Where to live in Abu Dhabi? We look at the best areas to live in Abu Dhabi for expats including villas and flats and kid friendly.
24 July 2013| Last updated on 31 May 2017
Khalidiya is a very popular area with expatriates, just a short distance from the Corniche; everything is ‘on your doorstep’. Mainly high-rise buildings, but with many parks and activities within walking distance. Shops and boutique type small businesses make Khalidiya a popular choice for locals and expats alike. Spinneys and Abela supermarkets together with Khalidiya mall are located here, and with the latest addition of a Spar Supermarket and a sizeable Jones the Grocer, lunchtime is particularly busy in the area, the consequence is that traffic is heavy at peak periods, parking is an issue therefore.
There are many housing options in this area, and for apartment living, you may be spoiled for choice. There are many top of the range high-rise apartment buildings, often with fabulous views over the Corniche or the cityscape of the heart of Abu Dhabi. Khalidiya Village is a residential community located in the heart of Khalidiya. The purpose built village has superb clubhouse facilities, private swimming pools, fully equipped gymnasium, sauna and steam room, playgrounds and athletics courts. The homes provide large kitchens, private balconies overlooking the gardens or pool, spacious living areas and covered parking.
This area is quite popular with the expatriate community, it is in the middle of the hurly burly of Abu Dhabi, and is a great location for hospitals and schools, with 2nd Street on one side and 30th Street on the other, these roads are key to getting around efficiently in the city. Around Al Karamah are Al Mushrif and Al Musalla, and the whole area has an old town feel, trees line the streets and the traffic is not hugely busy, once you find your bearings in Al Karamah, you will be able to navigate the small streets and zip around avoiding any traffic build up at peak periods. Housing in Al Karamah is a blend of old established properties, and modern new builds. Many of these villa compounds are long established and may not be as trendy or up market as the newer range of villas springing up around the area. Typically older villas on small compounds have the standard pool and small gym, newer complexes are more likely to have state of the art gym equipment and technology-friendly living accommodation. Very close to Al Karamah is the Al Wahda Mall at the corner of 11th and 2nd Streets, housing amongst other things, a large Lulu Hypermarket. At the other side of Karamah is the new Mushrif Mall, so no shortage of retail therapy ! If however you like to experience a little bit more of the local culture, try walking around the area a short while, there are a multitude of small shops and vendors selling just about everything you can think of, these store holders are always interested in a sale, and will certainly bargain with you to come to a fair price for their goods and chattels. The British School - Al Khubairat is long established in this area, and makes Al Karamah a popular choice for the British contingent, also the French school Ecole Francaise Abu Dhabi - Lycée Louis Massignon and The American International School (AISA are within the Al Karamah area, thus making the area a favoured spot for a melting pot of nationalities.
One of the oldest and busiest parts of the island, Al Markaziyah contains numerous high-rise buildings with both serviced hotel apartments and private apartments. At the heart of Al Markaziyah, is Hamdan Street the ‘main road’ in the downtown area, this is a rapidly evolving area with lots of changes ongoing regarding construction (and demolition of old making way for new buildings), it is the most central of locations, but heavily populated and congested. Plenty taxis and public transport here, but you would find that numerous shops and restaurants are within easy walking distance.
Al Reef is off the island, and was the first planned community in the UAE exclusively for the middle-income tier of the population, With its prime location near Al Raha beach, a 10 minute drive to Abu Dhabi Island, villas, as well as modern apartments in a range of sizes and styles. Offering parks, pools and gardens, health clubs, shops retail area, education facilities and a medical clinic. It is about 40km from downtown Abu Dhabi and, via a recently opened link road, just a short distance from Yas Island. Al Reef is split into communities, Arabian, Desert etc, each with their own communal pools and community centres. Lots of young families live here, and it seems to be a thriving friendly community, you will see children outside playing and cycling etc. Al Reef seems to be a very lively and safe community to raise a family.
Golf Gardens offers you luxurious, lifestyle homes that are inspired by placid greens. These town homes and villas are located on the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, there are excellent recreational and sports facilities, a lovely Garden Club, shops and entertainment space are all within the community. Golf Gardens is just a 15-minute drive from the heart of Abu Dhabi and a 45-minute drive from Dubai.
Mangrove Village is placed on the edge of Abu Dhabi City close to Officer City, and Mussaffa. Mangrove Village is a very family oriented community, with mostly expatriate families living there. It has a real ‘village’ feel to it and facilities are of the best there is here in Abu Dhabi, villas get snapped up quickly, three and four bedroom villas are the norm, but you can find some that have been modified to give additional space. The Mangrove Village offers a host of amenities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a health club, steam and sauna rooms, tennis and basketball courts, a private marina for water sports enthusiasts, a daycare and nursery center, a sea facing café, a beach, a Spinneys supermarket and 24-hour security.
