Khalifa City A is still a favoured location for expats on a budget
Abu Dhabi - Unreasonable hike in rent forces residents to shift homes; landlords apprehensive of renting out flats to Emiratis.
Despite official statements and statistics that the rents in Abu Dhabi are settling down, residents are still complaining of unreasonable rent increase.
A one-bedroom apartment (not partitioned villa apartments) is considered a miracle at Dh70,000 per year. In most of Abu Dhabi's residential areas - Al Reef, Al Reem, Bandar, Hydra Village and much of Abu Dhabi island itself - a studio flat rent starts at Dh70,000, while one bedroom is at least Dh90,000.
"Imagine if you are single and you live on a nurse's salary! It's almost impossible to make ends meet, let alone make any savings," complained Oana Albu, a Romanian nurse in Abu Dhabi.
Albu has been living in Abu Dhabi for the past five years and this September she is relocating for the third time within the city, simply because of rent increase.
"For the first three years I lived in Muroor area, in a one bedroom apartment. The rent was reasonable, Dh60,000 to Dh70,000. The apartment was nice, very spacious, but parking was a major issue, and also the noise. There was no playground for children outside, so the kids used to play along the building's corridors," she said.
What eventually drove Albu to move out two years ago was the rent increase from Dh70,000 to Dh85,000 after the five percent rent cap in Abu Dhabi was dropped.
She managed to find a one-bedroom apartment for Dh68,000 in Al Reef Area, on Yas Island. It was a much smaller in space, though, and she had to invest in wardrobes since the apartment did not have fitted ones. And the fact that the apartment was 40 kilometres away from work.
"When I first moved there, there were no shops, not even a grocery, no cafes, basically no basic facilities. The apartments themselves are very basic and although they look nice at first glance, the quality is not up to the standard. On the upside, there is a small community swimming pool and a very nice expat community. I made quite a few European friends in Al Reef," mentioned Albu. But the Dh85,000 per year her landlord is asking for now is pushing Albu is search of greener pastures, literally. "To be honest, I really miss a bit of greenery, a small garden, so I decided now to look for a two, even three bedroom villa with an outdoor space and share it with a friend."
While the fact remain that rents are on the increase, residents now demand good quality, clean properties with good community services.
Khalifa City A and Mohammed bin Zayed City are still favoured locations for expats on a budget, yet more and more families are moving out into 'grade A' buildings, even if it means a 50 per cent or more increase in rent. This is especially so with Western expats.
"We used to live in a two bedroom flat in Mohammed bin Zayed City. For my husband and I it was okay. There are plenty of shops, cafes and malls around, but our son hated it because there was nothing really attractive for teenage boys in the area, so he felt isolated," said Natasha Lance, a South African resident here, who moved from London to Abu Dhabi six years ago.
"We recently moved to Al Reem and couldn't be happier. The rent is fairly reasonable, but the best part is the facilities. We have a swimming pool and gym, laundry, nice cafes and a supermarket within walking distance. It's also easy access into the city centre and the highway towards Dubai."
All these facilities have made Al Reem Island one of the most popular residential areas in Abu Dhabi, especially since the rents here have not increased at the same exhorbitant rate as in other areas.
According to Property Finder real estate, Al Reem, along with Khalifa City are the most sought-after communities for renting an apartment or a villa. Last year, majority of the people looking for a home in Abu Dhabi, 29.9 per cent, were searching in Al Reem.
The area also has the highest apartment rental growth rate of 12.12 per cent annually.
Al Reem area has the highest apartment rental growth rate of 12.12 per cent annually.