Revealed: hidden costs when moving from apartment to villa in the UAE

Home insurance is unlikely to increase, as it depends on the cost of home contents, experts say
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Home owners are often oblivious to additional costs that come up when moving from an apartment to a villa, such as general upkeep, maintenance and rent or mortgage payments. To make it easier for buyers to budget their move correctly, home services firm ServiceMarket and services provider Delight Investment Group teamed up to prepare a handy cost guide:
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Monthly rent: Since most villas are more expensive to rent than apartments, people are likely to witness a significant increase in monthly rent charges when moving. Villas can cost over 100% more to rent than apartments, depending on the area, according to the RERA Index. However, villas in less popular areas of Dubai can be cheaper to rent than apartments in the city’s expensive districts.
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Utility bills: End-users typically encounter higher utility bills when moving to a villa, thanks to larger space and often, a garden to care for. Energy saving tips can come in handy to control monthly bills, however, such as turning off lights when they are not needed, restricting use of the AC or keeping it on a higher temperature and taking shorter showers. Irrigation expenses are also overlooked, though watering gardens at night will reduce evaporation and save on the water bill.
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Home maintenance: Most annual maintenance contracts are more affordable than handyman services paid for by the hour. Contracts for villas start at around AED4,000, according to Delight International Facilities Management, and include services such as AC cleaning and locksmith services. However, the bigger the villa, the higher the contract costs.
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Gardening: Gardens are one of the factors that prompt people to move into villas in Dubai, but having one does not come at a cheap price, especially if one plans on customizing the area through landscaping. So, home owners are advised to set aside a budget to hire a gardener. Basic garden maintenance starts from AED250 a month but can go up to AED1,000 a month for larger villas, according to Delight International Facilities Management. The cost of basic garden design and landscaping starts at AED3,000 but can be as high as AED50,000 if a pool is included, not counting the pool’s AED3,600 annual maintenance cost.
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Pest control: All villas need regular pest control treatment, and budgets for it will increase with the size of the property, especially if it includes a garden, where pest control treatment for ants and termites is highly recommended by experts. In some cases, Dubai residents have had to call pest control services to handle snakes. Moreover, bigger homes also mean more storage space, which can be infested by rats and cockroaches. Delight Investment Group's pest control arm, Debug, revealed that, on average, it costs around AED400 to book a pest control service for a 3-bedroom villa. All pest control bookings made on ServiceMarket come with a three month warranty, and contract costs start at around AED1,500.
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Cleaning: The larger the property, the more time it will take to clean. As a result, monthly cleaning services will likely cost more in a villa than in an apartment. New types of cleaning costs will also come up. There include water tanks, which have to be cleaned at least once a year for AED500, and more AC units, which cost AED800 per unit to clean. The annual cost for cleaning four AC units in a 3-bedroom villa will be around AED6,400. It’s also recommended to get villas deep cleaned once a year, which typically costs around AED1,200, according to Dmaids, a maid service subsidiary of Delight Investment Group. Swimming pools also need regular cleaning.
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Home insurance: The good news is that the cost of home contents insurance is unlikely to increase when moving to a villa in the UAE, since it is dependent on the value of belongings, such as furniture, electronics and other insurable belongings increases. If owners already have home insurance, they will need to inform the insurance company of their new address. If not, they’re advised to consider getting one to protect their belongings. Home insurance can be bought for as little as AED200 on ServiceMarket. That said, the cost of building insurance, which covers the building structure, is typically more expensive for a villa.
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Moving: One of the first expenses owners have to consider is the cost of moving services, which depends on the volume of belongings and the size of the property. The cost of moving from a 3-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom villa in Dubai will usually range from AED3,500 to AED4,000. So, home owners are advised to understand exactly what the moving quote includes. If they need help with putting up curtains or photos, there will be an extra charge (of around AED250 for 3 hours), as a handyman is typically required for such tasks.
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Other one-off costs: Experts recommend setting budgets for things such as furniture and curtains which home owners will have to buy more of in a bigger space. Other one-off costs include the 1 percent charge owed to the real estate agent who helped find the villa, as well as charges associated with customizing the property, such as painting services.
Sun 26 Nov 2017 04:39 PM GST
By Lubna Hamdan