Apartment hunting in Singapore - need some advice

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cardiffgiant
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Apartment hunting in Singapore - need some advice

Post by cardiffgiant » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 12:07 am

I've been lurking on this forum for the past few months, but this is my first post. I finally made the move from New York to Singapore two weeks ago. The advice I've found on this forum has been extremely helpful and I hope to return the favor once I get set up here.

I am currently using a broker paid for by my firm to do an apartment search. My top end budget is S$5K for a 2BR/BA condo. In an ideal world, this would be a 5min walk to the MRT, 20 min or less door-to-door to Raffles Place, a smaller development (less than 100 units) and walking distance to some great bars/restaurants as well as day-to-day things like the grocery store, drugstore and cleaners. After seeing about 20 places within my budget, I've quickly realized that I'm not going to find all that -- I was too spoiled in NYC.

Here are a few places I've like so far that meet MOST of the criteria:

1. The Paterson Edge - A great small development. The units are large here since it was built in '99, but it has been very well maintained. My concern is that it's a block away from ION / Orchard, which to me seems like hell on earth. Is the whole area around Paterson / Orchard as bad as my first impression or are there some cool, local spots that are more laid back and hip?

2. Residences @ Evelyn - Great unit but Newton seems like it's in the middle of nowhere. I'd need to either go to Orchard or Novena for any kind of shopping or eating, right? Of course there's the Newton hawker centre, but I assume that's good for maybe one or two meals a week.

3. Parc Emily - This is actually my favorite location of the three (close to both Little India and Dhoby Ghaut). However, the unit itself is pretty small. What do people do for storage? Aside from the built-in wardrobes in each bedroom, there are no closets or bomb shelters. Where do people store luggage, guitars, snowboards, etc? OK, I can sell the snowboard :-) ...but all my luggage needed for frequent trips? I'd rather not clutter up the already small spare bedroom, as I'll be having a lot of friends visiting.

Maybe my expectations are too high for this price range, but I'm hoping that someone has some advice!

Cheers,
Cardiff Giant

Singapore Property Search

 

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Post by JR8 » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 4:06 am

Welcome to the forum, oh, and Singapore! :)

Yours is a bit of a tricky question as you are relying on there being current users with a decent background knowledge of the condo's that you mention. But, if you're lucky...!

p.s. I've heard lots of comments re: Ion, but describing Ion as 'hell on earth' is a new one on me and entirely fitting I think. Living next to it would be a bit like living next to Westfield (London) located at Oxford Circus. Not exactly a recipe for zen-like peace and tranquility.

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Post by cardiffgiant » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 7:53 am

Thanks, JR8! It's been a while since I've been to London, but I think I remember avoiding Oxford Circus :-) I've been trying to describe the Orchard area to my friends back in New York and the best I can do is: It's like Fifth Avenue, Times Square and Herald Square (that's where Macy's is) all in a series of giant malls. OK, maybe it's not that bad - but that's my first impression!

Maybe I can make my questions a bit more generic, so that they don't necessarily apply to those specific condos:

1. Is living near Orchard / Ion terrible, given the overpriced shopping and number of tourists? Or do locals have some cool places that make living around here worth it?

2. How is life in Newton? It seems isolated and may require you to get up to Novena for even groceries.

3. A lot of newer condos that I've seen don't have much closet space aside from the built-in wardrobes. The bomb shelter "closets" have unfortunately been excluded from these newer places, so I can't possibly see where people store bulky items like luggage. I'm coming from a tiny apartment in NYC, so I'm not expecting anything huge - just one reasonable closet!

Thanks for taking the time to read (and reply)!

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Post by x9200 » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 10:22 am

cardiffgiant wrote: 1. Is living near Orchard / Ion terrible, given the overpriced shopping and number of tourists? Or do locals have some cool places that make living around here worth it?

2. How is life in Newton? It seems isolated and may require you to get up to Novena for even groceries.

3. A lot of newer condos that I've seen don't have much closet space aside from the built-in wardrobes. The bomb shelter "closets" have unfortunately been excluded from these newer places, so I can't possibly see where people store bulky items like luggage. I'm coming from a tiny apartment in NYC, so I'm not expecting anything huge - just one reasonable closet!

