International student enrollment in higher education courses in Dubai surged by nearly 12%, signaling Dubai's ascent as a burgeoning hub for higher education in the region. This statistic was cited by the Government of Dubai a year ago. International higher education institutions in Dubai experienced an 8% annual increase in enrolled student numbers. As per the latest data, more than 30,000 students are enrolled in university programs in Dubai.

But what about student accommodation in this popular and diverse city? Experts from Colife, a UAE-based rental and property management international proptech company, have collected all the pros and cons of different housing options. Let's explore them to determine the best choice for students in Dubai.


Campus living offers numerous advantages for students. It's convenient, as you don't have to worry about finding accommodation; the university will provide it for you. However, many may be disappointed, as student dormitories are not always located close to academic buildings.

University campuses usually offer a range of amenities and support services, such as dining halls, sports facilities, academic advising, and counseling services. Additionally, living on campus immerses you in a community of students Here you can find new friends and participate in extracurricular activities.Campuses boast high levels of safety and security. However, this also restricts students' mobility.

Colife experts spoke with Miras from Kazakhstan, who is studying at Heriot-Watt Dubai University, to find out what students themselves think about living on campus.

"Often, students at Dubai universities do live on campus. But the conditions there are not always favorable. My younger sister and I came to Dubai to study on the recommendation of a friend who enrolled at a local university a few years earlier.

At first we thought of living on the campus. Unfortunately, in our case, it is located far from the university, so it just wasn't convenient for us to move there. We started looking for apartment options, using various services like Bayut, Airbnb, and so on. But in the end, we stumbled upon the Colife website and realized that it was the most suitable option for us. From a variety of locations, we were able to choose the most suitable one for ourselves. Also we don't have to spend our time worrying about utility bills, internet, etc.," he explained.

Rental apartments

While campus living has its perks, renting an apartment is ideal for students who value independence and flexibility. It gives students the freedom to live according to their own schedules and preferences in locations that best suit their needs, whether it's proximity to their university, job opportunities, or personal favorite places.

Moreover, renting an apartment teaches students valuable life skills, such as budgeting, cooking, and managing household chores. However, most often the price of renting an entire apartment is not available for students who live alone.

"So, on average renting accommodation on campus costs around 4,000-5,000 AED per month, depending on the length of stay. In our case, transportation would cost us around 1,000-2,000 AED. And apartments can be rented for approximately 10,000-12,000 AED per month.

Living in Colife is cost-effective and comfortable because the apartment is cleaned once a week, and any questions can be addressed to support, which responds promptly. Plus, you can make new friends at Colife Community. For my sister and me, this option is the most beneficial," shared Miras, a student at a Dubai university and a Colife resident.


Another popular option among students is hostels. Hostels can be considered a middle ground between campus living and renting an apartment. They are more affordable for students and, similar to campus living, foster a vibrant social environment with opportunities for networking, cultural exchange, and making new friends. At the same time, like renting an apartment, hostels also provide students with freedom.

Unfortunately, hostels are typically only suitable for short-term stays and may not be ideal for those who require peace and quiet for studying and living. In hostels, you may be awakened at night by a new neighbor who has just arrived, and during the day, it may be difficult to study in your room as you could end up sharing with too excited tourists, for example.

On average, hostel accommodation prices in Dubai can range from approximately 150 to 300 AED per night for a shared room with multiple beds. This translates to a monthly cost of around 4,500 to 9,000 AED. This option is beneficial for exchange students, interns, or those participating in short-term programs.

Choosing the best option

Ultimately, the decision where to live depends on individual preferences, priorities, and circumstances. Some students may thrive in the structured environment of campus living, while others may prefer the independence and flexibility offered by rental apartments.

Hostels are not the most popular option among students planning to stay in Dubai for an extended period. Unfortunately, there are no alternatives to this intermediate option in Dubai. The issue lies in the fact that the law currently does not allow flat-sharing and coliving arrangements. However, Colife's experience in other countries, such as Turkey, suggests that coliving could be the perfect housing solution for students, combining accessibility, convenience and functionality.

Coliving, a concept where individuals live together and share common spaces while having their own private rooms, promotes community, affordability, and convenience. It offers students the opportunity to live in a supportive environment conducive to studying and personal growth while also fostering social connections and collaboration.

In coliving spaces, residents not only share living quarters but also responsibilities, resources, and experiences, creating a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Usually coliving spaces, like Colife’s, come with amenities such as high-speed internet, cleaning services, recreational areas, and organized social events, enhancing the overall living experience for students.

By embracing coliving as a viable housing option, Dubai could provide students with a more flexible, affordable, and community-oriented alternative to traditional accommodations like campus, hostels or rental apartments. As the city continues to evolve and diversify, exploring innovative housing solutions like flat-sharing could help meet the growing demand for student accommodation and contribute to a thriving student community in Dubai.

Colife Press office