Thursday, May 1, 2008

People Are Moving Here

Lately I've been in more communication with westerners who are moving to Abu Dhabi. A lot of them say that they're excited to live here, partly because of how much I've said that I love this emirate and the UAE.

The first thing I feel is pure joy - that other westerners will experience this fascinating country.

Immediately afterwards I panic - what if they don't like it here? What if the housing search/school search/friends search turn out to be really hard for them? What if, in the middle of the night when they can't sleep, these very nice Abu Dhabi newcomers wish they'd never laid eyes on Flowers in the Sand, Abu Dhabi? What if they hate my blog for making the move sound so blissfully easy?

(I am not overestimating the importance of this blog, nor am I trying to say that it made anyone decide to move to Abu Dhabi. Rather, it's that many people have told me they feel positive about moving here and that that is because of my blog.)

The truth is, my own move to Abu Dhabi was anything but easy. About ten days after we arrived, my stomach hurt so much I was often doubled over in pain. I described this in my journal as akin to "...being fired upon at close range, with a 22-calibre handgun, about every 20 minutes - round the clock..."

The heat, the vastly different style of dress, feeling I could get absolutely nothing accomplished, and living in a hotel with six children for over a month were among many contributing factors to my new gastritis.

But, of course it all worked out. And it was definitely worth it. For me and my family.

Yesterday I met for coffee with two readers of my blog who've just moved to Abu Dhabi. While they were quite different (from each other) and are in different situations, both were so nice and so interesting I know they'll make lots of friends. And have lots of stories.

I hope they have blogs, because no doubt their stories here will be different from mine.

9 comments:

Cairogal said...

We've lived in Dubai and Sharjah, and we're making a move from the US to Abu Dhabi this August. I'm very excited, but I'm also very worried about these stories of a housing shortage, soaring rents, etc. People are telling me that for my 120,000 dirham allowance I will be lucky to find a 1 bedroom flat. What's the story on this shortage, do you know?

Frances Gunnison said...

Cairogal,
They seem to be building everywhere you turn, but it will be some time before the pressure on the market eases and there is more middle-income housing available. The market is very tight and rents are very high, like NYC and Washington DC, etc., I imagine.
Seems you further you get from the Khalidiyah, or downtown area of AD, the more successful you will be.
I don't have figures on rents, but if I get more info I will mention it in this post.
Good luck to you,
F.

Cairogal said...

Thanks, Frances. I'm looking forward to it. I don't mind living "less centrally." Some of my friends say there's no way 120,000 will get a 2 bedroom and that 1 bdr are in short supply i general. Makes me nervous!

rosh said...

Francis - am sure your readers shall realize, moving to ANY country, has it's set of challenges. I think the chances of an instant blissful settlement is almost as realistic as wishing upon a shooting star :)

That said: am sure, given the right turn of events all those with a realistic frame of mind shall LOVE an Abu Dhabi experience.

Life is about taking chances and exploring ways of life on this lovely planet. Abu Dhabi is a lovely place to live - raise a family and also experience one of the most modern, natural Arab city with a healthy blend on ways of life from the East and the West.

Frances Gunnison said...

Rosh,
I agree with everything you said. Completely.
Regards,
F.

elle said...

I've lived in Fujairah and Al Ain, we moved to Abu Dhabi a year ago, it's taken me that long to settle but, I still don't like it. If my husband said to me we are going home, I'd be packed and ready to go tomorrow.

I hate the fact I have to drive 30km to school/work. I hate the fact we can't afford a decent place to live. I hate the fact it takes at least 2 hours to do the weekly shopping (includes driving time.) I hate the fact my little one can't just open the door and run outside. I hate the fact I battle for parking. I hate driving here.

Ok, Ok, I'll give the positive facts too. We have disposable income. We are able to save. I enjoy my job. My little one is happy at school. I don't have to worry too much about crime, however I am still very aware of my surroundings.

Frances I'm glad you like it here, I've just found it hard adapting to city. I also think I've been here too long and I really miss my family back home.

Frances Gunnison said...

Elle,
I'm trying to think of where you live if you have to drive 30km to get to school/work - are you very far outside metropolitan Abu Dhabi?
The driving is not easy here, I agree, but either I've gotten used to it or my fellow drivers are slightly less insane than when we we arrived 2 years ago. (Last week I saw a police car follow and pull over speeders in three instances. I couldn't believe it - the police never used to cruise or pull anyone over before.)
In any case, I still get more than a little stressed (my kids will confirm this) when driving down side streets where my car barely fits through cars double and triple parked and someone is beeping at me or trying to go around me while I make sure I don't scratch another guy's beau white Mercedes!
The biggest problem in AD now seems to be the high price of rent.

Anonymous said...

Frances,
My husband and I are moving to Abu Dhabi from Colorado June 20. Though he has spent quite a bit of time there, I haven't been able to go over before the move and as the date gets closer, my nerves are building! At this point, I'm planning to teach elementary school there, but am a bit worried about the combined trasitions of the move, culture shock, and starting a new job at a new grade level. I'm so glad I found this blog as it gives me some piece of mind to read about your experiences, thoughts and insights!
rian

Frances Gunnison said...

Rian,
If you keep an open mind and accept that you will feel off-kilter for a while (i.e., until you make friends, etc.,) then I think you'll do fine. I imagine working will make the transition a little easier as you will have a group of adults you can talk to right away. Good luck and write again if ever you want to.
Regards,
F.