (markets) and find all manner of gold jewellery, perfumes, and spices. Just remember to haggle.
You can wander through food markets including the seafood-laden Waterfront Market, and grab some tasty, authentic treats – or simply head to one of the delicious Arabic, Lebanese, or Moroccan restaurants in the neighbourhood.
It’s also delightfully simple to hop on an abra (traditional boat) and absorb Dubai from a different perspective. All it takes is one dirham (20p).
Like many other cities on water, there’s nothing quite like seeing Dubai from atop the waves.
The best neighbourhood in Dubai for food
If Deira allows you to experience traditional Emirati culture of the past, Dubai Marina allows you to visit the future.
The culinary delights contained within this area’s extravagant high-rise towers may be just as imported and inauthentic as the artificial canal their restaurants look out on, but they’re delicious all the same.
You wouldn’t expect to enjoy meals from around the world in the desert, but Dubai Marina does just that, from the opulent Asia Asia and Indego by Vineet to the undeniably cool La Carnita, plus 800 Pizza’s tasty offerings, which come with vegan and gluten-free options.
If you’re looking for a carnivorous experience, check out the southern American dishes at The Blacksmith, and if you’re vegan, the Ultra Brasserie is for you. There’s something for everyone.
The Dubai Frame is a unique attraction
The best neighbourhood in Dubai for nightlife
Dubai doesn’t have a hub of clubs, pubs, and bars in the same way major cities do in the UK. Most of the action is reserved for hotel bars, but there’s still plenty to do after the sun goes down.
A word of warning, too: you must have an alcohol licence if you want to drink in Dubai, including in your own home – and don’t drink in public even after you have your licence, as you could be fined heavily or jailed.
In the Downtown area, you’ll find the awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa – which contains plenty of classy restaurants and bars – and the Dubai Mall, which offers a cornucopia of entertainment.
Visit this immense space at night, and choose between the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Ice Rink, Trampo Extreme trampoline park, a horror park called Hysteria, and VR Park, which offers hours of immersive fun in mind-blowing virtual worlds.
All these attractions are open until at least 10pm every day, and the ice rink, VR Park, Hysteria, and aquarium don’t close until midnight on weekends.
The best neighbourhood in Dubai for schools
This gated community on the outskirts of Dubai is perfect for children.
They can attend one of Arabian Ranches’ two excellent nurseries, before joining Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS).
This co-educational primary and secondary school places a large emphasis on developing critical and creative thinking in its students. This may seem strange in an undemocratic country, but it's necessary to cater to expats.
After school, kids can enjoy the local playgrounds, sports facilities, parks, and swimming pools. There are also regular community barbecues, where children can meet and make friends.
Finding a place to live in Dubai
By now, you should have an excellent idea of where you’d like to live when you move to wondrous Dubai. That’s a huge step.
The next part is finding a home in the right neighbourhood and securing it.