My search for lodgings in Dubai followed a lengthy stay in a hotel. Living in a hotel has its good points, but as the weeks turned to months it started to feel strange. There was a thirtysomething Filipino waitress (I’ll call her Lynne); whenever Lynne and I would meet, she’d congratulate me on not being dead. This was usually followed by an enthusiastic recommendation of a Pink song on the same subject. I soon decided that living in a hotel wasn’t for me and started to look for a place of my own.
Finding a new pad in a new country is an interesting experience (I’ve been here two months). I like to think of myself as having a fairly laissez-faire management approach when it comes to such issues, realising that these things are short term and that I can learn as I go. Though when I’m flat-hunting, I do have a set of very specific requirements I keep in mind before putting down a deposit.
First off: few things induce restlessness in me more than a claustrophobic living space. That’s not to say that actual size matters. ‘Space’ is very different to ‘size’: it’s about light, sound and, at the risk of sounding like a hippy, ‘vibe’. I’ve found Dubai is tricky in this respect. Everything is marketed as the biggest, tallest, newest – from shops to waterslides to apartments (which are all advertised by square foot). I’m not being critical here. I’m as much of a sucker for a big aquarium, bling furniture and giant flatscreen TVs as the next man, but it doesn’t help me when I’m trying to find a new home.
This leads me to the next consideration: who to live with? Choosing a flatmate after having met them for only a few minutes is a strange process, forcing you to judge perfectly reasonable folk on abstract criteria. Do they look like the sort of person who would leave obnoxious notes (‘Please could you turn the oven off before you go out…’)? Do they seem as though they might talk too much, or would they be prone to embarrassing emotional outbursts (sobbing, fighting, or discussing their deep-seated issues)?
Happily, after exploring several apartments and passing judgment on many a stranger, I managed to find a place. My new landlord (a Romanian interior designer) kindly collected me in his worryingly expensive car, I said goodbye to Lynne (who was pleased to see me leave alive), and I moved my meagre possessions.
My new home in Barsha is a quirky, sandy place and my housemates seem stable and aren’t prone to leaving the oven on. In hindsight, the search wasn’t as traumatic as I was expecting – in fact, it was fairly straightforward. That said, since I’ve started to acclimatise to the ways of Dubai, I already have my eye on something shinier, taller, newer and more bling…
Peter Feely is our assistant guides editor. He’s the perfect living companion (or so he tells us).