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  • Dubai residents share their experiences
  • 10 things you should do before moving to a new place

The excitement of moving to a new home comes with a daunting checklist of epic proportions, from physical logistics to unplanned costs. It’s often said that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life, so if you are planning a move, some expert advice can help you get through it. Property Weekly asked three Dubai residents to share their experiences.

Joanne Taylor, a teacher from the UK, recently downsized from a two-bedroom Arabian Ranches villa to a one-bed townhouse in Motor City. A switched-on real estate agent willing to go the extra mile ensured that Joanne’s move was relatively hassle-free, as she explains: “He helped negotiate a great rent and was clear on costs from the very beginning. When it came to the move, for a small fee he also arranged the community exit permit, Dewa connections and Emicool requirements, which was extremely helpful.”

Only gripe

She didn’t experience any surprises in terms of hidden fees and lists agency commissions and the wrangling of security deposits as the most obvious costs, but did notice that instead of a one-time price, removal companies are now charging for add-on services.

“While relocation rates are more or less the same, for services such as reconnecting appliances, you have to pay an additional fee,” says Taylor.

Her only gripe was being locked in to a single telecoms provider. She says: “I would’ve at least liked to have the opportunity to have a choice but, apart from that, the whole moving process was really smooth.”

US citizen Cyntha Gonzalez has lived in Dubai for 20 years and moved from a villa complex in Barsha 1 to a standalone villa in Umm Suqeim.

“I had an extremely efficient moving company that couldn’t do enough to ensure a top-quality service, and the guardian at my old compound was amazing, and helped arrange for walls to be repainted etc.,” says the human relations coach and counsellor.

Gonzalez was also extremely impressed with the Etisalat shift. “Their technicians turned up in the evening, as scheduled, and were extremely efficient. Moving between villas I was only without internet for around four hours. Plus, you get to keep the same home number and it all hooks right back in,” she says.

Extra expenses

But settling into her new home hasn’t been quite as stress free, as she explains: “I’ve had to outsource an enormous amount of work, at my own expense. From the quality of the walls, where it was a case of a single coat of watered-down paint, to a host of other issues, my complaints fell on deaf ears. Everything was covered in the tenancy contract, but as always, it is open to interpretation.”

Gonzalez eventually decided that instead of pursuing what she felt was a dead end, she would pay out of her own pocket to get the job done.

Another major expense, this time of her own volition, was the garden. “I put in a desert garden to replace the existing grass. It was costly, but in the long run it will save me the equivalent of two months of Dewa bills,” she says.

She also counsels anyone considering moving into an older villa to look into potential air-conditioning costs first. “Houses of a certain age are often poorly insulated with only one unit downstairs and one upstairs, which isn’t adequate. I am also going to have to invest in several split units, which is another big expense.”

Lebanese journalist Zeina Halaseh relocated from a one-bedroom apartment in Barsha 1 to a newer one-bedder in Dubai Sports City. “I’d lived in Barsha for around eight years and didn’t really want to move as the location is so central, but the area is becoming really crowded, with construction everywhere, and my landlord refused to negotiate on the rent. I decided on Sports City as there are newer, better-quality apartments available, at a lower cost,” she explains.

To keep costs to a minimum, Halaseh enlisted the help of friends to pack up her apartment and used a removal company she found through a classified ads website.

“It wasn’t a great experience,” she says. “Some of my furniture was scratched in transit and I didn’t feel that the company had the right professional approach. In hindsight, if I had paid a little more and used a professional company, I would’ve had a more positive outcome.”

Unforeseen costs were minimal, with the moving company upping its quote slightly when it came to carry out the move. The telecoms provider deposit was also higher than originally anticipated, but she found the experience generally painless with Dewa’s online house move option also hassle free.

The only job left to do is to find someone to hang the curtains, and then it will be home sweet home.

10 things to keep in mind before moving homes

1. The fine print: Be aware of the timeframe for providing your landlord with notice of your intention to move out. It’s normally at least two months and there could be a penalty if you move out before the end of your current contract tenure. However, if you have a good rapport with your landlord then this can possibly be negotiated.

2. NOC from landlord: Depending on which emirate you are living in, the utilities company such as Dewa may require you to provide a NOC from the landlord that will enable disconnection and allow refunds to given. The NOC is also often required by community and building managers so it can be handed to the security gatehouse or guards on duty.

3. Rental agent: If you used a rental agent to move into the villa or apartment, then notify them, as they may help you to find another property to suit your requirements - they already know your likes and dislikes and budget.

4. Moving company: Book well in advance, as some established moving companies have very attractive offers for packing and moving your household items if you give them a longer lead time.

5. Repairs, maintenance: It is important to engage with a reputed property maintenance company to get a cost estimate to restore the property back to the condition when you moved in. They will also be able to professionally clean, paint and restore the property back to original condition so you can receive a full bond refund.

6. Telephone and internet: If you are moving within the UAE, check with your service provider to see if you can transfer your existing account to your new address. Otherwise, arrange for disconnection.

7. Utilities: If you are moving within the same emirate you will need to notify the local water and electricity provider of your new address so your account can be transferred. However, if you are moving out of the UAE you will need to cancel these services. Some authorities will require the landlord’s NOC if the contract is being broken prior end of the existing contract period.

8. Move out permit: If you are in a villa community or an apartment complex with a security gatehouse, you will often need to get a move out permit prior the actual date of moving. The move out permit will need to be given to the moving company and details of the moving company’s vehicles also given to security.

9. Insurance: Please ensure your moving company has adequate insurance in the unlikely event of your valuables being damaged or lost.

10. Final check: When your belongings have been moved, check the electrics and water have been turned off at the mains. This will not only mitigate the risk of any hazards or leakages but also avoid any surprises on your final bill.

- Marc Daly, general manager of UAE-based property maintenance company, Mplus+