x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The drive from Dubai is ‘tedious’ but better than high Abu Dhabi rents

The drive may be long and the traffic occasionally heavy going, but commuters from Dubai to Abu Dhabi say it is preferable to paying high rents in the capital.

VS Saravanakumar, an engineer, used to commute each day to Abu Dhabi from his Sharjah home, before finding a new job in Dubai.
VS Saravanakumar, an engineer, used to commute each day to Abu Dhabi from his Sharjah home, before finding a new job in Dubai.

The drive may be long and the traffic occasionally heavy going, but commuters from Dubai to Abu Dhabi say it is preferable to paying high rents in the capital.

Ransom Saldanha moved to the emirate in 2009 after living for 18 months in Abu Dhabi so that his wife and son could join him in the UAE.

In Abu Dhabi he paid Dh3,500 to rent an en suite room in a three bedroom-flat he shared with a family.

He could not find a comparable price for a bedroom or studio and he could not find a space for his son in any school.

"Then I was trying Dubai," said Mr Saldanha 40, a banker from India. "I easily got a seat for my son and accommodation was much cheaper."

He loves the green spaces around his home in Discovery Gardens, as well as the parking and the affordable rent.

"Though it is tedious, you don't mind travelling because your family is with you in Dubai," said Mr Saldanha, 40. "It's better for me to stay with my family than slog over there with some other family."

It would be his "dream" to find work in Dubai, even if it meant a salary cut. "In my office I know many are trying to do this move in the past two or three years and nobody has done it up to now."

Alternatively, he would move to Abu Dhabi to leave "this tiresome drive" if he had a salary increase or if rental rates dropped.

Ellen Pereira and her husband also moved to Dubai for the sake of their family.

"All these decisions are based on the families," said Ms Pereira, 27, who moved to Dubai in 2010.

"It's not that we had decided that we wanted to move to Dubai, we tried our best to secure a place but we could not get one," she said. "If you stay in a secluded area of Abu Dhabi where the rents are cheaper, then the families suffer."

"Housing that is affordable in Abu Dhabi is not very family friendly and once it does get developed the rent goes high. It's unaffordable for people of a medium salary bracket."

Now that she's settled, she can't foresee the family moving back to the capital.

Others get around the problem of long hours travelling each day by having homes in two cities - living with friends in the capital during the week and seeing their families at weekends.

"Some of my friends live and work in Abu Dhabi, they leave their family in Sharjah and Dubai and come back to meet them during the weekend," said VS Saravanakumar, an engineer who used to commute each day to Abu Dhabi from his Sharjah home.

Luckily for him, his travelling time was slashed when he found a new project in Dubai.

"I get more time at home; I feel better physically because there is no strain.

The Abu Dhabi Executive Council announced in January that they would expand the E311 to Abu Dhabi to provide an alternative route for the growing number of commuters.

The expansion could be ready in as little as two years after construction begins, said construction experts. The E311 currently joins the E11 at the Abu Dhabi border.

The Department of Transport has buses for employers commuting to Abu Dhabi city from Al Ain and Dubai, a model they encourage companies to use to reduce traffic, driver fatigue and pollution.

azacharias@thenational.ae