Friday, October 12, 2012

Singapore Spaces

This December will be my 9th year in Singapore. In all this time, I've stayed in a whoppingly large number of apartments...okay fine, it's just 5 apartments, but if you move every other year or so like I do, you'll be feeling like a turtle too at the end of it. You can check out pics of the Singapore apartments I've stayed at here and here, and though all of them were lovely and cozy and full of character, I took an impending move as a sign from the universe that it was time to settle down.

I never really expected to stay this long but somehow life just happens. When I came here, I was just a twenty-something single girl trying to prove I could make it on my own away from my family. I was initially planning to live and work in Singapore for a couple of years, be able to tick that off my to-do list and then move back home, but then my sister followed me, and I eventually got married to a fellow expat. Time passed, the kids came, and though we did go back to Manila to have my second baby delivered there, we eventually made our way back to Singapore.

Now with my eldest daughter having just started preschool, it's so much more important for us to stay in one place, which is why we've decided to finally buy an apartment.

Prior to that decision, I've consulted with several experts on the matter, specifically, the taxicab drivers of Singapore. Yup, somehow or other, I ended up having the same conversation every time I made my way to work. The taxi driver would pick me up along the streets of Balestier and comment about the great hawker food at Whampoa market, then he'd make an insightful comment about the explosion of high-rises within the area which would eventually lead to a discussion on the evolution of property prices and the current cost of buying an HDB flat. In any case, after a number of these cab conversations, I eventually brought up the issue with my husband and prepared key points for why this would be a good time to buy:

1) High cost of renting - We were quite practical and managed to save tons of money on rent by living with housemates for years and choosing old apartments whose rental prices were slightly below market average (at one time we lived in a 4-bedroom bi-level penthouse but split the cost among 6 people!), but we don't have housemates anymore and are only now starting to feel the pinch of high rental prices. Add to that the cost of clothing, feeding and sending kids to school, which we didn't have before, and we seriously needed to manage our household budget and try to cut down on costs.

2) New job and PR renewal - I started a new job this year and me and my husband just renewed our PR status which means we're likely going to stay longer and if we're staying here longer then I refuse to keep moving. I don't want to measure my possessions anymore by the number of boxes it takes to move them around (15 as of last count). I want to finally live an unboxed life!

3) A sense of home/community - To be honest, we haven't really integrated with the community in the past. Now that we have kids though, I noticed people have started to talk to us more or rather with our kids and we in turn are finding ourselves trying to be more sociable as well. In fact, for the first time we attended a community event, mainly for the kids. I think it's a good start. And staying in an actual HDB complex will only further help us feel part of the community.
And so key points on hand, I brought up the discussion with my husband and was surprised at how quickly he got on board, but maybe he's already been thinking along the same lines anyway and our thoughts just finally converged. And so another major decision for this year, yes, we're going to buy an HDB flat!

So we prepared ourselves for the long journey of finding that perfect HDB flat, maybe setting aside a couple of months for the search, then another month or two to complete the purchase. But then what happened was that we actually found the flat we wanted after a week of searching and 6 apartment viewings (well, actually we made a bid after the 4th apartment viewing but we lost that one).

In any case, here are pics of our new place and right now it's not really great-looking, but we saw that it had potential and since we're going to do our own renovation anyway, we know we can make it look good. In fact, the current condition is probably why the owner asked a reasonable COV (cash over value) amount.  

 Bedroom 1

 Bedroom 2


Living Room with extended balcony

We're so looking forward to transforming this space into a home. More updates to come.

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