10 BEST Neighborhoods To Live In ABU DHABI UAE

best neighborhoods to live in Abu Dhabi UAE

Best Neighborhoods and Areas to Live in Abu Dhabi UAE Introduction

We will share everything we know about the Best neighborhoods to live in Abu Dhabi and also explain the cost of living where we spent around $1,500 – $2,100 per month for all expenses as a couple.

As the capital and second largest city in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi has become an increasingly popular destination for expats looking for job opportunities, a tax-free salary, and a luxurious lifestyle. With stunning skyscrapers, world-class shopping malls, beaches, hotels, and restaurants, Abu Dhabi offers both modern amenities and traditional Arabic culture.

Choosing the right neighborhood is a key decision when it comes to your budget goals in Abu Dhabi, as accommodation may be your biggest expense here.

In this blog post, I will guide you through the top neighborhoods for expats in Abu Dhabi along with key factors you should consider.

We will also discuss incredible reasons to move to Abu Dhabi along with cultural considerations to keep in mind so your relocation process is as smooth as possible.

We will also share videos in each section so you can take a deeper into each section and gain a better understanding to be well-prepared before taking your trip to Abu Dhabi UAE!

So let’s get started!

Table Of Contents

10 Top Reasons to Live in Abu Dhabi UAE

To help you decide if Abu Dhabi  is right for you, here are 10 incredible reasons you should consider moving:

  1. Tax-free salaries and high disposable incomes
  2. Lavish lifestyle options and luxury accommodations (higher standard of living)
  3. Iconic attractions like the Grand Mosque, Louvre Museum, and Ferrari World
  4. Beautiful beaches and islands along the Persian Gulf
  5. Excellent education and healthcare infrastructure
  6. Growing economy and career opportunities
  7. Family-friendly communities and activities
  8. Outdoor lifestyle with desert safaris and dune bashing
  9. Convenient flight connections through the Emirates Airline hub
  10. A blend of Arabic culture and cosmopolitan expat communities

Cultural Considerations in Abu Dhabi UAE

Here are some important cultural considerations to keep in mind as an expat living in Abu Dhabi, UAE:

  1. Respect for Islamic Traditions: Abu Dhabi is a Muslim-majority city, so it’s essential to respect Islamic customs and practices. This includes dressing modestly, especially in public places like malls, markets, and religious sites. Women should consider wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers their shoulders, arms, and legs, and men should avoid wearing shorts in public.
  2. Friday Observance: Friday is the holiest day of the week for Muslims, similar to Sunday in Christianity. Many businesses may only be open for a short period or be closed for Friday prayers, so plan your activities wisely. The weekend is from Friday to Saturday as opposed to Saturday and Sunday in Western countries.
  3. Ramadan Observance: If traveling during Ramadan, be aware that it’s a month of fasting for Muslims. Respect fasting individuals by avoiding eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours. Many restaurants and cafes may be closed during the day and open only after sunset for Iftar (the meal to break the fast).
  4. Greetings and Interactions: Greetings are an essential part of Emirati culture. When meeting someone, especially of the opposite gender, it’s polite to offer a handshake and use appropriate titles such as “Mr.” or “Ms.” If you’re unsure, wait for the other person to initiate the greeting. Also, avoid prolonged direct eye contact, as it can be considered impolite in some situations.
  5. Public Behavior and Etiquette: Public displays of affection should be avoided, as they are considered inappropriate in the UAE. Additionally, avoid public displays of anger or frustration, as maintaining a calm and composed demeanor is highly valued.
  6. Respect for Authority: The UAE has strict laws, and it’s important to respect local authorities and their regulations. Avoid any behavior that may be perceived as disrespectful or illegal, including public intoxication, public displays of affection, or taking photographs of government or military sites without permission.
  7. Hospitality and Invitations: Emiratis are known for their hospitality, and if you’re invited to someone’s home, it’s polite to accept the invitation. When visiting, remove your shoes before entering and bring a small gift as a token of appreciation.
  8. Alcohol Consumption: While alcohol is available in Abu Dhabi, it’s important to consume it responsibly and only in specific areas such as hotels, bars, and restaurants that have licenses to serve alcohol. Public intoxication is illegal and can result in serious consequences.

