Best areas to buy villas in Abu Dhabi

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The United Arab Emirates is known all over the world for its high standard of living, minimal taxes, high-quality world-renowned medical care, and favorable business environment. Abu Dhabi is one of the largest in size of all the Emirates, and it is also one of the leading cities in the world. The gross domestic product is one of the highest in the UAE, as the economy of Abu Dhabi is ahead of many regions in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and North Africa, as the level of competitiveness in global innovations and high quality of security are at their highest possible rates.

According to real estate market data for 2021 in Abu Dhabi, the most in-demand property type from house-hunters is the rent and purchase of villas. Experts believe that the reasons for this are the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the gradual recovery of processes in the real estate market. At the same time, relative to the increase in demand for purchasing property, prices for the sale of villas in Abu Dhabi are also increasing, as well as rental prices which are increasing by 2% on average, by 6-8% in certain areas, and sometimes even higher. Due to rising real estate prices and an increase in rents, buying a villa is a very sensible and attractive investment.

Abu Dhabi has a wide selection of different types of villas, from small cozy 2-bedroom villas to expensive luxury residences of 6-7 bedrooms with various amenities. We will be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of buying a villa, as well as choosing the best area to purchase a private residence in this article.

Why is it profitable to invest in villas in Abu Dhabi

The main and obvious difference between villas and apartments in a residential complex is it is a more spacious premises (even if we are talking about a small villa with 2 bedrooms) and a high level of privacy, as well as the presence of its own plot.

There are 2 main types of villas in the UAE: detached villas and semi-detached. Although adjacent villas are designed for two owners, privacy is still preserved. As a rule, each of the private residences has a separate entrance, and only one wall is common in the building.

In most cases, villas are in demand among couples with children and as a country house or holiday home for recreation. But against the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents of the UAE have completely or partially switched to a remote work format, and lots of students have taken to learning in an online format, which means buying or renting a villa has become a more optimal option for living in the most comfortable conditions.

The advantages of living in a villa:

  • Privacy. Living in a villa is primarily a guarantee for completed privacy. This type of property also provides a more relaxed atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In addition, you generally have more personal space, as the actual premises of the plot is more spacious. Most villas can be bought with a garden, a terrace or a swimming pool, which allows you to spend more time outdoors.
  • The opportunity to equip a work and study space. In this case, being the sole owner of the property, you can convert one of the rooms into a study room or in accordance with any other of your needs, or you could be a bit more creative and arrange a workplace on the veranda.
  • Optimal conditions for family life. In addition to spacious rooms and other amenities, buying a villa allows you to live in an integrated community with the maximum number of amenities, including kindergartens, schools, sometimes universities, hospitals, supermarkets, shopping centers, banks and more. Almost all communities in Abu Dhabi are focused on family values and offer excellent infrastructure, huge availability of places to relax and entertainment. In addition, such communities often have a closed protected area, which provides increased security for children and families.

However, There are also some disadvantages to consider when buying a villa. There is a higher cost in relation to buying an apartment as it comes with higher utility prices. But you can also find cheaper options, for instance the Hydra Village community has ready-to-move-in 2 bedroom villas with an area of 1,884 sq. ft at AED 1,100,000 (USD 299,500) and there is an option to take out a mortgage or a Rent-to-Own scheme (lease with subsequent purchase). You can also invest in real estate under construction, which after commissioning will increase in price, but you will have to wait a few years until this reflects in the selling price. To minimize the financial burden on buyers, developers offer convenient payment plans for properties in the construction stages.

The interest of foreign investors in buying a property in Abu Dhabi was also aroused by the Golden Visa - Thrive in Abu Dhabi programme, which gives buyers the right to obtain a 5-year UAE resident visa when buying real estate to the amount of AED 2,000,000 (USD 544,600). Another advantage of buying real estate in Abu Dhabi is having a good income as the average ROI in the capital is 7-8% per annum, and sometimes this reaches 10-12%.

The best areas of Abu Dhabi to buy villas

Although foreign investors planning to buy real estate in the UAE primarily consider Dubai, Abu Dhabi is also beginning to rapidly gain in popularity. A key moment was in April 2019, during which expats in the capital of the Emirates, following the example of Dubai, received the right to buy real estate with full ownership in special freehold zones.

In addition, over the past few years, and especially during the pandemic, the UAE capital has consolidated its status as one of the safest and most resilient cities in the world. Thus, in the Safe Cities Index 2021, prepared by the British company Economist Intelligence Unit, Abu Dhabi was recognized as the safest city in the Middle East. The capital of the United Arab Emirates, in particular, received a very high rating for health safety and infrastructure.

