It was about a week ago that I discovered the new expansive Dubai residential development called Discovery Gardens. Today, I came to discover a little more about the adjacent community called simply, the Gardens. I was already somewhat familiar with the neighborhood. Its quiet winding streets and numerous parking lots seemed the ideal place to teach a friend how to drive. I have also found it to be a good venue for a bit of leisure cycling.
My discovery today was a long meandering park-like area with foot and cycle paths, lots of grass, trees and open spaces. It is nestled amidst the complex of 3-story apartment blocks that keep it largely hidden from nearby roadways. With the final onset of summer seemingly delayed, lots of people--walkers, joggers, kids, etc.--were out enjoying the fresh air and open grounds. It is the perfect compliment to what is already an idyllic community.
True to its name there are trees and gardens all around, not only in this park-like vista. The streets and buildings are aptly named after flowers, like Jasmine, Orchid and Lilac. As one walks along the numerous shrub and tree-lined walkways the distinct odor of flowers pervades. It is easy for one to forget that he or she is in a big city in the midst of a big desert.
I highly doubt that the lucky residents of this community complain very much as Dubaians have come, increasingly, to do. The typical gripes for city dwellers are traffic, high cost of housing, over-crowded living spaces and the rising cost of everything in general. These residents, at least within the confines of their secret little garden, have none of these worries, except for having to pay the same high prices when they visit the big Ibn Battuta Mall, which borders one side of the development.
While there are schools in the neighborhood, most who are employed will likely have to leave the sanctity of the Gardens and battle with everyone else to get to and from their jobs. Although it is conveniently integrated into the city's public bus routes, it could take hours to commute back and forth between the Gardens and city center. All the more reason to treasure returning home each day to their lovely, tranquil gardens.
Free is not always better.
Different from much of new Dubai, the Gardens is a rental, as opposed to freehold community. When I first discovered it in 2003, I was told the waiting list was more than 2 years. The list has since been closed, while rental prices remain almost as low as they were then.
One to three-bedroom apartments will set the renter back around Dhs 2500-4000 per month (US $700-1100). Rental prices in the rest of Dubai only start around Dhs 4000 for a 1-bedroom apartment, and exceed Dhs 10,000 per month for many 2-bedroom flats. This makes the Gardens quite likely the most undervalued housing community in the city.
For a comparable lifestyle, freehold buyers in other communities have to spend Dhs 1,000,000 or more and suffer mortgage payments that run as high Dhs 10-15,000 monthly for up to 15 years. Their monthly management or service fees, on top of any mortgage payments, can easily add up to Dhs 1000 for apartments or Dhs 2000 for townhouses and small villas.
One can presume that those who have found a home in the Gardens are likely never to leave. For those of us not so lucky, we can at least visit the area for a nice stroll or bicycle ride.
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