My 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
Gillian Wright, 60, probably lives in one of the cheapest rentals of its size — and it's a real life animal house.
Her three-bedroom, two living room bungalow with a large garden and swimming pool at the foot of a mountain in Ras Al Khaimah costs her Dh30,000 a year.
The Briton, who converted to Islam five years ago, has been in the UAE for the past 20 years and has lived in four of the seven emirates.
She has lost count of the number of places she has rented. But she says her current home — located behind RAK Zoo — is the best yet.
She lives in the bungalow with Francesa, her 15-year-old daughter, and their many pets.
Here, she invites The National into her home to take a look around and explain why.
Where do you live?
On a farmhouse behind RAK Zoo. It has three main bedrooms and a maid’s room with its own bathroom and there’s another study room where I have put a daybed in. It is substantial. It’s got a living area and a dining area. It’s on a huge plot.
It is one of four villas that sit side-by-side and have their own swimming pools.
There is a natural water well near the villa and the swimming pool is filled with that water. It’s a little bit salty but it’s OK. There is a watchman who cleans it.
The place is pretty isolated but it only takes 10 minutes to get to the centre of RAK.
How did you find it?
My employer used to rent these properties — four bungalows on this farm. I knew of it because I had colleagues who lived here many years ago.
Three of the properties have been empty for four years. I emailed an ex-colleague to check the availability and she gave me the number to contact.
We have only been here a couple of months. I am still trying to get things organised and the garden especially needs a lot of work. The main reason for coming here was to get space for all the dogs.
There are five dogs. We are fostering a pup. We also have many cats, one a rescue which is a year-and-a-half old. And then I have Fluffy, my old cat.
Ten weeks ago, I found three kittens in my college car park and brought them home. We bottle-fed them for eight weeks and two survived. So we have four cats.
We also have a couple of rabbits, birds and a fish aquarium.
Can you see the zoo animals from your house?
No, thankfully the walls are quite high.
The first couple of nights Francesa and I were here, we heard some noise but I never gave it a thought.
I knew the zoo was there but never imagined I would hear the animals. But every night at about 9pm the monkeys squeak and the lions roar.
You hear all this if you open the back doors. It is amusing, you feel like you’re in the middle of the wilderness.
How much do you pay for it?
This place is costing me Dh30,000. When we first came here 20 years ago, we rented a substantial three-bedroom apartment in RAK and it was Dh17,000.
Since then we have been paying Dh50,000, Dh60,000, Dh70,000, and as high as Dh90,000.
I need to stop taking in animals because they cost us a fortune. But I feel very blessed to be here and have the place we have.
How do you plan to make the place your own?
My college has been renting these houses since the mid or late 1990s, they are probably even older. But the landlord is really good. He does all the maintenance and there is a watchman on duty 24/7. He keeps the outside areas clean.
The landlord has given me permission to modernise the bathroom and the maid’s room. The garden needs some work. It’s all sand. I just need to do a little bit of landscaping.
Is there anything you don’t like about it?
I don’t think there is. We have been bothered a little bit by flies but that is something you would expect living on a farm. It’s a place I feel I could live for a really long time.