Expat’s guide to buying a property in the UAE

For those settling in the UAE for longer than 3 years, buying rather than renting can be a more affordable option and is worth considering. If you’re an expat looking to buy property in the UAE, this guide will tell you all you need to know before you start your search.

Expats living in Dubai

Where can expats buy property in the UAE?


If you are an expat currently living in the UAE, Dubai law states that you can buy:

  • A leasehold property
  • A freehold property in one of the 23 freehold areas, including Al Barsha South, Emirates Hills, Jebel Ali, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah.

Abu Dhabi

Non-GCC nationals (people not from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman or Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) are able to buy leasehold and freehold property in designated investment zones in Abu Dhabi. These include: Yas Island, Reem Island, Saadiyat Island, Raha Beach, Al Reef Village, and more.

The Northern Emirates

Expats can now make freehold and leasehold purchases in Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al Quwain. Most of the available property tends to be on a leasehold basis.

Can expats get a mortgage to purchase property in the UAE?

Expats can get a mortgage from lenders operating in the UAE but there are some restrictions. The UAE Mortgage Cap law requires non-UAE nationals to have a cash down payment of at least 20% of the property value (15% for UAE nationals) plus associated purchase costs.

Down payment requirements for non-UAE nationals

Purchase type Purchase price Maximum loan-to-value ratio (LTV) Minimum down payment
First property Under AED 5 million 80% 20%
First property Over AED 5 million 70% 30%
Second, third+ property Any price 60%  40%
Off plan / under construction Any price 50% 50%

Looking for a mortgage? We can help.

Our brokers will give you an independent and personalised mortgage recommendation to ensure you get the best product.

Read more about purchasing a property in the UAE: