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Retire in Abu Dhabi Guide

Retire in Abu Dhabi with confidence, armed with the knowledge from our extensive guide. It covers critical considerations for retirees, from the cost of living and climate to housing, healthcare, and residency choices in Abu Dhabi. We also delve into the social and cultural scene, volunteering options, public transportation facilities, and the city's walkability, helping you make an informed decision.
|-Retire in Abu Dhabi Guide

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a popular destination for international retirees. The city offers a high standard of living, a vibrant cultural scene, and a warm, sunny climate. However, retiring in Abu Dhabi also presents some challenges, such as adjusting to a different culture and navigating the local healthcare system.

Cost of Living

Abu Dhabi is known for its high cost of living. However, this is balanced by the fact that the UAE does not levy income tax, which can make a significant difference to a retiree’s budget. Housing, in particular, can be expensive, especially in the more desirable areas of the city. However, there are also areas where affordable housing can be found. Groceries and other everyday items are generally reasonably priced, and dining out can be surprisingly affordable, especially if you take advantage of the many happy hour deals and buffet meals on offer.


Abu Dhabi has a desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters. The city enjoys plenty of sunshine throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for those who enjoy outdoor activities. However, the summer months can be extremely hot, with temperatures often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. Many retirees choose to escape the heat by traveling during the summer months.


Abu Dhabi boasts a high standard of healthcare, with many excellent hospitals and clinics. The city is home to some of the best medical facilities in the region, including the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. Many doctors and medical staff in Abu Dhabi are foreign-trained, and English is widely spoken in the medical community.

Public Healthcare System

While the UAE does have a public healthcare system, it is primarily designed for Emirati citizens. International retirees will generally need to have private health insurance. Fortunately, there are many insurance providers to choose from, and coverage can be tailored to suit individual needs and budgets.

Residency Options for Retirees

The UAE recently introduced a long-term visa for retirees, making it easier for international retirees to settle in Abu Dhabi. To qualify for this visa, retirees must meet certain financial criteria, such as owning a property in the UAE or having a certain level of income or savings.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Abu Dhabi offers a wealth of recreational activities for retirees. The city is home to numerous parks and green spaces, including the beautiful Umm Al Emarat Park and the Mangrove National Park. For those who enjoy cultural activities, there are many museums and galleries to explore, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.


Abu Dhabi is a food lover’s paradise, with a wide range of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Some popular options include the Lebanese Flower, which serves authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, and the Nolu’s Cafe, known for its healthy Californian-Afghan fusion dishes. For a special treat, the Emirates Palace Hotel offers a luxurious afternoon tea experience.

Learning the Language

While Arabic is the official language of the UAE, English is widely spoken in Abu Dhabi, making it relatively easy for English-speaking retirees to get by. However, those who wish to learn Arabic can do so at the Berlitz Language Center in Abu Dhabi, which offers a range of Arabic courses for beginners and advanced learners.

What Locals are Like

The people of Abu Dhabi are known for their hospitality and friendliness. The city is a melting pot of cultures, with a large expatriate community. This diversity is reflected in the city’s vibrant cultural scene and its wide range of international cuisine.

Meeting People and Volunteer Opportunities

Meeting new people in Abu Dhabi can be as simple as joining a local club or organization. The Abu Dhabi Golf Club, for example, is a popular meeting place for retirees. For those interested in volunteering, the Emirates Red Crescent offers a range of opportunities to give back to the community.

Housing Options

Most retirees in Abu Dhabi live in apartments or villas. The city offers a range of housing options, from luxurious waterfront properties to more affordable options in the suburbs. Some popular neighborhoods for retirees include the tranquil Al Bateen and the vibrant downtown area.


While having a car can be convenient in Abu Dhabi, it is not essential. The city has a reliable public transportation system, including buses and taxis. Many areas of the city are also walkable, and there are plenty of cycle paths for those who prefer to get around on two wheels.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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