According to a Bayut & dubizzle report on Abu Dhabi real estate rentals for the first half of 2021, there was a significant increase in demand for villas in family-oriented communities, both in the high-end and the affordable segment of the market. According to another Asteco study, prices for villas for sale in Abu Dhabi increased by an average of 2% over the same period in 2020. A few areas, however, saw larger increases, including Al Raha Gardens; up 6%, Al Reef Villas; up 8%, and West Yas Island (West Yas Project); up to 24%.

Note: Compared to Dubai, Abu Dhabi has a more relaxed lifestyle centered around tradition and family values.

Below we take a look at the best neighbourhoods and communities for buying a villa in Abu Dhabi, both as a place to live and as an investment.

Yas Island

This area is one of the main centers of entertainment and recreation in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general. Yas Island is an artificial island with an area of ​​269,100 sq.ft and a coastline of about 10 km. The island is home to the Warner Bros. Theme Park World Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Race Track, where the Formula 1 Championship takes place, Ferrari World amusement park with the fastest roller coaster in the world, as well as Yas Links golf course and other 2 event venues. It also houses the largest shopping complex in Abu Dhabi; Yas Mall with over 160 premium restaurants, clubs, and a 5-star boutique hotel with the exclusive W Abu Dhabi. In 2022, the island plans to open the SeaWorld Abu Dhabi Marine Park which will house the world's largest aquarium with 68,000 marine animals. Another interesting and important attraction is the Yas Creative Hub media Cluster. This is a free zone for media, entertainment and gaming companies. By the end of 2031, 16,000 jobs will be created here, which will no doubt have a positive impact on the demand for rent and home purchases in the area.

Along with tourist and entertainment destinations, there are also many residential properties on the island, mainly luxury housing. These are ready-made projects and residences, as well as off-plan projects. Yas Island is now one of the most popular destinations for overseas buyers and property investors to buy property due to the wide variety of housing options, island lifestyle and long-term potential of the area. The area is in demand among families, as well as young professionals who have come to the UAE for work. The infrastructure of the island is well developed and there are several schools on the island, including SABIS International School, Yas School and West Yas Academy. Nearby hospitals close to the island include Health and Life Camp and Burjeel Medical Centre Yas Mall, which makes the area an ideal place for living with children.

In the popularity rating among the areas to buy luxury villas in Abu Dhabi, Yas Island comes in second place - according to Bayut & dubizzle data on the overview of the real estate market in Q3 2021. The most popular were 2-BR villas – 6.3%, with the ROI of this type of real estate being over 5%. Among the renters of luxury villas, this area is the third in the ranking.

The minimum selling price of a 2-BR villa is from AED 2.3M (USD 643K). Villas with 2 bedrooms under construction (off-plan) start from AED 1.5M (USD 414K).

The most popular villa complexes on Yas Island are:

  • Yas Acres (Aldar Properties). This is a coastal community of over 200 hectares, with 2-6-BR villas, 2-5-BR townhouses and 2-4-BR duplexes for sale. The community area will be equipped with shops, schools, cafes and restaurants. A 2-BR villa of 2,228 sq.ft will cost from AED 2.3M (USD 642K).
  • Noya (Aldar Properties). The complex is located in the eastern part of the island and consists of 2-5-BR villas and 2-4-BR townhouses. Residents of the project, upon completion of construction, will have access to the highest quality amenities and services, as well as retail outlets, eateries and sports facilities. Access to many attractions and other important sites is ensured by the complex's convenient location on the island and its close proximity to the center of Abu Dhabi. It is worth noting that property prices in this community are the most affordable on the entire island as a 3-BR villa of 1,335 sq.ft costs from AED 1.5M (USD 414K).
  • West Yas (Aldar Properties). A gated complex with luxury 2 storey villas with 4-5-BR, and ready to move in. The advantages of this community are the close proximity to kindergartens, several schools to choose from, playgrounds for children and outdoor gardens for walking and living an active lifestyle. Prices for 4-BR villas in this complex start at AED 5.5M (USD 1.49M).

Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island is an artificial island with an area of ​​290К sq.ft. Mixed buildings prevail on the territory of this region and there are many cultural values that are rightfully considered the cultural capital of Abu Dhabi. For example the Louvre Abu Dhabi art museum, which houses masterpieces of world art – the works of Paul Gauguin and Rembrandt, the Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition center, the Zayed National Museum, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum of Contemporary Art, which is currently under construction, are all housed on the island. On the territory of the island, there are also many different entertainment and amenities, including 5-star hotels, restaurants, golf courses and more. For school children, there are several educational institutions including the American University New York University and the British international school Cranleigh School. Weekends can also be spent on Saadiyat Beach, which is located on the island and is one of the best in the emirate.

