Saturday, February 26, 2011

Setting up House in Abu Dhabi

As we're getting settled in our new place, there are some things that are exactly the same as back home (toilet paper, tissue, hangers, setting up phone, internet and TV service) and a ton of things that are different; some just slightly different and some that will take some getting used to. While they are still relatively fresh in my mind, I thought I might document some of the differences (in no particular order).

Garbage & Recycling: The process for garbage pickup is to leave our garbage outside our apartment villa any day, any time and they'll come by and pick it up and do something with it. One of my first days here I tried to find a dumpster or something and was informed that this is the process. And they seem to come by daily as I've not seen garbage sitting out for more than a few hours. Recycling is almost non-existent, which is really bothersome to me, actually. I've been doing a little research and I think there might be some recycling centers in the city somewhere, in which case, I can at least save up things like newspapers and boxes to drop off somewhere. I've been a good recycler since Peace Corps and it's a hard habit to break - I find myself sorting out my plastic only to have to put it all in the same place when I'm finished anyway! :)

Bottled Water: Related a bit to the recycling is the bottled water issue. As I've mentioned, the water is safe to drink, but doesn't taste very good as it comes from a desalination plant, so everyone drinks bottled water here. Many of you know, I drink a lot of water, so the idea of hauling all those bottles from the hypermarket and then not being able to recycle them was annoying. Luckily, after a little web research, I found a water delivery service. We bought a water dispenser and have 5 gallon bottles now delivered to our home - MUCH cheaper, a lot less hassle and less waste.

No Dryer: I mentioned this before, but it's common to only have a washing machine in most apartments here and that's what we have. We actually considered (and may again, who knows?) purchasing a dryer, but we're not even sure where we'd put or how to set up the ventilation it would require. Instead, I bought a huge drying rack that can sit out on the patio. So far, it seems to work fine - I'm reminded of our clothesline when we were growing up. I think we'll be able to adapt to this one.

No Microwave: Another things that's not very common here are microwaves. You can certainly buy them anywhere and they don't seem to be any more expensive than in the states, but they didn't come included. We haven't purchased one yet, a) because we're trying to decide if we can live without one, because b) we don't have much counter space. Today might be the first test as I have some leftovers from last night that I want to heat up for lunch. :)

No Outlets in the Bathrooms: I found this one really surprising. I went to plug in my hairdryer and there isn't a single outlet in either bathroom. There weren't any in the hotel either (just that electric shaver plug in you see in some hotels) but I expected to find them here. So instead, I blow dry my hair in my closet hall.

Closets: Closets are different here in that they are either non existent or built in cabinets. I actually like them as I've always wanted the fancy closet organizers and now I have them. We were lucky to find a place with built ins. The alternative is buying a wardrobe that stands alone. I haven't seen to many dressers in the furniture stores - more of the large wall sized bureaus that serve as closet and dresser together.

No Street Address: I've known about this since before we moved over and I'm sure I've mentioned it in some other blog posts, but residences don't have a street address. We actually do have a building number, but it's the same for all three apartments, so we have to remember to tell folks it's E07 - ground floor. Yesterday, a carpenter stopped by that was most likely intended for either the 2nd or 3rd floor apartments. The bigger challenge is describing our location to delivery people (water, paper, cat, shipping, furniture ...) I have a name of this compound and I can give them a couple of landmarks, but the reality is that at present the place is tucked back around a few corners next to a huge construction project and the sign with the name of the complex is only the size of a realtor's Open House sign they put at the corners on the weekends. Let's just say it's been a challenge. I had to finally meet the water delivery folks at the cross street and direct them and the paper delivery folks never showed at all. This, I think will be an ongoing challenge, but hopefully as the area becomes more populated and I become more familiar with surrounding landmarks, it will get easier. The good news is that this is so typical here that no one gets upset at bad directions or having to turn around 3 times to find the place.


  1. I can see Rogue delivered to another location because noone can find her people! Do you think they would give her back after awhile?

  2. I know! That's a huge concern for me, actually - that the poor kitty is stuck in the car while the driver goes around and around trying to find us! I'm actually planning to give them turn by turn directions for that special delivery. :)