Lauren Doble Alshehhi’s family of three is one of many across the emirate taking advantage of favourable rental prices in certain communities in Dubai. She and her family have just moved from a three-bedroom hotel apartment in Business Bay to a four-bedroom villa in Jumeirah, saving Dh15,000 annually. “With a soon-to-be toddler, we wanted more space and thought a villa with a garden would be more suitable for our growing family,” says Alshehhi. “The kitchen in the apartment was minuscule and bathrooms were cramped, so we definitely needed something more spacious, plus having two storeys is preferable so that we don’t have to worry about making a noise in the kitchen while the baby is sleeping. When we realised we could get a villa in the prime location of Jumeirah for less than or equal to the price we were paying for the apartment, it was a no-brainer.”

Alshehhi had paid Dh195,000 in two cheques last year for the three-bedroom, fully furnished property at Damac Maison, and rent would have increased to Dh205,000 this year. The family gained more than the extra bedroom, with a maid’s suite, garden, balcony, two-car covered parking and Galleria Mall and Mercato Mall just a short walk away. Their annual rent is now Dh190,000 in two cheques.

Bobak Torab, a real estate broker who has worked in Dubai for five years, had lived in a studio in Discovery Gardens for three years, paying Dh46,000 annually, before he moved into a rented two-bedroom, lakeside town house in Springs in November for Dh120,000 per year.

Torab says the decision was based mainly on the affordability of the property. “Before, it was out of my budget,” says Torab. “It’s a renters’ market. Rentals are moving more these days compared to sales.” With new projects coming into the market, Torab says tenants and homebuyers in general will have an even broader range of choices. “There are more projects coming onto the market. I’m even hearing of people moving from Sharjah to Dubai as it’s more affordable to be on this side,” he says.

Amy Pritchard, a British deputy nursery manager who has been a UAE resident for four years, had lived with her husband in Al Reem at Arabian Ranches. The family’s first house had two en-suite bedrooms and a study. “We moved to Arabian Ranches to be near family as we were new to the country and we loved the idea of having the pool so close and having plenty of parks and walks to keep the baby entertained,” says Pritchard. The family moved in the middle of August 2014 when rental prices were at a high, so although they managed to negotiate a Dh5,000 reduction off the listed price, they still ended up paying Dh145,000. She says: “After two years of tenancy, we negotiated our own rent down to Dh130,000, but following the birth of our son, our need to upsize, coupled with our landlord’s desire to sell, meant we were in a position where we needed to move quickly, but we wanted to save money and get the best deal.”

When they moved in March, they decided to stay within Al Reem, looking for a three-bedroom middle terrace with a study. “After looking at many options, we narrowed it down to Al Reem 2,” says Pritchard. “We were observing some which had been listed for a while, and on the advice of our agent we knew we could negotiate a fair bit. After finding something we liked, we put in an offer of Dh120,000 and the landlord later agreed to Dh125,000, including some annual maintenance work.”
As residential real estate activities continue to intensify in Dubai, Pritchard believes older and more established communities such as Arabian Ranches will find strong competition from newer developments.
“Although they still have the established community that a lot of people are looking for, areas like Mudon, Reem, Damac Hills and even Town Square are not far off being able to rival this, while also offering much newer villas,” she says.

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