Lots of folks have dropped by this blog looking for information about ADEC housing. If you’re one of those folks who wonder what sort of digs a person gets when they come to work here, I can help you out.
In short, the answer is: it varies. In Abu Dhabi, the apartments are usually pretty nice. They’re fairly small, but from the photos I’ve seen others share, they’re fairly well-appointed to begin with, with built-in wardrobes and such. Many of them are in a new section of the city that may require you to drive a good ways to work.
Those teachers placed in Madinat Zayed or other places in the Western Region of Al Gharbia, often have totally different housing. Many of them share a big place. Others are put up in hotels.
Those of us who are put in Al Ain have been given very different housing from one another. We were told during orientation back in August that “There are no small places in Al Ain.” That is hardly accurate. What ADEC looks for, we’re told, are places that adhere to local codes and regulations. They evidently don’t give much regard to size, however, for that statement about small places was simply inaccurate. Jenia and I were first placed in a tiny 2-BR apartment with a miniature kitchen and bathrooms. The apartment was in the Sultan Bin Tahnoon complex, and was brand new, but was much too small for the two of us (nevermind when number three shows up). Another teacher found herself placed in a run-down complex with a sign warning about danger on the door. She had to fight and fight with ADEC to get herself put in a better complex. They did eventually see reason, but it was a struggle.
Fortunately for us, a colleague of mine was interested in swapping apartments, so we exchanged keys and went to the ADEC headquarters in Al Ain and had it made official. There was no problem with that at all. The place we’re in now is much bigger, albeit still not even close to large by American standards. Like the first tiny place, we’ve got two bedrooms. But there are three bathrooms (all quite small, but reasonable), a small kitchen (this time with room for a full-size stove and a dishwasher), and a living/dining room. Other teachers are placed in the Hili complex, which seems more generously sized, although its location isn’t quite as convenient. Yet others are placed in The Village (typically those with two or more kids), which offers very spacious quarters.
So what can you expect if you sign up for a job with ADEC? To have no idea whatsoever what to expect.
Reflecting on the housing situation, I’ve talked with folks who thought the apartments in the Tahnood complex were just fine. Those were mostly singles, actually, and if I were single, I’d probably be fine with a little apartment, too. But where’s the logic in placing married couples and families in teensy-weensy places? I’m guessing here, and only guessing, but my guess is there wasn’t any logic applied. In fact, I’m betting that the housing people at ADEC probably went no farther than finding government-approved housing that had the requisite number of bedrooms and baths, and they may not have considered the actual size of the apartments. Perhaps a visit with the ADEC housing folks in Al Ain will help me understand why Jenia and I were placed where we were, and, keeping my fingers crossed, maybe the will agree to move us to a better-appointed place (with a better kitchen and at least a little more living space). There are no guarantees, and I realize that. But with a little luck, firmness, politeness, and persistence, maybe we can make arrangements that will make living easier. But that will have to wait until after Eid, the big holiday following Ramadan.