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Rent hikes push residents to downsize, move storage.

Dubai Spiraling rents in the UAE are pushing residents to shift to smaller homes and keep their belongings in professional storage houses.

Just this week, British expatriate Lee Brett and his family moved from a three-bedroom, free-standing villa in Saheel of the Arabian Ranches to a cheaper semi-detached home in Al Reem in the same community. The change in space meant he couldn't fit everything into the smaller house. So he got a storage pod from storage house Easytruck Removals and Storage and cleared around 30sqft of space from his new home.

"Our landlord increased our rent by nearly Dh25,000, prompting our decision to move. We didn't want to leave the Ranches because our daughter goes to school there. So we found a smaller place in Al Reem at a more affordable rate. But space in the new home is tight, so we cleared out a lot of clutter using one of Easytruck's mobile storage pods. It's a great idea that helped us manage the downsizing without adding significantly more costs to the process," said Brett.

Chris Humphrey, owner of Easytruck, said another Western expat living in the Tiara on the Palm will be storing his water sports equipment in one of his storage pods from next week as he is moving to a one-bedroom apartment in Al Barsha. He said: "Rents in Dubai are going back to the 2008 levels and people are moving to more affordable homes. At least 40 per cent of our personal storage comprises people who want to downsize or declutter their homes."

As it turns out, downsizing customers are an increasing tribe not just at Easytruck but across storage facilities in Dubai as they come relatively cheap and offer easy access and round the clock security.

Faisal Khan of storage house StorALL, said: "We have many such customers - families who have moved from villas in Jumeirah to smaller apartments in Motor City, a family that has shifted from a Mirdif villa to an Al Barsha apartment and a couple of others who have downsized from the Arabian Ranches to the Greens and Al Barsha."

Khan said: "House rents have gone up by 30-50 per cent while apartment rents have risen by 43 per cent. There has been a large trend towards downsizing which started in the middle of 2013 and will gain pace with what is being described as the second real estate boom. Prices are expected to exponentially rise despite some 20,000 new villas coming into the market in 2014-25."

He said the resulting downsize means that customers have to either sell what doesn't fit into the smaller homes or store it. "The value of second-hand furniture as we all know is abysmal. So people find it more viable to store stuff in the short-term. Even the leases that storage facilities are offering are on a monthly basis these days, unlike the earlier long-term options. People don't want to commit for longer outlays."

Humphrey said he launched Easytruck as a mobile storage as a response to the changing times. "Moving to storage can be expensive, but with mobile storage, there is no need to hire a moving company because we bring the storage pod to the customer - saving them thousands of dirhams. Our pods are designed to fit a heap of stuff from double beds, cupboards and fridges to boxes of files, clothes and kitchen equipment. People usually store non-essentials such as exercise equipment, children's toys, foldaway beds, archive files and documents, Christmas decorations and so on."

At The Home Storage, another storage facility in Dubai, Omar Adam said: "There are three categories of people who are coming to us for personal storage - those who are downsizing, those who have lost their jobs and those who just want to declutter their homes. Some who don't wish to renew their leases due to a steep hike move out and keep their stuff until they find a suitable home to fit their budget."

He claimed that at a monthly rate of Dh12 per sq ft, many find the storage space reasonable. Moreover, most storage facilities are open seven days a week, ensuring easy access. There's also the assured security with belongings kept under lock and key.

Humphrey said: "At Easytruck we offer a storage pod at the rate Dh20 per day. We have 24 hour on site security, allowing customers to access their goods around the clock with secure swipe card access."

An Indian woman from Bur Dubai who is looking to downsize from a four bedroom apartment to a two bedroom flat said: "I can neither sell nor throw out the furniture I have collected over the years. Storage is a convenient option, so I will be putting away my extra stuff for now and send to India in a few months."

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Feb 20, 2014
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