By being mindful of these cultural considerations, you can ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience during your time in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Overall make time to do additional research before traveling or moving to Abu Dhabi.

It’s always a good idea to learn and adapt to the local customs and traditions no matter where you are in the world.

General Cost of Living in Abu Dhabi UAE Breakdown

Cost TypeMonthly Cost Range in USDMonthly Cost Range in AED
Housing in Abu Dhabi UAE
Basic Studio apartment$800 – $1,5002,936 AED – 5,505 AED
Basic 1-bedroom apartment (city center)$1,300 – $2,4004,771 AED – 8,808 AED
2-bedroom apartment (city center)$1,600 – $3,0005,872 AED – 11,010 AED
3-bedroom apartment (city center)$2,500 – $5,0009,175 AED – 18,350 AED
3-4 bedroom villa (compound living)$3,500 – $8,00012,845 AED – 29,360 AED
Utilities (electricity, AC, water) for a family$150 – $350552 AED – 1,286 AED
Food in Abu Dhabi UAE
Local and imported groceries for a family$300 – $9501,101 AED – 3,489 AED
Dining out 2-3 times a week$300 – $5001,100 – 1,800 AED
Cheap street food per meal$2 – $57 – 20 AED
Transportation in Abu Dhabi UAE
Bus (monthly pass)$25 – $5090 – 180 AED
Taxi (monthly average)$100 – $250370 – 920 AED
Uber/Careem (monthly average)$150 – $350550 – 1,300 AED
Total Monthly Cost of living in Abu Dhabi UAE for Expats$1,500 – $6,500+5,505 – 24,000+ AED

Pros and Cons Of the Best Neighborhoods and Places in Abu Dhabi UAE

Best Neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi UAEProsCons
Yas Island– Close to Yas Marina Circuit and theme parks– Expensive cost of living
– New developments and infrastructure– Limited options for long-term housing
– Hotels, resorts, dining and entertainment– Can feel touristy
The Corniche Area– Prime waterfront location along corniche– Very high rental prices
– High-end apartments with marina views– Limited villa accommodation
– Walkable with restaurants and cafes nearby– Traffic congestion on main roads
Saadiyat Island– Luxury villas and beach resort setting– Beachfront community with a range of housing
– Home to Louvre museum and cultural district– Limited housing options
– Golf courses, spas, dining and retail– Very expensive cost of living
Al Maryah Island– Very modern waterfront community– High costs for accommodation
– Luxury shops, dining, entertainment options– Limited housing options
– Business hub with major companies– Still largely under development
Al Reef– Malls, dining, and recreation in the area– Farther from main city
– Malls, dining, recreation in the area– Construction ongoing in parts
Al Raha– Scenic beachfront community– Steep rental prices
– Apartments, villas and townhouses– Farther commute to the city center
– Dining, beach club and retail hub– Construction ongoing
Al Bateen– Prime location in the city center– Can be noisy and congested
– Luxury apartments and beach access– Limited family accommodation
– Close to dining and attractions– High costs
Al Mushrif– Family-friendly residential area– Far from downtown and attractions
– Villas, townhouses, amenities– Limited dining and nightlife
– Parks, community feel– Ongoing construction
Al Karamah– Affordable housing options– Fewer amenities and attractions
– Decent transport links– Can feel crowded
– Diverse expat community– Less modern infrastructure
Downtown Abu Dhabi– Iconic waterfront by Emirates Palace– Very high accommodation costs
– Luxury dining and attractions nearby– Extremely busy area
– Close to Corniche promenade– Limited housing choices
Best Neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi UAEProsCons
Al Reem Island– Close to downtown and attractions– Can feel isolated
– Trendy cafes, shops and restaurants– Lacks greenery
– Luxury high-rises with water views– Traffic congestion
Khalifa City– Family-friendly compound living– Far from the main city center
– Amenities like shops and healthcare– Limited public transport
– Schools, green spaces, low-rise buildings– More expensive accommodation
Al Raha– Scenic beachfront community– Farther commute to the city center
– Apartments, villas and townhouses– Steep rental prices
– Dining, beach club and retail hub– Construction ongoing
Al Khalidiyah– Central location close to key sites– Can be noisy and congested
– Traditional Emirati neighborhood– Limited housing options
– Boutique hotels and dining– Lacks modern amenities
Mohammed Bin Zayed City– Affordable flats and villas– Far from downtown
– Community feeling with amenities– Limited dining and nightlife
– Mix of Emiratis and expats– Ongoing construction
Masdar City– Eco-friendly, sustainable community– Small, planned community
– Pedestrian-friendly public spaces– Apartments tend to be pricey
– Tech companies and startups hub– Inconvenient location for Dubai commute

