Finding a house for rent in Dubai

You have landed in Dubai. Congratulations. Soon your company provided accommodation will run out  and you need to find a shelter for yourself and your family as soon as you can. Here is a quick guide to going about it.

When you land in the country for the first time, it will take you a few months before you can get your drivers license and therefore you will need to depend upon public transport for getting around places. Therefore, in order to decide where you should be staying, take a look at the map of Dubai Metro (here). Try to shortlist a few locations depending upon your workplace location and the connectivity of metro. Try to stick to the same line (red or greeen) as the location of your office so you don’t waste time switching metro lines. In case you already have a car, then you can consider moving away from the metros. However it might still be a good idea to be closer to one of the freeways – Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail, Emirates Road etc.

Affordability is another criteria to shortlist areas. The rents tend to be higher along Sheikh Zayed Road due to better connectivity with the rest of Dubai, while as you move towards Sharjah or the farther end of Dubai (read Discovery garden/Jebel Ali) the rents may get lower. A quick check for rentals prevailing in any area can be done on This website has the option of shortlisting properties by type, location, level of furnishing, budget etc.

Certain new Dubai areas such as Marina, JBR etc boast higher rents due to the premium quality of development.

Other than the budget, there are a few more things to consider:

1)  level of furnishings – Depending on your budget you can either look for a house with or without furnishings. The houses with furnishings tend to charge a 30%-40% higher rent and may also ask for a higher deposit. Certain buildings come with white goods – i.e. basic kitchen appliances such as cooking range, fridge and washing machine. The rents in such buildings are slightly higher but not much different from unfurnished houses. If you are going for an unfurnished apartment and working on a shoestring budget, try looking up Dubizzle for some amazing second hand furniture and appliances up for sale by expats who are frequently moving in and out of the country. There are various qualities of stuff available. Often the condition of the items is quite good given they have been used only for a year or 2 and are available at half price. On a shoestring budget, furnishing may cost you between AED 3,000 to 10,000 initially depending upon how much you want to splurge. And all that stuff will be yours, which you can later sell off for a price if you move out.

2)  Chiller cost – It might be an idea to check if the chiller in the building is free or chargeable separately. New buildings with central heating often have the chiller or cooling charges included in the rent, so you don’t have to pay for it separately in your utilities bill. This is a significant cost saver specially in the peak summer months when your DEWA bill could skyrocket.

3) Amenities – Swimming pool and gym are standard amenities in most new buildings these days, but it is good to check. Also survey the area to see if there are any playing areas for kids, groceries, laundry, restaurants nearby

4) Housekeeping – Certain fully furnished apartments in the downtown area also have weekly housekeeping service included in the rent. It is good to check if you are looking at fully furnished apartments

5) Brokerage and deposit – In most places there is a standard brokerage of 5% and a refundable deposit of 5% of the annual rent payable. Although there is not regulation as such and it might be different for some buildings. Better to check.

Once you have finalized a place, additional expenses to consider are:

1) Registration – Registrations cost around AED 300 and your broker will manage that for you. There is an optional EJARI registration as well with the government which is desirable but not mandatory. Your landlord will ask you to pay for it or you can get it done directly from RERA.

2) DEWA – If you are new to the country, an initial regitration will have to be done at the DEWA office to open an account and register your house number. You will need to carry your rent agreement and passport for this registration. For more information,cost etc.please visit DEWA website.

3) Cable / Internet – You will have to check which is the service provider in your building, there are certain areas catered by Du and others by Etisalat. Depending upon which service provider is covering your building, you will need to apply for a new connection. There are combined packages available for cable TV, internet and landline phone. Calls between landline phones are free in Dubai, so it might help to keep a landline for ordering groceries, chatting up with friends etc. For information on packages visit Etisalat or Du.

Important points to remember while negotiating:

1) Number of cheques – The norm is anything between 1 to 4 cheques. In case of a single cheque, the rent may be a bit discounted, but there is a risk that in case you move out mid period of your contract, then you might not get anything back from your landlord, therefore it is better to stick to 4 cheques, since it is easier on pocket and less risky. Since paying even three months rent in advance can be pain when you land in the country first, certain companies provide interest free loans to their employees for paying this rent. Check with your company if they have such a policy.

2) Notice period – There is no written regulation regarding terminating a rent agreement midway. The norm is generally 1 -2 months rent in penalty. You can try including a clause in the rent agreement specifying the notice in case of mid term termination and also penalty payable, if any, in order to avoid any disputes later.

3) Brokerage – Often the brokerage is payable even when you bypass a broker and go through building management directly.  Sometimes brokerage is negotiable.

