Dec. 14: Okay, we have been here for 3 days now, and have narrowed things down to seven properties we want to visit. Pretty much every one is a three bedroom, high-rise condo in a building that has a pool, fitness area, and playground. It is going to be a long day, but I can’t wait to find our new home.
*Fun Facts about apartments in Singapore:
- The laundry room is outdoors. Lots of people only have cold water clothes washers and hang dry their laundry in this outdoor area.
- There are little steps everywhere to stub your toes on. In and out of the bathroom, from the outdoor area to the kitchen… it is to keep water from the wet areas from invading the rest of the house.
- Most places have shoe storage outdoors or cabinets by door as everyone removes their shoes upon entering someone’s home. Some units have gates, then a landing to remove shoes, then the main door to the apartment.
- Lots of units have what look to be small balconies outside of the main living room windows, but they are only planter balconies. They are set up to automatically drain water from plants (tilted I guess?) as you cannot have standing water due to mosquitos carrying Dengue fever laying eggs and multiplying. If an inspector comes, you can be charged a fine per larva. These balconies only have big windows leading out to them, not sure exactly how comfortable it is to get out to water them, but it does rain here enough it seems.
- No dishwashers in any of the units we have seen. :(
- You have to pay two months rent as security deposit, and sign a two-year lease.
- No closets in any of the units we have seen, but every room has a super tall wardrobe, sort of like shelving that is free standing. Very interesting. Going to need a ladder.
- Units come three ways:
- Unfurnished: No furniture, no appliances at all.
- Partially furnished: Can have one appliance, can have lots of appliances, can have no furniture, or can have some furniture.
- Fully Furnished: Most appliances and most furniture you would need.
Property 1-Banyan Condo-West Coast Area: Loved the lush grounds, lovely pool, and kept up property. Super small playground though. Did not love the old style (AKA ugly) tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms (walls and floor). They looked like really cheap wallpaper, but in tile. Not good. Also it was very old smelling, with cabinets that looked like they could start to disintegrate at any moment. But if this is what we get at our price range, so be it. It has nice tall windows, and fairly big rooms. I could make it work with lots of air freshener…
Property 2-The Grandhill-West Coast Area: OMG, what a gorgeous ocean view! Super modern fixtures, doors, everything. But tight, very very tight. Not sure our queen size bed will fit in the room, much less with dresser and night stands. But the VIEW! You can even look out the window at the ocean while taking a bath. Gorgeous pool too and well kept grounds, though only a tiny playground. Buuuuutttt…this one is expensive, and it is a hike from the nearest public transportation. And on top of a hill, so every walk home in 88 degree weather will leave you completely sweaty.
Property 3-Parc Vista-Jurong Area: Fantastic shaded walking path around the pool and playground. Lots of women and children hanging out so should be easy to make friends here. Well kept building and grounds. Unit is older, needs a new kitchen, but is otherwise nice. Only issue is the landlord wants to sell the property ASAP. So we would be getting people viewing the place all the time, and then who knows if the new landlord wants to change things, or is a douche… This one is out of the running.
Property 4-The Interlace-West Coast Area, near CBD: Holy cow, I have never seen anything like this in my life. Just look at the photos, or Google “The Interlace.” It is like the buildings were made by Jenga. So yeah, it looks super cool. The unit is completely new (as is the building), and it is basically a compound all its own. It has several pools and ponds (the kids’ pool rivals some park districts kids’ pools back home), one of which being a spa area surrounded by orchids with a waterfall to make a serene place to get away (I so need that). They have a jogging path, fitness corner, karaoke rooms, a game room for kids, a billiards room…I can go on and on. And the unit is lovely. Brand new, but a little on the small side. And it is a super long walk from the nearest MRT stop, though a bus stop is just outside the complex. But if our building is towards the back, it will take awhile just to walk to the bus stop. And it is expensive.
Property 5-Thomson 800-Newton/Novena Area: This. Place. Is. Filthy. The agent said the former tenants just moved out and he needs to clean and do repairs, but it was so dirty, and the hubs smelled mold, so no way. Especially after viewing the pristine Interlace, this place didn’t stand a chance. Gorgeous pool though!
Property 6-The Sunglade-Serangoon Area: We fell in love here. The view was amazing, looking over the terracotta roofs of the “landed houses” (i.e. not high rise buildings), with the skyline in the background. It was well cared for, clean (hard to tell with the clutter, but I could see it), and the rooms were a decent size. The pool is phenomenal for little ones with a huge kids area. There were lots of moms and kids hanging out there so it will be easier to meet new friends. And it is right next to a giant mall, grocery store, and two MRT (subway) lines. Couldn’t be better. It was still being lived in, and the tenants can’t be out until late January/early February. We have to be out of the hotel by early January, so this presents a problem. Maybe they can move out early??? (Update: Nope.)