Top Neighborhoods and Places to Live in Abu Dhabi for Expats

Top Neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi for ExpatsDescriptionAverage Monthly Rent Range (USD)Average Monthly Rent Range (AED)
Yas IslandA popular tourist destination with theme parks, attractions, dining and entertainment$2,000 – $4,0007,300 – 14,600
The Corniche AreaUpscale waterfront community along the Corniche with prime views$3,000 – $6,00011,000 – 22,000
Saadiyat IslandLuxurious island community with beaches, resorts, golf courses, and the Louvre museum$3,500 – $8,00013,000 – 29,500
Al Maryah IslandUltra-modern business and shopping district under ongoing development$2,500 – $5,0009,200 – 18,400
Al ReefBeachfront community with a range of housing, malls, dining, recreation$1,800 – $3,5006,600 – 13,000
Al RahaScenic beachfront community with apartments, villas, dining, beach club$2,500 – $5,0009,200 – 18,400
Al BateenPrime location in the city center with luxury apartments, beach access$2,500 – $5,0009,200 – 18,400
Al MushrifFamily-friendly residential area with villas, townhouses, parks$1,500 – $3,0005,500 – 11,000
Al KaramahAffordable housing with decent transport links, diverse expat community$800 – $1,5002,900 – 5,500
Downtown Abu DhabiIconic waterfront by Emirates Palace with luxury dining, attractions$2,500 – $5,000+9,200 – 18,500+
Masdar CityPlanned, eco-friendly community focused on sustainability and tech startups$1,800 – $3,5006,600 – 13,000
Mohammed Bin Zayed CityAffordable flats and villas popular with Emiratis and expats$1,000 – $2,0003,700 – 7,300
Al KhalidiyahTraditional neighborhood in the city center near key sites and boutique hotels$1,500 – $3,0005,500 – 11,000
Khalifa CityPopular family compound with amenities, schools, healthcare, and green spaces$2,000 – $4,0007,300 – 14,600
Al Reem IslandTrendy waterfront high-rises near downtown and major attractions$1,600 – $3,0006,000 – 11,000

Health Insurance While Living in Abu Dhabi UAE

Having comprehensive travel insurance is highly recommended when visiting Abu Dhabi UAE to protect against any unexpected incidents. SafetyWing is an excellent option tailored to global travelers and digital nomads.

Why Choose SafetyWing?

SafetyWing makes travel insurance easy and affordable at just $45 – $250/month. Here are some key reasons to consider it:

  • Global coverage including exotic destinations
  • Flexible policies fit nomadic lifestyles
  • Easy sign-up and claims from phone/computer
  • Covers medical, evacuations, disruptions, baggage, etc.
  • 24/7 customer support anywhere
  • Customizable coverage amounts and add-ons

Other Travel Insurance Options

While SafetyWing is a top choice, companies like WorldNomads, Cigna Global, and IMG also offer comprehensive travel insurance for Abu Dhabi UAE. Typical policies range from $45 – $500 for 2 weeks to a month of coverage. Compare coverage and premium costs.

