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The frog and the impossible flat hunt… - By Rebecca Wicks

Last Saturday, I went as far as looking at the prices of cardboard boxes in IKEA. And not for the reasons you might think. Instead of the sofa and bedroom set I'd set my heart on purchasing in light of our impending move to pastures new, I'm starting to wonder whether 'P' and I should just tape a few of their finest foldable browns together and set up camp somewhere on a beach.

It would be cheaper, and definitely less hassle than this apartment-search. But we wouldn't have a cleaner. Or a gym. Or a sauna. Or a Jacuzzi. Or a security guard. Or a balcony.

Honestly. It's not as if we're asking for much.

The hunt for an apartment is not going well. In the past week 'P' and I have viewed all manner of two bedroom places in the Dubai Marina and Barsha areas, and have so far walked away with nothing but fading hope. We have just eight days left to find a home. The clock is quite literally ticking.

I'd be lying if I said we've not been slightly spoilt with our accommodation in Dubai. Back in East London, my idea of luxury living was having a front door that wasn't kicked-in every three months by hooded-jumper wearing hooligans. For a few months at least, my flat-mate and I were frightened to flush the toilet, after an unfortunate and rather messy incident involving an overflow. Our floorboards were never quite the same after that.

The other day, however, whilst being shown an indoor pool in a newly opened apartment block in the marina, 'P' asked the agent where exactly we were supposed to sunbathe. I thought he had a valid point. All of a sudden, the fact that the elevator hadn't been connected yet and was still operating manually, leaving us and our estate agent stranded on the 15th floor for half an hour, wasn't half as important as the fact that we might have to move in somewhere without a space for sunbathing. I think we've changed.

The best place we've seen so far, in my opinion, was a pad behind the Mall of Emirates, in Barsha. It was like something out of a Tim Burton movie. The entrance to the building was bathed in neon green and purple lights, and the lobby was decorated with an enchanted forest scene, like a fairytale. The gym was host to a family of Egyptian sculptures. Tutankhamun grinned at us from the end of the corrido, and the pool was surrounded by a tikki tikki style wooden fence, overlooked by a giant, concrete frog.

I rather liked it. It would have been a bit like moving into a youth club - a colourful escape from our "young professional" labels in the real world. Even the apartment had a strange sort of wooden beam thing going on around the sides of each room. Each beam was chipped in a "poetic expression" of stripped bark, but actually looked like someone had screwed up the décor royally and tried to pass it off as art. Either way, 'P' wasn't impressed at all. Shame.

We're seeing a couple more tonight. It's funny but these places all look the same after a while. They're just tiny, empty, expensive spaces, mostly overlooking a construction site. But with rent going up by the week, it's important to choose the right one; a place that you can call your own for at least a couple of years.

I wish we could snap up a waterfront property and wake up to the ocean every morning. Our budget would have bought us that, five years ago. Now however, it only gets us a sniff at those buildings in the shadows - the ones that lost the views to something bigger, better and ultimately unsuitable for people like us.

At least we can still get concrete frogs, I suppose.

Posted: 16 April 2008

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