Feedback on certain areas in Dubai:

JLT – There are several buildings in JLT area that have faulty cooling systems and the building management is non-responsive . This has inconvenienced  many residents with many having to move out and lose rent paid. In case you are considering JLT, it is better to speak with few residents in the building to see if there are any problems.

Discovery Gardens – Although the community is excellent, the approach to the community is very narrow which results in very long traffic jams during peak hours. Make sure you visit the place during peak hours to see if your building is located in the such stretches of high traffic

Old Dubai – Many old buildings in old dubai side have window air conditioners or very ancient cooling systems. These are not only inefficient but also more expensive to run.

Business Bay – Although the quality of houses is very good, but there is large level of construction going on in the area with many buildings in the construction stages which is likely to continue for some time. There are only a few groceries /restaurants near the metro station but if you go further inside, it will be difficult to find.

Jumeira Village Circle/IMPZ/ Dubai Land – Rents are lower, and you will see some very nice pictures of apartments in these areas, but these areas or still under development with little or no amenities and a vast expanse of nothingness to look outside your window.

Well, now you have all the information you need to start off the search for your dream home. If you have any other questions do leave a comment below. Go on and login to Dubizzle now!



Finding Maids in Dubai


Aptly put across by the above meme,who doesn’t want domestic help, and desperately so!

If you have recently moved to Dubai from a Western country, you might have heard of tales about how it is possible to get plenty of domestic help in Dubai, while if you are from one of the Asian countries, you must have moved hoping you could ship your domestic bai here.

Whatever your needs and your budget, Dubai does offer customized help.

Full time maids

In case you have a a family with kids and both working couple, you might want to have a full time maid/nanny in your house. You can sponsor a full time maid from your own country at a pre-agreed salary or engage one of the maid agencies in Dubai to find you one from India, Phillipines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or African countries. The following things need to be born in mind while hiring a full time maid:

  • Certain countries define the minimum salary requirement for maids to be sponsored in UAE. For example, as per Indian embassy in Dubai, the minimum salary per month for an Indian maid is AED1,000. However, this is only the official rate and actual salaries may be higher
  • In Dubai, in order to sponsor a maid, the sponsor is required to to have a minimum monthly salary of AED6,000 and show a lease agreement for an apartment with a separate maid room and bathroom
  • A deposit is required to be made for sponsoring a made. For example, to sponsor an Indian maid, a deposit of around AED9,000 needs to be made
  • You might be required to fund annual two-way airfare to their home country
  • If you are engaging an agency to find a maid for you, they will charge a one time placement fee which may vary depending upon your negotiation skills

Part time maids

For those with smaller families and houses, a full time maid may be an extravagance and you might only want only a couple of hours of help every week. In that case you can turn to professional agencies providing part time cleaning services. Alternatively you can look at ads on Dubizzle for people seeking part-time jobs. You may even consider placing a free online ad on Gulfnews or Dubizzle for part time maids. Hiring part-time maids has its own pros and cons:

  • There is no obligation in terms of visa sponsorship cost, deposit or accomodation
  • Flexibility in terms of number of hours per week
  • Most agencies charge on an hourly basis ranging between AED25-40 per hour
  • Often there is a clause of minimum 3 to 4 hours of work at one booking. However, some agencies might have this clause only for the weekends
  • Some agencies provide cleaning supplies while most require you to provide with equipment and supplies for your house
  • Mostly all services are included other than cooking and hand washing clothes. Cooks need to be hired separately
  • I wouldn’t vouch for ironing though, since the quality of their ironing isn’t great and takes way too much time. It might be cheaper to get it done from a luandry service
  • In certain areas (old Dubai), some agencies and mostly individuals may agree for a monthly payment instead of per hour charge, which may turn out to be cheaper
  • Often online deals on Groupon or cobone provide discount on these maid services which might turn out to be as low as AED15 per hour after discount

In case you are looking for baby sitters, often housewives provide babysitting in their own house. So look for ads on Dubizzle for women offering these services in your area.

It is relatively easier and cheaper to get maids in Old Dubai simply because of more supply. Also, keep in mind, that there are plenty of illegal immigrants out there who are looking for part time small jobs and may come much cheaper than official rates, but end of the day, they are illegal and if caught, might land the employer in huge fines.

Also, if you and your spouse are both working full time and can have the maid over only during weekends, it might be a better idea to make a booking at least a week or two in advance since most of the agencies are overbooked during weekends (which is only Saturday since they don’t work on Fridays). Their working hours are normally 8am until around 6pm to 8pm in the evening.