Some key considerations for finding a good insurance policy:

  • Emergency medical and evacuation
  • Trip cancellation/interruption
  • Lost/delayed baggage
  • Adventure sports coverage
  • Altitude sickness coverage
  • 24/7 emergency assistance

Abu Dhabi UAE Insurance Cost Estimates

Insurance PlanTrip DurationEstimated Cost
SafetyWing1 month$45 – $250
WorldNomads2 weeks$100 – $200
Cigna Global1 month$150 -$ 300
IMG2 weeks$150 – $250

Living in Abu Dhabi  for Expat

The overall cost of living as an expat in Abu Dhabi: The overall cost of living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is quite high, with average monthly expenses ranging from about 5,505 AED for a single person to 24,000+ AED ($1,500 – $6,500) or more for an expat family, depending primarily on housing, schooling, dining out, and lifestyle choices.

Aside from Dubai, Abu Dhabi is quite an expensive city to live in out of all the cities in the UAE.

Basic utility cost:

Utilities900 sq ft around $145 us per month

$150 to $300 USD / 550 to 1,100 AED per month

TV and internet depend on the package u choose but $106 per month or a premium of $144 per month is what you can expect to pay here.

  • Not many providers for phone plans but Etisalat is popular as well as Du and Virgin Mobile
  • Etisalat offers a plan that will allow for unlimited calls to your home country for $90 per month – but a regular plan with decent data is only $33 per month and around $55 (200 AED) per month for home broadband plans.
  • Post-paid plan $34 up to $136 for premium phone plans
  • Water/electricity – ADDC Abu Dhabi Distribution Co– depends on the size of apt and usage – have to deposit 1000 AED to open ur account and the cost is 0.08 per KWH.
  • Usually just need air conditioning during summer months but windows are usually tinted which helps.
  • Also depends on the time of year and how well the house is insulated will determine what u will spend on air conditioning.
  • It can even sometimes be included in your rent but expect to pay around $8 for winter months and maybe as much as $110 for summer months for moderate usage.

Groceries for one or two people per month:

$200 to $400 USD/ 730 to 1,500 AED

Eating out at local restaurants: $10 to $25 USD per meal or 35 to 90 AED

Street Food Costs

On the low end, you can find some street food (shawarma, karak chai) for $2 to $5 USD/7 to 20 AED per item.

Overall, most street food in Abu Dhabi ranges from about $7 to $15 USD/ 25 to 55 AED per order.


Maybe your highest expense while living in Abu Dhabi – depending on furnishings, location, and size.

  • Rent for a nice 1-2 bedroom apartment: $1,500 to $3,000 USD/ 5,500 to 11,000 AED per month
  • Will have to pay a municipality fee which is 5% of your rent – this is a tax from the Department of Municipality and Transport which you must pay monthly with your bill.
  • Upscale 3-4 bedroom serviced apartments or houses: $3,500 to $8,000 USD/ 13,000 to 29,500 AED per month
  • Short-term accommodations: $100 to $300 USD/ 370 to 1,100 AED per night
  • Rent can sometimes be covered by your employer and it is good to know that landlords will ask for 1-year rent payment upon signing a lease, you can have an agreed installment plan and if u can afford to pay the year upfront you can also negotiate for a better deal.
  • Upon signing your lease, you will need to pay a 5% deposit of annual rental-based value.
  • The majority of properties come unfurnished and fully furnished properties are expensive and even quite uncommon here.
  • Properties with amenities can include a pool, gym, and some even a tennis, basketball, or squash court and even access to a private beach but remember the more amenities, the more expensive it will be.
  • Al Reef is a cheaper area where a spacious one-bedroom may start from $1,000 per month.
  • More expensive areas include Saadiyat Island, Yas Island, and Al Reem
  • In The Corniche Area, you can find 3-bedroom apartments starting from $2,000 a month but this would be in older buildings that don’t include a pool or gym.
  • Best rental sites include Property Finder and Bayut
  • When furnishing- check out expats’ Facebook groups or Dubizzle for 2nd hand furniture otherwise if shopping for new stuff, there are many options like IKEA and other local stores in the area.

Healthcare and Hospitals:

  • Private healthcare and insurance can run from $150 to $500 USD/550 to 1,800 AED per month
  • Consider travel insurance like Safetywing or World Nomads with plans starting at just $45 USD/165 AED per month
  • Insurance is mandatory and if you get it here, it can be 2,500 AED a year or $680 a year
  • More expensive when purchasing insurance as a woman because of child birth etc.

