Where to Live in Dubai—the 10 Best Neighborhoods to Live in Dubai

The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Dubai

Coming up in this guide: lakeside walks, old-school markets, more green spaces than you’re probably expecting, many types of life, friends from around the planet, and the 10 best neighborhoods in Dubai.

Right now, around 2.7 million of Dubai’s 3.5 million residents are foreign-born (which means a massive 75% of the city’s dwellers are from somewhere outside of Dubai!).

… so we’re not exaggerating when we say it’s one of the most popular relocation hubs on the planet.

Perks of the place include no taxes, a thriving international scene, hyper-modern infrastructure, a digital nomad visa, and a very safe environment—none of Dubai’s districts are unsafe in any way.

And partially because it’s such an alluring and exciting place to live, the city is growing every day… with new hotels, neighborhoods and apartments popping up all the time. So when you first move to the city, it’s hard to know where to live:

Which neighborhoods are trendy? Which are family-friendly? Which have the best public transport? The top schools? The best things to do? Are any of them *actually* affordable?

Coming up, all that and more: we’ve brought you the 10 best places to live in Dubai.

We’ve covered pricey places, budget-friendly options, expat enclaves, kid-friendly picks, nightlife hubs, green areas, digital-nomad hotspots, and everything in between.

In short, the 10 best neighborhoods in Dubai are:

  • Downtown Dubai
  • Dubai Marina
  • Jumeirah
  • Palm Jumeirah
  • Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT)
  • The Greens and The Views
  • Business Bay
  • Al Barsha
  • Arabian Ranches 
  • Deira

… but, next up, much more on all 10. Pack your passport and come join the fun!

1. Downtown Dubai

Best for: befriending tourists, seeing the sights, and short-term stays.

If you’ve ever vacationed in Dubai, this is (probably!) where you’ve hung out.

The central area of the most well-known part of the city, it’s home to a bunch of much-visited iconic landmarks. Such as:

… and you also get many fancy restaurants, along with reasonably good proximity to the city’s most famous beaches and islands.

This is one of the best places to live in Dubai for public transport—the city’s red metro line runs through the district, connecting you to both the north and the south. You also get several bus stops, a central location, and endless taxis.

But because Downtown Dubai is so popular, it’s VERY hard to find a place to live here. The long-term apartments are pounced upon quickly, and the rest are taken by all the tourists. 

… so if you want to stay in this part of the city, it’s often best to move into a serviced apartment or serviced flat. Good news: ours are fully-furnished, comfy and cozy, ready to move into today, and perfect for working and living in. And because we advertise all prices, you don’t need to do any negotiating.

Cons of living in Downtown Dubai include: no real community atmosphere, high prices, and zero traditional life. And it’s not a good choice for families—building a long-term life here is expensive and isolating, and you’re far from the best international schools. 

Overall, one of the best neighborhoods in Dubai for short stays, and a good option for business travelers and high-earning digital nomads… if you can find a place to live.

Aerial view of the modern skyline of Downtown Dubai

2. Dubai Marina

Best for: high prices, upmarket family life, and lots of swimming and strolling 

It’s pretty obvious, but: this neighborhood sits right on a marina. 

One of the city’s most bustling districts, it’s around 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) southwest of Downtown Dubai (and to reach the Downtown district, you’ll need to ride public transport for an hour—or drive for 30 minutes).

But although Dubai Marina is far from much of the famous stuff, there’s still plenty to do here, and it’s pretty self-contained: you get restaurants, markets, gyms, the hefty Dubai Marina Mall, and all the other amenities and conveniences you need for daily life. And as you might have guessed, it’s one of the city’s most prestigious residential districts. 

It’s also one of the best neighborhoods to live in Dubai for outdoor action. This part of the city is well pedestrianized—so you can easily run and wander along its shores. The perimeter of the island area measures in at around 7.5km (4.5 miles), and the mainland part of the marina is similarly long.

You’ll also find a yachting club, boat rides, and endless waterside spots for eating and drinking. 

… while many of the area’s residents also do lots of swimming, sailing, and skydiving.

