My Dubai Rent: Romanian IT worker pays Dh135,000 for three-bed JBR apartment

Karla Hirtescu shares the spacious property with her husband, their two daughters and live-in nanny, and enjoys views of Bluewaters Island and Ain Dubai

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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

Karla Hirtescu has spent 12 years living in Dubai, all of them in the bustling tourist district of Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).

The Romanian, 39, works for an IT software company in Media City leading their global customer reference team.

Ms Hirtescu rents a three-bedroom apartment a short walk from the beach with her husband, Eugen, their daughters, Olivia, aged four, and Bianca, 13, and their live-in nanny.

Here, she takes The National on a tour of her spacious home.

My Dubai Rent: Three-bedroom apartment with stunning JBR views

My Dubai Rent: Three-bedroom apartment with stunning JBR views

What can you tell us about the property?

It’s a three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and one guest washroom that doesn’t have a shower.

The nanny’s room has its own bathroom.

We have a nice balcony with views of the beach. You can see Bluewaters Island and the Ferris wheel [Ain Dubai]. It’s very nice.

The kitchen isn’t open, but it’s also not closed and you can see into the living room.

Why did you choose this area?

When I first came to Dubai, one of my friends lived in JBR. I stayed in her place and really loved it.

It has the beach, it's family orientated and I love the fact that you have everything downstairs: The Walk, the restaurants, hotels, supermarkets. Everything.

If you don't want to use the car at the weekend, you have so many activities that are within walking distance. It's full of tourists, so everyone is happy.

The children's school is next to Burj Al Arab, so again, very close.

When we first moved here, we lived in Bahar 4 for two or three years. Then we moved to Sadaf 1 (both in JBR) until 2019 when we moved into this apartment.

You’ve not considered living in other districts?

During the pandemic, we were thinking it would be nice to live in a house. But all of the affordable houses were very far away and disconnected.

My office is 10 minutes away by car. My husband at the time was also working in Media City, so it was very convenient. Right now, because his job is close to the airport, he has a bit of a drive.

What are the advantages of living here?

You have the Metro and the tram nearby. You’re within walking distance of Dubai Marina.

If you want to go to Marina Mall or if you want to walk, ride bicycles or run by the marina, it’s easy, or if we go on a boat party.

There’s all the hotels nearby where you can go for the pool and beach. They’re moving Cove Beach, which was on Bluewaters [at Caesars Palace], right in front of my house and also opening the Five [hotel brand] in JBR.

There are so many family-friendly activities, such as an escape room and glow-in-the-dark mini golf right next to our building.

The balcony and my daughters’ room have the same nice view of the sea. Every time there are fireworks in JBR, my balcony is the best place to see them.

Usually, for New Year’s Eve, we’re back in Romania. But I have friends asking me for keys to my apartment so they can celebrate at our place.

What other facilities do you have nearby?

There is a big gym for Bahar residents. Each cluster, including Sadaf and Shams, has its own gym.

You also have access to five pools, which is good because you can enjoy the sun in the morning and the shade in the afternoon.

Is it a sociable neighbourhood?

Our friend who I stayed with before is in the same building three floors up, so we're neighbours now. We have another five or six Romanian friends who also live in Bahar, so we're very well connected.

There's also the plaza area, which houses kids' areas, playgrounds and supermarkets. There are no cars so it's super-safe for children.

The children make friends and then we become friends with the parents. They want play dates and stuff like that, it's very nice.

How have you personalised your home?

You cannot really make lots of improvements to a house that you rent.

But everything in the apartment is ours. We decorated nicely with paintings, pictures and ornaments. We made it like a family home. Everywhere you will see my accent.

We bought the blinds and drapes in the living room and we have an amazing customised painting my husband had made for me as a gift by one of our Romanian artist friends, Vladinsky, who is starting to become a famous international name.

In my youngest daughter's room, we have decorated with flowers and have written her name.

What would you like to change?

The kitchen is a bit small. It doesn’t have enough cupboards and places to put your stuff.

We've managed to add some things; my husband build a breakfast bar. But it's enough for us.

If we owned the apartment, I would put in wooden floors in the living room and bedrooms. I would definitely change the kitchen cabinets and drawers, and wardrobes.

I would also decorate it in the style of what would appear in lifestyle magazines.

Does living here offer value for money?

We’re paying Dh135,000 ($36,754) per year in four cheques. In 2020, when the pandemic started, we managed to get it down to Dh100,000.

All of the other buildings nearby that have a full sea view go for Dh160,000 to Dh170,000 [for the equivalent unit].

We've been all over JBR and the Bahar 5 three-bedroom apartments are the biggest and nicest, compared to any other tower in JBR.

Do you plan to stay?

Definitely. If we become millionaires in the next two years and can afford a villa in the hills or somewhere fancy-schmancy in Jumeirah on the beach, then we would move. But we’re happy here.

Are there any downsides to living on JBR?

During the weekend it is not so quiet, or during the national holidays, because everybody comes to The Walk to celebrate. Then you get the Lamborghinis revving their engines, but we’ve got used to it.

During the weekend it gets crazy. During the day, it’s OK but in the evening, by 4pm, we have the car parked and we just go and walk wherever we want to go.

Have you not been tempted to buy a home?

When we moved in we said we were going to stay for only five years.

If I had bought from the beginning, that would have been good because I would have paid off the mortgage.

But I prefer to buy in Romania because we might go back at a certain point, after the kids finish school.

We bought apartments in Romania; one in Bucharest, one in the mountains. We’re buying another one.

In JBR right now, they’re Dh4.5 million [for a three-bedroom apartment] and the prices are increasing.

Updated: January 28, 2024, 5:28 AM