My Own Home: American buys Dh3.8m Dubai bungalow after 15 years in Hong Kong

Virginia La Torre Jeker and her husband Anton enjoy their four-bedroom home in The Green Community

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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

Homeowners and long-term residents Virginia La Torre Jeker and her husband, Anton, bought their current house in Dubai about seven years ago.

Virginia, 66, a tax attorney from New York, and Anton, 72, a Swiss citizen and former banker, landed in the UAE in 2001 from Hong Kong.

The couple paid about Dh3.8m for the four-bedroom bungalow in The Green Community, having downsized from a larger house that they owned in the same Dubai district.

Similar-sized bungalows in the area are now listed for sale from Dh5.3m.

As a keen animal rescue volunteer, who frequently fosters strays, Ms Jeker needed plenty of manageable space on a single ground floor.

Ms Jeker took The National on a tour of her home.

My own Dubai home: Dh3.85m for four-bedroom villa in Green Community West

My own Dubai home: Dh3.85m for four-bedroom villa in Green Community West

What can you reveal about the house?

It's one of the few places here that just has one level. You don't have stairs going up and down, which is a big plus for us.

I have a problem with my spine. I can't say that was a reason [for the bungalow] but as time has gone on … I'm really happy.

We have four bedrooms, and each has its own bathroom. We have a guest bathroom in the living room, a dining room and a large kitchen. My husband enjoys cooking.

We also have a two-car garage.

Why move to a bungalow?

At the time we had three dogs and they all needed to go out at different times. We were up and down those stairs many times a day.

I’m very big into animal rescue and they take up a lot of space. I have a rescue bunny that we allow to roam free in a room. Her pen is set up there and the cat hangs out with her. We have a rescue dog, Jenny, who was very abused. She likes to stay in what we call my husband’s office.

We have a beautiful garden with some trees along the perimeter and some grass. Jenny needs a quiet space outside.

We have sliding glass doors in every room so she can go out and run. Sometimes I let the bunny run around to feel the grass under her feet.

We also have a rescue cat, Max, which we've had for eight years. He had been abandoned and is happy to live inside.

How else do you use your space?

People are often coming and going in Dubai and clearing out cupboards. I've become fairly well-known for taking preloved clothing, bags, accessories, and shoes, and styling them into beautiful outfits.

I model them, take photos and post them on local Facebook groups. I have a separate room filled with these donated clothing items.

People come and try them on, buy them and all the funds go to the clinics that help us with neutering and spaying strays and with animal vet care.

Where have you lived before?

We lived in Jumeirah. Initially, our son was going to the old location American School of Dubai. Then we moved to Umm Suqeim 1.

In 2009, we moved to The Green Community. We bought one of the Luxury Villas. We had five bedrooms in that place.

My husband was buying and selling property as an investment and then he said: “I think I found the perfect place for us to live”.

It was an amazing property, but for two people with the odd visit from our son, it was just not what we needed. We downsized because it was too big for us and we were offered a good price.

What made you select this area of Dubai?

It’s quiet, and very leafy and green … that’s why it’s called The Green Community. People come and visit and say they’ve never seen a place like this.

We have a beautiful park. I can ride my bicycle in and around. People love to walk their dogs here.

So it is a social community?

People are very warm and caring. I’m well known in my community because I post with the outfits and people come to me and know I help with the animals.

People will always reach out and share information on our community Facebook pages.

What other amenities are there?

We have lots of wonderful pools in the community, tennis courts, and basketball courts. We have established libraries in both Green Community East and West [in rooms] by the pools. When people move, they donate their books.

On a fairly regular basis, we find a dog or a cat that needs help for a week or two and we foster it until it can move on to the next place.

What home improvements have you made?

We haven’t because we were really happy with how it was. Other than the garden … that needed work.

I know a lot of people have revamped so we have been thinking of upgrading our kitchen. But we're very simple souls. We're looking at that as a possibility, but we haven't done anything yet.

We have some beautiful artwork in the house. And I love old things.

I became a bit of a collector and I have so many items, old bottles, photos, old tortoise shell opera glasses, and books from the 1800s.

Do you feel more secure owning versus renting?

Absolutely. At our age, we don’t want to have to worry about that kind of stress. To think you may have to move, especially with all my stuff and the animals … it was a wise decision to buy.

Is this your forever home?

No one knows what the future brings. Dubai is really like my place whereas for my husband, he’s a little bit more eclectic. He likes returning to Switzerland, he doesn’t mind cold weather.

Updated: November 15, 2023, 9:35 AM