The Luxury Life Of Dubai 2014- World’s Most Luxurious Places To Visit
With the school year about to finish, it’s time for another round of expat goodbyes in Dubai and, as we exchange sweaty air kisses, the addendum on everyone’s lips this year is “you are coming back in September, aren’t you?”
Expat life in the UAE is tenuous at the best of times but this year the lead-up to summer has been marked with rumours of an expat exodus as the rising cost of living gets the better of those who haven’t had a pay rise, perhaps for several years.
The last time this happened, the expat exodus was due to Dubai’s financial decline; the irony this time is that many are now victims of Dubai’s success. With rents spiralling on the back of renewed economic confidence, and with school fees rising in the face of increasing demand as more and more people move here, many expats have spent the spring thinking: is this the end of the ride? Can we afford to stay?
It’s not just a calculation based on current expenses: no-one wants to take their children out of school mid-year, so those with children are thinking a year ahead. Will my landlord put up the rent when the contract renews? Will September bring a letter from the school about fee increases after we’ve already paid up the first term? Ultimately, even if we make ends meet, will we be able to save anything at all next year?
Admittedly, it seems strange to have financial worries in a city that’s known chiefly for its luxury and excesses but, as you can imagine, Dubai is not a city designed for budget living. Yes, a life on the cheap can be found, but you have to search for it, choosing local cafés over smart restaurants, flea markets over malls, and seeking out free entertainment. But, to the detriment of many, Dubai is also a city that’s packed with temptation. Many residents understandably want to make the most of their time spent here — some (by no means all) rack up debts trying to keep up with a luxury lifestyle they can ill afford.
But, back to the potential exodus. There are people who are fine, of course: those who own their own homes; those whose children are already in well-established schools (it’s the crop of new schools that are charging the most eye-watering fees); those who have been renting the same place for some time and whose landlords abide by the law; those who have received reasonable pay rises.
Then there are those who’ve been here some time and think, as they’re squeezed, that they’d like to try and make it work. Many of these families have spent the last few months juggling to make life more affordable: moving the children into cheaper schools, moving to less pricey areas, down-sizing their homes — battening down the hatches to survive another school year.
Those having the hardest time are the ones whose lives are currently in a state of flux: people whose landlords have “claimed back” their home; those who are shopping for a new rental contract now or trying to get children into school for the first time. While there are controls on rent increases for existing tenants, there is no control on what rent a landlord might ask a new tenant, leaving these expats in a precarious position.
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