Raha Beach Area
Al Raha Beach is an up and coming area of Abu Dhabi, close to Abu Dhabi Golf Club, a and a short 10 minute drive from the International Airport, will become a fantastic waterfront city. It is undeniably one of the most sought-after addresses in the UAE, with a future proof design enabling the citizens a vibrant lifestyle within a master-planned community. Al Raha Beach is already a well-known area to locals that will be transformed and become a gateway into Abu Dhabi. Raha Beach area is a collection of master-planned housing and apartment buildings, with shopping, cafes, marina facilities etc.
Al Bandar, Al Zeina, Al Manara (all at Raha Beach Development)
Al Manara Residence duplex apartments, with long balconies. commanding 270-degree views taking in the island, the marina and as far as the eye can see down Al Raha Beach, 2 3 and 4-bed penthouses (complete with study and private outdoor deck off the main bedroom) Al Manara residents enjoy the advantages of Al Bandar living.
Al Zeina Fronting 500 meters of pristine golden beach The precinct is a mixed-use development containing luxury residential apartments, townhouses and villas, private boat moorings, retail high street with local supermarket and shops, waterside restaurants and cafes, 500-metre public beach
Al Bandar is one of the focal points for marine, leisure and family activities in the community. Set around an expansive central water feature, Al Bandar consists of luxury apartments, townhouses and villas embraced by waterside restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Al Reem Island
A waterside community set to accommodate 80,000. The eventual development will contain schools, medical clinics, a 27-hole golf course, malls, restaurants and every conceivable amenity, … once completed. Eleven bridges are planned to connect it with the city and surrounding islands, it is just 300 metres from the Tourist Club Area. Located off the North East coast, Al Reem is amongst the most ambitious of the new ‘rent to buy’ developments It is divided into three areas: Pearl of the Emirates, which occupies 60 per cent of the island with its 15 towers and five- star hotel; Al Shams, complete with dramatic Gateway Towers and eye-catching cylindrical Solitaire building. Al Reem Island is certainly taking off as being an affordable city centre location, and imminently to be home to The Paragon Mall, and soon to be finished, a huge new private hospital. For the time being there is a lot of construction still on the island, but typical for Abu Dhabi, will soon be populated and busy with shops restaurants and cafes. An ideal location if you want to be 5 minutes from the heart of the city.
Sky Tower, Sun Tower, Marina Square (All on Al Reem Island)
Sun & Sky Towers form part of Shams Abu Dhabi; The 74-storey Sky Tower consists of a mix of residential and commercial units, while the 65-storey Sun Tower is entirely residential. Both towers feature one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and penthouses with panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf and Abu Dhabi skyline. Sky Tower has 474 residential units and. Sun Tower will accommodate 680 residential units. There are 10 penthouses between the two properties; Sun & Sky Towers are joined by the Podium, which houses a BOUTIK Mall, three gymnasia (including a ladies-only facility), cafés and restaurants. The open-air leisure deck above the Podium offers three swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, tennis courts, a yoga lawn and children’s playing areas.
Marina Square, still a lot of construction here, however, Marina Square will be an abundance of residential living with a mixture of shops and restaurants. Without a doubt, this will eventually be a prime location, for now, although there are quite a few people moving in here, it still has quite a way to go before the towers and plazas are filled. It is to be noted, pets are not allowed in the towers or marina square apartment buildings.
Khalifa City ‘A’ and ‘B’
A suburb of the city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It is divided into 3 areas: Khalifa City A, Khalifa City B, and New Khalifa City (planned community, not yet completed) Khalifa City A is on the main highway to Dubai and lies about 30 kilometers from Abu Dhabi. It is close to Abu Dhabi International Airport. Khalifa City B is further inland and is near Bani Yas and Al Shawamikh. Khalifa is primarily stand-alone villas, at the moment around 2000 of them…in Khalifa A!, you get a lot for your money. Adjacent to the prestigious Al Raha Beach project. Khalifa’s proximity to the airport and the Dubai highway also make it an attractive location for commuting workers. An abundance of schools in the area make this popular for young families. Khalifa City has a growing expat community. Khalifa B with much of it still being developed, rents are more reasonable, there are still no real facilities yet. Residents tend to hop across Airport Road to Khalifa City A for Shops. Living in Khalifa A or B, you will certainly need a car, however, these areas are rapidly growing and improving, and for the time being are a very good option if you want as much living space as you can get for your money.
