Dubai has set one more global record – it has emerged among the top five most affordable cities globally for expat housing, according to the latest ranking list.
The Norwegian capital city Oslo, German capital Berlin, Spanish city of Barcelona and Lisbon are the other cities among the most affordable cities for expats, with the Portugal capital topping the list, according to the new ranking by Colife, a global rental service.
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The ranking is based on several factors such as changes in the real estate markets of cities with an attractive business environment for expats.
Extensive global studies such as the Ease of Doing Business Index by the World Bank, the Global Startup Ecosystem Index Report by StartupBlink, world’s most comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center, and the Worldwide Work-Life Balance Index by Forbes Advisor are the other factors considered for the ranking.
The ranking assumes added significance in the backdrop of a surge in digital nomadism – the trend of remote workers who travel and work simultaneously, visiting locations worldwide, and working from beaches, coffee shops, and co-working spaces.
A recent study by Instant Offices estimated that more than 35 million people worldwide are now working remotely and travelling the globe, and the rising trend started to influence the policies and decision-making of companies and governments, with countries like the UAE offering special long-term residency visa programmes, amending migration laws, and expanding their product/service offerings to attract more people.
“The analysis of our target audience considered people with above-average incomes who value their time and quality of life,” Ilnara Muzafiarova, CEO of Colife, told Arabian Business.
“The study also included people who prefer to delegate household tasks and avoid the hassle of a two-hour daily commute,” Muzafiarova said.
Dubai scores on many fronts for expats
Colife said Dubai offers several advantages to expats, and is also more affordable than major cities like London and New York.
“For example, the Colife service offers stylish apartments in popular areas of Dubai such as Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Al Furjan, and JLT, from $1,800 per month without realtor commissions or a deposit,” Muzafiarova said.
The rental price includes 24/7 service, high-speed Wi-Fi, bill payment and cleaning services.
“It is a cosmopolitan city with a developed economy and a high standard of living, and also home to offices of many large international companies, including Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Amazon, Procter & Gamble, and Nestlé,” the study said.
“With more than 80 percent of the city’s population is expats, therefore English is widely spoken, and services and information are easily accessible in English, making Dubai a comfortable place for expats, especially regarding language adaptation,” the Colife study said.
Lisbon ranks high on lower living costs, Berlin on creative environment, Oslo on social security
The Colife ranking said Lisbon topped the city list for digital nomads due to its low cost of living, good climate, and friendly locals.
A small one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be rented for about $870-$980 (€800-€900), while the city’s well-developed infrastructure of co-working spaces, and abundance of “third places” such as cafes and libraries provide plenty of opportunities for nomads to stay connected, productive, and entertained, it said.
Barcelona has of late turned into a very attractive destination for remote workers thanks to a new digital nomad visa that Spain announced at the beginning of 2023. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center is estimated to cost between $980 and $1,300 (€900 and €1200) monthly.
Berlin, the creative capital of Germany, has become a magnet for talented foreign specialists in technical innovations, creative industries, and science, helping them to build thriving careers, while Oslo is preferred by expats because of its high social security, access to world-class education, and a healthy work-life balance, Colife said.
Rent for a one-room apartment in Berlin’s city center ranges from $1,091 to $1,418 (€1,000 to €1,300), while that in the Norwegian capital is estimated around $1,300- $1,528 (€1,200-€1,400) per month.
“This trend of digital nomadism is impacting all spheres – from accommodation booking services to the hiring sector,” Muzafiarova said.
She said Colife is one of the companies globally catering to the growing trend of digital nomadism by offering stylish apartments in popular expat destinations, as well as 24/7 concierge assistance and a variety of community events and networking opportunities.
The Dubai-headquartered company currently has several hundreds of apartments in Dubai and Istanbul, and is set to enter new markets by the end of 2023.