Because this area is more residential than most people expect, it’s a good option for high-earning families who want to combine world-class housing with plenty of things to do. Apart from all the sands and sunshine, other kid-friendly activities in Dubai Marina include TEPfactor Dubai, Madame Tussauds, and AquaFun Waterpark (the top-rated waterpark on the planet!).

… and as a nice bonus, you’re only a 15-minute drive from the well-respected Emirates International School-Meadows.

3. Jumeirah

Best for: combining residential living with lots of sun and sea, and finding many things to do (no matter who you are!)

Jumeirah is one of Dubai’s biggest districts:

It runs all the way from Dubai Marina, extending to (and a bit beyond!) Downtown Dubai.

A big long narrow beachfront neighborhood measuring in at around 24 kilometers (15 miles), it’s separated into several different sections. They are:

  • Jumeirahs 1, 2, and 3: these border one another. The first is most north, and the third is most south. Between them, they offer prestigious beachfront living, a family-friendly vibe, watersports, Lebanese coffee, reasonably affordable food and drink, beaches, beach clubs, waterparks, canalside walks, and many family-friendly attractions (including OliOli Children’s Play Museum and Dubai Bowling Center). In short, if you want the Dubai Marina vibes, but with slightly lower prices, this is the place for you.
  • Umm Suqeim: although it doesn’t have ‘Jumeirah’ in its name, this neighborhood sits between Jumeirah 3 and Palm Jumeirah. It’s pretty similar to Jumeirahs 1, 2 and 3—but it’s home to MANY international schools. For getting your kids into good schools, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Dubai. 
  • Palm Jumeirah and Jumeirah Lake Towers, both of which we’ve covered in more detail next!

Although the Jumeirah atmosphere is very family-friendly, it’s a great place to live for pretty much anyone. You’re well-connected (the red metro line borders the neighborhoods, and you get many bus stops), you’ll find lots of places to eat and drink, and you have excellent access to both beaches and seaside eateries. 

That said, there’s one major con of living in this area: because it’s one of the most famous residential areas in Dubai, it’s a VERY popular place to live. So without moving into a serviced apartment or serviced flat, you might struggle to find a home.

4. Palm Jumeirah

Best for: being on the sea, living away from the bustle, and an exclusive atmosphere 

Palm Jumeirah is the big palm-tree-shaped man-made Dubai neighborhood you’ve seen photos of.

… and if you have money to spare, it’s one of the best places to live in Dubai.

Most homes here are villas (not the high-rise apartments you get in most other parts of the city)—and because of the shape of the neighborhood, you get two main perks:

  • you’ll always be sitting right beside the sea
  • … and there’s pretty much never any traffic 

Palm Jumeirah is also home to many gyms, supermarkets, medical clinics, and all the other conveniences you could ever need—while an unmanned monorail connects various parts of the neighborhood. 

Attractions here are pretty similar to those you get on the mainland seafront spots: they include the Atlantis-themed Lost Chambers Aquarium, the massive Aquaventure Waterpark, and places to swim with dolphins and sea lions.

Cons of the neighborhood include poor connectivity to the rest of Dubai, and a pretty un-diverse population (most people here are either high-earning couples or solo professionals). And over time, life here can seem pretty isolating. So Palm Jumeirah can be a nice place for a year or two, but it’s not the best place to build a long-term life.

Palm Jumeirah island with luxurious beachfront villas and the Atlantis hotel.

5. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT)

Best for: combining seclusion with excitement, and building a long-term life away from the tourists 

Sitting just southeast of Palm Jumeirah, the inland Jumeirah Lakes Towers has a similar vibe to its nearby neighbor:

It’s residential, relatively secluded, and far from the most busy and famous parts of the city.

But instead of low-level villas, you get high-rise apartments. Instead of seaside strolls, you get lakeside wanders (the neighborhood is home to 3 artificial lakes). And although the prices are still pretty high, Jumeirah Lakes Towers is more affordable than Palm Jumeirah.

Divided into 26 mini ‘clusters’ (each one named after a letter of the alphabet), it has all the amenities you could need (like medical clinics, banks, supermarkets, and gyms). That said, there are no international schools inside the neighborhood—so living here is best suited to childless couples and young professionals.

