Expatriates living in the UAE feel the future is looking brighter than they were a year ago, a new study has shown.

Just 36 per cent of respondents in a poll by compareit4me.com said they were planning to stay in the UAE over the long term. This figure compares to 54 per cent of residents saying they wouldn’t consider buying property in the UAE as they weren’t sure how long they were going to stay at the same time last year.

“In March last year all the major newspapers were reporting that more than half of expats in the UAE were considering leaving due to the high cost of living,” Jon Richards, CEO of the finance comparison site says. “Just one year later, we are happy to announce that the number of people who are interested in buying property is on the rise. It seems attitudes are changing and fears and insecurities about the future are lifting.”

Interestingly, last year 56 per cent of people said property prices were the main squeeze on their financial wellbeing. With that in mind, the fact that property prices dropped by between 10 and 13 per cent last year and are set to drop by a further 10 per cent this year could explain the change of heart in the expat population.

Over 1500 UAE residents were polled for each survey. 

Property market stability

“There is no doubt that the stabilisation in the property market, which is thought to be a knock-on effect of low crude oil prices and the subsequent strength of the US dollar, must be having an impact on people’s long term plans,” Richards said. “Additionally, with the recent exciting developments – both commercially, in terms of business opportunities, and physically, with projects like the impressive Dubai Canal – staying and committing to life in the UAE is becoming even more of an enticing option.

“For expats, it’s all about timing – choosing the right time to arrive and the right time to leave. The recent drop in housing prices has obviously removed a big weight from people’s minds and made settling here a more viable option. After all, who wants to leave a place when it is booming?”

Commenting on this, CCO Lukman Hajje of The propertyfinder Group commented ‘’Many property seekers have been sitting on the sidelines watching prices ease for the past 18-24 months trying to time the bottom of the market which I suspect we'll see during 2016. But interest continues to be strong particularly from long term investors seeking excellent high single digital rental yields and end users who've seen their dream home come to within reach.  Moreover, the oil's rebound in the past two months from a 14-year low of $27 per barrel to the verge of $50 per barrel early this week has given reason for optimism.’’

The UAE’s population currently stands at approximately 9.5 million - more than 8 million of which are expats - and is predicted to rise to 12.41 million by 2030. The population in Dubai alone is expected to double by 2030 to 5 million.