My RAK Rent: Business owner sold her Dubai home to live in rented villa in Ras Al Khaimah

Claire Donnelly pays Dh110,000 for her four-bedroom property next to Al Hamra Mall and enjoys ‘Jumeirah living’ without Jumeirah prices

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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

Human resources professional Claire Donnelly and her husband Mike decided to sell their three-bedroom Dubai Investment Park townhouse about two years ago and relocate with their six rescue cats to a rented home in Ras Al Khaimah.

The British couple moved to Dubai in 2008. Running their own HR and business consultancy, Mike Hoff Consulting, enabled them to work remotely during the pandemic.

Without the need to be in Dubai every day, Ms Donnelly was inspired by lower rents in Ras Al Khaimah and now shares their larger home with her father-in-law, who moved from the UK with his dog, and a maid.

Ms Donnelly, 56, takes The National on a tour of the property.

Where do you live and how much do you pay in rent?

We live in Al Hamra Village, right next to Al Hamra Mall, in a four-bedroom villa, with a maid’s room and six bathrooms.

Prices have gone up since we moved. The pandemic saw quite a few people move this way because virtual working has meant, for some, you don’t have to go into Dubai every day. When we first moved here, our rent was Dh90,000. It’s now Dh110,000 but it’s still more cost-effective.

Why did you move here?

We had been toying with the idea of selling up. We work for ourselves, don’t have a set income coming in every month, and we were living on our pension, basically.

We decided to be a little bit more fluid with our future, with the ability to move around if we wanted to and renting gives us that future fluidity.

Claire Donnelly with one of her six rescue cats at home in Ras Al Khaimah. Antonie Robertson/The National

What are the advantages of this area?

It’s within walking distance of a mall. There’s a lovely golf course here, and it’s right by the beach and a beach club. The waterfront is really nice, the views are fantastic and you’ve got the marina. It’s an amazing place. We’ve kind of got ‘Jumeirah living’ without Jumeirah prices.

The community is still close enough to Dubai. I’m probably going once a week, and my husband, probably once every two weeks. We can be at Dubai Airport in 45-50 minutes. Some people are put off by working in Dubai and living here, but the benefits of living here far outweigh that journey.

Is it a sociable neighbourhood?

Hugely sociable. I’ve never had this many colleagues and friends before, and many different nationalities. There are so many dog walkers.

Everyone says ‘good morning' to you. It’s more of a living community rather than just tourism here. Over our fence, there’s a green park area. It’s a little cooler here and the trees help with shading.

It’s a very different style of living. We were active before, now we’re very active. We cycle out to Al Marjan Island; I do mini triathlons now. We’re right by the ocean, so we swim and my husband wanted to sail so bought himself a dinghy. Then we bought a small yacht.

How have you personalised your home?

We’ve put a catio on the back — because our cats are rescues, they are indoors. I wanted to protect them from wandering off and getting lost. We’re feeding a menagerie outside as well.

Obviously, we personalised with our furniture, that we brought with us. Other than that, it’s quite a homely house anyway. The layout makes it a nice way of living. It’s open plan downstairs, so you can talk while cooking and we have some nice outdoor space and a patio with a barbecue.

Claire Donnelly and her husband decided to sell their three-bedroom Dubai Investment Park townhouse about two years ago and relocate with their six rescue cats to a rented home in Ras Al Khaimah. Antonie Robertson/The National

Why did you choose a larger villa?

We had been sharing an office up until that point and needed an extra (home) office. We’re sleeping in one bedroom and then the fourth was for visitors. Now we’ve increased the headcount, it’s worked out perfectly.

This particular style suited our living arrangements, even though we had extra rooms we didn’t use, we ended up using them anyway. It means that we can separate work from home life as well.

Do you plan on staying in RAK?

We renewed in June and signed another two-year lease. We will move when this lease is up, only because our circumstances have changed. We need somewhere without stairs, but we’re not leaving RAK … we love RAK.

When we move from this house, we will probably look more to the ‘local’ areas because of the style of the houses and the community and a massive drop in expenses on utilities and rent.

It’s not that we need bigger, we just need flatter. And maybe more outside space for all the cats and dogs we seem to be acquiring.

Updated: December 16, 2022, 4:46 AM
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