… and because it’s close to many of the city’s business-based districts (Dubai Media City, Internet City and Dubai Marina), Jumeirah Lakes Towers is an excellent spot for finding a job. 

Overall, Jumeirah Lakes Tower is one of the best places to live in Dubai for combining quiet vibes with much action and adventure. Though you’re close to the excitement of both Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina, you’re far from where most tourists hang out.

6. The Greens and The Views

Best for: good schooling, a peaceful life, and a long-term family home

Much quieter than most other districts we’ve brought you, The Greens and The Views is where many people come to settle down. If you’re planning to stay a while, it’s one of the best neighborhoods to live in Dubai—you get quiet vibes, affordable housing, and many more families to make friends with. 

Two separate small districts sitting right beside one another, the pair basically make up one neighborhood (because they offer the same type of life).

One of the city’s best central areas for green spaces, you get tree-lined streets, a neighborhood-wide lake, and quiet roads—and it’s right beside Emirates Hills 2, the city’s biggest central green space. 

The area is home to Regent International School, one of the best and most popular international schools in the city. And you’re also close to Saudi German Hospital, one of Dubai’s top hospitals.

And because The Greens and The Views is located close to both Palm Jumeirah and Jumeirah Lake Towers, living here is a good choice for accessing all the classy places without having to pay the high prices.

That said, it’s not one of the best places to live in Dubai if you don’t have a car—the neighborhood isn’t home to a metro station, and it’s not well-connected to any other parts of the city. So unless you drive, you won’t want to move here.

7. Business Bay

Best for: finding a job, making money, and good proximity to Downtown Dubai

Bordering Downtown Dubai to the south, Business Bay is the city’s biggest financial district.

Home to hefty high-rise apartments, endless office buildings, and upmarket hotels, it’s where many of the city’s suit-wearing young professionals live.

… so if you’re keen to find a job, this hyper-modern area is one of the best places to live in Dubai.

Other perks include:

  • Decent school choices (Jumeirah International Nurseries sits inside the district, while many others sit nearby)
  • One of the city’s prettiest canalside stretches (good for walking and running)
  • Reasonable proximity to good green spaces (including Safa Park)
  • The excellently-located Business Bay Metro Station
  • Some of the city’s best healthcare venues 

And because people come here to find a job, it’s also one of the city’s most diverse central districts—making it one of the best neighborhoods in Dubai for having pals from across the planet. 

Cons of living in Business Bay include lots of traffic, high prices, and a pretty un-diverse landscape (packed with nothing but skyscrapers, living in the neighborhood can become a bit samey and claustrophobic).

A view of the Dubai business bay at night

8. Al Barsha

Best for: saving money, living in a residential area, and good schools and hospitals 

Just northeast of the Greens and the Views, Al Barsha is a big residential area.

… and if you want to live close to major attractions without spending too much money, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Dubai.

Like pretty much all Dubai’s residential districts (and as we keep saying!), it’s very self-contained: you get diverse dining options, lots of shops (including Al Barsha Mall and Dubai Hills Mall), some good schooling options (like Highgate International School and Dubai International Academy Al Barsha), and excellent medical facilities. 

And because it’s a big residential district with people from around the planet, it’s also home to a diverse range of eats and treats. One of the best places to live in Dubai for finding a variety of food.

It’s split into several different districts:

  • Al Barsha 1, Al Barsha 2, and Al Barsha 3 are in the northern half of the district, and centered around Al Barsha Mall (yep, Dubai loves malls). Of the three, Al Barsha 1 is the most northern, the most pricey, and closest to all the stuff you’ve heard of.
  • Al Barsha South is more suburban than the other three, and takes up the entire southern half of the Al Barsha area.

You’ll find a massive range of homes—including studios, villas, family homes, small spaces, and high-rise residences. Broadly speaking, the more south you go, the more affordable it gets.

(so if you head to the south of the district, this is one of the best neighborhoods to live in Dubai for saving some cash).

Though public transport is okay here (with two metro stations and lots of bus routes), it’s best to have your own car. In some parts of the neighborhood (especially in Al Barsha South), you’ll need to wander far to find public transport.

