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The dreaded apartment hunt June 12, 2011

Posted by howibecameawriter in Uncategorized.
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This is a milestone year for me – it is the first year since leaving home at 18 that I have stayed in the same apartment for more than 12 months. I realised my annual moving habits only a couple of years ago when submitting yet another visa application which needed a full history of all my addresses. For anyone that has moved around a lot, you will know what a nightmare this is. I don’t know many people who can remember the street name, number and post code for their last home, never mind their last 10! So I had to resort to getting my parents to dig out their address book and trying to decipher my old addresses under the scribble (my parents’address book has more than 5 pages dedicated to me!)

So staying in the same apartment for more than a year was an achievement, and I think my parents thought they might be able to just have one entry in their new address book, but it seems not. In Singapore, the annual increase in rent causes many people to seek a better deal elsewhere and so begins the dreaded apartment hunt. In each of the 3 major cities I have lived in (London, Sydney, Singapore) this experience never gets any easier. In London (depending on your budget of course) you can often be shown ‘compact’, ‘quaint’, ‘characterful’ places where you’re pretty sure you would be murdered on the stairwell. In Sydney, the Aussie charm is lost on realtors who will quite happily watch people try and outbid each other on the front step of a cockroach infested property just because it has ocean views. In Singapore, however, things are usually a little better, for expats at least. The agent will often pick you up, hand you a printed itinerary of several properties almost matching your criteria (you don’t need kitchen la?!) and negotiate on your behalf. Apart from spending your evenings and weekends looking at semi suitable places it is definitely the easiest place so far. But that comes at a price. It is normal to increase rent in Singapore between 20% – 60% depending on ‘current market value’ although I have yet to determine what drives this current market value when new condos are being built on every street on the island.

But with a new home comes new experiences and opportunities so who knows what’s around the corner or in the next suburb….

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