Finally, here are contacts of some maid agencies I have utilized before:

  1. Smart maid- – service is good but they forgot about my booking that was made 2 days in advance
  2. Maidsontime – – really on time!! and good service, polite staff
  3. Maple helper services – – Got through an online deal, punctual, but found the staff slightly slow. Maybe it was intentional due to discounted booking (see my post online deals in Dubai to understand why)
  4. Several other independent workers- but they are unpredictable and not necessarilycheaper

I found this link with more useful information on hiring maids in Dubai:

Please leave a comment if you have any comments, questions and related information for my readers!

Keep Calm!

5 Highly Annoying Habits of Metro users

I am a Dubai metro regular. I use it to avoid road traffic, hassles of finding parking and escape RTA black points. And perhaps , also because I currently don’t have a license or a car. If you are a Dubai metro user, don’t do these things, they are not fun for your co-traveler!  And if you do, I will pray that you get stuck in the door one day. Believe me that is not going to be fun either.

#1 First in First Out

When getting in and out of the lifts, if you are the first one to enter, don’t plant yourself at the side of the entrance  and block 1/3rd of the passage – please go inside and let others in. The world is not ending in 2 seconds that you need to be the first one to get out of the lift. And if it is that important to you, be the last to enter. You can’t have both.

#2 Rubbing it the wrong way

When you are swiping the Nol card at the swipe gates, a red cross means you shouldn’t and a green check means go ahead. Isn’t that simple enough to understand? Don’t swipe it the wrong way! It unnecessarily slows people on the other side of the gate.

#3 Lawn walk on the travelator

Ok, you might be with friends, BFFS, or your soul-mate, but please find a better place to hold hands and chit chat.  Don’t form huddles  on the travelators. There are people behind you who are trying to rush to places and travelators are meant to facilitate that. The appropriate etiquette will be to walk slowly/stand on one side – on  the same side as the person in front of you (who ideally should be in his/her right). This way you leave the left for people who want to travel faster.

#4 Zigzag  on the escalator

Same rule applies here. Stand on one side aligning with the person in front of you, and leave passage for those who want to travel faster.

#5 Highjack the pole

Dubai metro is crowded and shaky. Please share that vertical centre bar with you co-travelers. Don’t wrap yourself around it and hijack he whole thing. Stand at a little distance and accommodate others who might need support during those jerks.

The Un-buy dilemma

If you are an online/tele shopper, answer this question – How often have you bought something on impulse and then immediately felt a pang of guilt rush through your heart as you swipe your credit card? Many times than often is the answer, right?

Have you ordered something looking at a fabulous picture online that only turned out to be its cheap surrogate sister on arrival.

Well, we all make mistakes. But the comfort lies in the power to undo them. So in case it is a wrong buying decision, the question is how easy is it to un-buy the purchase?!

I recently un-bought something on the all popular shopping online shopping website Groupon in Dubai. I must say it was a surprising experience! I am writing this to get the good word out – not everything is wrong with these online shopping portals.

Groupon has clearly listed out its cancellation and refund policy on its website at the this link:

And just to add to that, my personal experience  is here:

I had bought a voucher for a certain hair treatment that I was considering taking for quite some time and this deal was offering a 60% discount. However, after checking with my hair stylist I concluded that this treatment wasn’t good for my hair. But then, I forgot about the vouchers. I only remembered about it 3 weeks after the date of purchase.

As per the Groupon website, you can claim refund in case of service purchases made less than 7 days ago. Older purchases are dealt on a “case to case” basis. My first attempt was to call the service provider and check if they were willing to give me an alternative treatment for the voucher price , but obviously they declined. So I called the customer care at Groupon. I did not have to go through a long IVR and neither wait very long before my call was answered by a customer care execute. I explained my case to him and he could pull up my record in a matter of seconds.

He told me that their company policy says to only offer refunds in case of genuine problems or inability to take the service on the part of the buyer. He said I will have to submit some “documents” to prove my case. He was meaning a physicians certificate or something. And here is where your selling skills come into play. I haggled and haggled with no solid ground, just pushing the fact that I hadn’t used the voucher yet and I should be allowed to cancel it. After 5-6 minutes, he gave me a diplomatic reply saying that he has sent me an email to which I had to reply with the necessary details. And also, in case a refund is granted, it will be in the form of Groupon credits. Alright. Something is better than nothing.

Now, the email was already in my inbox as I disconnected the call. Surprisingly, it had no mention  of any “documents” required. It just asked me to specify the “exact reason” for claiming refund.

