HDB flats are fine. I've been living in one myself for the last 3 years after spending 12 years living in private apartments/condos.
The main negative to renting a HDB flat for me would be the initial selection process that you have to go through. Unlike condos
(which obviously cost more), the turnaround for deciding on a HDB is very swift and brutal. They go really fast and because agents don't make a whole lot of money on any single transaction, they tend to handle it like an assembly line: lots of prospective tenants all viewing the place at the same time and the expectation that you will make up your mind immediately and hand over a cheque then and there.
If you do decide to go the HDB route, here's what i would suggest.
1. Bring along your cheque book - as mentioned above, the demand for HDB flats is quite high and if you see one you like, you will probably need to be decisive.
2. Bring along a local friend or colleague who should be helpful in spotting any 'dangers' or possible annoyances.
3. The best time to go flat viewing would be in the evening: you'll get a sense of what the immediate environment is like in terms of ambient noise and neighbours' habits.
4. Avoid flats whose immediate neighbours have lots of plants, laundry, junk, shoes, joss sticks/alters outside. There's a pretty good chance that they will have customs and practices that you won't appreciate.
5. Check out the lift lobbies and void decks for rubbish and graffiti (seeing O$P$
painted on walls is never a good sign...)
6. If you can, check out the more recently upgraded flats - these will be in the best condition.
Finally, think carefully about your budget. A HDB flat will cost you in the region of $1500 a month upwards. A 1-bedroom condo
won't necessarily be a whole lot more expensive these days. Having such easy access to a swimming pool is really very nice... and will be a great 'upgrade' from what you are used to back home!
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