Friday, 17 December 2010
Top five tips for moving house
1. Location location location. Much like being in the hawker centre and deciding between rice or noodles, you'll at least have to make the following simple choices to narrow down your search:
- Central or 'Pretty much Malaysia'. MRT stations Newton and Marina Bay on the North-South line and Tiong Bahru and Bugis on the East-West line are the limits of what I would call Central. Outside of that, I would consider Holland Village and Portsdown Road because both areas contain pockets of properties that are full of character. I am sure you can perceive my bias for living centrally given the label for all other areas outside of those above-mentioned as 'Pretty much Malaysia'. Unless you are minted enough to own a car, or you actually enjoy long taxi rides with Uncle, I would steer clear.
- East or West. North is a non-starter unless your job is based in the Heartlands and you relish the idea of being surrounded by nothing other than a sea of residential dwellings. East wins on proximity to 'beaches' (not that you would want to swim in the rancid oil-infested waters) and the airport but unless you live in Geylang, you will be far from the MRT and you will live your life between bus stops. West has far better transport links and a greater variety of things to do: Botanic Gardens, Bukit Timah, Jurong Bird Park, The Southern Ridges to name a few.
2. To condo or not to condo?. Basically, are you willing to live without a pool so that you can live in a place with a unique character? Alternatives are:
- Registering for a black and white. Assuming you have a spare S$10,000 deposit to be in with a chance to bid and have a salary the triple of which will get you close to the sometimes astronomical rents, get involved! If you are lucky, you may find a steal and your rent will be next to nothing but, as you can imagine, those places don't come up very often so you will often spend time online ogling the houses that only CEOs can afford; S$45,000 per month? You have got to be kidding me. If you're not, can I be your friend?
- Old HDBs. Dotted around in Chinatown, Tiong Bahru and a small handful of other places are properties that have had their soul ripped out and replaced with contemporary living spaces. Your neighbour may be one hundred years old, sitting on a stool with a fan in his hand whilst you may have a weather-sensitive sliding roof and more remote controls for aircons than you know what to do with but therein lies the charm of 'real' Singapore.
- Shophouses. Around Outram Park and in Little India are some fabulously preserved shophouses complete with wooden floors and ornate carvings. Real gems, if you can find them.
3. Agents. Like'em or loathe'em the world over. It is no different here. You get some who will show you places exactly in line with your specifications (initially, it look us just four days to find a place) or others who are clueless, ignore your requests and then dog you with endless streams of text messages offering you places that are so far removed from what you want, they may as well be located on the Moon. I personally recommend Alvin Yeo who will take really good care of you in Tiong Bahru; outside of that, it's worth asking around at work or amongst your friends for someone they have used.
4. Get the movers in. If you are seriously busy (read: lazy) you can hire movers to pack everything and neatly deliver to your new place. They will even pack your underwear, if you let them. We chose a combination of us packing everything bar the large items of furniture and them delivering. It's fun to see your sofa wrapped in bubble wrap and cling film for careful transportation. That's one idea movers in the UK could learn from Singapore! Shalom Movers say they are No. 1 and we wholeheartedly agree.
5. Get yourself to the auction. Expat Auctions are held once a month and are havens for severely cut-price Oriental furniture. We recently walked away with five pieces of furniture for just S$1000. Although the process can be quite long (it takes approximately one minute per listed item to auction so be prepared to wait if you like items 23 and 188), it is fun and exhilarating bidding for your desired items. If that's not your cup o' cha, head to FairPrice Antique for similar Oriental style items at fixed (and fairly high, but not outlandish) prices. Of course, there's always Craigslist too for buyer-seller transactions involving a mix of characterful items and bog standard IKEA stuff. If you need pick-up and delivery for the odd item here and there, Mr Pang on +65 9223 6234 is an absolute legend.
Best of luck in your quest for a new home!