After years of living in an apartment in the Tourist Club area, a family of four enjoys the large windows, parking space and quiet surroundings of a four-bedroom villa in Al Reef
When Doug Macaskill was made redundant, it looked as though he, his wife Bronwyn and their two children would have to return to Europe. But a last-minute job offer allowed them to stay in the UAE.
A four-bedroom villa in Al Reef Arabian Village rented through Lieve, an agent for Pink Properties.
Annual rent of Dh150,000 plus five per cent commission and Dh8,000 security deposit.
The property's walled garden is larger than average for a four-bedroom villa in Al Reef. The villa has a car port at the front. Inside, there is a recessed study area near the front door, a half-bathroom downstairs and a spacious open-plan lounge, dining area and kitchen. At the back of the kitchen there is a maid's room and separate bathroom, which has been put to use as a utility room. Upstairs are four large bedrooms, two of which have en-suite bathrooms. There is also a family bathroom.
At the end of October last year, we'd packed up our apartment in Hamdan Street and were preparing to return to Scotland.
I had been made redundant four months earlier and had not managed to find a new job in the meantime. We had given two month's notice on our apartment, but after only a month we decided we had no choice but to leave earlier. A removals truck had just taken a large chunk of our belongings to the port to be loaded onto a container ship when I was offered a new job.
With this sudden change of luck, we decided to remain in our apartment to see out the final month of our lease and, of course, to cancel our plans to relocate back to Britain.
But we had to start thinking about which areas offered suitable properties in our price bracket because time was running out on Hamdan Street. Our thoughts turned to two areas in particular: Al Reef and Khalifa City A.
We were lucky, too. While I waited for my job offer to be confirmed, two sets of friends offered to put us up when our lease ran out. They both happened to live in the areas we were considering as options for our next home. First we lived in Al Reef, and then, while other friends were on their Christmas holidays in England, we stayed at their villa in Khalifa City A.
During our stay at Al Reef, our initial thoughts were confirmed. The development offered the kind of lifestyle we had always wished for. We decided to search for a villa.
We viewed a number of four- and three-bedroom villas in the Al Reef Arabian phase, but the three-bedroom villas we saw didn't have the right layout for us and we ruled out another larger property because it looked out directly onto the airport.
The villa we eventually rented is well proportioned and has a large garden. We paid a premium (Dh5,000 extra) for the privilege of a bigger garden, but it was worth it; usable outdoor space was something we really wanted.
We have a lovely family home with decent outdoor space that, with a bit of luck and some healthy plants, we will really enjoy living in. I love gardening and after years of living in an apartment, I will enjoy working outside. I can't wait to lay the lawn, create some paths and flower beds and put in an irrigation system. I think the physical work will be good for me.
The open-plan set-up downstairs works really well for us. We can see out the kitchen windows into the garden and the picture window in the lounge gives us a great view.
All the bedrooms are a good size. Our children each chose their own room before we moved in.
I had been worried that some of our furniture would not fit into the villa because our previous apartment was very spacious. Thankfully though, our large sofas work well in our new home and so does our 10-seater dining table.
We've had to buy a complete set of appliances because our previous apartment was fully equipped and this villa is not. But we managed to find all the items we needed second-hand online and through contacts.
We love the garden and all the space we have downstairs. In the morning, the villa is lovely and cool, and so far, we have not had to turn on the air conditioning.
At night, we sleep with the windows open upstairs, allowing a lovely breeze to drift in. The area is so peaceful as well. We would never have dreamt of opening the windows in our old apartment. It would have just been far too noisy and dusty. After years of driving home from work and struggling to find a parking spot in the Tourist Club Area, living here is much easier - I just park outside my front door. We also like the recycling bin that's right outside our house. We've even started to live a little greener.
The lack of built-in storage upstairs. We had large integral cupboards in our old apartment. We've bought some clothes rails for now and will order some new wardrobes soon.
We feel very lucky to be living here and are delighted by the move. Only a couple of weeks after moving in, we already have a lovely home and as soon as my wife, Bronwyn, works her magic on the interior, we will have our perfect family home.
* Doug Macaskill was speaking to Sarah Nicholas