Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hidden Jewel of Sharjah

For the past one week I have been busy looking for a new apartment, as my rental in Al Warqaa 1 is coming to an end in the middle of March 2010. My mission this year is to move to a 2 bedroom apartment with rental in a range of AED50,000 to 70,000 a year.

The property market in Dubai and UAE in general has slowed down due to the credit and economic crisis. When I came to Dubai in 2008, the property market was in the biggest of its bubble. A studio in International City and Discovery Garden was for AED40,000 to 50,000. A 1 bedroom in Jumeira Lake Tower was for AED80,000 to AED160,000. A 2 bedroom in Jumeira Beach Residence was for AED200,000 to AED300,000. At that time I was even ready to rent just a bed space in Bur Dubai or Deira. Luckily my recruitment agent was kind enough to let me continue the rental of his studio by paying monthly installment. Not only the rental price was blown over, the accepted payment terms was for 1 or 2 instalments only. The landlords were really greedy at that time. And being a newbie to Dubai at that time, I simply did not have the cash money.

Coming 2009, the rental prices has come down tremendously between 30 - 40%. I was able to rent my current 1 bedroom apartment at AED62000 which was a reduced price from AED80,000. I have been living in a peaceful place called Al Warqaa 1 which is just a 20 minutes drive to my office with smooth flowing traffic at any time.

So for this year 2010 I checked the property market again for a 2 bedroom. As expected, the price is not only affordable but I have a privilege to choose for prime location and development, because for the past 1 year there have been a lot of new buildings completed all around Dubai that a tenant can choose from.

There are several prime locations in Dubai which are marked by its building quality, location and community. Some of the prime areas are Jumeira Beach Residence, Dubai Marina, Jumeira Lake Towers, Emirates Hills, Arabian Ranches, Discovery Gardens, The Gardens, Al Wasl, Mirdiff. These places are closer to the sea (except Mirdiff) and mainly populated by expatriates. My area Al Warqaa 1 is not a prime expatriate area but it is a peaceful Emirati villa residential area and very close to Dragon Mart, Uptown Mirdiff, Dubai Festival City and the upcoming Mirdiff City Centre. My only complaint about the place is its lack of landscape and undergoing construction. The latter is a general complaint by everybody who lives in Dubai !

After surveying rental market in Dubai, I found that I can get a 1 bedroom in the most prime area within my budget but not a 2 bedroom. So I expand my search to the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah.

Talking about Sharjah, my first impression about this city is, a driver's nightmare. My few excursions to Sharjah last year were not really happy experiences because of its traffic jam and crowd. Eventhough in Sharjah I could get a 1 bedroom apartment for AED30000 last year, I figured that my life would be miserable everyday to see its traffic condition. So most of the time I just avoided Sharjah and it remained as the least explored emirate in my travel log.

I stumbled upon rental advertisement in areas called Al Khan and Al Majaz in Sharjah. These places are the areas surrounding the natural corniches of Buhaira. It is a newly developed area in Sharjah. So last week I drove around the Buhaira Corniche to look for a 2 bedroom apartment. To my surprise, the area is quite exclusive and primary for its fantastic view of the Gulf Sea and of course, the Buhaira Corniche. There is a family entertainment place called Qanat Al Qasba which offers a big ferris wheel and outdoor F&B area along a man made canal. There are also plenty of shops and shopping mall surrounding the area. It is not over crowded with traffic and the population is mainly arab families from the Levant countries. A hidden jewel indeed !

What is more surprising, almost all the 2 bedroom apartments that I checked, offer a high rise view of the sea and corniche at a rental price between AED60,000 - AED70,000. To me this is a very good price at a premium location. There was one unit in the Palm Tower 1 building which I like very much. I think I am going to go for this one. The landlord even accepts payment by 4 installments.

Attached are the pictures of the building location and a video of a unit at 35th floor, Palm Tower 1. Feel free to say something.

All windows offer picturesque water view

To the extreme left is the famous Al Mamzar Park

The three corniches of Sharjah

Just 14.5 kilometres to my office

A house is good if it can make you smile every morning.



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