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Finding a home in Dubai

Published: 26 Apr 2017

Last time it was visas', this time it's all about finding a place to live, moving and all that entails- obviously just from my experience.

My advice if you can spend a little time driving around, get your bearings and work out which side of town you want to stay. This can be a minefield as there are so many factors to consider, I was driven by the following:

1. The commute - Dubai traffic is manic and the main thoroughfares are gridlocked during peak times. My office is in DIFC so I wanted somewhere that was going against the flow of rush hour traffic, or that was close to the Metro.

2. Apartment or villa? - I decided apartment, having spoken to a lot of people, decided that I wanted something easy to keep clean and zero maintenance, that coupled with the fact that electricity and water costs are significantly more in a villa made it an easy decision.

3. High or low rise? - Dubai is a city of skyscrapers, so there's plenty of choice, but beware the lifts are a nightmare and you can waste many a minute waiting for the dreaded ping of the lift stopping on your floor. Most buildings have a service lift so moving furniture is not too onerous, although really big pieces may require dismantling to move.

4. Neighbourhood - Dubai is immense and there are so many areas to choose from. I asked a lot of people, and drove around to get an idea and feel for the place. Additionally I spent hours trawling www.propertyfinder.ae and www.dubizzle.com looking at different places and availability.

I settled on a neighbourhood and set up viewings for one day, pounded the pavement, and as is always the case, the place I chose was the very first one I viewed. Once you’ve decided on your place things move pretty quickly, so make sure you have your EID and Visa as a minimum. The most disconcerting thing is the fact that a lot of landlords want payment up front for the year, however it is becoming more common to ask to pay in 2 or 4 cheques. I went for the single cheque option and negotiated the price down.

There is a standard format tenancy agreement - Page 1 is non-negotiable, Page 2 is where you can negotiate and covers things like maintenance and access to the property etc. Make sure you do a full inspection of the place and note any issues, as I’ve heard stories about difficulties in getting your deposit back when you leave. It is standard practice that the landlord has to have the place freshly painted before you move in. So don’t be put off if when you go to view a place and it’s grubby or unpainted, they will do a deep clean and paint before you move in.

DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) - When you view the place it’s unlikely that the electricity or water will be on as they are shut off as soon as the previous tenant leaves, but don’t worry it’s really quick to have it reconnected, however make sure you leave a couple of days between registering with DEWA and moving as the last thing you want is no water and electricity.

Phone/TV/Internet - There are 2 providers, du and Etisalat the choice of provider is dependent on where you live, as they seemed to have carved up the city. I am with du and was very impressed with their service. They called to arrange appointment time, arrived on time and I was connected within 20 minutes. It works out cheaper to get an internet and TV combo than if you choose internet only.

Furniture – This is the final piece of the puzzle, there are plenty of options:
• You can hire furniture while you’re waiting for your furniture to be shipped from your home country
• New, there are a variety of furniture shops and most will deliver and assemble for free if you spend a certain amount
• Second hand, as mentioned above www.dubizzle.com as well as properties has a classified section, and as it is a transient population out here, you can get some really good deals. If you’re going to go this route I would suggest you filter down to your location as there is plenty of stuff for sale and it means you won’t have to go far to view and collect.

Things to note:
• Choose your agent wisely, if you find something via the above websites, look at the photos and you’ll be able to pick up if it’s a genuine listing or if they’re just trying it on
• If you're going high rise you're going to pay more for a good view
• Ask about chiller fees, some of the newer buildings charge an additional chiller fee and trust me tell you chiller (air conditioning) is essential in summer
• Most newer places don’t have white goods, so bear that in mind along with the cost of rent
• Before you move in you will have to get Ejari, which is basically registration of your tenancy agreement
• You will need to get a moving permit, and can only get this once you have your Ejari.

Fees to pay:
1. 5% of annual rental to the estate agent
2. 5% of annual rental as security deposit (get back at the end of your tenancy if the place is in good order)
3. AED215 for Ejari
4. AED2,130 DEWA deposit.

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