When they first arrived in Abu Dhabi, Camilla Wright, her husband, Richard, and their two young daughters moved into a company apartment on the Airport Road side of Madinat Zayed. The apartment was huge, "mausoleum-like", with marble floors. It even had enough space for their elder daughter to cycle up and down its hall corridor. A year later, with rents falling, Camilla took the opportunity to look for a more modern apartment in a neighbourhood that felt a little less hectic than Madinat Zayed.
A two-bedroom apartment with a third internal room that is currently used as an extra bedroom, plus a lounge/diner and a good-sized kitchen. The building has a communal pool on the roof.
Annual rent Dh160,000. The rental agreement was made directly with the landlord, so no commission was paid. The Wright family moved in last month.
We definitely wanted to stay in the heart of the city, close to my husband's workplace and our daughters' school. I looked at buildings on the Corniche, in Khalidiya and in the Marks & Spencer building, which was just down the road from our old apartment. I found so many of the places had older-style interiors and were not always finished to a high standard. I'm not a big fan of either the marble or the dark granite that seems to cover the floors, kitchens and bathrooms of so many apartments. It is nice, but not me.
Price was a big factor in the hunt. We really wanted to save some money and not exceed our budget. Also, we were keen to deal directly with landlords to avoid working with agents and paying them commission.
The entrance to a building is very important to me. My husband and I both know instantly whether it's a place we can see ourselves living in or not by its reception area. I looked at the building next door to the one we finally chose and the apartments were, so I had been told, almost exactly the same as here. However, the entrance was dark, dirty and not very inviting and the flat we viewed was small and dated.
A friend of mine lived in the Union National Building (close to the Al Hosn Fort) and I asked her for the landlord's number. As luck had it, one apartment had been empty for two weeks. My husband and I viewed it and we decided that this was the place for us.
The apartment is smaller than our old one but, as my mother said when we had a video chat online about it, "You've created a home that looks like your London house."
The location is just perfect. We are right in the heart of Abu Dhabi. A park is within walking distance; there are shops, quiet streets and a coffee shop. Taxis are generally easy to find, too.
The entrance hall is at the back of the building. It has wide automatic doors that lead into a bright, spacious area. The building's security staff are always cheerful and friendly and if they pop away from their desk they leave a contact number.
They have a trolley in one of the storage rooms that tenants can borrow. I load all my shopping straight into it and take it up in the lift in one easy run. It's these little things that make the difference.
Inside the apartment, the kitchen was immaculate when we moved in. It felt brand new, even though it wasn't. The bathrooms are nicely tiled and the standard of the fittings is extremely good - a bit like something you'd find in a hotel.
The bedrooms are well-proportioned and have very useful storage and cupboards. Again, all of these were immaculate.
The wall colour was light green when we viewed the apartment, which is not really a colour I'd choose. Once we'd paid the deposit, the landlord arranged for all of the rooms to be painted magnolia at no extra cost to us.
The lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows in one corner. We are on an upper floor of the building and we enjoy the view of the established traditional villas, the mid-height towers that mark the edges of the neighbourhood and across to the new Central Market towers. At night, the city lights are so pretty - I don't think we'll get curtains just yet, we'll keep enjoying the view while we are here.
On the day we moved, my husband took the children out for the day. When he came back he was amazed at how our furniture just "slotted right in" and it looked liked we'd lived here for ages. We haven't had to buy any extra furniture and we haven't had to sell any either.
Renting in Abu Dhabi is all about compromise and we have compromised on space, but we now live in a much nicer building in a better neighbourhood, pay less rent and can manage comfortably in the smaller space.
The location and the overall feel of the building and our apartment. The maintenance is always to a very high standard. Even the rubbish shute is kept very clean and an air freshener has been placed outside its door to prevent any bad smells from lingering.
Apparently a new cable for the window-washing cradle is on order from Europe, and has been for quite some time. As a consequence, the windows are very dirty and can't be cleaned at the moment. It would make a big difference to have clean windows. Also, the pool on the roof is not heated and is a bit chilly at the moment.
These minor quibbles aside, the apartment is perfect. Even with baby number three on the way I am sure that we will live quite happily here. I was brought up in Russia and we are used to sharing rooms and I'm sure my children will, too. This is definitely home for us. It feels just right.