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Best Places To Live in the United Arab Emirates | UAE, Dubai & Abu Dabi

The United Arab Emirates is among the most sought-after-living destinations in the world. A country synonymous with wealth and riches, the UAE is the perfect blend of Eastern conservatism with Western liberalism. With the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi and the countryside of Ras Al Khaimah, residents can balance the fast pace of modern living with the magnificent landscapes of the desert.

The number of internationals in the country makes it a melting pot of diversity and culture.

For another destination worth considering, read our guide on the Best Places To Live In Mauritius.

Best Places to Live in the United Arab Emirates for…

  1. Expats: Dubai
  2. English Speakers: Abu Dhabi
  3. Digital Nomads: Fujairah
  4. Solo Travelers: Ras Al Khaimah
  5. Couples: Ajman
  6. Groups: Liwa Oasis

Top 10 Places to Live in the United Arab Emirates

1. Dubai

Best Place To Live For Expats

Burj Khalifa DubaiImage by enjoytheworld from Pixabay

 Cost of Living: $$$

A city defined by its opulent skyscrapers and luxurious hotels, Dubai is considered the business and financial capital of the UAE. With several multinational companies operating in the city due to favorable tax laws, it has become a perfect center of international trade and tourism. If you’re not closing deals during the day, then you’re enjoying the vibrant nightlife the city has to offer.

 Tip: Read a guide on moving to Dubai for an easier transition

 Who Would Like to Live There: Expats, English Speakers, Digital Nomads


  • A city full of business opportunities
  • Lax tax laws
  • A diverse expat community


  • Uncomfortably hot weather
  • Ongoing construction
  • High bureaucracy

2. Abu Dhabi

Best Place To Live For English Speakers

Abu Dhabi SkylineImage by Neil Dodhia from Pixabay

 Cost of Living: $$$

Abu Dhabi is recognized as the official capital of the UAE. A stroll through the city’s streets, and you’ll marvel at the architectural innovation on display. As a center of oil exports, the country’s wealth is expressed in its luxurious hotels, premier dealerships, and colossal malls. These factors are why they’re considered one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

Tip: Make use of public transportation for seamless travel

 Who Would Like to Live There: Solo Travelers  


  • A high number of accommodation options
  • Great quality of life
  • Great weather for summer lovers


  • Not friendly for walking
  • Most contracts are binding by 12 months
  • Difficult to obtain a permanent residency

3. Sharjah

Best Place To Live For Families

Barjeel Foundation Sharjah Art Museum Image by from Wikimedia Commons

 Cost of Living: $$$

Lesser known among international visitors, Sharjah is a hidden emirate of the UAE. With a similar population to Abu Dhabi, it’s a city with eye-catching attractions and a modest culture. Art lovers can visit the local Art Museum, while the Sharjah Zoo is home to an array of wildlife.

Tip: Learn a few local Arabic greetings and respect the Sharjah culture.

 Who Would Like to Live There: Families, Digital Nomads


  • A relatively lower cost of living
  • Readily available accommodation
  • Home of some of the best schools in the UAE


  • Public consumption of alcohol is prohibited
  • Highly congested traffic during peak hours
  • Residential properties are mostly apartments

4. Fujairah

Best Place To Live For Digital Nomads

Hajjar Mountains Fujairah Image by Raventhorne from Pixabay

 Cost of Living: $$

Considered a quiet getaway from city life, Fujairah is the perfect place for people looking for a tranquil life. Surrounded by the Hajjar mountains, the emirate’s tropical weather is an anomaly to the hot desert climate of the UAE. As a result, residents regularly enjoy visiting the wet riverbeds (wadi in Arabic) of the mountainous terrain.

It enjoys a favorable port location, with shipping businesses thriving in the area, making it perfect for online business owners.

Tip: Familiarize yourself with the local taxi system

 Who Would Like to Live There: Digital Nomads, Business Owners


  • A tropical climate
  • Good healthcare facilities
  • An intimate yet beautiful emirate


  • Foreigners don’t receive free healthcare
  • Very few forms of transportation
  • You’ll have to look for high-quality accommodation

5. Ras Al Khaimah

Best Place To Live For Solo Travelers

Jabel Al Jais Road Ras Al Khaimah Image from Klickors Moe from Unsplash

 Cost of Living: $$

Located in the most northern part of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah(or RAK as commonly known) is a paradise for adventure lovers. The desert landscape is fully utilized, with many activities available. If you’re not on the world’s biggest zipline (Jais flight), you must ride horses at the Al Wadi Equestrian center. RAK’s commercial industry is quite active as they are global ceramics manufacturers, so you’ll be getting the best of both worlds.