9. Arabian Ranches

Best for: living in a gated community, lots of peace and privacy, and hanging with fancy folks 

A gated community sitting around 20 km (12.5 miles) from the sea, this is the most eastern of all the districts we’ve brought you.

Just east of Al Barsha South, it’s a home to spacious villas, long-term residents, and many high-earning families. It’s close to:

So, clearly: it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Dubai for living a fancy life. 

… but it’s NOT one of the best neighborhoods in Dubai for visiting the sea, or exploring top tourist attractions. Unless you have a car, it’s tough to reach well-known parts of the city (public-transport trips to better-known places can take between 90 and 120 minutes).

Because the neighborhood is away from the city’s central parts, it has a homely community feel (with shared pools, regular events, welcoming residents, and sports courts). So it’s one of the best neighborhoods to live in Dubai if you like cozy family-friendly vibes… or if you’re looking for somewhere to ‘belong’ for a while.

Other highlights include Dubai Miracle Garden (home to more than 100 million flowers, it’s the biggest flower garden on the planet), Dubai Autodrome (a world-famous racing track where you can zoom around in various cars), and Global Village (sort of like a mini replication of the entire world!).

10. Deira

Best for: cheap eats, befriending an international crowd, and getting knee-deep in the history and heritage of Dubai

North of all other neighborhoods we’ve brought you, Deira has more traditional charm than any other district on this list.

Let’s be honest: most people don’t come to Dubai for retro neighborhoods or old-school markets. But if that is what you’re looking for, this is one of the best places to live in Dubai.

Here, you get:

  • Dubai Gold Souk (where you’ll find old-school sellers trading gold)
  • The Waterfront Market (great for affordable fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish)
  • Dubai Spice Souk (featuring smells, sensory overload, and spices you haven’t heard of)
  • … and some of the most historical parts of the creek (home to wrinkle-faced fisherman, age-old wooden boats, and many quaint waterside sights).

So, for learning about the city’s past and people, it’s one of the best neighborhoods to live in Dubai. And it feels VERY different from all other neighborhoods.

But it’s not all timeless and traditional: you also get lots of cultural diversity. Because Deira is a relatively affordable place to live, you get people here from around the planet. 

And because you get people here from around the planet, you also get food from around the planet…

… and for affordable eats in particular, this is one of the best neighborhoods to live in Dubai. It’s home to low-price coffees, budget-friendly east-Asian street food, large selections of authentic Filipino meals (especially on Al Rigga Road), and even affordable clothing outlets.

Because Deira is part of old Dubai, it has an excellent network of public transport—you get good access to 10 different metro stations, along with lots of bus links. In most Dubai neighborhoods, you need a car—but in Deira, you don’t. 

Yes, the rush-hour traffic here can be bad, and Deira can be a bit too bustling for some people. But if you want a busy city-style life in Dubai (without the often-appealing artifice you get in other parts of the city), you’ll love living here. Deira feels very ‘real,’ and it’s much different from the parts of the city you’ve heard of.

The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Dubai: Final Thoughts

The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Dubai: Final Thoughts

Alright, that’s us done—they’re the 10 best places to live in Dubai!

To sum up:

  • The best upmarket options are Palm Jumeirah and Arabian Ranches
  • The best family-friendly picks are Jumeirah, and the Greens and The Views
  • The best options for short-term stays are Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina

But, no matter where you choose, it’s often tricky to find a place to live (especially in the most popular districts). People are moving to Dubai every day, the best places quickly find tenants, and local landlords often charge unfairly-high prices.

For those reasons, it’s often best to move into a short term rental or flat. Good news: all of ours are comfortable, and fully-furnished—and they’re all ready to move in. So you can start your new Dubai life without the hassle of viewings, negotiations, and ridiculous overpayments.  

Most importantly: wherever you choose to live, you’ll love life in the city. It’s massively international, it’s easy to fit in, everyone speaks English, and the no-tax system makes it a good place to save some cash.

Thanks for reading, thanks for choosing Homelike, and enjoy your new life in Dubai. Bye for now!

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