Moving house in Dubai

Becky Lucas passes on some lessons learnt about switching abodes in Dubai

The Knowledge

Last week I moved home for the seventh time in four years. Elsewhere, this may seem excessive. Not in Dubai: not in the land of wandering chancers, where ‘downtime’ involves propelling that second career, or at least digesting 12,000 brunch-related calories. As I thrust yet another trolley-load of multiplying socks out of my old pad, I vowed that someone should learn from my seven upheavals. And yes, by someone I mean you – if you can sit still and read this for five minutes. So now, in the style of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Sunscreen’ (though in a much higher voice), I bring you my 11 time-tested ‘Dubai moving directives’.

The apartment-hunt
1 Never agree to live anywhere that they’re planning to put up partitions to create more ‘rooms’. It’s illegal, and not very private. Even if Hank the German is a dab hand with MDF.

2 Don’t sign up to live with an ambassador’s secretary in a vast Umm Suqeim villa at a cut-rate price if the contract involves random diplomats constantly dropping in unannounced.

3 Don’t believe estate agents when they say your new building is ‘waiting for DEWA and should be ready in 10 days’. They’ll tell you the same thing every 10 days for six months.

The negotiation
4 Do enquire about the government building construction notice opposite. These don’t tend to get delayed.

5 Offer to pay with one cheque if you can. You could get a Dhs6,000 discount.

The flatmates
6 Remember to thank the friend of a friend you’ve been staying with for five months (due to said DEWA-less building), perhaps by buying them the entire James Bond back catalogue. Dubai is a small city, after all.

7 Don’t move your new partner in with your single mates, unless you want to encourage them to move out.

8 Know when it’s time to move out of a villa-share. Signs include sulking for hours when cheese is left on your fridge shelf, and calling your housemates from your bedroom to tell them to shut up.

The move
9 Check the safe arrival of your belongings before the removals men leave, or risk discovering they’ve smashed all your picture frames, yet still managed to accept your hearty tip.

10 Don’t expect your old doorman to have change when you’re carrying a Dhs1,000 note and feeling a bit tired of the whole moving thing. You may find yourself being surprisingly generous.

11 Do try to move into the apartment next door, as I just did. Next time, maybe I’ll simply switch my furniture around the rooms to simulate a move. Or perhaps I’ll just have to put down some (gasp) roots – and become a more stationary chancer instead.

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