Tip: Carry a backpack with essentials when visiting the desert

 Who Would Like to Live There: Adventurers, Solo Travelers


  • Riding the world’s longest zipline
  • An array of physical activities
  • Welcoming community


  • There’s not much of a nightlife
  • Presence of petty crimes
  • Schools fees are pretty high

6. Ajman

Best Place To Live For Couples

Al Zaher Palace Street AjmanImage by MMuzamils from Wikimedia Commons

 Cost of Living: $$

With a population of less than 500 000, Ajman is one of the smallest cities in the UAE but a great destination to call home. The different number of shopping malls and cinemas provides modern city entertainment without losing the intimate community feeling. Food lovers will get to enjoy different cuisines that are on offer.

 Tip: Check out Tideschart for the best times to fish in the area

 Who Would Like to Live There: Couples, Groups


  • Houses are more spacious
  • Different cuisines available
  • Less strict on culture and more outgoing


  • Growing tourist industry may crowd the city
  • A subdued nightlife
  • Lack of entry-level jobs

7. Al Ain

Best Place To Live For History Enthusiasts

Al Ain Fort Castle Image by Saj Shafique from Unsplash

 Cost of Living: $

Al-Ain is nicknamed the Garden City by locals. The manicured gardens and lush greenery line the well-organized city district. It is also the capital of UAE heritage, filled with monuments like Al Jahili Fort that display the country’s history.

Tip: Visit the Al Jahili Fort to educate yourself on the country’s history

 Who Would Like to Live There: History lovers, Families


  • Eco-friendly environment
  • An educational experience
  • High number of higher-learning institutions


  • Very strict laws that you have to abide by
  • Unreliable bus service
  • Uncertain future of development plans

8. Khor Fakkan

Best Place To Live For Farmers

Port Khor FakkanImage by Marvin Castileno from Unsplash

 Cost of Living: $$

Khor Fakkan is a city of simple living. As a bay city, Khor Fakkan is the only natural deep sea port in the country. With fertile land, agriculture is a budding industry as locals grow fresh fruits and vegetables to sell. Among the unique features is a local market that only opens on a Friday.

Tip: Visit the local markets for your daily needs

 Who Would Like to Live There: Farmers, Families


  • Cheaper cost of living
  • Little air and noise pollution
  • Agricultural opportunities


  • Lack of entertainment activities
  • Conservative culture
  • Uncomfortable humid weather

9. Umm al-Quwain

Best Place To Live For Nature Lovers

Mangroves Skyline Umm AL QuwainImage by Peter Dowley from Wikimedia Commons

 Cost of Living: $$

Umm al-Quwain is a coastal city located between Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah. The main allure here is the mangrove forest that houses a diverse ecosystem of native plant and animal life. It is also the local supplier of poultry and dairy in the country. Relaxation can be achieved with the local islands that surround the mainland and the beach activities that are available.

Tip: Ask local experts on how to invest in the large houses on the property market

 Who Would Like to Live There: Nature lovers


  • Nutritious poultry at your doorstep
  • An impressive marine life
  • A free trade zone for foreign businesses


  • A few underdeveloped neighborhoods
  • It may be suitable for students
  • A lot of administration when registering your business

10. Liwa Oasis

Best Place To Live For Groups

Man With Camel Dunes Liwa Image by Sajimon Sahadevan from Unsplash

 Cost of Living: $

Liwa Oasis is a throwback to the roots of UAE culture in the southwest of the capital. The grand Gulf desert marked by red-sand dunes, is perfect for Camel and 4-by-4 riding. Take a trip to Al Sarah and witness how locals transport water from wells through man-made underground tunnels. Liwa is also the unofficial capital of date farming, where it hosts the annual Liwa Oasis Date festival to recognize and support the date industry in the area.

Tip: Save money and book your accommodation in advance

 Who Would Like to Live There: Groups, Nomads


  • Road connecting straight to Abu Dhabi
  • Get the best dates in the country
  • A resilient irrigation system


  • There’s only two main roads
  • Limited accommodation options
  • Communication will be a problem if you don’t know the local language

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