My Own Home takes you inside a reader-owned property to ask how much they paid, why they decided to buy and what they have done with it since moving in
Ryan Aldrin, 36, moved to Dubai in 2012 after coming on a holiday from the UK and now lives in a villa in the city’s Jumeirah Golf Estates community.
The married father to children aged five and two is senior director of technology at Huda Beauty, a global brand with its headquarters in Dubai.
Mr Aldrin and his wife Kerri, a HR business partner for a DIFC firm, own two UK properties they rent out and bought their property in Whispering Pines, Jumeirah Golf Estates in 2020 during the pandemic after 10 years of renting.
He took The National on a tour of the home.
What does your villa have?
Four bedrooms, five bathrooms, plus a maid’s room with en suite. We’ve got a community view and it is a two-minute walk to the golf course.
It has a wraparound garden that's quite well-established with plants and a lot of trees.
Villas here are a Tuscany/Mediterranean style … you could be somewhere like a golf resort in Portugal or Spain.
If it was potentially going to be our forever home, we wanted to make sure it ticked a lot of boxes. There’s wooden beams on the ceiling, one of the largest gardens in Whispering Pines. It also has a big drive with a double garage.
One of our requirements was that it have the larger, square pool.
What made you buy your own property?
We’d been renting since we moved here, for 10 years, paying approximately Dh100,000 a year … we’d spent a million.
We had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles, a transfer with Huda Beauty, but it was the peak time coming out of Covid. Dubai's real estate market had collapsed and there was a lot of uncertainty globally. So we wrote a list of pros and cons of why we should stay in Dubai.
We only had one child at the time, we’d managed to save a considerable amount and we wanted to purchase because we agreed we would stay for a further 10 years. I had so much confidence in the region, I couldn’t see a future that didn’t contain Dubai as one of the global hubs.
Why choose this area?
It’s absolutely beautiful. I used to have my own digital consulting agency and was working on my friend’s website. He lived in Whispering Pines and I remember looking at the villas. It felt like I was driving into like a celebrity estate.
I was blown away with the quality of the homes and when we started looking. I didn’t want to look at any other area.
We looked at three or four properties. We didn’t want to buy off-plan, we wanted something that had already been built.
Jumeirah Golf Estates was the pipe dream and we turned it into reality.
Do you feel you got a good deal?
When I looked at the prices of real estate in places like New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, there was a disparity between prices in Dubai. It wasn’t expensive compared to other cities.
It was at the top end of our budget. We paid Dh3.4 million. We managed to negotiate a Dh400,000 discount on the listing price.
We felt like Dubai was a safe investment and when we looked at the market, the highs and the lows, we felt we were purchasing at a very good time, which turned out to be true.
We bought around April 2020. I had a lot of people telling me “don’t”, but we went with our gut and it was the best financial decision we’ve made in our lives so far.
What facilities do you have?
If you buy a house in Jumeirah Golf Estates you get a golf buggy. That was a luxury factor, a bit of a unique thing and one of the big selling points.
It is probably one of the best communities in terms of the pools, the gym, the golf club. Our nanny can get on the golf buggy, take the kids around to other houses. All the kids are interacting.
We’ve got amazing restaurants, a cafe, a sports bar, the two 18-hole golf courses. We’ve got two supermarkets, a vet, kids play area, an optician, a doctor, everything you could need. It’s massively sociable.
Where have you lived previously?
We moved from the Marina to a Jumeirah Village Triangle townhouse, then to Town Square to get better value for money. After Town Square, we bought here.
We wanted to be settled with the children and if we had a property, it would make it easier with decisions for schooling, whereas if you’re renting you’re at the mercy of the landlords and if you get kicked out it can really disrupt your commute and many other things.
What benefits do you feel owning over renting?
We looked at the risk/reward of buying versus renting and said, “if we buy the house, and if we get into serious financial trouble, unless something cataclysmic happens in Dubai, there is always a rental opportunity to cover the cost”. We didn’t see anything on the downside.
Because we are going to stay for the next 10 years, we’d already paid a million (in rent), felt like we’d continue paying Dh100,000 minimum … that would be Dh2 million of our money we’d have nothing to show for.
What would it cost to rent your home?
Any upgrades planned?
We upgraded the furniture but we haven’t done any massive changes because it was ready to go. We retiled the pool because it had some tiles coming off.
We are getting quotes on a project to extend. We’ve a huge balcony upstairs connected to our master bedroom and we’re going to convert that into a walk-in wardrobe and en suite.
Are there any disadvantages to the area?
For two or three years, the traffic getting out in and out was the number one complaint of the community. But, about two months ago, they finished the infrastructure and have built additional lanes, opened up the flyover down towards JVT/JVC [Jumeirah Village Triangle/Jumeirah Village Circle], improved the road system.
Picking the right location was key for us, which is why we went for the USP of Jumeirah Golf Estates with the prestigious golf tournaments.
Once a year, we see an increase in [tournament] traffic, but most home homeowners like it because you get some VIP access, tickets to the clubhouse.
Will you remain in this villa?
We plan to own this property for as long as we can. The plan is to try and pay off the mortgage, get it as low as possible, and then rent it out, which will be retirement funds.
We’re looking at buying another property in either The Greens or JVC, a one-bedroom apartment, to continue investing.
We’re very bullish on the Dubai real estate market, although I would be cautious around purchasing in the current market where not only do we have extremely high house prices, but high interest rates. It is a potential recipe for disaster if somebody extends themselves too much.