Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Five UAE lifestyle expenses you can reduce this year

Follow these tips to save on the everyday costs of living in the Emirates

By slashing your car, rental and home costs, you will have more money to save and spend on enjoying your time in the UAE. Photo: Getty Images
By slashing your car, rental and home costs, you will have more money to save and spend on enjoying your time in the UAE. Photo: Getty Images

While the most significant household annual expense in the UAE is your rent, don't ignore the other everyday costs. Here are five of the biggest lifestyle expenses you can reduce this year:

1. Rent

Residential rental rates are on the decline - falling 10 per cent for apartments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2018, according to real estate consultancy Asteco. Therefore, moving to a lower cost area or renegotiating your current rate with your landlord makes sense. Start this process by comparing your current rental rate to the average range for your area. You can use the Dubai Land Department's Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) rental increase calculator to do so. If your current rental rate is above the range, negotiate with your landlord. If the landlord refuses to budge, there are a number of affordable options in the newly developed suburbs of the UAE, such as Dubailand and Dubai Silicon Oasis.

2. Utilities

To save on electricity costs, switching off all lights, fans, AC units and appliances when they are not in use. Regularly service your AC system, as an unmaintained unit requires more energy to keep your home cool. Run your AC at 24 degrees Celsius or higher; this will to save up to 9 per cent each degree you go up.

To reduce your water consumption, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and shaving; make sure dishwashers and washing machines are full before you run them, and fix leaking pipes and faucets as soon as you notice an issue. Leaving sprinklers running in your garden after it has been properly irrigated can also cause a lot of wastage. Conserve water by watering your lawn early in the morning or late at night when the sun won't causing too much evaporation.

3. Technology

Most UAE residents pay about Dh3,000 a year for their internet, phone and TV services in the home, according to according to Etisalat and du. To reduce your smartphone bill, pick a cost-effective plan and take advantage of bundles. For example, you can choose a package that gives you more internet data or free international minutes, and by using mobile data bundles - that allow access the Internet at any time - you might secure hundreds of minutes of talk time at discounted rates.

For your home internet and TV package, downsize your monthly payment by dropping channels you don't watch anymore.

4. Car costs

While fuel bills are cheaper due to lower oil prices at the moment, take advantage of the weather and walk more. Alternatively, carpool with friends, colleagues or neighbours, and use public transport to cut costs. If you have to drive, too much idling and high acceleration can also increase your fuel consumption.

To reduce your Salik bill, avoid the toll gates on Sheikh Zayed Road - it costs Dh4 every time you pass through which quickly adds up.

For those looking to buy, beware of depreciation - the biggest car expense you’ll face after the cost of the car itself. Based on the examination of over 2,000 car sales transactions on CarSwitch.com, a new car can lose 20 per cent of its value in the first year. Therefore, it makes a lot of financial sense to buy a car that is one or two years old. You can also beat depreciation by investing in Japanese models as they retain more value compared to other makes.

To keep your repair bills down, get your car serviced regularly; have the engine oil and air filter changed on time, maintain fluid levels and rotate your tyres. Also, invest in a car cover to preserve the condition of your car and reduce the cost of keeping your it clean. If you ignore warning signs and don’t fix small issues, they can escalate quickly.

When it comes to insuring your motor, expect a bill of between Dh1,100 and Dh5,000 every year. Comparison shopping is the key to saving money on car insurance; you can save up to 50 per cent by switching to a better insurance policy. Also, only sign up for the add-ons you really need - some can cost you upwards of Dh1,000.

5. House maintenance

To cut costs, book home services, such as moving and cleaning, at an off-peak time when demand is lower to save money. Mondays and Tuesdays are much quieter than weekends. Some service providers also offer discounts if you sign up for a long-term recurring booking.

An average household in the UAE spends between Dh6,000 and Dh36,000 per annum on cleaning services, according to ServiceMarket, depending on the size of the home. Consider switching from a full-time to part-time service. Alternatively, signing up for a monthly contract on part-time help can save you up to 20 per cent compared to booking individual sessions.

When it comes to the upkeep of your home, expect to spend around 2 per cent of the value of your home on maintenance issues annually. The older your home, the more maintenance costs you are likely to face. You can save in the long run by signing up for an annual maintenance contract instead of booking handyman services when the need arises. Annual maintenance contracts, which range from Dh2,000 to Dh6,000 per year, cover a free handyman and AC cleaning sessions.

Bana Shomali is the chief executive and co-founder of home services marketplace ServiceMarket and Imad Hammad is the chief executive and co-founder at car platform CarSwitch

Updated: February 4, 2019 08:08 PM

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