The strains of moving house in Dubai

Penelope Walsh finds herself shifting abode once too many times

The Knowledge

On the eve of her fifth house move, Penelope Walsh can’t see the point of unpacking.

As I write, I’m looking forward to getting into my bed – a bed that will be mine for one more night only. ‘They’, those ubiquitous harbingers of fact and wisdom, say that the most stressful experiences in life are divorce and moving house. I’ve not experienced the first of those upheavals, but sadly, I have to report I’ve already become to moving house in Dubai what Elizabeth Taylor was to divorce.

In a mere year and a half living here I’ve already called five different spots ‘home’. I lived in three of those properties in my first five months in the emirate. By the time I reached the fourth place, I’d have rather left my stuff in a box, than pack up one more time. But, since ‘they’ also say that all good things must come to an end, after a really very good year within its walls, I will very reluctantly move out in 24 hours. It’s not without some degree of rose-tinted exhaustion that I now write.

My first Dubai home, was arranged for me, as a temporary measure. I remember opening the apartment door with two suitcases in tow and thinking that this palatial one-bedroom wonder-in-white was mine, all mine – if only for two months. As I took in Dubai’s highlights and listened to the call to prayer from my balcony, I knew this had been an excellent move, and assumed the next would be as easy.

It wasn’t. After many run-ins with unscrupulous landlords and letting agents, I settled in haste for a less than ideal arrangement with an exceedingly nice but chronically obsessive- compulsive flatmate. I made an even hastier exit, and after a tortuous month of looking at flats on a daily basis, found the perfect solution, at an even better price. Two weeks in, the landlady informed me she’d sold the flat and I had three weeks to hop it. I couldn’t even be bothered this time, and when the doorman tipped me off that a new apartment had just become available in the tower, I moved my belongings two floors up and decided, come hell or high water, that I would not be budging.

A year later, my freezer is full of home-made chicken stock, the cupboard is crammed with white, green and black tea, two Christmas puddings and six types of oil; signs I’ve really bedded in. But once again, the landlord has sold my apartment, and after looking in Marina, Al Barsha and around the corner from Timbuktu, once again, I’ve plumped for a place a few floors up. And when I say ‘once’, I mean it.

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