Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dubai Drama : House

I just realized that I have had it easy when it comes to moving.
When we moved to Saudi, Taufik had gone 6 months ahead of us to look for houses. He had the freedom to look wherever and whenever without having to haul all of us in the car. Plus, most of the houses were in a compund and came fully furnished. When we finally arrived, he had had everything ready - a fully furnished house, washer&dryer, even a television. We only had to put our clothes into the cupboards and I remember cooking rice and making omelletes for dinner on the very first evening we arrived.

Moving to Dubai is a totally different story though.
They don't have compounds just like in Saudi, and with PokCik Smith's budget, all we could afford was an empty villa. We had to start looking from scratch, scouring through advertisements in the property section of the paper, calling up whoever advertised their number. We also drove around the area we were interested in, looking out for 'To Let' signs. (Even now, the kids and I still perk up whenever we see a 'To Let' sign). While doing this, we were also looking for schools. We had to find a school that is close to residential areas and then find a house that is close to the school.
When the kids got accepted into Jumeirah College and Jumeirah Primary School, we set our sights on a few villas in the neighbourhood.

Our first choice was a 4-bedroom double-story villa located 5 minutes (15 minutes walking) from school. We called this house "Villa 118". The first time we looked at it, we liked it for the huge backyard and mature garden. Taufik was already seeing himself doing lots of gardening in it. The house was a little dilapitated though. A few doors were old and rotting, the walls had nail-holes in them, a few marble tops and tiles were broken in the bathrooms and some parts of the concrete fencing was crumbling. We left the house feeling dissapointed that it wasn't in as good a condition as the other houses we saw.
The second time we looked at Villa 118, we went with Sharliza (whose house is 5 doors away). She pointed out its good points : All bedrooms had built-in wardrobes and ensuite bathrooms, the fittings were relatively new, the kitchen had built-in cabinets, a washing machine and a fridge and the living area is quite a huge space. We really didn't need much convincing actually, because despite the dust and dried leaves on the floor, we felt at home the moment we stepped into the house.
Taufik called up the real-estate agent, Mohsen, who was unfortunately away on vacation, but was able to negotiate rent via phone calls and emails. We met with Khaldoon, the maintenance supervisor to itemize what needed fixing and he assured us that the villa would be ready by Feb 1st.
We thought our house is settled, but a day later we got a call from Mohsen's associate who demanded that we pay the rent in full before they proceed with the repair work. We refused, of course, because they have not given us an agreement in writing on whether they were going to fix anything and we have not even seen any lease contract. What is the guarantee that we won't end up living in a dilapitated house? Taufik tried to discuss and negotiate with the associate but he was so rude (shouting and not listening) and insistent that Taufik decided to CANCEL renting the villa right there and then!

On to plan B, which was another 4-bedroom double-story villa a little bit further away (10 minutes by car, 30 minutes on foot) from Villa 118, which we called "Uzma's house". This house was almost as big as Villa 118 and had almost the same emnities, but the backyard was tiny and the yard was void of plants except for a coconut tree in front. Unlike Villa 118 though, Uzma's House was fixed and cleaned while waiting for a tenant, so we could move in right away if we wanted to. Taufik managed to negotiate with Uzma, the real-estate agent, to rent the house at a lower price than Villa 118. So, we flew back to Saudi with a secure feeling.
Unfortunately, a few days later we found out that PokCik Smith has a problem with Uzma's House. Uzma wasn't really a real-estate agent with a real real-estate company. She was just an individual acting on behalf of the landlord. PokCik Smith (or actually, the finance folks) were a little nervous about writing out a cheque to an individual. After days of discussing back and forth, we had no choice but to agree with PokCik Smith.
So, cancel Uzma's House.

There we were, packing 5 years of accumulated stuff into 81 boxes, with no idea where to put them when we get to Dubai.

Cue an SMS from Mohsen : "Sir, are you still angry, and are you still interested in Villa 118?"

Mohsen was back from vacation (and I hope he fired his associate's ass), and he managed to convince us to reconsider Villa 118 (We didn't need much convincing, really, but of course we didn't show him that). He said they will start working on the house, and that he only needs the refundable security deposit (which we can pay once we are in Dubai), before he draws up a lease agreement upon which, the full rent will be due. We agreed, but only after he sent us an email commiting to the list of items that needs to be fixed. When we returned to Dubai and visited Villa 118 again, we were happy to find people working on getting the interiors of the house ready. The supervisor present assured us that work will be completed on the 1st of February.

Oh Happy Joy Joy?
Not quite yet.
(Today is the 1st of February and I am still living in a hotel)

For the workers to complete the cleaning of the interiors, they need water and electricity. DEWA (Dubai Water & Electricity Authority) services are applied and paid by the tenant, not the landlord, so the moment the previous tenant left, the water & electricity was cut off. We needed to apply for DEWA services, and that requires a signed lease agreement and proof that the latest bill was paid up. These documents will only be provided to us by the landlord when we have paid the rent due and sign the lease agreement. Since PokCik Smith is paying the rent, we have to wait for a cheque from the PokCik Smith Finance department. Some joker in finance 'forgot' to sign the approval form, which delayed the issuing of the cheque, which delayed everything else. We only got the cheque on Thursday afternoon, therefore we could only get the lease agreement completed and a copy of the last paid bill after the weekend wasover (read: Sunday).
Yesterday we went to DEWA with all the required documents to apply for water & electricity. After waiting for 2 hours for his number to be called, Taufik discovered that he needed more than the required documents that was stated in the application form, something that someone (or a properly printed form) could have told him 2 hours earlier. They could build the tallest building in the world, but could not think of having an information counter (or at least a notice board for instructions) in government offices. Go figure.

So here we are, still living out of a hotel, which is seriously overrated, if you ask me. At this point we are so fed-up that we are thinking that the moment the house is cleaned and liveable, we're gonna get mattresses and pillows and move right in, with or without furniture.

I don't think I can handle anymore drama.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's Going On?

These stuff:

1. I am not going back to Malaysia for good.
2. We were originally planned to move to Oman.
3. A few days before christmas, we received a call that we're moving to Dubai instead.
4. Since Christmas, I have been frantically searching for schools and potential homes online (thanx Dayah for loaning her laptop and broadband thingamajig). ALhamdulilllah, we managed to enquire and get responses from a few schools even though some of them were closed for the holidays.
5. We drew up an action plan for the move. (you know me... control freak)
6. 30th January we flew back to Saudi, got necessary documents copied/printed and ready for submission.
7. 4th January we flew to Dubai and started school visits and Ilham took his placement tests.
8. After visiting 2 schools, we decided on Jumeirah College and Jumeirah Primary School for its location more than anything else. Alhamdulillah all of our applications were accepted! yay!
9. After viewing at least 6 houses a day for several days, we finally settled on an independent villa that we liked, but the agent/owner was horrible, so after a few days of quarelling, we decided to scrap that house and picked another one, 1.3 kms from school. (I'm gonna walk to send/pick up the kids from school on good weather days. Taufik is hoping I can kurus. Yeah right.)
10. Yes, the villa has a guest room. Please do come and visit! :)
11. We're now back in Saudi to settle some stuff with school and do last minute shopping (I am STILL eyeing that kitchenaid tee hee) and PACK & MOVE.
12. We will fly to Dubai on the 20th, and kid will start school on the 24th.

I'll write more later, like what I think of Dubai and that drama with the real estate agent.