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
Sneha Nair, 36, and her husband Vivek, 38, bought their three-bedroom duplex apartment in Dubai’s Jumeirah Heights three years ago, having previously rented in nearby Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Sneha is employed as a communications manager, while Vivek works in management consulting. They moved to Dubai six years ago, having lived in Thailand and India.
The couple share the home, which is part of the Jumeirah Islands community, with rescue dogs, Cora and Gareesa.
Here, Sneha invites The National to take a brief look at their home and why she believes it makes such a great investment.
Please tell us about your home
It’s between 2,800 and 2,900sq ft. Each bedroom comes with a balcony, and with the living room, I have a giant balcony, pretty much as big as the room.
Each of the bedrooms has an en suite bathroom, then I have a guest powder room, and the maid’s room also comes with an attached bath. We have two parking spaces.
We bought it in July 2020, bang in the middle of the pandemic.
What prompted you to buy?
We actually came here to look for [somewhere to] rent, but around then prices were so low, it made more sense to buy than to rent.
The yearly rent was higher than my yearly mortgage on this place. That kind of clinched the deal for us.
We were already paying about Dh100,000-120,000 in rent each year. That’s what we are almost paying now in mortgage and maintenance.
We were getting a lot more for the money and, worst case scenario, because we bought at a low price, even if we lived here for three years and then sold, we wouldn’t make a loss. Even if we didn’t make a profit, we’d recoup the money we spent.
It wasn’t so much about putting down roots, it was very objective. We knew we were going to be here for the long haul, so it just made sense. We were moving almost every two years for the past decade, so this is nice not having to move.
How much did your home cost?
Since we bought in the pandemic, we paid only about only Dh1.7 million. My neighbour is selling right now for Dh3.5 million, so we really lucked out.
We bought when everything was shut and nobody was moving. It seemed like a really big risk at that point. People were being laid off and there was no vaccine in sight, but it worked out.
What drew you to this apartment?
I wanted to live in a villa, my husband wanted to live in a high-rise apartment. This is perfect for both of us; an apartment but at the same time I have outdoor space, so it’s a great compromise.
It was a purely financial decision at that point. Having said that, we always loved this apartment. We had friends who lived here around the time we moved to Dubai. We loved it, but could never afford to rent; it literally became cheaper to buy.
We knew we would be here for a while, from a work perspective. I think we were done moving, so we knew this would probably end up being home for a long time.
What made you select the area?
We lived in JLT previously. This is right behind JLT, so it didn’t feel like we moved out of the vicinity. Work for both of us is in Internet City and Media City.
It’s a fantastic location. They’re not high-rise [buildings] and it’s quite a well-maintained property. It’s by Nakheel and has been around for a little more than 10 years. Despite that, most fittings are still original, I’ve only changed a heater here or there.
Is it a sociable neighbourhood?
I know quite a lot of my neighbours because a lot have been here for a long time.
These apartments are difficult to come by. You’re close to Sheikh Zayed Road, but at the same time once you’re home you’re away from the noise and everything.
It’s a small community, quite social. For people who have kids, at Halloween in the common areas they have movie nights and activities in winter.
What about facilities?
It’s a really pet-friendly community. We have a small dog park. There’s quite a lot of space to walk around the buildings and behind us is the Jumeirah Islands lake.
We have access to a community swimming pool. There is no gym. However, because we are part of the Islands community, you can you ask to use their tennis courts and there is a gym class and music class you can sign up for.
How have you personalised the property?
I was lucky the previous owner had kept a spick-and-span apartment; everything was beautifully done. But I have done a fair bit. In the master bathroom, I changed everything. For all the balconies, I redid the flooring. I got planters made because I like gardening. We’ve spent quite a bit on the outdoors.
I think I own quite a wonderful art collection, built up over the years, and now I have the wall space … they're all over [the apartment].
What financial advantages are there to owning?
We came to look for a two-bedroom apartment. They were around Dh125-130,000 a year to rent at that point and three beds were about Dh145,000. Right now, I pay for maintenance, plus my mortgage, maybe Dh120,000 a year.
I cannot afford to rent my own house today. The going rate is somewhere around Dh230,000-240,000 a year, which is crazy.
Are you planning to buy more property?
We just invested in an off-plan property in Expo City, a two-bedroom apartment. It’s a few years away from being done.
There’s no plan to sell the apartment we live in. This we can grow into irrespective of whether we had children, or have more dogs.
It was a financially objective decision to buy, but now this house is quite emotional, because it’s everything we wanted it to be, and more; it’s not about the money.
We see ourselves here for the foreseeable future. And as long as I’m living here, it’s not an investment.