How to find a home in Dubai – what you really want to know

Looking for a new home in Dubai, or actually whole UAE can be terrifying. High rents, even higher sale prices, small plot, cheap finishing, outdated kitchens and toilets, and never-ending list of cons. Oh and scamy realtors! Am i right? Of course there are super amazing places too. You know the ones above your budget. I know your pain.

Yet, you have to live somewhere. Besides, choosing a home in UAE is a single most important decision you will make.  To check out 4 reasons why click here.

Most, when searching for a home in UAE follow simple this approach:

  1. Chose an Emirate and neighborhood (mostly Dubai, right?)
  2. Chose a budget (way above your actual budget)
  3. Choose the best available option (well its not that bad)

Dubizzle properties search

But before I tell you how wrong the approach is (and yes, it is very wrong), please take a moment to logically deduce is this half-commitment approach appropriate for a single most important decision in your life in UAE?

If you realized foolishness of the approach, if you are looking for a home now or in near future, and if you do not know where to start – don’t worry, I got you covered.Since we are searching for a new place for ourselves right now I have done all the research you need. Just keep reading.

So here is a no-nonsense, step by step, detailed approach on how to find a home in Dubai, Sharjah, and all around UAE.

Rent vs. Buy

This decision depends on few factors. First, how long are you planning to stay in UAE. If more than 15 years, buying is a serious option to consider. It also depends how stable you feel your employment is– do you see yourself working in the firm long time, or will you be able to easily find a job if laid off?

How stable is your job

Give yourself plenty of time

Most common mistake I see when people search for home is they wait few weeks on max a month before their contract is over. It is too stressful, and there is just not enough time to properly evaluate all the options. So, give yourself minimum 2 months. Maybe even more. We are entering into 3rd month of our search. You will be surprised how many places you will check, and how many things you will reconsider in this period. Also, do not make a common mistake of trying to move in one day. Give yourself some time, and move over 2-week period. However, if your contract is expiring soon, and you are now rushing, you still can make the best of it with rest of the steps.

Give yourself enough time

Set the budget

I already spoke a bit in my previous post about this, but little repetition never hurt nobody. If more than 40% of your income is going towards housing, you cannot afford your home. It is a good idea to be even more conservative. To set up your housing budget to be able to save as well, the first step is deciding on savings. Deduct savings amount from your monthly budget. This is totally up to you, and depends on many factors. I am going to talk about savings in Dubai/UAE in one of my future posts. But for the time being, your savings can be as little as 2% of your income, or as much as 10% of your income. The leftover sum of your income is now what can go to expenses. Now I recommend deciding on a budget no higher than 40% of this sum. This will majorly depend on rest of your expenses, ex. schooling expenses, food expenses etc.. Please note that this applies to both renting and saving.

Reconsider your budget

What? Didn’t you just set the budget? Well, yes. But most will rush and look for the new home within that amount. What you are forgetting is services fee, utilities application fee, as well as agency fee, if going through one. These amounts vary, but set aside at least 10%. Also, take in consideration in case you are renting if AC bill is on the owner, or you have to pay for it. It can set you back for anything between AED 4000 – AED 12 000. I would also consider being extra cautious and calculate in real-estate market fluctuations. Since generally long term those go up, keep some breathing space. We learnt that lesson a hard way when in one year our housing expense went 50% up (in Sharjah when economy was going through a particular boom). It really put a strain on our finances.

Set a list of requirements

Now I know in Dubai everyone wants a 12-bedroom mansion in Jumairah with private pool, garden and decorations made of gold. Sometimes it is a little bit too easy to lose a touch with reality in Dubai. While there are people who can afford that, chances are you are not them. So keep your expectations in check.
Set up a list of musts and wants. I will attach at the end of the post a handy little checklist you can use. For example, our musts include 3 bedrooms, separate formal sitting room, and living room, a storage, and large kitchen with window. Wants include outdoor pool, separate laundry room, gym, and a garden.

Dubai Homes

Discuss other factors

Consider transportation, proximities to school and work, availability, and cost of childcare and school fees in the area, etc.. This will help you narrow your search down to specific areas. For example, we are now checking few areas in Dubai, and few in Sharjah. Make sure you weigh pros and cons of everything.


Start searching

Dubizzle is a great start, but not 100% accurate. Try to get in touch with developers and property managers. You might have to visit dozens of places. Do not always trust online photos. Most websites feature mix of photos from different locations.

Bargain and get to know who are you dealing with

Bet you did not know, but those prices are not set in stone. If you have something that could help you lower that rent, do so. A blog post is coming on few tricks and how to bargain when house hunting. Also, feel the management/agent/owner and see if they seem trustworthy. Check their reputation online. Listen your what your gut says.

Re-check the state of home once more

You do not want to miss peeling wall paint, poor flooring and grouting, growing pest infestation, or mold. Those are a headache.

Sign that contract

Most realtors say they knew within first 5 minutes if someone is getting the home. Consider your feeling when you enter it. Is it bright and welcoming? Can you image furnishing it? Do you mentally make plans for barbeque nights in garden, or Iftar dinners in that dining room?  If yes, and the home fits all the requirements above, you know you found yourself a home. Finally, sign that contract, and hang up welcome sign at the front door.
Signing home contract

I attached these handy Getting a Home in Dubai checklists for you to download for free.

Blue getting a home in Dubai Checklist Planner

Blue and White Striped getting a home in Dubai Checklist

Dark Blue & Pink Getting a Home in Dubai Checklist Planner


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