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
Former teacher Sandra Hyde and her husband Carlos moved to Dubai from Switzerland during the summer and now rent a townhouse in The Lakes.
The Briton, 59, who has lived in a number of countries since leaving the UK aged 18, wanted a community in which she could feel safe and a house large enough to accommodate guests.
Ms Hyde and her Argentinian husband, 58, opted for a three-bedroom, newly renovated property with space to host their grown-up children when they fly in from Italy and the UK.
She took The National on a tour of her first Dubai home and showed us why the emirate is a haven for residents.
What can you reveal about the townhouse?
There are three bedrooms and two bathrooms – one ensuite, one not.
Downstairs, we have a lounge, dining room, kitchen, toilet, a big study and a maid's room – plus another bathroom, which is full of boxes, and a little laundry room.
We also have a small garden with patio areas where we have a sofa and coffee table.
The house suits us because it's only my husband and I, so we didn't want anywhere huge and sprawling. Although it's about 250 square metres, it has a cosy feel.
We pay Dh325,000 ($88,480) a year, which we thought was extremely expensive, but the relocator told us prices had increased massively.
Also, because it's fully renovated, it makes a big difference.
Where did you live before?
We moved to Dubai for my husband's job. He works as a hub manager for Hitachi.
I used to teach English as a second language in Italy, but then I became a trailing spouse. Now I'm just enjoying the good life – like going to aquagym.
We were in Zurich for 11 years, lived in Italy for 24 years, then Switzerland (again), then Germany. Then we went to Egypt, back to Switzerland, and now we've come here.
We came over and got the house ready in June this year.
I'd never been to Dubai, although I flew through the airport once.
I've come to appreciate the modern architecture and charm here more than I ever thought I would.
Why did you choose The Lakes area?
The reason why I can live happily in Dubai is because I live in The Lakes.
It's a compound, it's green, quiet and full of dogs and children. I come here and I leave the madness behind me.
Carlos travels a lot, so my choice of house had to be in a community where I would feel safe when alone.
Where else did you consider?
We started off looking in La Mer because I wanted to live near the sea, but after visiting I didn't get a community feeling from the area.
The relocator from my husband's company showed me different areas.
I first chose a house in Jumeirah Golf Estates that I really liked, but the relocator thought I would be happier in a compound like The Lakes, where this is more of a community feel and closer to all amenities.
We looked at an apartment in La Mer, but decided on a house and wanted three bedrooms in case both kids came over together.
We didn't want a big garden, but some outdoor area was necessary, as we like to sit outside if it's cooler.
What facilities do you have access to?
There’s a community pool opposite the house and, as I swim every morning, that is a big plus.
We have Reform (Social and Grill) here, a supermarket and hairdressers.
I can walk around and bike to the supermarket, which takes me five minutes.
Now that it’s cooled down in the evenings, we have dinner and go for a walk. It’s green and well kept.
This is normality for me and what I needed in a community.
Is it a sociable neighbourhood?
The feeling of being safe was always a big thing for me, and The Lakes delivers that.
You tend to always bump into someone, and they’ll stop and have a chat. I’ve got to meet quite a few people who live around. Each area has a pool and a playground, so you tend to meet your neighbours.
It’s very sociable. Everybody’s really friendly.
I like having life around me. I love to hear the kids playing and seeing the dogs walking.
How have you personalised the house?
The lounge wall was covered with the same tiles as the floor, which is dark brown. For our tastes, it was too dark, so we had it wrapped. It’s completely changed the aspect of the house.
Also, we extended a patio area to be able to put table and chairs there.
That’s all we’ve had to do because everything else was brand new.
One thing I would have done during refurbishment is put in new air conditioning.
We ended up buying air deflectors online, which are the biggest game changer as they disperse the air and stop it from blasting on you.
Was the property furnished?
No, we bought everything new because we still have a place in Zurich.
In Dubai, I discovered West Elm, Pottery Barn, The One, and we completely furnished the house from those three shops – a lot of solid oak.
We blew the budget, but we will eventually ship these things over to Spain, where we bought a property. So, it was investing in something for the future.
For garden furniture we went to Grass it up. It’s also not a cheap shop, but I believe in quality, not quantity.
Does living here offer value for money?
I think so. We are getting out of it what we wanted.
It was within the budget that we were given and, coming from Switzerland, we were kind of already used to high rents.
The house was fully renovated, so that made a huge difference compared to others we looked at.
Our landlord is really good with anything that needs doing.
Do you plan to stay there?
It’s down to the job. We should be here for three more years. I’m very good at settling … where I lay my hat, that’s my home.
I’m quite good at adapting to places, and Dubai is very easy compared to some places, even in Europe, because it’s a haven for residents.
Are there any grumbles?
There's a gym and a pool at Reform, but for some reason they have been closed, so nobody's getting any benefit from them.
There's a residents' organisation, a WhatsApp group, for if anything goes wrong. For example, some people were complaining that there aren't enough street lights.