Originally Posted by TallyHo
I'd also add that it's well worth the effort to check out as many Dubai communities as possible as each community does have its own character. The Greens and the Marina are only a few minutes from each other but they are a world apart in appearances and have quite different atmospheres and will appeal to different people.
Second, even within a Dubai community you will find a range of choices and quality.
A few notes in addition to the original post:
Marina: The most well known of the New Dubai communities, the Marina was built by multiple developers with the end result that towers vary greatly in quality. While the Marina has a number of lovely buildings it also has a number of cheap, basic apartments of indifferent quality. In general the towers closer to the south end of the Marina are cheaper than the ones to the north end. In recent years the Marina has truly come to life as many smaller shops and restaurants have opened up on the ground floors of the apartments and a lot of Marina residents never leave the Marina except to go to work.
The Marina can have a fun atmosphere with strong appeal to young western expats, but if you're a couple looking for a 1-2 bedroom apartment, be aware that you will only get one parking space and finding a second parking space on the public streets can be a nightmare.
Traffic in and out of the Marina can be cumbersome but it varies greatly depending on where your apartment is located.
JBR has roomy apartments but people have a love/hate relationship with the complex. The Podium levels have never properly taken off and some of the clusters do have a down at heels look with boarded up shops and crumbling sidewalks. The Walk is perennially popular but also noisy at the weekends and well into the night.
Apartments generally start at 45,000 for a cheaper 1-bedroom, 55,000 for a mid-range one bedroom and 75,000 for a higher end one-bedroom. Two-three bedrooms are correspondingly higher.
Jumeirah Lakes Towers: JLT is often written off as the ugly stepsister as it's directly opposite Sheikh Zayed from the Marina but the better JLT towers have very sizeable apartments with excellent finishes and much easier parking and higher prices than the cheaper Marina apartments. The cheaper JLT towers are cheaper for very good reasons. The tradeoff is far fewer amenities, difficulty of walking around on foot and a ridiculous road system. JLT is district cooling.
Apartments start at 35-40,000 for a cheaper one-bedroom. On the whole, JLT apartments are about 10,000 cheaper than a similar apartment in the Marina.
The Greens: Young people may find the Greens too quiet (although plenty still live there), but it has (by Dubai standards) fabulous landscaping and a nice community feel that may appeal to families, couples and older people, and within the Greens the low-rise apartments offer good value for space and convenience while the high rise apartments with their Emaar quality finishes and lush pools and views are among the more expensive in Dubai. The Greens is not district cooling and all AC usage is paid for by the landlord out of his maintenance fees, so your dewa bills will be much lower.
Greens apartments are about the same as the Marina, starting at 45,000 for the cheapest 1-bedroom in the low rises and about 60,000 for a small 1-bedroom in the towers, with prices going up with size and views.
The Palm Jumeirah: The Palm can be a wonderful place to live but not all apartments on the Palm are created equal or even have pool/beach access. The Palm can have a holiday feel to the place and is popular with holiday lets, which means you run the risk of having unwelcome (if temporary) neighbours. The Palm is district cooling.
The cheapest Palm apartments tend to go for about 65,000 for a one-bedroom in Golden Mile (no beach/pool acess or views). Proper one-bedrooms in the Shorelines usually start at 75,000.
Downtown Burj Khalifa: This, like the Greens, is a masterplanned community entirely built by one developer: Emaar, so Downtown has a cohesive "planned" finish that's very high quality. In addition to the Dubai Mall, hotels and Burj Khalifa, Downtown consists of several clusters of apartment complexes: the Burj Views and Lofts towers, 8 Boulevard Walk, The Residences (direct on the lake), Southridge, as well as "Old Town," a mock Arab low-rise complex. Finishes and amenities are quite high across the board and the Burj Views/Lofts offer excellent value given the location. The Residences are the most expensive apartments (outside the Burj itself) and have terrific views, but the nightly waterfountain displays can be too noisy for some people. Old Town is popular but its apartments tend to be dark. While Downtown offers easy and walkable access to the Dubai Mall and the bars/restaurants in the mall, the adjoining Souk al Bahar and hotels, these are more expensive and you won't find the cheap and cheerful corner shops and eateries you now find in the Marina.
Downtown, as with any Emaar development, is not district cooling.
Downtown start at about 60,000 for the cheaper 1-bedrooms in the Burj Views/Lofts. Pricewise it's the same as comparable buildings in the Marina.
Business Bay: This is one of the newest areas in Dubai and is located just south and east of Downtown. Despite external appearances it is not part of Downtown and as of now one cannot drive direct from Business Bay into Downtown but must go via Sheikh Zayed. A large, 12 tower complex was one of the first to open in Business Bay and is called the Executive Towers. Apartments are large, similar to JBR, but the immediate vicinity is still a construction zone although a few amenities are creeping into place. A bunch of new towers, both apartments and commercial, have opened across Business Bay over the past six months. I can't comment too much on these other than that Business Bay apartments are offering some excellent deals, with one bedrooms going as low as 40,000 AED. The tradeoff is that it's still a construction zone and will be for the next few years.
Pricewise: 35,000 is the starting point for a cheap 1-bedroom in one of the new BB towers, with about 45K for a 1-bedrom in a midrange building ad 55K in the Executive Towers.
TECOM: A cluster of apartment buildings on a ridiculous road system, this community adjoins the Greens but is a world apart in feel and character. Apartments in TECOM vary greatly in quality but are, on the whole, cheaper than the Greens or Marina. TECOM has a dusty feel to it with little to no landscaping, but a few bars exist in several of the hotels and few supermarkets have opened up, making it an ideal place to live if you don't mind some dust and want to save some of your housing allowance while only being a few minutes from the Marina.
Tecom 1-bedroom apartments start at 35K for the cheapest buildings to about 60K in the best buildings
Al Barsha: There are two Al Barshas: the high density Al Barsha immediately around the Mall of Emirates, and the far larger residential Al Barsha of single family villas. The Al Barsha by the mall is a duplication of Bur Dubai/Deira, although on a smaller scale. It does have a bit of a Hollywood movie set to it as it's a high density, urban environment plopped down into the middle of the desert and you can walk from a heavily built up area to large tracts of undeveloped sand in a block or two. Al Barsha apartments vary in quality and are generally cheaper. Some of the buildings look well maintained and habited by young professionals, others look like that they've beeon colonised by Asian workers sharing tiny apartments (4+ people to a room). Quite a few Indian/Arabic/Lebanese/Chinese restaurants have opened up in Al Barsha in the past two years. Al Barsha can be a fine place to live if you want a cheap, simple 1-bedroom apartment near the metro and with plenty of cheap dining and retail options withink walking distance, as well as the Mall of Emirates, but you must choose your apartment carefully.
Al Barsha starts at 30K for the cheapest 1-bedrooms to 45K for the nicer buildings.
In all of the above, expect 20-bedrooms to be about 75% more than the one bedrooms.
As you can infer, the price differentials between the major Dubai communities aren't necessarily that large. Paying a bit more in rent can land you in a much nicer building in a more popular area, while some of the cheaper options have higher utilities costs due to being in a district cooling scheme. The better buildings will often have much nicer pools as well as gym complexes that may justify the higher expenses. But if you only want the cheap and cheerful, you do have a number of options, and the great thing is that these options are often just as conveniently located to your work location as the more expensive and popular communities.