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
Ali Hamad is a university registrar at the American University in the Emirates and one of the earliest homeowners in emerging Sharjah Sustainable City.
A Jordanian born in Sharjah and raised in Al Ain, the father of two is grateful he took his first plunge into property ownership after securing a great off-plan deal.
The three-bedroom house is conveniently located for Mr Hamad and his wife, Rana Harb, who works at the same university, to commute to Dubai Academic City.
It also offers plenty of space for their daughters, aged four and 18 months, to play.
Sharjah Sustainable City is the net-zero-inspired sister project of Dubai Sustainable City located in Al Rahmaniya.
It spans 668,902 square metres and will eventually house about 1,250 villas. Mr. Hamad, 39, took The National on a tour of the family home.
My Own Home: Dh1.3m for three-bedroom house in Sharjah Sustainable City
What are the details of your villa?
It’s a three-bedroom, four bathroom middle-unit house spanned over 2,100 square feet.
We have a closed kitchen which is an advantage if you have guests and want to cook, as well as a maid’s bedroom.
There’s also shaded parking for two cars and a decent-sized garden.
What prompted you to buy?
Based on family and friends’ experience, at some point, it’s a very good idea to put the money that you pay for rent into a property that you own.
My father said with the money he paid for rent over the past 40 or 50 years, he could have easily bought maybe two to three units. I didn’t really want to repeat the same mistake.
How did you choose this villa?
We started looking for a property in 2019 right before Covid. We wrote down our expectations and the factors that would help us choose the correct one because the UAE market is huge and has wide variety.
During the construction period, the developer’s website has a live update feature. There is a camera located on site so you can see the property’s progress.
The camera was located right next to my unit so I could watch the construction week by week and take screenshots.
Where did you live previously?
We’ve been living in Sharjah, close to my wife’s family, since we got married seven years ago.
We were in Al Majaz, renting a two-bedroom apartment in the heart of the busy city centre next to the lake.
When we lived there it used to take around 90 minutes to get home from work.
What made you select this area?
We heard about the community because my wife’s friend was filming the area for social media.
One of the key factors was the distance from work and the location of the community. We wanted to stay close to my wife’s parents’ house and avoid crazy traffic jams.
We are close to both Mohammed bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road, about 40km from the university where we work. In normal traffic, it would take 35 minutes to get home.
How was the buying process?
We went to the sales office. There was a complete set of show villas ready with appliances, so it made it easier for us to choose.
They had a very flexible payment plan before the handover.
Initially, I didn’t know about Dubai’s Sustainable City but then I read a lot of positive reviews.
When they started handing over the first phase of Sharjah Sustainable City, we moved there. I was among the very first group of owners who received their unit in September 2022.
What other advantages are there to the community?
Privacy and for us that’s important. If you are in your bedroom, no one is able to see you directly.
The villas are constructed in a way that respects the privacy of residents in the community.
There is a visitor parking as well, within walking distance from my villa.
Now that phase one is finished, some facilities are open including gyms – one for males and another for females – a swimming pool, a common area and a small supermarket.
Once all four phases are completed, there is a plan to have a shopping centre and a community centre. A green spine will connect the phases together. There will also be farming in the community.
I have a mall 10 minutes from my house, another that’s 15 minutes away. Both have a hypermarket, a clinic, a cinema, a play area and a food court.
I’m also very close to Sharjah Airport where there are direct flights to Amman, Jordan.
Is it a sociable address?
The community is quiet and the neighbours are really nice, very friendly.
The management organise a lot of activities that keep us and the kids busy.
They are promoting a sustainable lifestyle, so they have workshops about farming. There is one on how to turn your food waste into fertilizer, and we had a workshop about how to make pasta, where they brought in an Italian chef.
They’re always keeping us updated via an application. There was an outdoor cinema for kids.
I feel like it really is home here.
How have you personalised the property?
This villa came with all the appliances and the finishing was really good.
I love gardening so one of the first things I did when I got my unit was landscape, buy plants and trees and prepare a small barbecue area. I covered some walls with bricks.
I bought a tent and I’ve done camping for my daughters in the garden.
One of the rooms is now a play room, so they can enjoy indoors as well.
I love wood since it gives a touch of warmth, so I replaced the entire ground floor with parquet flooring. I also bought stone from the Jordanian mountains and put it in the living room in two columns surrounding the TV.
We’re going to do things step by step as we consider this our life home.
What is your property worth now?
I bought it for Dh1.3m in 2020. I think they’re selling phase three or four [of the community], the same unit type, for Dh1.6m or Dh1.75m, if I’m not mistaken.
The difference between our rent and the mortgage payments is around Dh2,000 a month more with the mortgage.
However, I’m investing in my house as it’s an asset. It’s a lifelong investment.
Is it a forever home?
We’re not planning to sell – I bought this house to live in with my family.
It was maybe one of the wisest decisions of my life.
In the future we might buy another property in Dubai for investment purposes and then rent that out.