A Singaporean Couple’s Housing Tales (Part I)

This is the story of a Singaporean couple’s journey is acquiring a home for their future. The said couple are none other than Shine and I.

Yes, we are planning to apply for a BTO (Build-to-Order) flat together. We are both thirty this year and my severe case of endometriosis will require me to conceive as soon as I possibly can. So we have come up with a plan to ballot for one of the four BTO exercise this year and once we are able to secure a flat, we can start planning for a wedding and start a family right away. So what’s the problem here?

Unfortunately, getting a house in Singapore is like striking TOTO/4D (lottery). Starting 2015, HDB will only be launching four projects per year (Feb, May, Aug, Nov in 2015) and the locations will not be revealed until the launch date approaches unless they are big/premium BTO projects. First, you will have to wait for the launch date to ballot for the location of your choice. Upon balloting, you will have to pay a fee of $10. Then, you will have to apply for a HLE (Housing Loan Eligibility) to see how much loan you are able to receive to sustain the mortgage before the selection date. And once you receive a letter from HDB to select a unit does not necessarily mean you will be able to select a unit at all! Example if the location you balloted for has 800 units for 4room flats but 3000 people decide to apply, you will still receive a letter for selection but your queue number may be no. 2999. Suay lor. You have to pray that somehow the 800 units won’t get taken which is impossible. Even if your no. happens to be no. 700, you’ll probably be left with the balance units that are not very ideal like direct sun entering the unit causing it to be live in sauna or no sun at all, bad feng shui, low floor just above the rubbish chute or some annoying shit like that you’ll have to compromise. If you decide not to select and reject selection twice, you will be put under ‘second timer’ and your chances of getting a unit the next round will be even slimmer.

Shine and I were initially keen on applying for Punggol Northshore this May 2015 BTO which is said to be one of HDB’s big projects this year with modern eco-friendly system, seafront living and recreational areas just by your doorstep. But our enthusiasm have been shattered by my further research that an industrial park with a massive dormitory of 14,000 units will be built just across the location at Pulau Timor!

Red box is to bring to your attention the location of 14,000 Foreign Worker Dormitory that are already on the works.
Red box is to bring to your attention the 14,000 Foreign Worker Dormitory that are already on the works.

Pulau Timor is said to be the next Jurong Island! God knows how many foreign workers will fit into 1 dorm which will probably mean that there will be more of them than the actual residence in the area! It’s terribly disappointing as both Shine and I have been eagerly waiting for this project to ballot on. We don’t want our future children to be swimming in oil, fishing out dead fish and rubbish, squeezing in the small LRT with thousands of foreign workers, our safety especially if we have to stay out late and opening the windows only to smell toxic fumes instead of the fresh air. So we decided to forgo this choice.

Our next option is Sembawang. It is basically located at the very north side of Singapore. So north, that it can’t get any north-er. The location of this particular BTO will be placed in between Sembawang and Yishun MRT Station. I know many of you are going, “OMG, so ulu”. It is, not denying it. As if Sembawang already isn’t ulu enough, this BTO has to be built on a ulu spot in Sembawang. Well, not anymore…

The missing NS12 is future Canberra Station located in front of May BTO Sembawang plots.
The missing NS12 is future Canberra Station located in front of May BTO Sembawang plots.

Finally, the mystery of the missing NS12 of the North South Red line pops up on this location after many years of anticipation. Suddenly, from the ulu outskirts of Singapore, it might just be a new hot selling plot of land.

Shine has lived in Yishun his whole life. So after we both decided to forgo Punggol Northshore with a heavy heart, Shine thought through his decision in applying for a 5 Room flat and decided that a 4 Room will be a better choice for us. I was relieved. As much as I would love a big beautiful house or a centralized location, I don’t want us to pay for it through our noses. It was a compromise on his part, really happy and proud of his decision. So, I thought through my choices and decided that if I had anticipated Punggol Northshore that is located literally at the end of Singapore and I currently live in Taman Jurong which is at the whole other end, I’m sure I will adapt to Sembawang (which is at another end, haha, living on the edges). And it will have an MRT Station right in our faces, really not nearly as bad as where I live now and definitely beats getting jam packed like sardines in a can on the LRT with more than 14,000 Banglas and PRCs (yes, I’m still bitter about it). So, I decided to recce the area and I thought, who else would be better to take me on a tour along the route other than my Shine.

We met at Sembawang after his work and walked all the way to Yishun while he explained every inch from the Montreal estates to the longkangs of Sunggei Simpang Kiri to the small industrial area, the various places of worship and how it will all affect the plot for Sembawang’s May BTO. Saw the BTO from May 2013 projects of East Wave, Bank and Brooke already half way up, even spotted the landmark of the future Canberra MRT Station and timed our walk from there to Yishun MRT Station talking about our childhood and our future under a full moon. It was a sweet and memorable experience and somehow felt like the appearance of the full moon over that very plot of land was sign of good omen? Ok, maybe I’m being a tad dramatic but whether or not we get to select a unit in this coming’s exercise, the moments we shared tonight were precious.

We do not know when the launch date for the application will be but forums have stated that it could be around the end of May. Sign up for the E-Alert updates on the HDB website and get notified via sms for sale launches.

How many of you will be applying for Sembawang in May 2015 BTO exercise?

Here’s wishing all the best to all applicants, who knows we may be future neighbours, hehe *winks.

HDB InfoWeb
HDB Sales Launches
Prashant Residence

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Isabelle is the editor behind Love Bella Vida, a Singapore Lifestyle Blog. Thank you for your continued support. Should you wish to collaborate, feel free to get in touch.

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