Thanks for taking the time to read (and reply)!
General answer: Majority of people do not have any need to be in the Orchard area every day. I don't see this place any more attractive than hundreds of the other neighborhoods. If you are a party animal then there are also some better locations. It looks like you are looking for something with convenient and cheap shopping and eating and frankly if you are not going to regularly dine in some more fancy places or buy at Prada's Orchard would not be an ideal choice. For local food, IMHO further you go from the city centre better it gets.
I am sure there are some more eating places around Newton. For daily shopping needs you have a Cold Storage in this area. This is probably all you may want.
A reasonably balanced area (food, distance from CBD if this is your working place, shops) is along River Valley road, but if you want to be spoiled by the number of cheap and good local coffee shops you need to go far further from the centre.
The storage space: I am surprised hearing that the new developments have no bomb shelters as I thought this is the law to have them.All of them I have seen had one. Older, typically have some decent maids/storage rooms.

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Post by BillyB » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 11:20 am

x9200 wrote:
cardiffgiant wrote: 1. Is living near Orchard / Ion terrible, given the overpriced shopping and number of tourists? Or do locals have some cool places that make living around here worth it?

2. How is life in Newton? It seems isolated and may require you to get up to Novena for even groceries.

3. A lot of newer condos that I've seen don't have much closet space aside from the built-in wardrobes. The bomb shelter "closets" have unfortunately been excluded from these newer places, so I can't possibly see where people store bulky items like luggage. I'm coming from a tiny apartment in NYC, so I'm not expecting anything huge - just one reasonable closet!

Thanks for taking the time to read (and reply)!
General answer: Majority of people do not have any need to be in the Orchard area every day. I don't see this place any more attractive than hundreds of the other neighborhoods. If you are a party animal then there are also some better locations. It looks like you are looking for something with convenient and cheap shopping and eating and frankly if you are not going to regularly dine in some more fancy places or buy at Prada's Orchard would not be an ideal choice. For local food, IMHO further you go from the city centre better it gets.
I am sure there are some more eating places around Newton. For daily shopping needs you have a Cold Storage in this area. This is probably all you may want.
A reasonably balanced area (food, distance from CBD if this is your working place, shops) is along River Valley road, but if you want to be spoiled by the number of cheap and good local coffee shops you need to go far further from the centre.
The storage space: I am surprised hearing that the new developments have no bomb shelters as I thought this is the law to have them.All of them I have seen had one. Older, typically have some decent maids/storage rooms.
+1

You're making the classic mistake that you have to be central to everything and Orchard is bang in the middle so that's the obvious choice. As you know, Singapore is a small island and you can pretty much reach anywhere within 30-40 mins door to door so why limit to just orchard + 2 stops on the MRT? Have a look around harbourfront, east coast, pasir panjang etc.

River valley is a good suggestion and far enough away from Orchard to get some peace and quiet. After 3 months you'll get major deja vu - there are only so many coffee shops, shops, places to eat before you start feeling like you part of groundhog day and going stir crazy. The city centre becomes boring very quickly.

There are also condo's near Raffles place - the sail, marina bay residences, one shenton - that will fit your budget and have decent storage.

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Post by thismyvoice » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 1:26 pm

Try Robertson Quay area. River Place condominium is near many pubs and eating place. It is a nice development by the river and within walking distance to MRT.

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Post by cardiffgiant » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 1:28 pm

Thanks x9200, BillyB and thismyvoice. I will definitely take a look at some of those locations and condos as well. I already looked at the Sail at Marina Bay, but this is just way too many units for my taste - I much prefer the developments with around 50 units, even though that may mean fewer amenities.

My broker said that the newer places get around the bomb shelter law by creating a bomb shelter in one of the common areas. Unfortunately we aren't seeing that extra space in the condo!

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Post by BillyB » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 1:53 pm

cardiffgiant wrote:Thanks x9200, BillyB and thismyvoice. I will definitely take a look at some of those locations and condos as well. I already looked at the Sail at Marina Bay, but this is just way too many units for my taste - I much prefer the developments with around 50 units, even though that may mean fewer amenities.

