Remember our contributing writer Maja Davies sharing the exciting highs and lows of moving home live on Home Club ME’s Instagram Stories? Maja, a Swedish expat living in Dubai, relives the challenges she faced and the insights she gained while moving her family from Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) to a new home on Palm Jumeirah in an online series called The Moving Diaries, exclusive to Home Club ME. Starting today and continuing throughout the month of June, Maja’s weekly excerpts from The Moving Diaries will provide Home Club ME readers with valuable tips for moving home, from the logistics to decorating and even how to overcome emotional conflicts. Here, Maja shares intuitive budgeting advice and the important ‘dos and don’ts’ that she gained firsthand from her move.
The Moving Diaries, by Maja Davies
When we moved from our apartment in JLT where we had started our Dubai journey, I had envisioned a romantic last evening. I pictured my husband and I sat on the floor sharing an obligatory last supper of a takeout pizza and reminiscing over all the cherished memories we had made there over the past three years. Instead, due to a string of hiccups including our air conditioning and water being turned off a week too early, we left our apartment sweaty, tired and irritable. It wasn’t until weeks later when the moving dust had settled that I realised I hadn’t really said goodbye to our old home.
Moving is stressful. It can also be expensive, not to mention emotional. During our move I kept a log of everything that I was feeling and learning along the way: what we did well, what I wish we had done differently, and what our biggest lessons learnt were. Much like our move, my notes seemed disorganised and messy at first glance, so I have divided them into four key themes: Budgeting, Logistics, Decorating and Emotions (there were many). I’ll share advice from these four topics, plus the moving day itself, in the coming weeks.
The Moving Diaries, Lesson 1: Budgeting
Budgeting is first in this diary series because, to me, this topic is of the utmost importance when it comes to moving home. Here is the sticking point: no matter how high your budget is there will always be a nicer property, a nicer sofa and a nicer oven if you just spend that little bit more.
With that in mind, here are my top tips aimed to help prevent movers from getting too carried away and from being stuck in a fabulous property which you cannot afford to furnish.
*DO set a budget before you go property hunting
Key points to consider:
- Rent (obviously)
- Payment: how many cheques do you want to pay your rent in for the year? This can impact your bargaining power as the landlord may offer a slightly reduced rent for one cheque.
- Deposit: normally 5%, and refundable when you vacate
- Agency fee: normally 5%, non-refundable
- Moving company: request a quote before you move so you know the cost. The company may conduct a site inspection to see the items you want moving, or you may be able to send photographs of these items to the moving firm via WhatsApp or email.
- Painting: many rental contracts in the UAE state that you have to repaint when you move out, to return the property back to its original condition.
- Furniture: is the new property bigger? Is the layout suitable for your existing furniture? If not, what is missing and what are you willing to spend on these items?
- Bills: a bigger place means higher bills; a garden may require irrigation and/or a gardener; a pool requires maintenance. List all of the aspects in your new property that are going be different and additional compared to your current home and consider what the financial implications could be.
*DON’T look at properties outside of your budget
Maybe your real estate agent offered to take you to a nicer flat that is “slightly out of budget but we only just got the keys and you just have to see it” … Or maybe you increased the maximum price on your property budget by a few thousand dirhams ‘just to see what you could get’ … Trust me, don’t do it. Unless you have set your maximum budget to lower than it actually is to allow yourself some wiggle room, there is no point in putting yourself in a position where you are looking at something you can’t afford; it won’t add any value to your property search, it will just make you unsatisfied by what you can afford. Instead, make a priority list of essentials versus things that would be nice to have, and keep the list at hand as a reminder when you are viewing properties.
*DO plan your décor
Make a realistic plan for your furniture and décor. A colour scheme is a good start, and a floorplan is even better, with a list of the specific items you will want in your new home along with their exact costing. This will not only help you eliminate impulse buying, but it will also ensure that each piece is carefully considered and works with the overall décor, which means you are more likely to keep them for longer.
*DON’T buy everything in one go
If you have a limited budget for furnishings and décor, make a priority list and take your time. Beds and kitchen fixtures are necessities, but a new armchair or lighting fixtures can probably wait until your next pay cheque. Don’t rush to the cheapest furniture stores just because you want to fill an entire new home in a month; instead, enjoy the process and purchase items as and when you find something you truly love. We have been in our new property for six months and we are still not finished. I wanted to get a real feel for the place and truly understand the ideal layout and spacing before investing in big value items. Our latest purchase is a secondhand antique console table that I found through a Facebook advert and I am in love with it. Our budget would not have allowed for this purchase when we first moved, so I am glad that I waited.
*DO upcycle, DIY or sell
For the sake of your budget and the planet, please do not just throw away items you don’t want. There are lots of YouTube videos online on DIY and upcycling, and I highly recommend spending an afternoon looking for inspiration. A friend of mine bought fabric from Liberty London in England to reupholster and upcycle her sofa cushions with, while I am currently in the process of upcycling my IKEA display cabinet to give it a Balinese feel. You can purchase a simple toolkit from IKEA or order a glue gun online for easy DIY projects. If upcycling isn’t for you, then try to either sell the items online (there are lots of secondhand buying and selling pages on Facebook) or as a last resort donate them to a company like Remove My Junk who will collect the items for free and give them a new life.
*DO keep a buffer
Last but not least, keep a buffer! As we discovered when our electricity was switched off too early and we suddenly had nowhere to live for a week, things can go wrong no matter how well you plan your move. So, when you’re making your budget, try and leave a buffer for such mishaps. This will save you a lot of stress and conflict down the line.
Stay tuned for the next instalment of The Moving Diaries by Maja Lunjso next Sunday, when she relives the logistical details of her moving experience and the key dos and don’ts she learnt to help you with your move. For more interiors and DIY advice be inspired by our expert guides for your house and garden and discover a list of companies that will help you with your move on our list of Home Club ME approved vendors.