My Own Home: PR director pays Dh3.5m for bright bungalow in Dubai's Green Community

Katie Grant, from Scotland, shares her home with her husband, their five-year-old son, two dogs and their nanny, Lucia

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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

Katie Grant has lived in many of Dubai’s best-known districts during almost two decades in the UAE.

But in early 2021, the 39-year-old from Scotland and her husband took the plunge and bought their own home, in Green Community.

Ms Grant, who works as a client services director for communications agency TishTash, also shares the house with her five-year-old son, Rafferty, two dogs and their “wonderful nanny” Lucia.

She took The National for a look around the family home.

My Own Home: Dh3.5m for four-bedroom house in Dubai Green Community West

My Own Home: Dh3.5m for four-bedroom house in Dubai Green Community West

What can you reveal about your property?

Our house is a bungalow, which is rare for Dubai and something we really like; it just feels different to the usual villas here. It's on a beautiful tree-lined, quiet street.

The bungalows here are traditionally four bedrooms plus a maid's room, but we extended to add an annex, including another bedroom, living room, an additional bathroom and kitchen space.

This house has a great layout, and is almost split in half: the family side, and then the adult side – a space to entertain, relax and have some peace and quiet.

What prompted you to buy?

We had been renting in Dubai for a long time and, although we loved our previous home, it felt the right time to buy and make something our own.

I’m really glad we bought when we did – rental prices have increased drastically since, so we were very lucky.

We’ve lived and rented in several other communities – the Palm, Springs, Arabian Ranches and Jumeirah Park – before settling on our home here.

How much did it cost?

We bought it for Dh3.5 million.

In hindsight it was a great deal, but at the time it was the highest amount for a bungalow for a while.

The bank wouldn’t process our mortgage to the full value as valuations had not yet aligned with property market values, so we had to add funds to secure the house and mortgage.

Green Community is one of the only leasehold communities in Dubai and, therefore, not all banks mortgage the area.

It was a seamless process but a busy time as it seemed half of Dubai was buying and mortgaging a house at the same time.

Covid, for us as a family, meant we were able to save additional money compared to normal, which contributed to the deposit.

What drew you to a bungalow?

I originally refused to see it.

Our estate agent from Allsopp & Allsopp told me about it, but I wanted a two-storey villa.

He was quite adamant, sent me one image of the kitchen – and I immediately wanted to see it. When we came to view I fell in love.

We looked at a few communities but knew we wanted a home we could make changes to and that had a really nice flow.

We looked at four or five homes before this, but none of them were right and would all have required extensive changes to make it even close to what we were looking for.

Why select this area?

Green Community is a beautiful, quiet suburban community with huge parks, green spaces and play areas. It is easily one of the prettiest communities here.

Roads are cobbled, and all the houses look different, which makes it feel nice compared to some of the Truman Show-style houses in Dubai.

We’ve got a tight-knit group of friends in the community, both us and our son, which I am thankful for.

There are gyms, community pools, tennis and basketball courts and a huge space to play and walk the dogs.

Would I love a nice restaurant nearby or to be walking distance to the beach? Sure, but I can get to most places in Dubai in 20-30 minutes and traffic is as typical as any community, so it’s not a problem for us.

What improvements have you made?

When we bought the home, it was renovated to an incredibly high standard by the previous owners. But we have since made a lot of changes to make it more our style.

Aside from painting, the first thing we did was renovate our nanny’s room – it was old and in bad condition. So we redid the bathroom, created a living room space, bedroom and kitchenette.

At the same time, we built an extension to incorporate an additional bedroom, bathroom and living room – perfect for when guests stay.

We also redid the gardens – we have the back door area, a side and a front garden, the latter my son uses as a play area.

The pool was already here but we ripped everything else out and created a patio, planters, built-in kitchen, and some nice seated areas.

The latest thing we have done is redo the kitchen – I spend a lot of time there so it was important to be just right.

In total we spent around Dh350,000 on renovations, but we did a lot of the design elements and floor plans ourselves to save costs.

I have promised we won’t do anything else to the house this year.

How else have you personalised the place?

Aside from renovations, we have painted and wallpapered.

We had a built-in unit made for the family room/snug to house a TV and books, which was wonderful as it filled the large space.

We had collected most of our furniture from our time here, and every time we travel we bring home more interior accessories.

Home decor is a passion of mine and I really enjoy changing the house for each season.

What financial advantages are there to owning?

Our mortgage payments are less than current rental prices now, so we were lucky to buy when we did.

We’re very thankful that we’ve been able to buy. It provided us with a bigger sense of security, especially when I hear horror stories of people being unfairly evicted.

I think our bills are relatively high compared to previous homes, but I put this down to my love of a warm pool, and my husband’s love of cold AC.

What is your property worth now?

Six months earlier we would have saved a lot more money, but we still bought at a great time compared to now.

We’ve had [unsolicited] offers of up to Dh6 million, which is a great deal more than we paid for it – Dh2.5 million profit in less than three years.

We get many people in the community come and look at our house as an example of what can be done, so we often get offers.

Would you sell or lease it if you moved?

It really depends on circumstances and where life takes us.

If we left Dubai, we would either sell or rent it out, depending on the reason for us leaving.

It’s a roof over our heads and our family home for now, but who knows what the future holds.

I don’t think we would sell to move to another home in Dubai as that’s a frivolous expense. We have so much space here and only the three of us.

Do you plan to buy more property?

We’re currently saving to buy in the UK – my dream is a house in the Cotswolds, but it’s a long way off. The UK market is crazy at the moment.

The dream would be to spend summers and Christmas there, and not have to lug around a suitcase of toys for my son to different destinations.

Updated: January 10, 2024, 4:18 AM