There are mainly luxury villas on the island, as well as several low-rise buildings consisting of apartments. Real estate on Saadiyat Island belongs to the "Extra Luxury" real estate sector, and the area itself is considered one of the most prestigious areas for living in the emirate.

Saadiyat Island takes the leading position in the ranking of popular areas for buying luxury villas in Abu Dhabi – according to Bayut & dubizzle data for Q3 2021. The cost of a 3-BR villa here starts from AED 5.5M (USD 1.49M).

Among those renting premium villas, the island is also among the most popular areas as well. In the 3rd quarter of 2021, the average ROI was 4.69%.

The most popular projects in demand among buyers and investors:

  • Saadiyat Beach Villas (Aldar Properties) – villas and townhouses with 3-7-BRs, located along the shore in a closed private community with security. There are swimming pools, sports fields and other amenities on-site. Schools, mosques, hospitals, hotels, shopping malls, golf clubs and world-class beach clubs are close to the community as well. The purchase price for villas with 3-BR starts from AED 5.5M (USD 1.49M). Most of the properties are ready to move in, but there are only a few spacious 4.5 and 7 bedroom off-plan villas left to buy. Prices for villas here start from AED 7.2M (USD 1.96M).
  • HIDD Al Saadiyat – are elegant villas offered in 8 different variants. Community residents have easy access to schools, supermarkets, hospitals, parks, shopping malls, beaches and resorts which are all located in the area. There are 464 units of 4-7-BR villas in the community. with prices starting from AED 7.5M (USD 2M). Most of the properties are ready to move in, but there are also a limited number of villas that are still under construction. The cost of off-plan properties start from AED 8.2M (USD 2.2M).

Al Reef

The Al Reef area is located on the mainland of the emirate and is a mixed development area with 16K inhabitants and consists of 2 communities: Al Reef Downtown (where the apartments are located) and Al Reef Villas.

By 2012, the construction of Al Reef Villas was fully completed. This is a gated community with 2,400 2-5-BR villas, designed in several styles: modern, Arabic, desert and Mediterranean. This is an ideal place to stay with children as there is a Maple Bear Nursery on-site, as well as several schools in the surrounding areas which are within a 10-minute drive.

The Al Reef area is a leader in the low-cost villas sector because the main focus of the project is on people with an average income. As of Q3 2021, this area has once again become the most popular type of home for the local population and foreign buyers alike. For this type of property, the return on investment is 6.2% which is a high return rate. The cost of a 2-BR villa ready-to-move-in is from AED 1.2M (USD 347K).

Al Raha Gardens

Al Raha Gardens is a residential coastal area of 7.15M sq.ft and is a quiet and peaceful area for families to reside in, with many amenities. Residents of Al Raha Gardens have access to the private schools of Al Yasmina Academy and Raha International School, as well as the Gardens Plaza shopping center, which are all located in the area. Across the road is the Al Raha Beach Marina and Al Raha Mall. Al Raha Gardens is a secluded area with good transport links, as Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan St highway is located along the border of the area, and there are many bus stops as well.

There are 11 communities here, including Muzera, Samra, Sidra, Al Mariah, Qattouf, Yasmina, Hemaim, Kahnnour, Lehwieh, Al Ward and Al Tharwaniyah. Al Raha Gardens real estate consists of 3-BR to 5-BR villas and townhouses, and each villa layout within each community is different, designed for both large and small families. All residences have swimming pools, landscaped gardens, 24-hour security, playgrounds, parking and large terraces. Some residences have separate rooms for drivers and a maid's room as well. The 3-BR villas here are priced from AED 2.1M (USD 572K).

According to reports for the 3rd quarter of 2021, among premium real estate, villas in Al Raha Gardens showed the highest yield in Abu Dhabi and the ROI was 6%. This area is also the second most popular area in the capital for luxury villa rentals. The average rental price of a 4-BR villa increased by 11.4% versus Q2, and a 5-BR villa increased by 7.2%.

Most popular projects at Al Raha Gardens:

  • Al Mariah. This is a gated community of 3-4-BR villas and townhouses. On the territory of the district, there are all the amenities necessary for everyday life, including medical centers, elite restaurants, shopping areas, mosques and more. Selling prices here start at AED 2.4M (USD 667K).
  • Sidra Community is a project with a well-organized infrastructure that helps residents to be close to the main highway and amenities of the capital. Abu Dhabi International Airport is also in close proximity to the community. For a family moving to the area, there is a fairly optimal value for real estate, including villas and townhouses with 3-6-BR. Sale prices for 3-BR villas start at AED 2.38M (USD 648K).
  • Hemaim Community is a secluded community with a modern lifestyle twist. Prices for 3-4-BR villas and townhouses here start from AED 2.6M (USD 708K). The specific features of this community are the close proximity to the Persian Gulf, the presence of a large number of sports facilities and fitness centers, places for recreation and good access to the center of Abu Dhabi.

