In Shoreline, Palm Jumeirah, you can get a three-bedroom apartment for Dh2 million Image Credit: GN Archives

Last week His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai launched the five-year “Retirement in Dubai” programme, a first-of-its kind partnership between Dubai Tourism and the General Administration of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Under this initiative retirees from around the world can apply for a retirement visa in Dubai. But the initiative is equally attractive for Dubai’s sizeable expat population. Elaine Jones, executive chairman of Asteco Property Management says the “Dubai-expat retiree” is now a growing section of the population.

Julian Roche, chief economist at Cavendish Maxwell says, “As of last year the Dubai Statistics Centre estimated that there are more than three million expatriates living and working in Dubai alone. An equal number are to be found in the other emirates and a growing number of those are approaching retirement age. Not all of them, by any means, will want to return ‘home’ to countries where they no longer have strong connections.”

Enjoy higher yields

Few places in the world offer an ease of living as does Dubai, says Elaine. The emirate has superior healthcare facilities, is safe and has great lifestyle offerings. “You can even have a live-in house help here or even home-nursing care, important to people in the retiring age bracket. In addition, the weather and leisure facilities such as golf courses, marinas and clubs for fitness and social interaction tick the right boxes. Ease of travel and proximity to Asia as well as Europe further enhances the value proposition of Dubai as a retirement destination,” she explains.

From a real estate perspective, the Dubai Retirement Visa represents a significant opportunity for retirees worldwide to improve both their financial returns and quality of life, explains Roche. “Even the average London homeowner, for example, can move to Dubai or Abu Dhabi with enough to spare to buy an income-generating apartment. Investment property in the UAE earns higher gross yields than European countries - on an average, one-and-a-half times that of London. Without tax, net yields are even higher,” he says.

Also property buyers still get more space, as price per square metre is around four times more expensive in London than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. “Comparable offerings in traditional retirement destinations such as Portugal, Cyprus or even Australia are largely outside major cities, whereas the UAE offers vibrant world-class urban life. Retirement in the UAE is an enticing prospect,” explains Roche.

Mandana Dabbagh, managing director of Ayana Properties says, “A typical rental yield in the heart of Dubai is now around 5 per cent and can reach up to 10 per cent in more suburban locations. Therefore, with a few smart investments within the property market, retirees can gain a healthy income to fund their lifestyle.”

Earn Dh20,000 monthly

For a five-year Dubai Retirement Visa, you will need to have a monthly income of Dh20,000, savings of Dh 1,000,000 or ownership of a property worth Dh2,000,000. “To achieve a monthly income of Dh20,000 from your property investment, I would recommend a portfolio of four or five small villas at an average capital value of Dh1,100,000, each generating an income of approximately Dh60,000-80,000 per annum. Although apartments are also available at the same gross return, the net is lower due to utility costs. Alternatively invest in hotel apartments where the yield is guaranteed at, for example, 8 per cent net of all expenses. Here the hotel operator takes full responsibility for the property and the investor receives payment without any involvement,” advises Elaine.

There is a desire to relocate to the UAE from retirees across the world due to the safety it offers Image Credit: GN Archives

Recent relocation trends

Talking about recent trends, Mandana says, “Our sister company Atlas Homestays has seen an increase in demand from families staying with us for a short period of time (between one and three months) while they look to purchase a family home. We recently accommodated an elderly couple from Lebanon who stayed with in a holiday home for a month until they found a suitable family home at Dubai Hills to settle for their retirement. This trend is not just restricted to expats from neighbouring countries. We are seeing similar trends from Europe and even as far out as USA. A French gentleman recently stayed with us through the summer while he purchased a family home in Downtown Dubai to move his family next month. Our clients across the world have expressed the desire to relocate to the UAE due to the safety it offers, a superior healthcare system, as well as a virtually non-existent crime rate.” 

Recent forecasts have shown that there will be 18m people over the age of 60 years in the GCC by 2050, which is driving growth in the Middle East pharmaceuticals industry as well as a growth in retirement-based investment. Mandana says. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the UAE’s superior ability to handle a crisis. “I personally think this served as a wake-up call to many high-net worth individuals across the world as well as to individuals across the working class,” she says.

Diversify risk

Her advise is to invest in multiple investments and diversify risk in order to obtain a generous income rather than focusing on a higher-priced real estate asset. “We would also recommend investments which target the masses as opposed to luxury real estate which we would target for end users as opposed to investors. Look as established locations, with good schools, accessible healthcare, shopping malls, good infrastructure and close to business districts,” says Mandana.

Start investing early

Expats living in Dubai and looking to call the city home permanently should look to start investing in property sooner rather than later to start building on their eligibility to retire here. Lewis Allsopp, CEO of Allsopp and Allsopp, says “With REITs and the introduction of shared ownership title deeds, expats can now diversify their investments without putting all savings in at once to start generating an income and grow from there. If retirees are buying with a 10-15 year mindset, capital values will increase. There may be peaks and troughs in the meantime but the market value will increase steadily over time.”

These areas in Dubai can get you a property of Dh2 million

The tram in Dubai Marina, a great place to enjoy your retirement with luxurious towers Image Credit: GN Archives

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina is a great place to enjoy your retirement. There are 200 luxurious residential towers are spread over prime beachside land creating an ideal place to live the Dubai lifestyle. It is one of only a few beachside developments with shops, cafes and restaurants by the marina. Living in the community, you can easily access the Marina Mall. In Dubai Marina, for Dh2 million you can expect to get a two-bedroom apartment in a well maintained building with marina views.

Palm Jumeirah

If you are looking to live that famous Dubai lifestyle of having dinner on the beach and taking a walk outside The Atlantis Hotel, then Palm Jumeirah is the perfect place for you! Here you can find meeting spots, restaurants, bars and entertainment. The Nakheel Mall caters to all shopping needs and you can relax on the lovely beaches available for residents on the shoreline. In Shoreline, Palm Jumeirah, you can get a three-bedroom apartment for Dh2 million or a two-bedroom apartment on a higher floor with full sea views for around the same price.

The Springs offers a beautiful green and pet-friendly community Image Credit: Supplied

The Springs

If you want to live in one of the most highly sought-after areas in Dubai with an incredible location then go for The Springs. The community has abundance of greenery and is also pet-friendly and stone’s throw from the Dubai Marina.

Arabian Ranches

Arabian Ranches or The Ranches as it is commonly known is nestled and surrounded in nature making it feel a million miles from the inner city of Dubai. It is a perfect location for retirees looking to relax in peace. The amenities are great with swimming pools, BBQ areas and tennis courts for those who like to keep active. There are walking and jogging trails that weave their way through the entire community. In The Springs, and Alma in Arabian Ranches, for Dh2 million you can get a three-bedroom townhouse plus a study with a large landscaped garden.

Downtown Dubai

If you’re looking to live in a vibrant atmosphere surrounded by the Dubai Fountains and the iconic Burj Khalifa, then look no further! In Downtown Dubai, Dh2 million can buy a two-bedroom apartment with views of the Burj Khalifa.

Information: Allsopp & Allsopp