x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Property insider: finding space for family

After searching for a year, this family finds a spacious flat near parks and the Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

Bookshelves are among the few items of furniture that the residents bought especially for the apartment.
Bookshelves are among the few items of furniture that the residents bought especially for the apartment.

Property rented

A two-bedroom apartment on the first floor of Khalidiya Tower Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi, rented through Cold River Real Estate from Burooj Properties, the real estate arm of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.

Annual rent

Dh120,000 per annum, plus a one-time refundable deposit of Dh3,000 and an estate agent commission of Dh6,000.

Key features

First-floor apartment in a newly furnished building; open-plan living/dining room with 3.3-metre floor-to-ceiling windows; separate kitchen; one and a half bathrooms; balcony; sea view; five minutes' walk to Corniche Beach; one underground parking space.

The hunt

We'd been looking for a decent-sized apartment for more than a year. The last place we lived in - an unbelievably tiny two-bedroom flat in the middle of a busy and crowded Muroor district with no outdoor space for our eight-year-old son to play - had us climbing the walls. Parking was a nightmare and my husband was always mad about the number of scratches and bumps he found on his car every morning. But our hunt for a new flat proved difficult and disappointing: we registered on Bayut.com and found that behind the rent adverts for sparkling new homes was a legion of estate agents who were happy to show us everything but the ones listed. We were taken to a procession of flats that all turned out to be crummy pigeon-holes. The first few had water dripping down the walls and ripped-up, exposed wiring, and the rest were either dark, windowless boxes in dense neighbourhoods or located off the island in the middle of nowhere.

The result

We were among the last people to bag a flat in Khalidiya Tower, mostly because we didn't believe the post on Bayut when we first saw it: "Two bed in new building in Khalidiya with sea view; Dh120,000 per annum." It was at the end of a particularly long and depressing week of house hunting that we made that call. Half an hour later, we turned up for a viewing and had to stop ourselves from breaking into a joyful jig right there. We put down a deposit that very same day.

The sheer relief of having found the perfect flat in a wonderful neighbourhood was so overwhelming that at first we were tempted to go on a shopping binge and bring home all the furniture we saw. But better sense prevailed, and we ended up buying only a few necessary items: a set of eight bookshelves, a couple of small side tables, indoor plants and lots of lighting. Working out how to treat the magnificent living room windows took some time. In the end, we decided on two layers of white and sand-coloured sheers, in an effort to keep the room bright.

Love

We moved in a little more than two weeks ago, and the first thing that hit us was the silence. Even though the space in front of the building is busy with moving vans and people shouting and workers putting in the finishing touches to what will eventually be a small landscaped lawn, we can't hear a thing in our well sound-proofed flat. There's always a lovely sea breeze to wake up to, and the plants on the balcony are (finally) thriving. And although we're in a quiet residential pocket off Zayed the First Street, there's a well-stocked grocery shop in the next building, and Spinneys and Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society are both a short walk away. We also love the fact that we can go on long walks along the seafront every morning, especially now that the weather is better. Our son recently told us that he now has a tough decision to make every day after he's finished his school homework: should he play in the park, cycle along the Corniche or go to the beach for a swim?

Loathe

Because it's a brand new building, maintenance was a bit shoddy the first week after we moved: a leak in the ceiling of one of the bathrooms was fixed only after 15 days of daily reminders. The lifts are unavailable most of the time because of the sheer number of people moving in simultaneously. And the garbage chute is always backed up because of thoughtless new residents stuffing it with empty cartons and discarded packaging material that have no business being there.

Verdict

We're living in a fabulous apartment in one of the best neighbourhoods in the capital. What more could we ask for?