My Dubai Rent: tenant pays cheapest rent in 17 years in this Dh25,000 flat

Ananda Shakespeare finds peace on the edge of the desert with a bargain studio apartment

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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

Ananda Shakespeare tried living in serviced hotel apartments for convenience and cost, including lower rates during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With Dubai rents having dipped, however, she opted to return to leasing an apartment of her own again so she could have her possessions around her.

After a year in a Dubai Production City (IMPZ) studio, Ms Shakespeare’s landlord suggested a dramatic rent hike, prompting her to look elsewhere.

The communications consultant, who is single and owns Shakespeare Communications, says the situation did her a favour; for Dh1,000 more than she was paying annually she recently moved to a new unit in Dubai’s Damac Hills 1 with improved views, a community feel, and good road links.

Here, Ms Shakespeare, 41, invites The National into her home for a look around.

Where do you live?

A seventh floor studio in Damac Hills. I’m near to the E611, Hessa Street and really close to Al Qudra bike track.

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I tried different parts of Dubai, then I would go travelling for three months. I didn’t pay rent and had my stuff in storage
Ananda Shakespeare

Why did you choose this area?

It’s a nice community. I live two minutes walk from a supermarket, food trucks and I’m overlooking greenery, a skateboard park, and the desert beyond that. I’ve a great view from floor to ceiling corner windows, so it’s bright. This is more private than before because there’s nothing overlooking me.

They’ve an app to tell residents about what’s going on in the community. Last week they had a water slide, something for families, and it’s very dog friendly.

How much do you pay for the studio per year?

Dh25,000. I was paying Dh24,000 last year, but they were putting it up to Dh31,500 and I was not getting anything more for that. Now I’m getting not just more value for money but a better living experience.

These are the cheapest Dubai rents I have had in 17 years.

Personal touches and carving out a living space can make a studio much more homely. Antonie Robertson / The National

What are the advantages of living here?

The building is nicer, better designed, more luxurious and it’s got more facilities.

The lobby is plush, lots of beautiful furnishings and seating, pictures everywhere; Damac has really made an effort in communal areas. It’s nicely landscaped and there are local food trucks in a square with sculptures that light up in the evening. It’s a slightly smaller building, which I prefer, only one or two security guards so you get to know them.

Are there any disadvantages?

It is further out than IMPZ and taking me 10-15 minutes extra to get to meetings, but I am happier. Initially, I was thinking Sports City because that’s not really further out than IMPZ, or Motor City, but that’s more expensive.

How did you find the apartment?

I used a property aggregator, but also joined community Facebook groups. The studio had everything I wanted … the balcony, great views, clean and new, and really nice to look at.

The studio is about the same size as the last one, but it feels bigger because they’ve been much more clever with the design.

How have you personalised it?

I’ve only been here three weeks. I’m not much of a homebody; for me making a home a home is putting pictures up.

But it is nice to have more personal belongings around me, like paintings, books and crystals. I’ve also asked the landlady if I can install a fly net on the balcony door.

Do you plan to stay in the property?

It works better for me having a more stable base. Living in serviced departments at the time made financial sense and gave me flexibility. I tried different parts of Dubai, then I would go travelling for three months. I didn’t pay rent and had my stuff in storage.

I don’t think studios were this price back then. I’m about to leave the country again and it doesn’t matter so much that I’m paying rent.

The pandemic has changed my attitude towards money. I’m keeping my outgoings low, even though Shakespeare Communications is doing really well, and saving. You want to put yourself in the strongest financial position should anything happen again.

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Updated: June 20, 2022, 7:29 AM
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