Following Helen McClure’s excellent guest post on driving etiquette in the UAE, we have the pleasure of welcoming her back for another guest slot. Here, Helen fills us in on setting up home.
Uprooting and settling in: setting up home in Dubai
No ordinary sky, but Dubai is no ordinary city
After moving house eight times in eight years, I can firmly say that my furniture is very well travelled. Obviously there is a huge cost in transporting all your worldly goods from country to country but it does help you to feel at home.
If you’re being relocated by your company, it is likely that they will take care of the costs for you. As an expat hub, Dubai is well set up with relocation organisations, forums and websites offering advice. They can be a shortcut to finding the best areas to live as well as knowing how things tick and which hurdles you need to jump over.
Estate agents will also help you to find a home, but check whether they represent the landlord, as they may not necessarily have your best interests at heart.
Also look at the classified section in local newspapers, such as Gulf News, and on-line property websites.
The tallest building in the world: the Burj Khalifa aims high
Rent is paid in advance for a year with a maximum of four post-dated cheques. The fewer number of cheques, the better bargaining power you may have, and employers often provide a housing allowance. Check what is included in the way of maintenance as contracts vary wildly from landlord to landlord. The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) protects tenants from spirally rental increases and offers a rental increase calculator on its website.
Most expats choose to rent but since 2002 they have been able to buy in designated areas. Buying property is a complicated business though. The construction industry was hit hard in 2008, reflecting the international economic situation, but has since largely bounced back. Think carefully though before buying off plan.
In terms of location, this will largely be influenced by where you work or where your children go to school, but be prepared for an element of driving. Dubai is not a city you can walk around. Popular expat places to live, if you would like an apartment, are Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and Downtown Dubai. If you’re interested in a villa you might like to consider Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Islands, The Meadows, The Springs and Arabian Ranches, although this is not an exhaustive list.
Get blown away with the sails of the Burj al Arab
It takes about six months for most people to feel settled. Here are some top tips to help you on your way:
- Packing: Check your freight does not include illegal items that could delay delivery. This includes alcohol, certain reading material and DVDs, culinary poppy seed or poppies in flower displays. Make sure you have a full inventory of what has been packed in each box, and that your insurance policy has the right cover.
- White goods: Unless you live in an apartment you will need to buy white goods, including the washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator and oven. There is a lively second hand market but if you want to buy new goods, supermarkets with global names are good places to start.
- Curtains: You will be required to provide your own curtains. Try local curtain makers for the best prices, and be generous with the fabric so if you move you can reuse them.
- Utilities: These are paid to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), although air conditioning cooling is sometimes paid to a separate company depending on where you live. You may need to consider electricity, air conditioning, water, sewerage, gardening, housekeeping/ cleaning, pool maintenance, depending on whether you’re in an apartment or a villa.
- Electricity: The electricity in Dubai is 220/240 volts and 50 cycles. The three pin plugs are the same as the UK system, although if you buy electrical goods in the UAE it is not uncommon for them to be supplied with a two-pin plug. You will then need to buy a plug adaptor, which can be bought for a couple of Dirhams from most supermarkets.
- Additional expenses: Remember you could have to pay a security deposit to the landlord, usually a month’s rent, as well as the estate agent’s fee, which is around 5% of the value of the annual rent. You will also be required to pay a Municipality Housing Tax, or Housing fee, through your utilities bill. This is based on the value of your rent and is around 5%.
When you’ve settled in remember to relax: ride a camel
About the Author
Helen McClure is a journalist, and a freelance public relations and marketing consultant, who has a passion for international travel, history and photography. She runs Expat Explorers, a travel and expat website offering independent insights, ideas and inspiration.
You can check out her other writings here , connect with her on Pinterest and Facebook or tweet her @expatexplorers.