Droves of Dubai families and young professionals are turning their back on the hustle and bustle of city-centre life to opt for the quieter suburbs.
One area benefitting from the exodus is the Al Qudra Road, where many are opting for suburban life in the Mira and Town Square communities.
The surge in demand for these areas has seen occupancy rates rise, which has led not only to prices rising, but an increase in facilities.
“In Town Square there is a mini fair for the children, including a mini train ride, community events in the town centre, a trampoline park, splash park, cafes, restaurants and more,” said Lewis Allsopp, chief executive of Allsopp and Allsopp real estate.
“The community attracts families in the villas and a lot of young families and young professionals in the apartments.
“Mira is like a Mediterranean village in its architecture and has an abundance of park areas … as well as pools and play areas.”
As popularity rises, both Mira and neighbouring Mira Oasis have had community gyms open in the last year. A mosque is also being built.
“If there is a negative that has been associated with the communities it's the slightly further distance to the more central areas of the city,” said Mr Allsopp.
“However, recent works on Umm Sequim are easing some of that pain, and this is coupled with the increased suburbanisation of the city. It's no longer essential to be close to the centre of the city as there is more and more for people on their doorsteps.”
“I moved here eight weeks ago from Manchester and chose Town Square because I prefer the quiet life,” said Haider Ali, 39, a doctor from Sweden.
“It actually reminds me of the UK when I used to live in the suburbs.
“I looked around Dubai at other areas but this area seemed unique and was a little bit away from the main part of the city.”
Mr Ali pays Dh110,000 for a town house in Town Square. He also works at the local medical practice in the community.
“There’s a nice expat community and it really ticks all the boxes for me,” he said.
“The only downside is the traffic. It’s almost a 30-minute drive to anywhere else in the main part of Dubai.”
Landlords rule the roost
Mr Allsop said that it was very much a landlord’s market at the moment.
“Supply is low at the moment and demand is high so anything coming to market is in high demand,” he said.
“A lot of properties in Mira are renting before they go on to the market, enabling landlords to get a good price.”
Nshama, the management company behind Town Square, forecasts that by 2025, 85,000 people will be living and working in the community.
Leigh Wilmot, senior broker with Treo Homes, who specialises in the area, said properties are almost all occupied.
“The demand for property in Town Square is absolutely ridiculous,” said Mr Wilmot.
“So many people want to live there even though the prices have increased.
“When somebody moves there’s somebody else moving in almost immediately. I would say the occupancy is around 95 per cent.”
There are currently 2,600 town houses and 6,000 apartments in Town Square, Mr Wilmot said, with plans for further expansion.
In Mira, there are just under 1,900 properties.
Saher Ahmed, a 31-year-old British Indian dentist, rents a property in Mira.
“The primary reason for choosing to live here was because of the children, she said. “There are great facilities here and in neighbouring areas and it’s competitively priced.”
The average price of an apartment to rent in Town Square starts from just over Dh25,000 for a studio apartment up to D95,000 for a four-bedroom unit, according to the latest figures from Property Monitor.
Renting a town house starts at just over Dh102,000 up to more than Dh121,000.
Neighbouring Mira, which is directly across Al Qudra Road, offers town houses and villas for sale and rent.
To rent a town house in Mira starts from an average of just under Dh119,000, up to almost Dh135,000. Villas starting from close to Dh139,000, rising to more than Dh175,000 for the bigger units.
The two communities have long been attractive to residents but that appeal has only grown in recent months due to escalating rent prices across the emirate, said one real estate expert.
“Spacious, affordable properties in peaceful areas have always been attractive to home seekers, which has led these two communities to maintain a high demand,” said Thomas Poulson, leasing director with Haus & Haus real estate.
“This is even more noticeable now as a lot of people are being ‘priced out’ of more centrally located villa communities such as Dubai Hills, Arabian Ranches, Meadows, and the Lakes.”
More residents now buying
One resident who bought his home in Town Square was Matt Trenchard, 44, from the UK.
“We were previously living in an apartment in The Greens and had our first child four months ago, so we needed somewhere with more space,” said Mr Trenchard, who runs a business coaching company.
“It feels like a village on the outskirts of the city. I won’t tell you what I paid but what I can say is that I got lot more for my money than I would have in a lot of other places.”
Another major draw of living in the area is being close to the Al Qudra cycling track.
That was a big draw for Aruna Subin, 40, from India, who bought a property in Mira.
“My husband and I are keen cyclists and decided to move here as we used the track regularly when we lived in Ras Al Khor, so this cut down a lot of travelling,” said Ms Subin, who works in the logistics sector.
“Our quality of life has improved. The community comes together to celebrate festivals all over the world. This is something we didn’t have before.”