So I shot out a reply giving 3 “management consultant style” reasons, one of which was that I hadn’t used the vouchers yet. Not attaching any “documents”. Within a couple of hours, I got a response from them saying that my request had been forwarded to the refunds department and they will get back to me within 48 hours, with confirmation on weather my request had been approved. This was not a confirmation of refund, but only acknowledgement of receipt. However, to my very pleasant surprise, they did get back to me within 48 hours (well, in the 48th hour) approving my request and the amount was instantly credited to my Groupon account. This surely got them few brownie points over their online rivals in my books.

Kudos to the prompt customer service Groupon team!

Buying Gold in Dubai

There are two things most famous about Dubai – its skyscrapers and its gold. In case you are visiting or recently moved here, you might have many questions regarding buying gold from here and also taking it back to your home country. I am in the same boat. So, here I have put together some Q&As that might help you make a better decision:

  1. Is gold really cheaper in Dubai and Why?

In order to understand this, it is important to understand what constitutes price of gold you buy:

Price of the gold ornament is  =  Price of 22K/18K gold * ( Weight in Grams + Wastage charges) + ( Making Charges)  + VAT

 Price of Gold

The prices of gold metal are fairly standard throughout the world. The below table compares the prices of gold as of 29 April 2013.


Source: Sify finance, Khaleej Times, gold price network

As seen in the above table, the prices of gold are more or less similar across countries.

Wastage charges

This depends upon the intricacy of design you choose. This includes the weight of gold that is wasted/lost during the design/crafting process. This wastage charge is more common with branded jewellery providers than local jewellers.

Making charges

Making charges is another component added by jewelers to compensate for the workmanship effort put by them. This essentially is their profit margin. In India, making charges vary from INR 50 to INR 1500 per gram. In Dubai, the charges range from AED10 per gram to AED 500 per gram. Making charges are usually higher on 18K jewellery since more contemporary designs are available in 18k gold. If you are buying from local jewelers, be ready to bargain on this.


The other factor that affects the price of gold is the VAT or value added tax applied on gold. Until 2000, there were different tax structure applicable on gold across Europe ranging from 17.5% to 0% making the market very unbalanced. Therefore in the year 2000, the VAT on gold was declared as exempt throughout the EU. In India, some states apply a 2% VAT on gold in ornament form.  In Dubai, there is no tax on the sale of gold

 Hence overall, looking at the price of gold, making charges and tax free structure of Dubai, gold is definitely cheaper here.

 2.     Where to buy gold from?

As discussed above, the price of gold remains standard throughout different providers in Dubai. However if you willing to haggle on the making charges, it would be a good idea to visit the Gold Souk. It has good choice of designs and price ranges. However, if you compared it to some of the big branded jewellery stores, they might not have very updated designs, and barring a few stores, the designs are a copy of each other.

Another advantage of visiting the gold souk is you get to see the World’s heaviest gold ring (Najmat Taiba, the world’s largest gold ring has a 5.17kg precious stone and weighs 58.7kg in gold) and lots of bling.

3.     Bargain or not to bargain?

Yes, yes. Bargain your heart out, but now you know what you need to bargain on! Just ask for the making charges and thrash the margin out of it. However, if you have put on your best shoes and gone to a fancy shancy place, you might want to keep your negotiation limited.

4.     Location of Gold Souk, and how to get there

The gold souk in Dubai is based in Deira. Since the area is popular, the taxi guys should be able to take you there. In case you are travelling by Metro, you can take the take the red line till Union metro station, switch to green line and go till Palm Diera or Al Ras metro station. It is walking distance from both. Get out of the station and get into the bylanes.

5.     Cash or Card

If you are buying gold from gold souk, it is definitely better to carry cash (or you can withdraw cash after you like something). Although cards are accepted, it makes a big difference while bargaining, if you are paying in cash. Both dollars and Dirhams are accepted.

6.     Taking it back home

I can tell you, if you are travelling back to India. In case of gold bullion, 7% duty (6% import duty and 1% VAT) on the gold value will have to be paid by you at the customs. However, for gold carried in the form of ornaments, there is an exemption on duties for NRIs. As part of the latest budget 2013-14, male passengers can carry gold worth INR 50,000, and female passengers INR100,000 duty free as compared to the earlier limit of INR 10,000 and INR 20,000, respectively. However, this is applicable only for NRIs living abroad for more than one year or those who are transferring their residence to India. This means that if you are here only for the shopping festival, you might have to use your skills and wallet to get through customs. If you are travelling to another country, it is better to check the local customs rules.