We saw one more Sunglade unit, but did not like it as much. It had expensive lighting, but kind of cheesy/glitzy, the kitchen was run down (rusted out cabinet door handles and stove, cracked tiles on wall, sticky foam left from hooks), and the view faces the mall. However, it had a balcony, was high up, and got lots of light.
Property 7-The Quartz-Sengkang Area: The tenants were still living in this one as well and a lot of guests were over, so I took no photos (so awkward to view when people are in the middle of having a gathering in their home!). The agents were a couple of teens (looked like it to me anyway, probably twenties), and the place was very glitzy with lots of mirrors and chandeliers. The master bedroom had a built in headboard and bed base, so pretty much a no for us as we like our own. It was so filled with stuff and people it was very hard to view, much less picture us living there. And after the Sunglade? Nothing could really compare.
At this point, we are hoping to be able to get into the Sunglade, but I don’t know if I can wait that long to get settled into a home out here. :( Very excited to have basically found our home after only one day of viewings!!!
Dec. 17: After some more thought, and advice on negotiating, we are now looking at the four-bedroom unit at The Interlace. We are more interested in the Interlace now than the Sunglade, as the commute really is pretty long from the Sunglade. (Sunglade = 10 min walk to MRT, then 30 min on that. Interlace is a 15 min bus.) And the building is just so cool. Probably never again will have the opportunity to call such a cool building my home.
Apparently, many units are on the market, so you can offer 25% less than what the listing says. So now we think we might be able to get a little more space. It would be nice to give each kid his/her own room, or at least have a playroom or dedicated office. Plus, more storage space. You always need more storage space out here. So I am going back to look at another unit at the Sunglade, because I do love that property, and also a larger unit at The Interlace.
So I head out with Eddie, our realtor. He takes me to Sunglade to see a three-bedroom unit that faces the mall, but is blocked by trees. The trees are nice to look at, and give some privacy, but they also block the light coming into the unit. So it was a pretty dark unit. Other than that, there were a lot of minor repairs that needed to be done (paint, new veneer on kitchen cabinets and on a built-in desk in the third bedroom, new toilet seats, new sink in the bathroom), and the only included appliance was a very small fridge. Most others we have seen come with a clothes washer, fridge, and oven at least. These are not deal breakers though, as in Singapore you offer what you want to pay for rent along with your “wish list” of repairs or amenities you want included. Then it all becomes part of the negotiation process. I wish there was a carmax for apartments. People keep telling us to offer low, but our realtor says that is iffy. Who knows? I do like that there appears to be a toddler boy living right across the hallway from this unit. Could make for super easy playdates.
Then we go out to see The Interlace. The only one we are seeing is the four-bedroom I was hoping to offer low on. It is listed for $5,600, and we were going to try for $4,000. A definite stretch, but not by what people have been telling us to offer. Eddie says that an offer of $5,200 was given for this unit but rejected. The landlord has already lowered the price from $6,000. Soooooo, we are basically toast on this. The place was gorgeous. There was of course more space, mostly noticeable in the kitchen. But it really was not any more special than that. I thought that the shower with a tub behind it in the master bath was unique though. Not sure if I would like that or not. Definitely not if the hubs needs to shower while I am relaxing in the tub…not that I get to do much of that anymore with the kiddo around… :)
So after much consideration about transportation, location, amenities, etc., we are pretty much set on living at The Interlace in a three bedroom unit. However, I would like a different three-bedroom unit than the one we previously viewed, as it was pretty far back in the complex. The realtor at The Interlace tried to make me anxious to move in by saying they have had lots of people viewing the unit we saw, but there were so many units available on PropertyGuru.com, that I am not too concerned. I even noticed a few with way more square footage! I have now sent back my request to negotiate on a few units there that are close to the entrance (it is a sprawling complex!), close to the pool, larger, and not west facing. The heat in Singapore is a lot, so afternoon sun beating in is not economical for our air-con bill. If we cannot get a place for cheaper at The Interlace (must get them to come down from $4,500-$5,000 to $4,000 max to fit our budget), then we will go with the Sunglade.
So excited! I am pretty desperate to move in to a place. We have been living out of suitcases for two months now, and being five months pregnant, I am getting that good old nesting urge pretty fiercely now. I am just tired, and done being “homeless.” I don’t want to wait until February to get the unit at the Sunglade that we loved. I will miss the pool at the Sunglade, and the community of moms and kids that seems to be there (The Interlace seems a bit desolate, but it is new and they are still trying to finish and sell a ton of units). Probably a better idea to not have a mall right next door, as I always find myself dissatisfied with everything I own after walking in the mall. The Interlace has a bus stop right outside, which is starting to seem easier than the MRT, as you have to go all the way through the malls above the subway to get down to the MRT, and really it can’t take you door to door like the bus can. There will be bus stops right by the Sunglade too, but it is super far from the CBD (Central Business District, AKA downtown). So now I have to wait and see what Eddie comes back with, as to whether or not anyone is willing to negotiate with us at The Interlace.
See what happens on our next installment. :)