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Condominium Conundrum

31 Jan 12 - 12:00AM  | General



When I first moved to Singapore, I was full of admiration and wonder for the way that young and old, local and foreign, poor and rich, all rubbed along together so harmoniously and without much difficulty. Coming from London, where you are one of millions trying to get to work, keep a job, see your friends and rock around, get ahead and enjoy yourself. Finding somewhere to live is a stressful experience, with property so expensive for first-time buyers, that most people under 35 either live with randoms or rent/buy with friends. This is easily negotiated via numerous websites such as gumtree.com, craigslist.com and the like, with thousands of places going every day.

Renting an apartment by yourself in London will cost you an absolute minimum of £1000, with sharing a flat around the £600 per month mark, so unsurprisingly, most people seem to opt for the latter. This is similar to Singapore although the gap between buying and renting in Singapore is enormous for a foreigner as they are restricted from purchasing an HDB (equivalent of council flats) which are pretty much the only affordable properties in Singapore, with some running over the $1 million mark! The demand for property is therefore ever increasing and the prices fluctuate over the course of the year as swells of new people arrive from overseas, and the never-ending amount of construction continues around and about the island.

I’ve just been through the rental process for the 2nd time here and found it much easier than the 1st, given that I knew what I was looking for and where I wanted it be. I think my agent found it harder though, as I was so picky! I wanted somewhere light, with a gas hob, decent kitchen, outside space, 2 good sized double bedrooms and a 20-30 minute commute into the CBD. I thought this should be easy but after looking at over 10 flats I soon realised that something would have to give. The main issue was the size of the newer, better condition condos vs the older, bigger condos, which invariably had old-fashioned lighting, fittings and decorations.

I spent another 2 days looking at places until just at the point that I was going to give up and rent a room from a friend of a friend, in a perfectly nice, but very small flat; I stumbled on a fantastic condo, 3 minutes walk from an MRT station, with stunning views over green open spaces, an enormous balcony and all the rest of the requirements I wanted. I HAD to have it! At $4800, it was over my budget of $4500, but I figured that it was worth the extra. I was over the moon as the landlord accepted my offer whilst a German family of 3 were looking round it.

Well, I was until they came and put in a higher offer of $5k, 10 minutes later. Luckily, the landlord declined, thankfully, given that I was offering a 2 year corporate lease and had got there first. That was until they wheeled out the big guns and offered $5.5k. I couldn’t believe it. Understandably, the landlord relented and took their offer but I was fuming! It had taken me SO long to find; I couldn’t believe it had slipped through my fingers.

My agent immediately arranged for me to go and look at a 1 bed in the same building, which was an uber cool, loft-style place with huge windows and mezzaine bedroom. But at $4k, it was way out of my price range for just me, so I miserably declined. However, a few phone calls later and Ivan pulled a rabbit from his hat. A 2 bed flat was available on the 13th floor which had just come on the market and did I want to see it? YES!!

One look and it was mine. I even managed to negotiate a dishwasher (notoriously hard to get in Singapore) and decking for the planter on the balcony. I moved in last weekend and am deliriously pleased with it. The pictures are those I took looking round it and of the pool. Next week – the adventures you can have furniture shopping + the finished result!

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