Saturday, 24 August 2013

House Hunting in Abu Dhabi

Employers in Abu Dhabi are legally required to provide accommodation or an accommodation allowance. Some large organisations have their own compounds or residential complexes, but my employer does not fall into this category, meaning that we are receiving an allowance rather than a specific property.This means that one of our first tasks has been to find somewhere to live. I had been hoping to get this sorted before Jo and the kids come out next week, but this was always a long shot given how long things take here.

As we are not familiar with the area, or what is available, we opted to use a real estate agent. The upside is they do all of the work for you, the downside is that it is an extra cost. We are not yet at the end of the process, but I think on balance we have done the right thing, even if it has had the potential to be frustrating at times.

Our search began a few months ago when Jo and I spent a few days in Abu Dhabi shortly after I'd been offered the job. We spent a day being shown round by a friend of a friend who lives here, and another day being shown round by two agents. This allowed us to get a feel about what we could get for our money, and the general area where we want to live. It took us a little while to get used to how house hunting works, for example:

  • Landlords do not spend anytime making empty properties "presentable" to potential tenants, meaning you are often looking at properties which are very dirty, and in a poor state of repair. It can prove difficult to visualise what it would be like living there.
  • People think nothing of driving round and "breaking into" empty properties to have a look around. Breaking in is maybe putting it a bit strongly as there is often a door unlocked somewhere, nevertheless we were a little shocked when this is what happened with the first property we looked at.

Having decided on the area we want to live in, near to the school that Henry and Archie (and hopefully soon Flossie) will be going to, when Jo and I came out last week we were able to go back out with the agent and focus our search on a smaller area. We saw a number of villas, none of which gave us "that feeling", but eventually we found the one and instructed the agent to secure it for us.

We returned to our hotel to cool off (believe me, viewing houses in 40+ degree heat is unpleasant), and to have a refreshing beer, and were disappointed to receive a phone call to inform us that the villa had already gone. Thankfully there were two other villas available in the same compound, so Jo and the agent rushed back to have a look at them, and we were able to secure one.

That was the first hurdle. The next stage is to wait for an "offer letter" from the landlord, which we finally received yesterday, ten days after we said we wanted the villa. Once we are happy with the offer we pay a deposit, and then have to wait two or three weeks whilst the villa is made habitable. There is scope for this to be frustrating as our container has already arrived in Abu Dhabi so we are incurring storage costs for that, plus we will need to pay for temporary accommodation until we can move in. However, we need to not let ourselves get frustrated as I am already learning that there is no point putting pressure on people out here, things will happen at their own pace. "Insha'Allah", or God-willing, is a phrase I am becoming very familiar with.

Our container arrived in the UAE a couple of weeks ago

So this part of our adventure is to be continued. In the meantime I shall leave you with a few pictures of our soon-to-be new home.

Our villa (semi detached)
Our only outside space downstairs (bit different to Stonestack), but we do have a roof terrace.
Roof terrace.
A typical room (they all look very similar)
The communal pool, one minute walk away.

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave any comments below if you have made it this far.


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