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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Apartment Hunting

In the past week, my family and I have been getting reacquainted with Abu Dhabi. Because we arrived two weeks later than planned, the kids have had to jump into school 36 hours after arriving and I've had to start work. Essentially, my job has been finding an apartment and getting settled as quickly as possible. My previous job provided a place to live with the option of finding your own place. For my new job, I am just given money to find my own place. The upside is that I get to choose where I live, but the downside is that I have to navigate the Abu Dhabi real estate market.

Tha Al Raha Beach area.
We did some scouting before the summer break to see what was available. Prices have come down a lot in the past few years with all of the development. That was good news for us and we were looking forward to arriving after the summer break and having apartment owners lining up to offer us a place to live. Despite that being the expectation we were given, that ended up not being the case. To be fair, the prices before summer had set our hopes fairly high. Arriving well into the apartment hunting high season didn't help, either.

Given only two weeks to find a place, complete the paperwork, and arrange to move our worldly possessions out of storage into the apartment, we have been in a time crunch. My wife had very specific criteria and wanted it for the prices that we had grown to expect. Luckily for us, my wife's being picky worked out for us.

Eventually, we were given the contact number of an estate agent used by a friend. The agent deals directly with the owners so the prices are a bit lower. We were able to find a spacious apartment in the Al Raha Beach area for a price that was a lower than the other places that we had been looking at. It is a spacious apartment with a private beach and cafes and shopping within walking distance. There is a swimming pool and private gym.

If this sounds slightly shady, that's because it is. In the several months ago, there were 70 families that were facing eviction because of real estate fraud in Dubai. Even as recently as two weeks ago, more cases have come to light. All of them seem to be similar to what I am doing. To ease my mind, my friend who got a great deal on an apartment recapped his experiences. The main protection was that the checks were made out to ALDAR which is the major management company in Abu Dhabi. Also, I did some research and found this article from a few years ago that gave some advice to avoid fraud.

Assuming that we don't get scammed, we should be in our new place by this time next week. Assuming we DO get scammed, we'll be living in a one bedroom apartment on Hamdan street.

30 comments:

  1. Welcome back and congratulations on getting settled so quickly. Looks like you signed the papers just in time: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/residency-rules-will-halt-abu-dhabi-rent-drop-with-landlords-set-to-gain

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  2. Thanks for the link. We picked our keys up today and will move in on Friday. As with this article, it seems that the Abu Dhabi government is pushing to keep the glut of apartments suddenly on the market from dropping housing prices any further. There are plenty of empty apartments, but they are being made available in waves. In addition a new requirement for visas asks applicants to provide a signed, attested housing contract. Previously, people could live with friends, but now they need proof that they have their own place. While there are other reasons for this new law, one consequence is that it will help fill apartments.

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  3. Hi Aaron
    I hope everything worked out for you :)
    I have been in Abu Dhabi on holiday and I loved it :)
    Definately not the last time I visit the Emirates.
    I traveled with Atlantis Rejser and it worked out very well.
    Thanks for a great blog :)

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