My broker said that the newer places get around the bomb shelter law by creating a bomb shelter in one of the common areas. Unfortunately we aren't seeing that extra space in the condo!
Try 2rvg on river valley grove.

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Post by applefan » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 10:19 pm

Also have been following this forum for a while but first-time poster.

Cardiff Giant, I'm following you as I'll be arriving in Singapore the second week of November and will be starting my search then as well. It seems like we have similar preferences except I wouldn't be commuting to the Raffles Place area. I'm going to look at Residences @ Evelyn as well but am somewhat scared to hear that S$5k won't get you the preferences you listed. I used to live in NYC as well but am moving from HK where I've been very spoilt with a rather unique living situation with lots and lots of space. What about other areas in Novena?

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Post by richie303 » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 11:22 pm

If you insist staying central, there's a cracking little condo (Wilmer House) 3 bed duplex units, really big and it's a lovely personal place, pool etc not that great, but it's 5 mins from Somerset and the price is around $5K! Should check it out, see if there are any units for let! The agent is called Leslie I think, he lets all units there, one owner for the block. Otherwise, I agree with BillyB, get out the centre! I stay in Tanah Merah, I'm 20 mins on MRT to raffles and I'm way below your budget for a 3+1 unit!

Good luck!

Richie
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Post by cardiffgiant » Sun, 23 Oct 2011 11:40 pm

Thanks again everyone!

@BillyB - I hadn't seen 2rvg but this looks promising! I'll forward the info on to my broker.

@applefan - Coming from NYC/HK you might be a bit spoiled with the conveniences that you'll find within walking distance here. I think part of my problem is just making that mental adjustment and getting used to walking a whole 10 min to get something. Residences @ Evelyn have 2BR for less than $5K and we are seriously considering making an offer given everything else that we've seen in this price range.

@Richie - Thanks for the tip on Wilmer. That's really what I'm after is a nice personal space. I couldn't care less about the amenities. That's also good to know that there are reasonable places right on the MRT line a bit further out. I think once our family expands and we need a third bedroom then that will be our future neighborhood.

Cheers
cardiffgaint

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Post by JR8 » Mon, 24 Oct 2011 12:20 am

cardiffgiant wrote: @Richie - Thanks for the tip on Wilmer. That's really what I'm after is a nice personal space. I couldn't care less about the amenities. That's also good to know that there are reasonable places right on the MRT line a bit further out. I think once our family expands and we need a third bedroom then that will be our future neighborhood.
Sorry but I feel as though I have missed something. If you are not concerned about amenities then have you considered renting an HDB flat over a condo?

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Post by x9200 » Mon, 24 Oct 2011 4:59 am

He wants a small condo so if his reasons are as one can guess (more quiet and less crowded place) no HDB in this country will probably fulfill such requirements.

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Post by JR8 » Mon, 24 Oct 2011 5:38 am

x9200 wrote:He wants a small condo so if his reasons are as one can guess (more quiet and less crowded place) no HDB in this country will probably fulfill such requirements.
Quiet and less crowded.... was/is considering living by Ion?

Dunno, doesn't seem much point limiting your search to condos where a significant slab of the rent goes on amenities, if you don't want them.

Also, as BillyB suggested, OP has fallen into the trap (as many of us, me incl.) have of requiring to live within a few hundred M of Orchard and 10 mins to Raffles Place. The same trap might also include a blanket refusal to consider HDB, despite probably never having seen inside a few examples. The OP also wants space. Well he's going to get it in spades and in a great location in an HDB on his budget...

edit: typos
Last edited by JR8 on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by x9200 » Mon, 24 Oct 2011 6:04 am

Living by is not living in. Could be a heaven and hell difference. As much as I agree with the central location syndrome I think there is a lot of truth in the opinions saying that condos are in general more quiet places. There are also cleaner as per average and the interiors quality can be matched only by more recent HDB developments. There are also some more subjective / cultural flavors like politeness of people you will meet every day. So I believe this it is not just a condo minus amenities,

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