We are moving house! This month my husband signed the contract for the house in the newly opened Al Waha Village. However, estimated turnover period is still on July. We were at first told our move is on March, that became April, then became May, probably June, then finally it’s July. But nevermind, we will definitely move to this new house before the year ends.
I can still remember the day when my husband arrived home from his job interview in KAEC (King Abdullah Economic City) and happily told me that he was hired on spot for an immediate position. I am happy for him but deep inside I had reservations. We are doing good in KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology). Though KAEC is just a 30-minute drive from KAUST, we haven’t been there. We were living in a nice villa in KAUST, will we have the same kind of accommodation in KAEC? The kids love The KAUST Schools, will they adjust fine in The World Academy, KAEC? There are plenty of part time jobs for spouses that pays ok in KAUST, will it be also easy for me to find a similar job in KAEC? I drive everywhere in KAUST, thus not at all dependent on my husband, he takes the bike to work, kids and I go to work and school together, I transport them wherever they need to go, I do my groceries alone, I can do anything, go anywhere without him. I know driving is not allowed outside our compound, is it the same in KAEC? These things I’m not prepared to give up. We’ve lived some years in Jeddah and I know what it’s like. Women don’t feel restricted in KAUST, it’s like not living in Saudi Arabia, we are not even required to wear abaya. My husband said he was just curious to try that job application, is he now serious on transferring work there? We told the kids of the possibility, Rinojo grumbled, Sophia cried, then I also cried. Aha, we all loved KAUST, having stayed for five years, the thought of leaving is overwhelming. We are not ready to leave and we don’t really want to. I thought well, he still needs to check the job offer, just maybe he will decide to stay. It was emailed after a few days. The offer was already good but my husband still declined it. Then they made another offer. Two months later, we were all packed up to start another chapter of our lives in the promising new city.
November 2013. Our first visit in KAEC
We were told that we are to stay in a temporary accommodation because the building assigned to us is still not ready for handover, with target completion after a month. They advised us to find a temporary house to rent in Jeddah or Rabigh. But that will be a big adjustment for the kids to commute far to and from school. Seve decided that if he won’t able to get us an accommodation inside KAEC, he will just cancel his transfer and stay in KAUST. His good boss is supportive of the idea, and then I of course do not mind unpacking everything if we have to. Seve received the key for a temporary apartment on the very last day we are permitted to stay in KAUST. Just imagine how up to the last day, we were still undecided whether to leave or not. The movers came to transfer our stuff. We travelled to KAEC with no idea what the house will be like.
Beach Towers. On our first months we stayed in Beach Tower 2. It is a residential building near the beach area. When we moved to KAUST we were provided with furniture and soft pack. We just brought in our clothes and that’s it, everything was provided, we even had welcome fruits on the dining table and free food vouchers to the grocery and restaurants. None of that were provided when we transferred to KAEC, the apartment was bare. Since we just got the key the day before our move, there was no more time for cleaning or to buy basic furniture. It was dusty, and our boxes are everywhere, it’s like we were in a storage area, not a house. The first days, we ate on the floor, slept on our comforters. It was crazy. The kids didn’t mind the new experience. To them we were playing camp and it’s an adventure.
On one hand however, we have the option to to stay in Bay La Sun Hotel, while waiting for our more permanent accommodation, but opted for an apartment. Despite the mess and the setup, we still find this more convenient, particularly having a pet dog.
The next weekends were spent buying furniture in Jeddah (which I enjoyed of course, haha). The big ones like beds, dining and living room set were scheduled for delivery to our assigned apartment. We don’t want them delivered in our temporary accommodation because it will be hard to disassemble and move again. We thought one month without real furniture won’t hurt. For immediate use we just bought some chairs, two study tables for our dining and also for kid’s school work. We bought mattresses for sleeping. We are thankful the kitchen is furnished. And the bedrooms has built in cabinets.
Our first pieces of furniture in KAEC
The Dog Challenge. Oh yes, we moved from a villa with a big garden to an apartment on the sixth floor. And that means I was obliged to bring the dog out of the building daily for potty and exercise. It was a challenge for lazy me. One clumsy day while dog walking, I tripped and scraped my knees and arms. Another non-energetic day, I got pulled, fell on the curb, broke my ankle and scraped my legs (and that was the last day I walked the dog). Not that I gave up, it’s just that it took time for my ankle to heal, and when it finally healed, I got pregnant. So yeah, my husband and son took over the dog walks, three times a day everyday. (Later on, as we got familiar with the city, our dog Patty will have running exercise galore along the Red Sea or on the desert far from the residential area. There’s no dog park but KAEC is very big.)
The Transportation Challenge. I heard women are no longer allowed to drive in KAEC. They were allowed at first, but when we moved it was starting to become an issue. I still saw women driving. There was no shuttle bus for transportation around town. Good thing we have our own vehicle. But the issue for us was the kids school transportation. We moved in the middle of school year and there was no available space in the school bus. My husband drops them to school in the morning and fetches them in the afternoon on his lunch break. Now on times that he is on a meeting, I drive and fetch the kids. I was caught four times by different security personnels. The first time, I was asked for a driver’s license, I showed my Philippines license with the sweetest smile I can, haha, of course I know the security won’t look at me, they are not allowed to stare at women here in Saudi Arabia. He was nice to smile back and told me that my license does not apply here. The second time, I was asked why I am driving. I answered politely that it’s just an emergency as my husband was unavailable to drive. In a polite way, I was told not to drive again. The third time, I was on the road waiting for the traffic light, the security mobile was beside me. Much as I want to ignore, the green light was taking too long, so I nervously look, but the security guy just waved and smiled, maybe he doesn’t know the new rule yet but bless him, haha. The fourth time, I was again on a stop light, then suddenly a security mobile showed up and switched on it’s very loud police siren as if I was a criminal trying to escape. He signaled for me to park on the side. And there he was continuously scolding me like a little child in Arabic language. He was talking loud and waving his hand(that’s how Arabs talk), but doesn’t look at me(they’re not allowed). I don’t understand and can’t communicate in Arabic. Luckily my husband was able to talk to him on the phone. He allowed us to go, the kids were so afraid. It was the last time I tried driving in our private city. After that, I still saw some women driving. That was two years ago. I haven’t seen a woman driving in KAEC for a long time now. (Later on, transportation will be better. The community will have shuttle buses for use around the city. The school will also have additional buses to accommodate more students.)
