UAE expats staying longer according to new survey

More expatriates are now looking to remain in the UAE  for longer due, partly due to a continued drop in house prices  – according to new research published.

In a survey conducted during the first quarter of the year by financial comparison website, Compareit4me.com, 1,500 expats in the UAE responded to a series of questions about their financial intentions. And of those surveyed, almost three quarters (74%) said they are now considering buying property in the country.

The findings will be seen as a welcome boost for expat financial advisers in the region and is a signal that a potential expat exodus has, perhaps, been a little premature.

When house prices and rents began soaring in the region in recent years, there was speculation that Dubai’s expatriate bubble was about to burst.

Last year, the survey reported that more than half of expatriates in the UAE were considering packing their bags and leaving the country for good due to rising living costs. 54 per cent said they wouldn’t even consider acquring a flat or a villa in the UAE because they were not certain how long they were going to stay.

Compareit4me pointed that the fact that property prices in the UAE dropped by between 10%-13% last year and are set to drop by a further 10% this year is a factor in many expats having change of heart on the matter.

“The recent drop in housing prices has obviously removed a big weight from people’s minds and made settling here a more viable option,” said Jon Richards, chief executive at compareit4me.com.

‘Attitudes are changing

“In March last year all the major newspapers were reporting that more than half of expats in the UAE were considering leaving due to the high cost of living. Just one year later, we are happy to announce that the number of people who are interested in buying property is on the rise. It seems attitudes are changing and fears and insecurities about the future are lifting.”

Richards added that the stabilisation in the property market, which is thought to be a knock-on effect of low crude oil prices and the subsequent strength of the US dollar, “must be having an impact on people’s long term plans”.

Additionally, he points to with the recent exciting developments – both commercially, in terms of business opportunities, and physically, with projects like the impressive Dubai Canal – that staying and committing to life in the UAE is becoming even more of an enticing option.

‘For expats, it’s all about timing’

“For expats, it’s all about timing – choosing the right time to arrive and the right time to leave. The recent drop in housing prices has obviously removed a big weight from people’s minds and made settling here a more viable option.

“After all, who wants to leave a place when it is booming?”, he added.

Lukman Hajje, of the propertyfinder group believes that many property seekers have been sitting on the sidelines watching prices ease for the past 18-24 months trying to time the bottom of the market which, he priest could come during 2016.

“Interest continues to be strong particularly from long term investors seeking excellent high single digital rental yields and end users who’ve seen their dream home come to within reach.  Moreover, the oil’s rebound in the past 2 months from a 14 year low of $27 USD per barrel to the verge of $50 USD per barrel early this week has given reason for optimism,’ he said.

Compareit4me said that UAE’s population currently stands at approximately 9.5 million – more than 8 million of which are expats – and is predicted to rise to 12.41 million by 2030. The population in Dubai alone is expected to double by 2030 to 5 million.

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