Home Lifestyle What I Own: Our blended family’s £875,000 Hertfordshire forever home

What I Own: Our blended family’s £875,000 Hertfordshire forever home

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This week, we’re in St Albans (Picture: Belinda Jiao)

Welcome back to What I Own – Metro’s property series where we speak to homeowners about getting on the ladder.

Last week, we chatted to Jake Cohen about his new build in Manchester. Jake and his partner Sean managed to secure a spot on the property ladder before the age of 30 through a strategic loophole that, paired with their efforts to scrimp and save, granted them the keys last autumn.

This week, we’re back down south in St Albans visiting 41-year-old Dr Muhommed Patel and 49-year-old George Thomas Wood, a family who found their forever home in the depths of Hertfordshire.

Here’s what Dr Muhommed had to say about the couple’s property journey…

Tell us about yourself!

We previously lived in South Africa and met while working together. At the time I was married with two children and fell in love with George.

We had a tough time expressing our love for each other as a gay couple in South Africa, so we decided to move to the UK. This resulted in my children also experiencing the societal backlash of a relationship that was not accepted.

My 16-year-old son Zayyaan moved with us straight away, and my 12-year-old daughter Zaynah initially lived with her mum and family in South Africa before recently moving to the UK.

To ensure a smooth transition into a new country, school and environment, their mother Saadiyah, is now happily living with us — and we are proof that as long as you put the welfare and happiness of your children first, it is possible to have a successful blended family. 

Having a blended family is key to the wellbeing of our children, especially Zaynah, who would not cope without her mom.

Dr Muhommed and George moved to the UK from South Africa (Picture: Belinda Jiao)

I am a digital product owner at Investec Bank, based in Gresham Street, London and George is the Chief Business Officer for St John’s Ambulance, based in Farringdon.

In 2023, George was knighted for his inspirational dedication to the charity and his volunteer work, which includes involvement with the current humanitarian aid effort in Ukraine.

Whereabouts is your property? What do you think of the area?

We live in a detached house at Stonebond’s Radio Place development in St Albans and we were one of the first purchasers to reserve here, after falling in love with a luxurious four-bedroom property.

We had been renting just next door to the development and decided that purchasing a new home was our next step, so that we were settled for when Zaynah moved from South Africa to the UK.

Although we were keen to stay in the area as we love it, we wanted a home where we would have more space to flourish together and accommodate our incredibly busy family life.

The house is neatly positioned at the front of the site, meaning it’s not overlooked by anyone, plus we have a fabulous size garden which was important so the children could enjoy the outdoor space.

Our neighbours are amazing too, and we’ve developed a really close community at Radio Place. We’re even going on holiday to Paris in the summer with some of our neighbours to celebrate George’s 50th birthday!

The pair say they’ve found their dream home (Picture: Belinda Jiao)

The whole family loves the rural feel of St Albans with its bountiful countryside routes and surrounding footpaths. Because we have such busy lifestyles, being surrounded by nature is how we like to wind down. George and the children frequently go on long walks together, and the nearby trails mean we can walk to the local gym if needed.

George and I are also both hybrid workers and commute to London four days a week, so being close to St Albans Station is crucial. Alongside this, there are great local schools nearby and St Albans is fantastic for shopping and dining — there are over 100 restaurants for us to try!

When did you move in?

We moved into our new home in June 2022.

How much does your property cost?

The house was £875,000.

How much was your deposit?

We put down a 20% deposit.

What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?

Our expenses are around £3,000 each month, including the mortgage and energy bills.

How did you save up for your deposit?

We sold our business and home in South Africa, and we had some savings.

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?

It was very challenging to gain a mortgage when we moved to the UK as we didn’t have any credit history in the UK. However, Investec look at individual circumstances and helped us secure the home.

They wanted to create a safe environment for their children (Picture: Belinda Jiao)

Can you share details on your mortgage (rate/term)?

We gained the best rate available considering our circumstances.

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?

Immediately prior to moving to Radio Place, we were renting at Jersey Farm in St Albans, and prior to this, we were living in South Africa. 

What made you want to buy rather than renting?

We wanted to create a stable, safe environment for our children and plan to stay in the UK in this house forever.

How did you find this property? What made you choose it?

On leaving our church, we fell over details for Radio Place displayed in the estate agents. We immediately arranged a viewing with Stonebond and fell in love with the property immediately.

How have you made the property feel like home? / What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?

We initially worked with locally-based interior designers, Elizabeth Matthews Interiors, to create our dream vision for our new home.

Our daughter has a particular eye for detail and designed her bedroom with a ‘Shanti Chic’ design, while our son wanted a bedroom with a gaming desk and cosy bed.

Overall, we want our home to have a hotel-luxe feel, as this makes us remember our time together travelling around the world. We have also landscape-designed our garden.

What’s your favourite room and why?

The dining area is our favourite room, as it’s where we all come together as a family each day and catch up on what everyone has been doing.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Internally, the home has plenty of space for each of us to have our own privacy, and the wonderful open-plan layout downstairs is ideal for that all-important family time we see as a must.

Do you have plans to change the property?

We are planning an extension to the living area next year, and are looking forward to furnishing this new space with a new dining table that will seat 14 people to allow us to host meals with our loved ones.

Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?

No, it has all been amazing. Radio Place is a great development — the estate is simply magnificent and we are really impressed with everyone at Stonebond, their unparalleled service and professionalism.

What do you want people to know about buying a home?

It can be a daunting prospect to buy a new home, but it is definitely worth every moment. Our family has prospered enormously from living at Radio Place together.

What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?

This is our forever home and we don’t plan to ever move.

Shall we take a look around?

Welcome home! (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
The home is full of trinkets (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
It’s cosy in here! (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
This statue was given to George by his late cousin, and purchased from Harrods (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Home sweet home (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
This’ll come in handy during the winter months! (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Bon appetit! (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Sliding glass doors create space (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
You can never have too many cushions (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
There’s some wonderful artwork on the walls (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
We love this dark façade (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Dr Muhommed has created the perfect WFH environment (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Now that’s wallpaper that’ll brighten up your trip to the loo (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
The couple have gone for a ‘hotel-luxe’ vibe (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Family photos are essential (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
George’s medals and hats from his time at St John’s (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
The main bedroom is also swish yet cosy (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Look at that gorgeous green grass (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
The perfect spot for hosting friends (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
George has an office in the garden (Picture: Belinda Jiao)
Another ideal working from home environment for George! (Picture: Belinda Jiao)

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected].


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