Cheap accommodation in Dubai is somewhat of a misnomer as even the lowest priced accommodation may still seem costly compared to what is considered ‘cheap’ in other parts of the world. With the anticipated arrival of the Expo 2020, rent prices across Dubai are on the rise as the demand for housing continues to increase. According to the rental index update issued by the RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency) for the first quarter of 2014, rents in Dubai’s major residential communities have risen by 8 to 20%! The index is updated every four months and is a guide to minimum and maximum rents in residential neighborhoods around Dubai.
Rents in the heart of Dubai in areas such as Old Town Dubai remain very high, but there are areas in what many call ‘new Dubai’, where new developments or expansion to existing residential units are available at affordable (by Dubai standards) rental rates. Below we discuss the pros and cons of some of these neighborhoods to help potential renters decide whether these apartments with low price tags are worth a look.
Located on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road (formerly known as the Emirates Road) between Interchange 5 and 6 in the Al Warsan region of Dubai, International City is a country-themed residential development spread over an 800 hectare plot. It includes studio, one and two-bedroom units in residential blocks with businesses on the ground floor that include retail shops, eateries, supermarkets and other basic needs services. Although International City was originally envisioned to provide affordable housing to renters, the financial crisis forced many owners to let out their units to labor companies, which used these apartments as cheap accommodation for their workers. There are, therefore, several low income residents who are unable to support the plethora of retail businesses, resulting in several of these businesses having to shut down. Additionally, developers have taken little care with the surrounding areas; landscaping is poorly maintained, there are numerous complaints about sewage problems and owners often neglect to pay service charges due to low rents, resulting in inadequate maintenance of basic infrastructure such as building cleaning and garbage disposal. Many of the apartment buildings look run down, even though they are not very old. Additionally, this location is not served by regular public transport; there is no metro station within walking distance and bus service to the area is not very frequent. Hence, although you might end up paying substantially lower rents to live in this development, there is a definite compromise on quality of life and you will have to budget for buying a car to make up for the lack of adequate public transport.
Envisioned as a technology park, Dubai Silicon Oasis is an integrated community providing both living and business opportunities. Located along Mohammed bin Zayed Road (formerly known as the Emirates Road) at the intersection of Al Ain Road, Silicon Oasis is still a community in the making. It is located on the fringe of the desert away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai, but unfortunately is not accessed by a Metro Station, making finding public transport a little challenging. Most apartments are semi-furnished with washing machines and built-in-stoves and many of the apartment buildings provide amenities for their residents such as access to a swimming pool and gymnasium. The Dubai Silicon Oasis authority has secured the services of several internationally recognized schools including GEMS school, RIT Dubai, the Indian High School and Kensington Nursery to provide residents with access to quality education. It is located just a few minutes away from Dubai Academic City which offers access to over 30 universities. There is a range of retail outlets, restaurants, cafes, a bank and post office and a health clinic. The technology park has been designed with green spaces and courtyards to create a community that is safe and pleasurable to live in. If you live here, plan on owning at least one vehicle because the bus service may not be frequent enough to suit your needs.
Located close to the Jebel Ali Free zone, Discovery Gardens is a freehold residential community inspired by garden living. It consists of six themed communities – Zen, Mediterranean, Contemporary, Mogul, Cactus and Mesoamerican – that provide easy access to Dubai Marina, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. Being just under an hour’s drive from the heart of the capital Abu Dhabi, there are many residents who live in Discovery Gardens and commute daily to the capital. Therefore, the income bracket of those living here is definitely higher than in International City. Although there are no sewage problems, the community has limited access to public transport with only one major road leading into and out of the community, providing access to the main Sheikh Zayed Road. Therefore, residents often complain of terrible traffic congestion during morning and evening rush hour as they struggle to get out of the community and onto the main roads. Although the quality of construction is definitely better than that of International City, most apartments are barely furnished; apartments have no dishwashers or washing machines and there are no community facilities such as swimming pools and gyms.
Bur Dubai, Deira and Karama
These older, more established neighborhoods of Dubai were once prime property and are still a good choice for people looking to live in a central and well-connected part of Dubai. The areas are well connected by Metro Stations and there are several schools, hospitals and retail amenities nearby. However, many of the buildings are old and dated and many people find these areas to be highly congested particularly during peak traffic hours. There are no plans for the development of any new infrastructure to deal with the congestion. This location is ideal for you if you are planning on working on Sheikh Zayed Road or Old Dubai, both of which are conveniently accessed via the Metro.
By far the best option for those looking to upgrade to a better lifestyle, The Greens is a centrally located residential community offering mid-rise apartment buildings for the budget-conscious consumer. Located a couple of kilometers away from Dubai’s main beaches, parks and malls, residents can enjoy quality accommodation with access to swimming pools, gums and health clubs. Apartments are set within well-finished modern structures, but only the newer apartments are furnished with stoves and dishwashers. While there are plenty of buses that residents can use, the nearest Metro station is at the Emaar Business Park, which is not within walking distance from all areas of the community.
Located on the eastern fringe of Dubai, Al Nahda is a locality that forms part of Dubai’s eastern border with the emirate of Sharjah. If you are looking to work in Dubai and live in the city, Al Nahda offers very reasonable rates on apartments. There are several restaurants and supermarkets in the area, but residents will find little in the way of landscaping or neighborhood beautification. Residents also complain of traffic gridlock especially during rush hour and even though there are numerous paid parking lots, finding parking is often difficult after 8 p.m. The neighborhood is largely populated by Asian expats from India, Pakistan and the Philippines; very few Western expats choose to live in this neighborhood. Some areas of Al Nahda are well connected via the Al Nahda Metro Station, but this is not so for all parts of the locality.
International Media Production Zone (IMPZ)
IMPZ is a freezone area located on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed road near Dubai Sports City and the Arabian Ranches. Although well connected to the main thoroughfares, this development is quite distant from the heart of the city without access to adequate public transport. The community is still being developed; many building are still incomplete giving residents little to choose from. This location is ideal for people working in companies located within the freezone.