My Dubai Rent: couple upsized three times without increasing Dh80,000 rent

Ramya Lakshmi turned one of her spare bedrooms into an art studio

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My Dubai Rent takes you inside a reader's home to have a look at what they pay each month, see who they live with, and ask what they like and don't like

Ramya Lakshmi has moved house three times since relocating to Dubai in 2015, but one thing has remained constant: her rent.

From a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom and now a three-bed apartment, the 42-year-old has been able to upsize her apartment without having to dig deeper for the privilege.

Despite adding more square metres to her living quarters with each move, her yearly rent has remained between Dh79,000 and Dh80,000.

Living with her husband behind Mall of the Emirates in Barsha, Ramya, a home-relocation specialist from India, rediscovered her artistic flair during the pandemic and, after moving to a three-bedroom property last year, she turned one of the spare bedrooms into an art studio.

Here, she invites The National into her home to take a look around.

Where do you live?

I live in Nema Residence in Barsha 1. We moved to Dubai in 2015 and have always lived in this area.

The apartment we are in now is the second apartment we have lived in this particular residential block.

The exterior of the building is a bit dated and it doesn't have amenities like a pool or gym, but we love it for the apartment.

Tell us about the property you live in

We are thinking about buying a townhouse at some point in the future. But for now, we will stay put
Ramya Lakshmi

Firstly, it’s a big apartment for two people and two cats, but we’ve been in the building for three years and we love the extra space. We were in a two-bedroom rental before moving to a bigger apartment on the fourth floor.

The layout is such that all the bedrooms are on one side of the property and the kitchen and living room are on the other side.

We turned one of the spare bedrooms into an art studio-cum-meditation room. It’s my little sanctuary in the house and, when people visit, they always joke about wanting to rent the space. We also turned the maid's room into a little gym.

How much do you pay per month?

We pay Dh80,000 a year, which is a little over Dh6,500 a month. Between two people, it's not bad and it's in a good location.

We’ve somehow managed to pay close to the exact same rent for all three apartments in the seven years we have lived here, despite upsizing each time. I guess it gives insight into the changing rental market over the years.

Tell us about the features of the space

My husband and I tend to stay at home. We cook, chill out, paint and watch movies, so when we moved into this apartment I really wanted to create a space that we wanted to spend time in.

I would describe the decor as eclectic. A dear friend of mine once told me that a paint job is an easy and inexpensive way to spruce up your home, so we painted all the rooms in the house different colours.

The master bedroom and living room are a light moss green, the art studio is a sandy beach tone, and the other spare bedroom is turquoise, my favourite colour.

The guest bedroom for family and friends at Ramya's apartment in Al Barsha, Dubai. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

This is the first time we have ever painted a rental property and it has really elevated the feel of the place. It’s a home now.

As for the decor, I have lots of different bits from my travels to Europe, Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka. The house is filled with books, paintings and souvenirs.

The art studio is my favourite spot in the house. I go in there to meditate and paint. It has a cool vibe. I spent a lot of time curating the space with little things from my travels and it has a real resort feel with warm tones and wooden blinds.

How did you find the apartment?

It was during the pandemic and the security guy in our building said that many people were moving out and he asked if we were planning to extend our contract. Our renewal was coming up, so I decided to visit the fourth floor and look at one of the vacant three-bed apartments.

I loved the layout and it took a while to convince my husband to move, but once we realised it was pretty much the same price as our then flat, we just went for it.

My husband was sceptical at first, but now he loves the extra space. We also have a large balcony that wraps around several of the rooms and he enjoys spending time out there tending to the plants.

Do you plan on staying here for a while?

For another year at least. We have spent so much time curating the apartment to make it warm, welcoming and peaceful, so to think about moving soon isn’t an option. I love it here.

We are thinking about buying a townhouse at some point in the future. But for now, we will stay put.

What do you like about the area?

It’s convenient. There are cafes nearby, coffee shops, Mall of the Emirates is close and we have pharmacies and health clinics on our doorstep. We have cats too, so things like a local vet is a priority for us.

I love Barsha Pond Park too. It’s only an eight-minute walk from our apartment and we go there a lot when the weather is nice.

Updated: June 10, 2022, 2:20 PM