Honestly, I am sitting here grinning like a Cheshire Cat

12 May



The skankiness we have seen in the past few weeks.

And because no one uses maps or street directories, viewing apartments and ‘villas’ involves quite a bit of cloak-and-dagger-type meeting of agents at landmarks (Khalifa Hospital or the Co-op on 28th-or-is-that-26th) and then following them (which usually involves losing them which usually involves me losing it to the mister who in turn loses it back to me) to an apartment which is nearly always locked (although the agent had always only just rung to check that it would be open) and then finding the guy on security to come and let you in.

Then, the agent tells you that it will be painted before you move in, and because the building’s only just been finished the water hasn’t been connected yet, but next week for sure. And the power too. And the security guy’s mate’s makeshift bed of cardboard and a blanket on the floor? That’ll be gone too. But gone where? And shouldn’t I just stop whingeing and be grateful for what I’ve got?

And here’s a villa which was six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a box for the maid, but it’s been converted into eighteen apartments (yes, yes, he’s got the municipal approval, don’t worry yourself about that), and it’s a good conversion, you know only half of the walls are particle board, so here’s the vacant apartment, and here’s the kitchen and you’d never know it used to be a bathroom would you, and if you put lots of lamps around you’ll never notice that there’s no window.

Get back in the car, chuck the shits at the mister again. You know it’s not his fault, but you can’t chuck the shits at thin air.

And everyone says if you can just hold on til June, it’s the end of the school year and everyone’s leaving then, and look what happened in Dubai, rents have fallen by forty percent. Rumour, speculation, more rumour, increased speculation. Still, it’s something to talk about besides the heat. Everyone knows someone who is leaving, who has already left, who expects to be asked to leave. But our lease runs out in June and the prices won’t drop straight away and anyway this is Abu Dhabi, not Dubai, and there’s much less foreign ownership here. Of course, sure, it’s supply and demand, but that graph they teach you in year eleven, year twelve and again in 101, that doesn’t always apply.

Have you looked in Khalifa A or what about Raha? So we do. But I’m from Port Pirie, so you know living in a house that’s buffetted by hot wind and filled with red sand, that’s not a new experience, that’s just an extension of my life. I know, the lawn’s going down today and the sand won’t be that bad, but still and all the same. And the drive. What’s that? The new freeway will make it just fifteen minutes from here to Abu Dhabi Mall? Yes, and I’ve heard we’re about to colonise the moon.

Here’s a question: what’s worse than looking for a place to live? Answer: looking for a place to live on a hot day, in a hire car when it’s air-conditioning stops and the ELECTRICS FAIL, and you turn to the mister and say, Didn’t we already do this? Didn’t we already do our time in crap cars looking at crap accommodation? Oh, and won’t we laugh about this in about twenty years? So, here’s the list of places we’ve had to sit on the side of the road, next to an over-heated or otherwise deadbeat car: Burra, Blinman, Blanchetown, Crystal Brook, Sheoak Log, Edwardstown, Elizabeth, North Adelaide, Berri, Port Pirie, Berri, Port Augusta, Abu Dhabi.

See? We’re laughing already, aren’t we?


So. The rent for this place is more than our accommodation allowance (don’t get me started, because I know, global financial crisis and all that, but haven’t I just dragged myself…ahem…like I said, don’t get me started), but, it’s ace because there’s no problem with parking and it’s still close to the school and the mister’s work which means that we won’t need two cars (brilliant) and also that I won’t need to get up in the morning to take the boys to school (fucking awesome). There’s a small swimming pool in the apartment complex (deep, but the lads can swim, they can swim, eldest boy did a whole lap, freestyle, without his kickboard, oh my, my boys can swim). Three bedrooms, kitchen window, patch of lawn (again, small, but there), ground floor (no dragging groceries up 17 floors). Water and power working, quiet streets, few trees around, a Lebanese Flower restaurant and bakery not too far away and also it exists.

We’ll need to go to IKEA to buy a few things (beds, lounge, table, chairs, that kind of thing), but the mister, no doubt still thinking about the towels, has agreed that it does not need to be a consultative process and I should go alone one day.

And please, if in one month, there’s suddenly more accommodation than there is people, if rents really do fall and you can get a villa in Kahlidiya, two blocks from the Corniche, swimming pool, two carparks, 150,000 dirhams…don’t tell me, okay?

I can see, I can breathe, I can think. I knew it would all work out in the end. Didn’t you?

PS Do pardon my bad language, which seems to be increasing (in print form, I always swear a lot irl which I know shows a lack of imagination and all that, but it’s my upbringing, what can I say).

updated to sayerm, just been back through that to eliminate one or two rather ordinary errors of the grammatical and spelling kind, and also ‘Sheoak Lodge’ ha! that’s hilarious, wonder why my brain typed that.


10 Responses to “Honestly, I am sitting here grinning like a Cheshire Cat”

  1. innercitygarden May 12, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    WOO HOO!

    Should I add Thank Fuck? Or should I be trying to move the conversation on?

  2. Pen May 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    Three bedrooms, nice one.

  3. planetnomad May 12, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    Woo-hoo! As someone who has spent the last nearly-THREE years in transition, and who spent 8 months moving from one temp situation to another and looking at place after place after place, believe me when I say it from the heart: CONGRATS! Your new place sounds awesome. And now that you’ve found it and signed the lease, that leaves prices free to fall for others.

    We had to go ahead and buy a car, after months of hearing the import taxes would drop, so that they can actually drop and others can benefit. It’s not easy being the one who gets swindled, but Murphy’s Law must out.

  4. mary May 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    Thank god for that!

    I can feel your pain because we went through very similar vexations looking for places to live in Hong Kong a number of years ago.

    And as an ex Adelaidian myself reading through your list of car break downs was very familiar to me!

  5. innercitygarden May 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    Oh, I forgot to add earlier: I was once househunting solo, sans car, when it was so hot the real estate agent offered me a lift. Even though I’d said I wasn’t taking the place.

  6. Kath Lockett May 13, 2009 at 6:10 am #

    Thank god – can smell your relief (or is that BO from the heat?) from here.

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve suffered from ‘cracking the shits’ at Love Chunks and various forms of freezing or overheating as well. We always get hellish extremes of weather the very days we decide to drive around cities we don’t know very well trying to look for somewhere to live.

    This current place was bought at auction in November as it hailed. It was so fierce that some of it landed *in my mouth* as we were frantically trying to unlock the doors of our hire car. True story!

  7. Deborah May 13, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    So pleeezed for you.

    The one thing that went well for our move was that my mister had been over here a month or two earlier and bought us a house. I hadn’t seen it, but that just meant that he was very, very careful to consult my tastes before signing up for it.

    So much uncertainty gone for you. Moving day soon?

  8. blackbird May 14, 2009 at 2:52 am #

    Am awfully pleased to read this. Stop. Nothing worse than looking for a place to live. Stop. Well done. Stop.

    (don’t ask)

  9. Zoe May 14, 2009 at 11:00 am #


    For some reason I’m glad they have Ikea in Abu Dhabi.

  10. Hala May 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    that sure is a good news 🙂 woohoo

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