My Dubai Rent takes you inside a reader's home to have a look at what they get for their money, how much they pay in rent and asks them what they like and don't like
Small business owner Julie Grobler moved to the UAE in 2011 and has rented her spacious Dubai villa for six years.
The South African mother-of-two shares the five-bedroom property in Al Barsha South 1 with her husband Hugo, 61, and their two children, aged 15 and 10.
The home has plenty of space for the outdoorsy family to have fun and relax, as well as enjoy privacy.
It also has room for Ms Grobler, 45, to oversee her personal styling business, House of Colour Dubai.
She took The National on a tour of the villa, which costs the couple Dh250,000 to rent.
What can you tell us about your villa?
We really love the entrance hall of this home as it’s spacious and welcoming with a spiral staircase to the first floor.
It has four large en-suite bedrooms upstairs with a lovely “pyjama lounge” and landing.
Downstairs we have surely the smallest kitchen in Dubai, a majlis, a dining room and another room that we have converted into a study to store all the motorbikes, including Hugo's 450 Rockstar Husqvarna and my son Grayson's 65cc Husqvarna, and various bicycles, e-bikes and scooters.
We have a covered car port outside for both of our vehicles.
The maid’s room is outside the home and is bigger than usual, which is great for our nanny, Liezel, who has been working for us 14 years and is an integral part of our family.
Where did you live before?
We used to live in Jebel Ali, in the Al Muntazah complex, which we really loved and enjoyed.
Our neighbours were our best friends and our kids had so many friends they could walk to and spend time with.
We moved for work reasons.
What led you to choose this area?
We had a good friend moving back to the UK and this villa became available. We met the landlord and the rest is history.
The location was central with a quick eight-minute school run to Dubai American Academy in the morning, and a 25-minute trip to the free zone for Hugo.
The horse stable for our daughter Jenna is only eight minutes up the road, with a 25-minute trip to the motocross track for Grayson.
We have access to to major highways on either side and the new Dubai Hills Mall is a huge bonus.
What are the advantages of this area?
We have 11 schools in a 2km radius, but our kids do not go to any of them, which is great because I’m always going against the traffic.
It is very central and the drive to any area of Dubai is around 20 minutes.
It has quick access to Hessa Street and Umm Suqeim Street, only 500m on either side.
Is it a sociable neighbourhood?
We live in a local community. We love this area and have great neighbours. They stop us in the road to see how we are, ask how are holidays are, and bring nets to cover the dates during summer.
Although they predominantly speak Arabic and our Arabic is pretty much non-existent, we make it work and give each other hand signals.
Ramadan has been a great experience with neighbours sending food almost every night of the week. We have tasted and enjoyed Arab home-made cuisine at its best.
As Westerners, we have really experienced and enjoyed the generosity of Ramadan and local wedding celebrations.
How are your bills?
Our Dewa bill is around Dh6,200 in summer months and drops to Dh3,800 in winter.
Have you made your house your home?
We certainly have.
We love the outdoors and spend a lot of time in the huge garden where we have put AstroTurf and also created the most beautiful garden with lights and an outdoor entertainment area for lots of barbecues and fun times with the kids.
I honestly believe that the garden is what saved us through Covid. It made things a lot easier for us.
We have created a “wall of fame” where we have hung our family photos to make it our home. We have our art and really made it as personal as possible.
Anything that you would change?
The kitchen needs a facelift and our kids beg us to put a pool in, but we are so happy here we can look past that.
The home is really easy to live in and we would love to stay here as long as possible.
Do you think living here offers value for money?
We have the most incredible landlord who meets Hugo every year for coffee to discuss the house, anything we need – and the rent.
He has been the best landlord anyone could ask for. He arranges repairs within hours – not that there have been many.
Do you plan to stay in the villa?
We are super-happy staying here and our kids love it just as much.
Are there any downsides to living there?
My kids don’t have friends living nearby, but our active and outdoor lifestyle ensures that we see friends on weekends.
We work hard during the week and socialise on weekends.
I would love a closed garage to store all the bikes and toys so they are not in the house. Other than that, we are really love this home.