Saturday, March 8, 2014

Apartment Hunting in Abu Dhabi

When our management company first told us we had to move out, I have to admit, I was actually a little excited. Some of you have heard me call our place "the college dorm" due to the size and lack of quality of our current 2 bedroom apartment. But once we started to buckle down and actually look for alternatives, I realized all the things I really like about our current place.

But move we must so we got started with the process. The big challenges here are:
  1. The rent prices are high - at least compared to back home. I suppose they are probably in line with most major cities of this size and GDP, but for us, it's hard to think about paying a lot more for a 1100 sq ft 2 bedroom than what we're renting out our 2400+ sq ft 3 bedroom house for back home. We also have a fairly modest housing budget, which is dictated by Brian's company. Fair to be sure, but modest by AD standards.
  2. The internet is pretty useless here. Apartments get rented so quickly that by the time you see the posting, it's most likely already gone. Yes, supply outweighs demand big time here. So, you have to work through a real estate agent who gets 5% commission even if all they do is arrange to have the apartment open when you want to see it. And, the worst is that they don't work on weekends or past 5pm so you have to take off work in order to see anything. (and no, we're not wasting any precious vacation time to look at apartments! :)
  3. While prices are high, quality is low . . . make that pathetic. There seems to be a complete lack of skill (or maybe pride?) in the quality of construction in most places. Uneven ceilings, cracked tiles, peeling cabinets doors (in a brand new unit) are the norm here so we get frustrated even when we find a place with a nice layout or location.
  4. Layouts are . . . different. Kitchens that we like are the hardest to find. Many are in closed rooms with a door, no window and very small. We definitely treat and think of kitchens differently in the US. Let's just say that over here, your guests don't congregate in the kitchen! We've also seen some really crazy layouts - small long hallways where you could just have an open entry, bathroom doors that you have to squeeze around in order to get in the bathroom and kitchen cabinets you can't open because of the location of the fridge or dishwasher, etc.
So, we had our work cut out for us. The good thing is that we know the city a lot better than when we first came and had a better idea of what we were looking for. The bad thing was prices are just outrageous and we were really hoping to get something bigger and better.

After lots of looking, we stumbled upon a place on the border of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It's a newer development and much cheaper than close to the city. And since Brian works primarily in Dubai and I in Abu Dhabi, it seemed the perfect compromise.

We visited, fell in love with the huge villa (same square footage as our house back home!) and signed the lease. And then the fun started - stay tuned for more about our moving adventures!

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