I hereby declare that I’ve joined the ranks of homeowners here in Singapore (technically not quite yet since we’ve only signed the option and not the lease agreement yet). This is probably one of the most exciting things I’ve been through so far.

For the uninitiated, in Singapore, housing is divided into two types- private and public. Approximately 80%-85% (depending on where you get your figures but the general idea is that the proportion is high) live in public housing which is better known as HDB flats. These flats come in all sorts of configurations (studio, 1,2,3,4 and 5-rooms) and the biggest (in terms of floor area) is the 5-room which is what me and my fiancee have gone for. 5 rooms have a floor area of some 112 square metres, much smaller than similar-configured flats of the yesteryears but generally still a decent size for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids).

Public housing is further divided into a primary market and a secondary market. What I’ve gone for is known a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat which is a flat that will be newly built. The Housing Development Board (HDB) offers this at a much lower price than those sold on the resale market hence purchase of the flats are subject to a number of restrictions. As they say, there’s no free lunch in this world eh?

Needless to say, it’s these restrictions that have caused the excitement. First, we had to submit an application to enter a ballot. That gave us a queue number that alloted us a timeslot to select the unit that we wanted. Of course, it’s human nature to select the nicest facing flat and the nicer floor while keeping in mind conisiderations that the units on the higher floors cost more. Our queue number was somewhere around the mid-point so of course we had the ‘agony’ of seeing the (in the majority opinion) choiciest facing units being snapped up.

It was also my induction into the world of property buying. Suddenly factors like where the evening sun was and what kind of view we could get started playing a huge role. I even went to the extent of checking out the plot ratio (which determines what height a building can be built up to on a certain plot of land) from the URA masterplan.

After weeks of excitement, I’m glad to say that I’m going to be the proud homeowner of a 5 room HDB flat, with views of the playground and elderly fitness corner from my living room. I’m already imagining the bliss of  sipping my kopi while reading my newspapers or books and not having to worry about the burden on my pocket. Most importantly, it will be the place where shoots will start to form and where it’s not just a house (ok, flat.) but a home.

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