x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Outdoor space for a higher quality of life

Property insider A terrace makes all the difference in this couple's new flat.

In cooler months, the outside space allows for alfresco dining, entertaining and just relaxing in the sun.
In cooler months, the outside space allows for alfresco dining, entertaining and just relaxing in the sun.

A one-bedroom flat in Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi, rented in April through Home & Away Realty. Managed by Green Emirates Properties, it's in a low-rise housing cluster containing one-, two- and three-bed flats, known as Compound A.

Dh150,000 a year, plus Dh7,500, half of which went to the agent as commission and the other half to Green Emirates.

A large bedroom with en suite bathroom - with bath and shower - built-in wardrobes and sliding doors that lead to the terrace. A fitted kitchen with a small square patio, spacious hallway and guest toilet, spacious living/dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors to the generously sized terrace. There is 24-hour security and, in the centre of the compound, an outdoor pool and a gym with showers, as well as a small "library" where residents can swap books and magazines.

As our year's lease was up in our previous apartment, my husband and I decided to move. This was the first property we viewed and we fell in love with it. However, after we took the weekend to ponder, we called the agent only to discover that all of the one-bedroom apartments had been reserved. Disappointed, we continued with our search but found nothing similarly appealing. We had been put at the top of the waiting list and, on the day that Green Emirates was to take fees from prospective residents, my phone started ringing off the hook. I had been so desperate to secure one of these apartments that I e-mailed every agent who had advertised one. Within five days paperwork had been signed, cash had been handed over and we had the keys. All we had to do then was move.

We now live in the sort of place we imagined we would when we planned to move to Abu Dhabi. A purpose-built apartment - as opposed to the flat in a converted villa we had previously - makes a difference; everything feels bright, clean and new. We have access to a pool and gym, meaning no need to spend money joining a health club (at least that's what we tell ourselves to justify the high rent). The furniture we had bought for our other apartment seems to fit in well here, but we would like to get some art for the walls. We have a wall-mounted fish tank, which the movers were paid to re-mount. However, they did not bring the correct tools so it now sits on the floor in the dining area, looking forlorn (and untidy) until we can get someone to install it. The location could not be more perfect. We are in between two very handy shops, there's a supermarket and pharmacy across the road, work is a five-minute taxi ride away and Al Wahda Mall is a 10-minute walk, weather permitting. It's a quiet, residential area with large villas and compounds and, while there is still construction going on in the neighbourhood, we are not near any of it and it looks as though we will be safe from any noise. A small niggle is that our compound is one of three identical ones in the neighbourhood and, despite my easy step-by-step directions, we get many phone calls from confused visitors who have stumbled upon the wrong one.

The outside space. It's great to be able to dine alfresco in the cooler months, barbecue and entertain friends, or just relax in the sun on the swing and we fully intend to make the most of the pool when the days are not so hot. The apartment looks out on to the central pool and gardens and this space has really improved our quality of life.

Trying to keep the terrace clean. It's a tricky chore with the constant swirl of desert dust and sand. Also, an incident involving a candle being left out overnight and subsequently completely melting in the daytime sun has proved a near-impossible clean-up job. I didn't leave it out, though. I'm just saying.

In a great area, it's a place we look forward to coming back to after work, a real home from home where we feel comfortable and relaxed. Pricey, but you get what you pay for