My Dubai Rent: American family pays Dh200,000 to live in villa in Sustainable City

Lauren O'Connell and her family swapped a busy city centre life for the serenity of the suburbs during the pandemic

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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

American Lauren O’Connell lives in a four-bedroom villa in Dubai’s Sustainable City because it gives her peace and comfort regarding the safety of her children.

The beauty editor for Cosmopolitan Middle East and social media influencer said the lack of traffic, due to the residential areas of the community being car-free zones, puts her mind at ease when her son, 11, and daughter, 13, are outside.

Ms O’Connell, 40, pays Dh200,000 a year for the property across two cheques.

She invited The National to visit her home and see what makes it so special to her and her family …

Why did you choose to live here?

There are no cars on the streets and I have an 11 year old who loves to be outside, so I do not have to worry about him being hit by a car.

The safety aspect was incredibly important to my husband and me.

It is a family-orientated community as well, which means there are lots of children here for my kids to be friends with.

We love the greenery as well, the sustainable ethos here is great and there are lots of outdoor activities.

There is a pool, a gym and even a farm inside the community with donkeys, goats, peacocks, donkeys and horses.

The plaza has quite a few restaurants for us to choose from, as well.

Where did you live before here?

Before living here, we were in Downtown Dubai but because it was during the Covid-19 pandemic and everyone was in lockdown, we needed more space, so we moved to a villa as soon as we could.

How long did it take you to settle on this property?

Lauren O’Connell with her family at their home in Sustainable City. 
Antonie Robertson / The National

We looked at quite a few possible communities, including Victory Heights, Mudon and Arabian Ranches.

There were several places we considered before deciding to move here. At the time, there were loads of villas available but now there are none.

We pay Dh200,000 a year to live here but other similar-sized properties in the community are going for Dh300,000.

What touches have you made to the property to make it feel like home?

We have a lot of artwork from our travels around the world. We have pieces from countries such as Tanzania, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Japan and Hong Kong.

I try to create a relaxing aesthetic that acts as a little sanctuary in such a bustling city.

Do you plan to live here for the foreseeable future?

Actually, the landlord has sold the property and the new owners want to live here themselves.

That means we have to leave in eight months’ time, once the 12-month notice period is up.

We are looking to move to another villa in this community when one pops up on the market.

We definitely will be renting again. I cannot imagine buying a property in Dubai.

Is there anything you would change about where you live if you could?

It is not really convenient to reach other parts of Dubai. Because of my job, I often have to travel to areas such as Marina, Downtown and Jumeirah. It will always take a minimum of 35 minutes.

Updated: January 16, 2023, 12:49 PM