Mohammed Bin Zayed City
Definitely a suburb, and quite a way out, the people who live there love it, if you are prepared to make a car journey for school or work, it’s a quiet location away from the hustle and bustle of cit living. 5 minutes from the Mazayed Mall, 25 minutes from Delma Mall.15 minutes from Shangri La hotel and Souq Quaryat Al Beri. It will take 45 minutes to drive to Corniche. Mohammed Bin Zayed City is a quiet residential area, you will see people out running and walking their dogs, kids riding bikes in the street. One thing to note, is that currently there are no petrol stations in MBZ, so you need to fill up regularly, any time you are out and about. Of all the areas its possible to rent property in Abu Dhabi, this has to be it.
Muroor – sometimes called ‘between the bridges’
10 Minutes from the heart of the city centre, is the area between Muroor Road and Eastern Corniche a mixture of residential villas and townhouses, Those bordering the coast road are close to the mangroves, some of the older villas are a somewhat dated. Easy access to a number of schools, and very easy commute to the downtown areas. Close to Carrefour on Airport Road and Mushriff Mall. The new Khalifa Park is close by, and within walking distance when the weather is a bit cooler. It’s a nice community; public transport is readily available with bus stops a plenty.
It is adjacent to and often described as being in Khalifa City ‘A’. A really nice community, with lots of young families, you definitely need a car living here though, the community, although lovely has no shopping, so driving is a must. On the plus side, Raha Gardens is an easy commute to the city, (around 20minutes) and is in close proximity to plenty good schools, and around 15 minutes from the International Airport.
Tourist Club Area.
Tourist Club Area
An ideal location for singles, with many tower block apartments, a must for the inner city dweller, with all the hurly burly of a capital city. Its easy to enjoy what the city has to offer, Lots of shops, malls, cinemas, restaurants and cafes, with a great variety of dining options on the doorstep. Perfect location if you are not a car owner, taxis are a plenty, and the local bus service provides transport a to all the outlying areas. The Corniche, and all its parks and walkways, cafes etc is just a short walk away. The Corniche and the coastal parks are also nearby, should you want to stretch your legs. On the downside, there will always be the ‘hum’ of traffic, and parking is an absolute nightmare.
Opposite the Officers Club on Abu Dhabi island, close to Musaffah Bridge. These villas are not cheap to either rent or buy, but are indeed lovely. A gated community with children’s play areas and shaded communal areas. These villas have separate maid's and driver's rooms, some of the villas have a pool. There is beachfront on the site, a gym and communal pool. The villas are luxurious, with great finish and attention to detail The Hills is in a premier spot. Still on Abu Dhabi Island yet with easy access off the island via Musaffah Bridge or Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Many of the villas have a stunning view of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Just 500m off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat is just a five-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi, 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport and one hour from Dubai Spread across 27 sq km, Saadiyat will have seven distinct districts and a developed area of 2600 ha. More than 145,000 people will call it home.. It can be reached by two major highway bridges linking it with the mainland. Saadiyat Island is poised to become a truly special place.; a relaxed waterfront home for residents; and a cultural magnet for arts aficionados, with the upcoming opening of both the Louvre and Guggenheim Museums With an exclusive collection of villas and town houses, which includes Arabian, Contemporary and Mediterranean styles. ranging from 3 to 6 bedrooms you can find a home to suit your lifestyle, with access to the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, and world-class hotels and resorts including The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort and Monte-Carlo Beach Club.
Saadiyat Beach Residences,
are designed to foster a close-knit community through covered balconies, community pool, gym and barbecue facilities and of course, nine kilometers of pristine white sand beach, a world-class golf course, and fabulous hotels and resorts.
This is a security-controlled gated community with landscaped grounds, kids’ pool and playground areas, outdoor covered BBQ area with kitchenette
A multi-purpose court for basketball, volley ball, and football, state-of-the-art gym including an attached aerobics area, ample resident and visitors’ parking and male and female prayer rooms.
The Residences at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island resort. The 259 apartments combine the timeless elegance of St. Regis with the sophistication of a beachside lifestyle. Crafted to the highest standards with a variety of white goods, units range from intimate studio apartments to lavish 4-bedroom residences. Experience the renowned St. Regis Personal Butler Service at your own home. With a hundred-year tradition of service, no request is unattainable at any time of day or night.
Yas Island residential accommodation, is very much a work in progress, the end is not yet in sight, however, there will be quite a few living options, including Northern Villas, Beachfront villas, Waterfront Apartments, Yas Village and Northern Marina Village.