Khalifa City

Khalifa City (Khalifa City A) is a suburban area along the highway on the way to Dubai. The nearest neighbourhoods are Saadiyat Island and Yas Island. Here is the Eko-district Masdar City "city of the future" – the functioning of all systems here is carried out using solar energy and provides the maximum use of renewable energy sources that creates a healthy and clean environment for residents to live in. The area is home to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club which houses two large golf courses and the Al Forsan International Sports Resort, where highly qualified instructors teach horse riding, archery and other outdoor activities. This community combines commercial and residential properties and is a sought-after place to invest and live.

Khalifa City is home to the prestigious GEMS American Academy and Canadian International School, making the area ideal for families with children. In addition, there are many different cafes and restaurants, shopping areas, banks and supermarkets in the area.
The project envisages the construction of over 2K villas, half of which are already within full operation. There is no freehold zone in this area, and therefore foreign residents cannot buy real estate here. The cost of a 3-BR villa starts from AED 2.7M (USD 735K). According to reports for Q3 2021, the average ROI in the segment of affordable villas is 4.19%.

Popular villa complexes in Khalifa City:

  • Al Forsan Village. This is a residential complex developed by Al Forsan Real Estate, with villas varying from 3 to 5 bedrooms. The buildings of villas are designed in a Mediterranean architectural style and have a large living space and an attractive appearance. Al Forsan has quick and easy access to sports facilities and some of the city's best educational facilities. The minimum property value here is from AED 4M (USD 1.08M).
  • Al Marief. The aim of the project is to provide residents with a traditional lifestyle combined with modern amenities. Here are 5-6-BR villas for sale starting at AED 5.8M (USD 1.5M). The presented properties have their own characteristics: easy access to infrastructure, well-kept gardens and terraces and various places for entertainment and recreation. There is also an opportunity to purchase a land plot for the construction of your own home.

Hydra Village

Hydra Village was completed in late 2012 and is located near the E11 highway that connects Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Abu Dhabi International Airport is 20 minutes’ away by car. The community consists of 11 sub-communities with 2.4K villas and townhouses with 2-3-BRs. Various public amenities are situated here, including a swimming pool, gym, billiard club, squash court, landscaped gardens and parks. Not far from the community are medical and educational institutions, shopping areas and supermarkets. Al Rahba and SEHA Visa Medical Shahama, Alyasat Kindergarten and Halima Al Sa'adeya School are 10 minutes’ away by car. In the future, the project plans to build its own shopping centers, schools and clinics.

Hydra Village is one of the best places to buy or rent inexpensive villas. The return on investment for the 3rd quarter of 2021 was 6.96%, and this is one of the best indicators among budget real estate. The minimum cost for a 2-BR villa is from AED 695K (USD 189K).

Ghantoot

Ghantoot is a new area that is located between the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai in a wilderness area. This area is famous throughout the Middle East for the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club and is home to the Ghantoot Marina and the Sahel Al Emarat Coast Reserve. This area has another advantage – just 20 minutes by car, you can reach the site of the World Expo 2020.

Developer Imkan in Ghantoot is building a new luxury villa complex in AlJurf, in which there will be 293 villas with 2-7-BR, located amongst many green areas. It is a gated community with a beach club, marina, hotel, educational institutions and restaurants, and each residence has a balcony or private terrace as well as a swimming pool. The area is projected to become one of the most prestigious in the entire emirate, which will also drive real estate prices up. Starting prices for 2-BR villas in AlJurf start at AED 1.8M (USD 490K).

Conclusion

  1. Investing in villas in Abu Dhabi is a profitable way to generate income, as the sale price for this type of property is steadily increasing. Rental growth trends are now consistently high, and the ROI level is high as well, at 6-7%.
  2. Buying a villa gives you many advantages that you cannot get when purchasing an apartment. These are: having your own garden, a high level of privacy, large rooms, having your own terrace and or pool, the ability to organize a place for work or study at your own discretion.
  3. Villas in the emirate are mostly suitable for families with children.
  4. In Abu Dhabi, there is an opportunity to choose both inexpensive villas with 2-BR and premium villas with 6-7-BR with different types of amenities.
  5. According to the data for the first half of 2021, there was a significant increase in the demand for the rental and sale of villas in the emirate.

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