Quality life: Durgesh and his wife say moving has given them a quality life Image Credit: Supplied photo

Dubai: The sharp rise in rents over the last year has seen many Dubai residents move base to Sharjah, Ajman and even beyond.

This migration is despite Sharjah itself witnessing a steady spurt in rentals. “This rise is a direct result of hiked rents across Dubai, which has sparked a reverse relocation trend, with budget-sensitive tenants seeking out more affordable accommodation in the next emirate,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco Property Management.

Many of the families who have moved to Sharjah say they have managed to save a minimum of 50 per cent on monthly housing and other expenses. “I am paying less than Dh30,000 for a two bedroom house now, whereas earlier I paid Dh55,000 for a single bedroom apartment in Dubai,” said Kalpesh Parmar, a finance professional who works in Dubai.

“I am quite happy now as the accommodation is also much moe spacious,” he added.

Rents in Dubai have shot up sharply in the last six months, in some cases leaping more than 50 per cent, leaving many middle income expats in a bind.

Annual average rents for a 1-BHK apartment in Bur Dubai have risen to Dh40,000 –Dh65,000 from Dh30,000 to Dh55,000, while in Discovery Garden they rose from about Dh40,000 to over Dh50,000 now and even in the relatively affordable communities like International City, rents for a one-bedroom apartment have risen from Dh25,000 to more than Dh40,000 in the last six months.

Housing takes up the lion’s share of salaries in the UAE. “As expats we come here to work, leaving our families, friends back home. The entire purpose of working overseas is defeated if one spends all that one earns,” said Siddhartha Kohli, a banker who moved to Sharjah this July with his wife Payal.

Kohli, who has been living in Dubai since 2009, said, “I am living in a much larger accommodation compared to the previous one and also saving around Dh1,000 every month after moving to Sharjah.” After his wife quit her job, Kohli said it became important the family did not overshoot their spending on housing.

For residents like Durgesh Mirchandani, who is the only earning member in his family, rent savings has made a big difference in the quality of life. “Being the sole breadwinner, I prefer Sharjah as the rental differential is more than 50 per cent,” said Mirchandani, who moved there about three months ago.

Sharjah has always been a magnet for middle income expats who preferred to stay there and work in Dubai, braving maddening traffic bottlenecks and long travel hours. However when the market dipped in 2008-09 and rents in Dubai plummeted, many of these expats began moving to areas like International City, Discovery Gardens and JLT in Dubai.

However, their joy has been short-lived. Many of the residents moving back to neighbouring emirates now say they do not mind extra commuting time if it meant huge savings in rents.

“I was spending a major chunk of my salary on house rent. I am happy as I can save more and this decision would help me and my family in the long run,” said Abid Malik, a Pakistani expatriate who is now saving nearly Dh20,000 on his annual rent.

“We were paying Dh30,000 for a one-bedroom flat in Silicon Oasis and our landlord wants to increase it to Dh40,000. As my salary is still the same I cannot afford a hit of Dh10,000 and decided to move to Sharjah,” said Marwin, a Filipino.