Food in Abu Dhabi:

Dining Out Per Month:

  • A basic meal at an affordable restaurant can cost $8 per person
  • Expect to spend around $54 for 2 at a mid-range restaurant and as much as $135 – $275 for 2 at a fine dining restaurant.
  • $9 at McDonald’s for a meal
  • Take advantage of happy hour deals to save money
  • Single expat dining out 2-3 times per week: $150 to $300 USD/550 to 1,100 AED
  • Family of four dining out 2-3 times per week: $300 to $600 USD/1,100 to 2,200 AED
  • Luxury/upscale dining budget: $700+ USD/2,600+ AED

Groceries Per Month:

  • Single expat basic grocery budget: $200 to $400 USD/730 to 1,500 AED
  • Family of four basic grocery budget: $650 to $1000 USD/ 2,400 AED to 3,700 AED
  • Luxury grocery budget for a family: $1,000+ USD/3,700+ AED

Transportation in Abu Dhabi:

  • Bus fare: $1 to $2 USD/up to 10 AED
  • Taxi fare: $5 to $15 USD/20 to 55 AED per ride
  • Careem/Uber fare: $5 to $20 USD/20 to 75 AED

Intercity bus to Dubai/Abu Dhabi: $7 to $15 USD/25 to 55 AED

  1. Standard Service:
    • One-way ticket: Approximately 25 AED to 35 AED
  2. Premium or Express Service:
    • One-way ticket: Approximately 40 AED to 60 AED

So in summary, public transportation like taking the bus in Abu Dhabi is very affordable, usually $1 to $2 USD/2 to 7 AED per ride.

  • The transport system is not too developed like Dubai as there is no metro system but a bus can cost you 0.55 USD. Although there are not many bus lines and they run less frequently.
  • Otherwise, it is convenient for getting to and from work – sometimes runs only every 2 hours so more convenient to use your car or a taxi.
  • Taxis and bus transport are affordable a one-way bus costs 54 cents or a monthly bus pass $22

Use the Abu Dhabi taxi app to book- $8.00 for 10 km– or the CAREEM app which is a local competitor of Uber but also more expensive.

Expect to pay around $550 per month for car rentals for a small car and you can find any type of car to buy no matter what your budget is.

Maintaining a car will be expensive.

Additional info involving car costs:

Bank loan for the car will cost u a 10 – 20% deposit

90 cents for 1 liter of petrol

$1.36 per passenger for tollgates if you own a car – this is the cost of each time to go through gates – at peak hours only.


No personal income tax in Abu Dhabi, not required to register or report income but in your home country, you may have to depend on tax resident status.

Nurseries and schools are expensive– up to $30k per year

Around $3 to enter beaches as most are NOT free.

UAE is a great hub to fly to and from other destinations.

Owning a Vehicle

  • Used car cost: $5,000 to $15,000 USD/18,500 to 55,000 AED
  • New car cost: $15,000 to $30,000+ USD/55,000 to 110,000+ AED
  • Insurance: 100 to $300 USD/370 to 1,100 AED per month
  • Fuel: $100 to $200 USD/370 to 735 AED per month
  • Parking: $50 to $150 USD/180 to 550 AED per month
  • Total monthly cost: $350 to $850+ USD/1,300 to 3,100+ AED

Gasoline Prices:

  • 1 US Gallon = 0.26 AED per liter


  • Tax-free salaries and high disposable income potential. Expats enjoy a 0% income tax rate in the UAE.
  • Lavish lifestyle options with luxury hotels, dining, entertainment, and world-class shopping malls. Abu Dhabi is an ultra-modern city with glitzy attractions.
  • Beautiful beaches, resorts, golf courses, and islands along the Persian Gulf to enjoy year-round sunny weather.
  • Growing economy and career opportunities as oil wealth pours investment into new sectors.


  • Very high costs of living, especially housing rents and school fees which take up a large part of salaries.
  • Transport requires owning a car as it is a car-centered city because public options are limited. Traffic congestion is challenging during peak hours.
  • Culture and laws derived from Islam can take adjustment. Certain restrictions exist around dress, behavior, and buying alcohol legally.
  • Can be hard to meet locals.

