Hanne Ripsaluoma, owner of a boho chic resort-wear brand, Dunesi, and mother of two young boys, has lived in Umm Suqeim 1 for three years. The family swapped their three-bedroom apartment on the Palm Jumeirah for a five-bedroom villa in the Al Bahwan Complex on Al Wasl road after seven years of island living.
The house boasts a roof terrace, large open kitchen, double garage, external maid’s quarters and access to a shared garden, temperature-controlled pool and gym, but it’s the community and neighbourhood that swung the deal for the Ripsaluomas.
“We loved living on Palm Jumeirah, and still own our apartment there, but as the kids started growing up I was itching for a garden and more of a family home, plus our elder son started at Kings’ in Umm Suqeim 3,” she says.
Hanne knew she wanted to be in Umm Suqeim but had no clear idea whether it should be a compound, standalone villa or close to the beach or school. The couple viewed around 60 properties.
She says: “I found a really good estate agent, Sky Land Realty, which specialises in Umm Suqeim rentals, and our agent, Mihaela, really listened to me and suggested we look at the Al Bahwan complex.
“The fact that it was newly built was a huge bonus, and the friendly, welcoming neighbours, most of whom are also families, and view of the Burj Khalifa from the rooftop terrace were major decision influencers.”
The family negotiated annual rental payment in four cheques and minor snagging was the only post-move maintenance issue, leaving Hanne free to design the space.
“It’s been a gradual process as we obviously had a lot more space to fill, so we started by upgrading our furniture to bigger pieces, like a larger dining table,” she notes.
The vast open expanse of the living room, with its blank walls, has been warmed up by a feature chair and several large-scale commissioned art pieces. Hanne elaborates: “These were painted by two Spanish artists, who are friends, and they add colour to the space. Filling the house is an ongoing process, but we’re not cluttered and I think that’s the Scandinavian in me!”
Hanne’s favourite spot is the large outdoor terrace, her “Bali-inspired corner”, where she says the family spends as much time as possible.
“It’s the total opposite of the Palm, which was like living in a resort. Here, our terrace at the back of the house looks onto the communal garden, and is also very private,” she says.
Beyond the garden fence, the family is within walking distance of Kite Beach, has a wealth of eateries to choose from on bustling Beach Road and a choice of big-name supermarkets a few minutes’ drive from the villa.
“If we need it there’s a clinic two minutes away by car, a pharmacy opposite and Al Quoz with its trendy cafés and parkour academy is just the other side of Shaikh Zayed Road,” adds Hanne.
The physical shift has impacted the family in more ways, as she explains: “It’s like our whole life moved. We now know so many people in Umm Suqeim, know everyone in the compound and our life revolves around this area. When we were living on the Palm I thought we were in the middle of Dubai, but this really is the midpoint of the city and it’s so easy to get anywhere from here.”
The only thing missing for Hanne and her husband is more licensed restaurants, but she is happy to stay in Umm Suqeim as long as the family remains in Dubai.
“If we could buy this house, we would. We definitely mix more with the local community here, compared to the Palm, and that’s especially important for our boys. I also like the fact that this feels like a normal life.”
Why is Umm Suqeim a popular choice for families?
It has everything you need, from the beach and schools to supermarkets and endless variety of places to eat, just a short taxi ride away. Around 80 per cent of clients are European families.
What types of villa are most in demand?
New-build properties from the likes of wasl are very popular and compounds, which offer a great environment for families and children. This is a family-driven area and most landlords won’t rent to bachelors.
What are rental rates like?
Prices dropped a lot this year. For example, a four-bedroom villa that was renting for Dh350,000 or a smaller property for Dh240,000 per year are now at around Dh280,000 and Dh210,000 respectively. But prices are still quite high.
Source: Mihaela Blelea, Sky Land Realty
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