Time is over for Abu Dhabi govt staff to relocate

Taylor Scott International News

Time is over for Abu Dhabi govt staff to relocate Silvia Radan (Special Report) / 1 September 2013 Abu Dhabi govt employees who shift base from other emirates may find bigger space for a little more money, but their working spouses will now have the highway blue The deadline for Abu Dhabi government employees living outside the emirate to move to the capital has arrived. Starting today, thousands of Dubai and Sharjah residents working for a government office in Abu Dhabi should no longer be commuting. However, the first expected effect of this move, traffic ease on the Abu Dhabi – Dubai highway, has not been visible. “In the past couple of months I had to drive several times to Dubai and the traffic was as heavy as always,” said Diana Oliver, a six-year resident of Abu Dhabi. “I presume this decision was made to reduce the highway traffic, which would also lessen the environmental impact with less pollution on the roads, and also the traffic accidents, especially in the early morning hours when fog often occurs,” she said. Oliver recently moved to Khalifa City, just outside Abu Dhabi, where she is taking care of her two young children, but her husband is still driving daily to work into the city and feels the traffic has become heavier here. “He needs to leave five to 10 minutes earlier every morning since the end of Ramadan. Mind you, this may be also because of people returning from holidays and work hours going back to normal,” Oliver said. The family moved to Khalifa City in March this year, at a time when the property market was still reasonable. Since then, rent for both small apartments and villas have gone up gradually. Government employees living outside Abu Dhabi had over a year to change their residence and many preferred to do it earlier rather than at the last minute, to beat the expected rent rise – which economists say rose about eight per cent in the first quarter of the year alone. Among them was B.M., who spoke with Khaleej Times anonymously since most Abu Dhabi government employees are not allowed to speak publically without a prior approval. “We moved in April to avoid rents going up. We got a much better deal here than we had in Dubai,” he said. B.M. used to live in a flat in Dubai Marina, with one parking space. Now he and his family stay in a three bedroom villa in Al Reef, with a garden and a driveway for four cars – useful since his wife drives to work and needs her own car. “Last year we paid nearly Dh90,000 for the flat in Marina, but rents in Dubai are going up as the job market is improving, so this year we would have ended up paying almost the same as we do here, in Al Reef – Dh 110,000. And you can’t compare a villa with a flat; we have got more space now and a green area outdoors,” said B.M. Moving house, especially for a family with two children was not a cheap affair. In B.M.’s case, the cost was Dh8,000. Of this, Dh6,000 was the moving company costs, the rest being other related fees. According to various moving companies, the cost of relocating from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is mostly the charges for packing and unpacking – it only adds about Dh300-500 per truck. For B.M. it was certainly pricy, yet worth it. Living at a 15-minute drive from work, in a more comfortable house had made life much better for him, he said, with the added bonus of finding a good nearby school for his children. But it’s not happy days for everyone. “It’s all good for me, but now my wife has to commute. She has a really good job in Dubai and doesn’t want to leave it, so she drives there daily. I guess a lot of people in our situation do the same, so the highway traffic may ease off on one side, but pick up on the other.” The close proximity to the Dubai highway, where many family members of those who had to move still work and where social lives are often centred, is a reason for many to search for accommodation in areas such as Al Reef, Al Raha Gardens and Khalifa City. The rents are also much lower than downtown Abu Dhabi. For single individuals, Khalifa City remains the “Mecca”, with good facilities and a location near Abu Dhabi city centre, Dubai, Yas Island and Al Ain. Yet, Khalifa City is a red light for anyone looking for a flat. Intended for Emiratis who were granted land to build their homes there, most private developers built villas, got it approved by the municipality, then leased it to a real estate agency, which has split the villa into apartments – then rented to individuals illegally. Most people, especially those new to Abu Dhabi, were unaware of the legal status, and followed a fairly simple procedure of viewing properties with real estate agents, finding one they liked, signing the contract and moving in. Regular municipality raids in Khalifa City have now drawn tenants’ attention to the illegal status, and because their rent contract does not bear the municipality stamp some are landed with a fine and told they have two weeks to move out. Getting the rent back is out of the question, as the real estate companies are not found at fault by anyone, while those licensed by the municipality continue to rent out illegal properties to anyone who doesn’t know the rules. “Etihad Airways, which has its headquarters in Khalifa City, had 200 employees this year who lost their rentals and had to move out of their homes in Khalifa City,” revealed M.T., a new Etihad employee who moved from Dubai to Abu Dhabi a couple of months ago. “Initially I was planning to find accommodation in Khalifa City, but we were told to stay away from it as most villa flats come with illegal contracts. Only when you rent out a full villa do you get the municipality approved stamp on the contract,” she added. M.T. has found a Dh60,000 one bedroom flat in the 15 minutes drive further away Al Reef, which is Dh10,000 more expensive and smaller in space than what she initially found in Khalifa City, but at least she has “peace of mind”. silvia@khaleejtimes.com Taylor Scott International

Taylor Scott International, Taylor Scott

This entry was posted in Dubai, Education, Entertainment, Investment, investments, News, Property, Real Estate, Sports, Taylor Scott International, TSI and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.