Dubai: Gone are the days when sharing was reserved only for the labour and lower-middle classes in areas such as Deira, Karama and Bur Dubai. Today's breed of expats wants the high-life at lowered prices.
Iain S., a Scottish expat who has lived in Dubai for the past three years, admits to never having lived in his own apartment in Dubai. "When I landed, like most newcomers, I was told to move to International City. However, a month into being here and I realised that for a similar rent I could move to an upmarket area such as New Dubai and live in a building with a pool, gym and sauna. Plus, I got the address that made me sound like I'd made my mark here."
The past three years have seen Iain move from The Greens to Tecom, Palm Jumeirah and now Shaikh Zayed Road near Burj Khalifa. "I'll be honest, nowhere else in the world can I tell people I'm living on the 49th floor of a prestigious high-rise, in a building with its own gym and pool, with a view of Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountains from my bedroom window, all for a paltry Dh3,000 a month. So yeah, I have to share the kitchen and living room with two other guys, but that's a small price to pay for what I get instead."
A quick online search proves that on a randomly chosen day of the week there were approximately 1,000 ads for sharing accommodation in areas of New Dubai and Jumeirah. Compare that to a few years ago when most expats shied away from the idea of having to share.
The city has come a long way.
Alejandro L., a Mexican who shares a four-bedroom penthouse in Dubai Marina with three other Western expats, says he could never in his life have imagined living in a penthouse. "I can't believe I used to laugh off the idea of sharing. Back then I used to think it was something only my maid did. Today I see the sense behind the decision to share your space."
For David R., a British expat who shares a three-bedroom on Shoreline Apartments in Palm Jumeirah with two other friends, life couldn't be any better. "For Dh5,000 a month, I get to live on Palm Jumeirah. What else do I need to say? Of course I'm happy to share a living room with a couple of other people. I'll never understand why some people choose to spend similar amounts of money to live in areas such as Bur Dubai and Satwa. I can only guess different neighbourhoods appeal to different communities."
A neighbourhood that certainly appeals to many Western expats is Dubai Marina. The Horizon Tower in Dubai Marina, at the doorstep of the JLT/Marina Metro station, is an expat-sharing hotspot. An online property search for sharing accommodation in Dubai Marina reveals an unbelievable number of postings for shared rooms and bed spaces in Horizon Tower. Marque A., a French expat, spent the first nine months of his stint in the popular tower. "For Dh3,500 a month for a furnished room inclusive of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), internet and access to a swimming pool, it was an obvious choice of residence. I work in JLT just across the road and would walk to the office every day."