Hope this post clears some of your gold purchase related doubts. Happy bling diggin’ you all!

Dubai – World’s best

It is not uncommon to hear the “World’s biggest, tallest, largest” in Dubai. This magnificent land has many such feathers in its cap. Infact, it could just be the country with the highest number of World’s largest manmade creations. I tried to compile a quick list for your reference in case you are here and don’t want to miss out on any of the “Big ones”.

Dubai has the following largest, biggest tallest structure, many of which are already in the Guinness Book of World Records:

  • The tallest building, man made structure and free standing structure – Burj Khalifa
  • The world’s only 7-star hotel – Burj Al Arab, Dubai
  • The second-largest yacht in the world (Dubai, owned by the sheikh).
  • The largest mall in the world – Dubai Mall
  • The largest water cannon show in the world – Dubai Mall
  • The longest indoor ski slope in the world – Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates
  • The largest artificial islands in the world – Palm Islands (The Palm Jumeirah, The Palm Jebel Ali and The Palm Deira) in Dubai
  • The world’s biggest natural flower garden – Dubai Miracle Garden
  • World’s largest shoe store – Women listen up! – The Shoe district (Dubai Mall)
  • The largest gold ring in the world (The Gold Souq in Dubai)

Online Deals in Dubai

Just like the rest of the World, Dubai also has caught on to the online shopping fever. Multiple online portals are trying to snatch the small number of online buyers from each other. All these are virtually clones of each other. So much so, that the two most popular websites also have similar sounding names: Cobone and his brother Groupon.

Although I have been here only a few months, I have already had my share of excitement at finding 80% off on hair treatments, 60% off on hotel deals and what not. But being a cautious buyer, I have done my research. I’d like to share the same with you, because I care for you dear readers.

The discounts that are mentioned on these websites often mean that you are either paying for substandard service or making full payment only in the form of additional payments not covered in the deal. I’ll explain how.

First we were trying to book a weekend vacation in one of the Northern Emirates for our Anniversary. We checked several deals and compared the prices of these with the cost of same number of days stay at the same hotels through their online bookings. It turns out most hotels have some or the other offer on their website. Say, book 2 nights and get 30% off on the 3rd night or complimentary set dinner/breakfast etc. So you are not getting any real discount on the rooms from the deals. Although, some of these deals also come with complimentary tickets to a waterpark, zoo etc. However, even if you add the price of tickets to the hotel cost, you may still be somewhere near the same figure being advertised as 50% off. Moreover, some hotels have different sets of rooms they give out to guests who have made bookings through these deals. This was reluctantly admitted by one of the Hotels on Yas Island we were trying to book through Grupon. Eventually,we made bookings with another hotel with slightly better rooms at a cost little less than that advertised in the deal.

There are often annoying conditions attached with the deal buyers – such as you can’t use the coupon until 48 hours of purchase, or taxes are excluded from the deal, or you have to make a booking 48 hours in advance etc. I was trying to book a desert safari through one of these deals. I called the travel company first to confirm any preconditions. It was a Wednesday morning, I remember, and I wanted to book a safari for Friday evening. Technically I was 48 hours early. But this guy told me that I needed to make a booking 48 hours in advance and weekend was not counted in the 48 hours. So, even if I bought the vouchers at the very moment, they would pick it up for appointments only the next day. They were close on Thursday and Friday, which means I could ask for a booking only on Saturday and then count 48 hours from there. Blah. I’d rather pay 30 bucks extra and do it this weekend. And also not be treated like a poor cousin of direct-pay customers.

A third instance, very important, was at a driving school. I bought a deal that claimed to slash the  cost of my driving lessons by 50%. Despite this, I ended up paying AED 1600+ for other different kind of fees while registration. This included AED 100 for an eye test, AED 600 for theory classes, AED 60 for an information booklet, AED 150 for typing of my form in Arabic etc. However, later I learnt through my interaction with other students, that the fee structure for direct pay customers is different. And everyone ends up paying more or less the same. Maybe a difference of AED150 or something. Moreover, you have to visit the main branch for registration as compared to a direct payer who can walk into any outlet. I am already fearing that I might also be failed in my first driving test attempt just because they want me to pay for 10 more classes. Will keep you posted on this though.

Last, but not yet done, is an irresistible hair deal I bought for a keratin blowout. The treatment cost is around AED1,200  but this deal was only available for AED150. Right now I am kinda sick of my curls and want a sleek look. Keratin has been luring me for long. So I am taking the dive, despite all my concerns about the deal. Although, will take my precautions and keep you posted on how it goes.

Until then, you all, be informed, and happy shopping online!