Having grown up in a ‘traditional Indian family of 15 people’, 33-year-old Mihir Desai says that he is used to multi-generational living, having lived with his extended family of cousins, uncles and aunts.
Even after he and his cousins grew up and left the ‘family nucleus’, Mihir decided to find a place with his parents, elder brother and sister-in-law. After looking at numerous homes in the east, the family settled down in a five-room resale flat in Tampines, where they have been living for the past five years.
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Overcoming financial challenges
As Mihir reflects, the journey to owning their own home wasn’t smooth sailing. His family was in a tight spot financially, resorting to renting various flats after leaving the family dwelling.
They rented flats near Holland Village, Simei and Pasir Ris for five years. Eventually, the family found renting too expensive. At that time, Mihir’s brother was about to get married and their rental home was too small for an additional family member. They began to search for a place they could finally call their own.
Fortunately, by this point they were back on their feet financially. With all family members holding stable jobs, they could pull together their income to afford their current abode.
“We were able to use the combined CPF contributions from my parents, my brother and myself,” recalls a grateful Mihir. Therefore, we didn’t have to fork out a big amount of cash each month to make the monthly payments. HDB was a great support in terms of financial planning for our house too.”
House hunting as a family
Looking for a home as a family brought about another set of challenges. Mihir recalls it being a tedious process − they saw around ten houses before deciding on their current flat.
“My dad was probably the most relaxed when it came to house-hunting,” Mihir laughs. “My mum, however, is very big on Vastu Shastra [an Indian form of Fengshui]. She’ll look at factors like North-South variants, and even where the wind is blowing from!”
As for Mihir’s elder brother, a balcony was really important for him. He wanted an airy, open space to enjoy, which most of the new Built-to-Order flats (BTOs) were unable to provide.
Thankfully, the family could all agree on one thing − the home had to be in the east. Given that the brothers grew up in Kembangan, they had fond childhood memories of the area. As such, there was no question that their dream home had to be in an eastern neighbourhood.
With such a specific criterion, Mihir’s family used PropertyGuru’s website to narrow down their search by location and house size. When they visited their current home in Tampines, the whole family agreed that this was the perfect place for them.
"Most of the homes that we went to didn’t give a good vibe. The moment when you start to look for reasons to like it, instead of liking it automatically, you know it’s not a good fit.
"Most of the homes were like that – despite being close to MRT stations, transport lines and whatnot. There was nothing wrong with them per se, but it just felt like they were missing something.
“This was the first home where my family walked in − without having to say anything − we immediately looked at each other and knew that we wanted to settle down here.” Mihir said.
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The perfect home
As luck would have it, the house came perfectly renovated and in great living condition. Therefore, the family didn’t have to spend much money on renovation. Instead, they focused on adding personal touches to the home.
For instance, as Mihir’s parents frequent the living area, it is adorned with artwork and paintings owned by Mihir’s mum. “My mum teaches yoga, and one of the paintings is a gift from her student,” says Mihir. “There’s also one which my mum painted herself.”
As Mihir is a freelance writer who works from home, he’s turned one of the rooms into a cosy office space as well. It isn’t completely furnished at the moment, but Mihir is thinking of putting in a comfortable sofa and bean bag. He envisions a relaxing, open-style space where he can get his creative juices flowing.
“My office has got to be more comfortable than my bedroom, because that’s where I spend the most time,” said Mihir. “The quietness of the neighbourhood helps too, as I definitely need peace and quiet to get my work done.”
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