FUJAIRAH // Rising living costs are leading to internal migration within the country as residents move to cheaper areas to make ends meet.
The trend of expats moving from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to the Northern Emirates in part led to a 5 per cent increase in foreign residents in Fujairah last year, according to the Fujairah Statistics Centre.
In 2014, there were 123,000 expatriates in Fujairah, a figure that rose to 130,000 last year.
Motaz Al Gaabi, a 36-year-old Lebanese father of two, moved to the emirate last year mainly because of expensive school fees in Dubai.
“When I started to look for a school for my four-year-old boy I was shocked. The fees [in Dubai] were so high and didn’t fit our budget, so I considered moving to Fujairah as the school fees were almost half of what we were supposed to pay in Dubai,” he said.
“Here I pay about Dh6,000 for my kid for KG1, while they wanted Dh11,000 in Dubai.”
An engineer for a shipping company in Fujairah, Mr Al Gaabi said he managed to save money in the emirate.
“There is a big difference in almost everything here compared with Dubai – the rents are much lower, there’s no need to drive miles to get to work and the shopping choices are limited, which makes you automatically buy only the things you need, without exaggerating,” he said.
“I have two kids under four and my salary is Dh15,000, less than what I used to get in Dubai. But we are living in a two-bedroom apartment and we spend our weekends by the beach.”
The drop in oil prices affected many businesses across the UAE, resulting in salaries stagnating or even falling – making expats think twice about their life in the country.
However, it has also had the effect of making residents think about moving to other areas of the country.
“This has hit many expats in the pocket quite severely because, despite statements from property consultants saying that rents are on the decline, many residents have seen landlords try to hike rents,” said Julian Vydelingum, a chartered financial planner at Killik Offshore.
“Places such as Al Ain, RAK and Fujairah have improved their facilities, infrastructure and residential communities significantly in recent years. Many expats have decided to relocate to these areas to reduce their ongoing living costs without compromising their quality of life.”
Another expat said that her daughter was working in Abu Dhabi but, owing to the high cost of living, had moved back to Fujairah where she grew up and found a new job.
“When my daughter started to look for a job she preferred to work in Abu Dhabi,” said Eman Al Boryni, a 52-year-old mother of five.
“They offered her a good salary but it wasn’t enough. The rents were high and she had to adopt the lifestyle. By the end of each month she would ask me for some money.”
Ms Al Boryni said that the move back was a relief for her daughter because she could now get to work in less than 10 minutes, instead of spending 45 minutes on the roads of Abu Dhabi. “She is saving time and money here.”
Jamal Shuraih, director of Al Bayader real estate agency in Fujairah, said that an inexpensive one-bedroom flat in Dubai or Abu Dhabi could work out the same as renting a three-bedroom flat in central Fujairah.
“There is a huge difference in the property prices and therefore big families prefer to find jobs and settle down in emirates such as Fujairah, where they can pay Dh55,000 for a three-bedroom apartment in the city,” he said.
“The cost of living is lower here and people enjoy the peace and quiet of Fujairah and find it more suitable for kids, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.”
Source: uae news