Breaking Dubai’s accommodation code

Today, I am going to share my experience on how I ended up saving AED 400,000 during my 8 years living in Dubai.

Housing and accommodation cost can encompass 30-50% of your total cost of living in Dubai for the working class, earning less than AED 10,000/month. In 2014, when I moved to Dubai, the cost of housing was taking a steep hike. Each passing day there was an increase in housing prices and just within a span of one-year, rentals increased by almost 50%.

Finding my First Accommodation

New settlers in Dubai cannot sign up a lease contract until their residency status is changed to a permanent resident. Upon signing the annual lease, the Tenant must provide valid Emirates ID, Cheques issues by local bank and residency visa stamped on a passport.

Just like any new settler I had very limited exposure to the available accommodation options to choose from, back then Hotels didn’t provide a monthly or long stay rate and holiday home companies were not established. Luckily, I came across the flat share/ co-living segment, with numerous options across the city and I opted to stay in Dubai Marina where I was able to rent a room for AED 5,000/month (~USD 1400) without much hassle of lengthy documentation.

The Space

It was a 4-bedroom plus maid room, in my room I had an attached bath, own TV,  small fridge and access to balcony, it was my first experience sharing a living space with expats from across the globe, and this was the beginning to break the code which helped me save a lot of money on my accommodation cost.

The Code

During my two months stay I figured out that, there was a clear arbitrage in yearly and monthly rental rates. The rent I was paying to rent a room was about 50-55% of the total cost, to save on my cost of living in Dubai, I planned to look for an accommodation type with 3 or more rooms, and I would rent the spare rooms to cover the annual lease rent.

Finally, I rented a 2-bedroom plus maids’ room in JLT for AED 80,000/ Year which came fully furnished so I didn’t have to spend on its furnishing cost. I required a sublet permit from the landlord to allow me to let the rooms. I was able to find like-minded flat mates and could cover AED 6500/month from the two spare rooms (Ensuite and Maids room). This was enough for me to cover my rental payment so all I had to pay was DEWA, Internet and Chiller charges which were roughly AED 1500/ month on average for my private room.

Few Tips

Signing up an annual lease comes with a huge responsibility, the risk of not being able to rent the room could cost huge money, here are a few tips before you decide to break the code.

  1. Keep a notice period of at least 30 Days for your tenant to inform you before they leave.
  2. Choose wisely who will share the space with you, look for their lifestyle habits and create a homely atmosphere.
  3. Furnish the space wisely you can see the tips on how to furnish your space.
  4. Always take written permission from your owner before signing the lease to allow you to sublet.


Before you decide to replicate, evaluate the worst-case scenario and be prepared for the occupancy loss in times. Weigh in your risks and rewards before taking your next step.

The author has shared his views and are purely personal, due to the authors preference not to disclose his real name, would like to be referred as SM.

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