We stayed in Beach Towers more months than expected because the new building’s turn over got delayed. It was not comfortable to live without furniture. But the apartment itself is very nice. There were wide windows and three balconies that has the best views. We were overlooking the building’s swimming pool, other residential areas, and the beautiful sea.
Swimming pool downstairs
Chillin by the Red Sea
This girl doesn’t know how lucky she is for that great view by her bed. Playing with view of the sea & pools, sleeping with view of the moon & stars.
Though inside the apartment, I don’t have the furniture to enjoy, I just have to look outside and see paradise. KAEC has the best views of the Red Sea and then the perfect sunsets.
Sunset. This is what I get to see everyday from our apartment’s balcony, and it’s far more beautiful than this photo
Some Personal Adjustments. I was used to moving around the whole day from the moment I woke up. Cooking breakfast, packing school lunch, preparing to work, house chores after work, groceries, more cooking, laundry, ironing, etc. When we moved to KAEC, it felt so weird to be alone in silence when the three of them left for school and work. After many years of being a working mom, I suddenly have nothing to rush about. I just have to relax, take in the fresh sea breeze, enjoy the beautiful view of the glistening waters, and watch amazing sunsets from our balcony. It was like an everyday spiritual retreat by the sea. I had my most relaxing days after a long time. I was very thankful and felt very lucky.
Bye. It was a good decision to choose the apartment after all, as our transfer to the actual accommodation was delayed for four months.
Marina Towers. After four months, we moved to our assigned apartment in Marina Tower 4. The building is along the Marina canal, which the city is developing for berthing yachts. It was on a quiet corner of the city. People are mostly going to the Beach Tower side because of the beach promenade and dining areas. On our side of the Bay La Sun District it’s just mostly residents, which were just very few that time. We enjoyed the peace and privacy. We are nearby the city’s mosque, and the edge of the wide desert.
Sunrise in KAEC from Marina Towers
On our Marina apartment, we had city view. We can still see a portion of the sea from the balcony. I watched the action at daytime, while nearby Marina buildings are still on construction. And then at night, the sight is just pretty, overlooking the lights of the city.
Settling In Easy. In two years, we witnessed the city’s quick growth. Another Marina Tower opened. Lots of people moved in. We now have more dining options too. In the Beach Tower area we have Piatto Express, Uptown Sur, Bhar, Bert’s Cafe , Linas, Tex Mex, Baskin-Robins. In the Marina Towers area, we have Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway, and a 24hr convenience store called Meed. There is Seasons Restaurant in Bay La Sun Hotel, and Steakhouse too. Our community also has a medical clinic for primary care or emergency, managed by Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital. For grocery needs, we have Panda. Three buses are now operating to transport residents around the city. The kids like their new school. Community activities are organized more frequently. We have our own gym, pool, playground, and multipurpose hall in the building. We can walk to the beach to play on the sea side or go fishing. The baby and I usually takes lovely morning walks along the Marina. On weekends, we drive off roads and take the dog for running in a secluded wide area in the desert. In the afternoons, we can easily walk to the newly opened Juman Park for some relaxation. KAEC is easy to love.
The City is still a work in progress and a good place for some off-road adventure.
Community gathering in Oceana Villas
Go Kart in Juman Park
Fishing by the Marina canal
Minecraft party in our building’s Multi Purpose Room
The apartment is a smaller version of the one in Beach Tower. My son and daughter shares a bedroom on a bunk bed. They didn’t mind sharing when we moved in, but now on their preteen years they are requesting separate bedrooms. The apartment has a maid’s room, but that’s where the dog sleeps. When I gave birth, we felt real need to transfer to a bigger accommodation. With the addition of baby furniture and things, we are now cramped.If only it’s bigger, I would love to stay here in the Bay La Sun district. But we need to move.
I will miss the solemn call for Muslim prayer from the mosque beside our building
Al Waha Village. Early this year, the company offered a Housing Ownership Program to employees for house purchase in Al Waha Village, we decided right away that is where we will transfer.
The program entitles the employee ownership of the house and lot after payment of 20 years. It is nice for the company to promote a long term relationship with present employees. We would love to see KAEC’s vision of becoming a mega city into a reality. However, for now I can’t wrap up my head on how we can stay in Saudi Arabia for that long, imagine my newborn will be 20 years old by that time, haha.
KAEC is a promising city. We have seen the houses and buildings built from what was plain desert before. It is nice to be part of what it has become and we are looking forward to what it will be in the future. My husband opportunity to work in this special project is a real blessing.
We can’t wait to move in Al Waha. The house is a 2-storey villa with a garden. It has three bedrooms and a family room on the second floor. While on the ground floor is a living room, dining room, kitchen, maid’s room, driver’s room, and garage. We fell in love with it right away when we saw it as it is similar to the villa we had in KAUST. We are so much looking forward to living in a bigger space.
First visit in Al Waha house while it is still under construction
There is no specific date for our move yet. As for now, we are just enjoying each day, and feeling blessed for the opportunity to live in a special city like KAEC.