Money & Me: ‘I wouldn’t be sensible with money now if not for my past financial errors'

Jade Morris, owner of a Dubai real estate agency, believes there’s no point having money unless everyone you care about is happy

Jade Morris, founder of Jade & Co Real Estate, puts away a portion of her savings in case opportunities, such as a good property deal, come up. Courtesy: Jade Morris
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Jade Morris set a UAE property record this summer selling a nine-bedroom Dubai Hills View mansion for Dh96 million ($26.1m), for which her company Jade & Co Real Estate represented both buyer and seller.

Born into “humble” beginnings in a council house in Slough — the UK town made famous by hit comedy The Office — Ms Morris came to Dubai 10 years ago for a better life.

Now aged 32, she lives in Arabian Ranches with Love, her three-legged rescue cat.

How did money fit into your upbringing?

I’m from a working-class family where money was never spoken about. Even in our community … you wouldn’t have anyone educated about money.

I never felt like I really fit in. I’ve always known inside that I’m going to do something in my life.

My dad worked night shifts as a manager at Mars chocolate bars and mum worked at Asda (a supermarket). My parents tried their best to give us what they could, but I also knew we were living month-to-month and there had to be more to life.

Did that inspire you to work?

Yes, and it wasn’t for money to buy anything. I wanted the freedom.

When I was 12, I called every hairdressers in Slough and Windsor, and Escape Hairdressing gave me a job at £20 (Dh88) for 10 hours every Saturday.

When I left home at 16, I was working and trying to put myself through college. I couldn’t afford to pay the rent, even bus fare to college, but I didn’t want to give up because I was studying business and thought that was my route to move forward and achieve things.

I ended up working in an estate agency at 20, a fixed salary doing lettings.

So, you had tough times?

A few bad years. The bank offered a loan when I was about 19. I’d never seen £10,000 before and took it … my worst financial decision. The only sensible thing (was) I had a Peugeot and I cleared the finance.

In 2010, my wages dramatically dropped and I couldn’t make ends meet, and the debt started. I was £25,000 in debt by 21.

I would work until 6pm (in the agency), then walk to The Harvester (a restaurant) and work there until midnight.

I was making my money from tips. It’s the most back-breaking situation I’ve been in.

This had to happen to me because it shaped me; I would never be as sensible with money as I am now.

What brought you to Dubai?

My boss sent me an advert to become a real estate agent in Dubai, which said: “Can you imagine earning £250,000 a year, tax free?”

I’d never heard of Dubai. I typed it in Google and called a recruiter.

I am motivated by the freedom and choice that money gives you. If I want to travel for two weeks, I want to be able to do that
Jade Morris, entrepreneur

Within two weeks, I sold my car and jumped on a flight in 2012. I was working for a company, [and was] their top broker for eight years.

The first things I did was clear my debts in England and bring my parents to Dubai.

Did cash come quickly?

I was living in an apartment with nine men, shared the same bathroom … I didn’t know until they’d rented me the room. But I didn’t move out because I wasn’t going to give myself the stress.

In my second month, I earned around Dh150,000. I was 22 — it wasn’t luck, it was sheer determination and focus.

I would go to the office every day at 8am, wouldn’t leave until 10pm. I would call 150 people a day. I’ve always managed to earn because I am so positive in what I do.

Is money a motivation?

It’s not. I feel grateful and lucky I found a job that I’m good at, that I enjoy, that has the by-product of this much money.

But it doesn’t come without hard work. I sacrificed so much in my 20s. I didn’t party with friends. I’m still sacrificing, (but) if I didn’t enjoy it, I couldn’t do it.

I am motivated by the freedom and choice that money gives you. If I feel exhausted and want to travel for two weeks anywhere in the world, I want to be able to do that.

Also, I love helping people. I’ve supported my family a lot.

Jade Morris has invested in cryptocurrencies since 2014 and recently bought land in the Metaverse. Courtesy: Jade Morris

Why start your own agency?

During Covid-19, everyone went into panic mode that we should stop everything.

I closed approximately Dh1m in commission in full lockdown from my house. Prices were so low. I was calling all my investors; people that trusted me listened.

I took a nice, but humble office, hired an admin and paid all my expenses for one year in advance.

Within two months, I broke even.

How did you feel about the Dh96m deal?

It was incredible. But, I have the same feeling for that deal as I have for selling a Dh5m (home).

Yes, the money is nice, but what makes me tick is the negotiations and the close.

What is your spending and savings attitude?

Very balanced. I enjoy nice things, but not in a crazy way. Maybe I’d go out twice a month, but to a nice restaurant.

This (my home) is rented. To buy a house that I’m living in would be something emotional, the timing needs to be right.

Dubai villa prices - June 2022

If I owned this house, it would be around Dh5m, (but) I can use that Dh5m to buy property and make more than my rent for the year; when you look at it from the other way, what the money can be doing …

How do you grow your wealth?

Through investing. I don’t necessarily agree with saving, it’s moved back and forth.

I have a portion put away in case of opportunity, like a really good property (deal). I recently purchased a big property in Dubai Hills.

I bought my first property in Dubai when I was 24, an apartment in Sports City. It was a huge goal, a proud moment, and I have bought and sold since.

I have invested into cryptocurrencies since 2014. I’m a long-term holder.

I just bought land in the metaverse. You can rent your land, build on it. It’s a vision for later. I am excited about learning.

Are you wise with money?

Absolutely, because I don’t ever want to go backwards. It’s embedded in me. The darkest days of my life … I can never allow that to be the case (again).

I will never go crazy for no reason. I would rather buy one thing of quality than 10 pieces for quantity.

I like Louboutin shoes, wear them most days to work, but the lady will message me when the sale’s on.

If you don’t treat money properly, you can lose it quickly. I am forever grateful.

If you stay grounded and keep bringing yourself back to small things in life … you attract good things.

What are you happy spending on?

I treat my friends and family. I get a buzz from seeing other people happy, like my parents. I’ve treated them to holidays. I want to buy them a house, here or somewhere in England.

There’s no point having money unless everyone around you that you care about is also happy.

Updated: August 22, 2022, 6:53 AM