In summary, Abu Dhabi offers a luxurious lifestyle, beautiful landscapes, and exciting opportunities in a vibrant expat culture, but can come with financial and cultural challenges. The right neighborhood and mindset go a long way to enjoying everything the emirate has to offer.

Best neighborhoods to live in Abu Dhabi  for Families, Singles, Retirees

Best recommendations for different lifestyles, catering to families, singles, and retirees.

Expatriate GroupRecommended Neighborhood in Abu DhabiWhy It’s a Good Fit
Single expats working downtownAl Reem Island, Al Maryah IslandClose proximity to offices downtown, trendy lifestyle options
Tech entrepreneurs and startupsMasdar City, twofour54 zoneTech hubs, free zone incentives, co-working spaces
Young couples without kidsAl Raha Beach, Yas Island, Saadiyat IslandResort-style living, amenities, entertainment
Families with school-age kidsKhalifa City A, Mohammed Bin Zayed CityFamily-friendly compounds, top schools nearby
High-end luxury seekersSaadiyat Island, Al Reem Island penthousesUltra-luxury hotels, villas, high-end amenities
Budget-conscious middle incomeMohammed Bin Zayed City, Al KaramahMore affordable flats and villas
RetireesAl Raha Beach, Saadiyat Island, Corniche AreaRelaxed waterfront lifestyle, healthcare access

Tips for Single Expats

  • Opt for furnished flats on short-term lets
  • Take advantage of waterfront dining and nightlife
  • Join sports teams, meetups, social clubs to meet people

Tips for Tech Entrepreneurs & Startups

  • Take advantage of co-working spaces in Masdar City Free Zone
  • Network via meetups and conferences
  • Consider shared housing to reduce costs

Tips for Young Couples

  • Join sports like diving, golf, cycling, sand surfing
  • Travel around UAE and the region often

Tips for Families

  • Tour schools thoroughly before deciding
  • Join kids clubs, compound activities
  • Take regular desert camping and road trips

Tips for Retirees:

  • Take advantage of senior discounts at attractions
  • Join expat clubs and communities to meet people
  • Look into retirement visas and financial planning
  • Enjoy world-class healthcare infrastructure

Tips on Moving Banking and Finding Housing in Abu Dhabi UAE

Tips on moving to Abu Dhabi CategoryTips for ExpatsResources
Finding Housing– Search local rental sites
– Consider short-term stays first
– Negotiate multiple cheques for payments
– Look into compound living for families
– Compare costs of shipping container vs. air freight
– orientrelocations.com
First Removalists
SDC International Shipping
Shipping Belongings– Consider selling furniture and only packing essentials
– Research restricted items list thoroughly
Banking and Money Transfers– Open a bank account if staying long-termWise
– Consider multi-currency account
– Get health checks, and insurance done upfront
Visas– Start the visa process as early as possible
– Have all documents authenticated and attested
– Amer Center, VFS Tas’heel

Here is a list of local apartment rental websites, Government resources for Visas, Facebook Groups, Tourism Boards, and more to help you with your potential move here.

Expat Facebook Groups:

Abu Dhabi UAE Tourism Board:

Abu Dhabi UAE Data Sites:

Ministry of Culture and the Arts:

Embassy of the Abu Dhabi UAE:

Government of the Abu Dhabi UAE:

Abu Dhabi UAE Local Rental Websites:

  • dubizzle.com
  • For exchanging money use Wise Which is the best option if you are a digital nomad and Expat. a cheaper option to send and receive money internationally rather than exchanging money through other platforms like Paypal, Payoneer costs a lot of money for exchange fees and rates
    • Booking Flights: To Find insane flight deals, search on Google Flights, and Skyscanner and choose the monthly option to find the best day to fly.

If you want to keep up with our travels, go ahead and follow us on our travel page on Instagram @onelifepassport! Comment below what else you would like to know/see about our experiences traveling the world! Also, check out our YouTube Channel!

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