One of the top reasons for moving is when couples realise they need more space than their marital homes can afford, especially when they have children. This is what Grace and Adrian experienced. The couple, who both work in the banking industry, have been married for 14 years and have two children aged nine and 10.
“Our children have been co-sleeping with us since birth and it is about time to give them their own spaces for studying, playing and having friends over. We started looking around once we sold our first home and coincidentally, our landlord was asking for the rental unit back as well,” Grace shared.
One thing they knew for sure was that they wanted to stay in the Bukit Timah area so their daughter could be near her school, and they have also grown to love the greenery and the peaceful surroundings.
“We moved to Bukit Timah in 2018 to secure a place in our daughter’s primary school as we wanted our children to study in single-sex schools as we did,” Adrian recounted.
“Having grown up and lived in dense and bustling residential estates, the low-rise and peaceful Watten Estate had a charm of its own.”
The Short List for an Ideal Home
In addition to looking out for a 4-bedroom setup at the minimum, one non-negotiable criterion was that the property should be within walking distance of the MRT station.
“We want our kids to be independent, meaning they must be able to go to school and attend their extra-curricular activities by themselves. It is more convenient if an MRT station is within walking distance, and that also helps us get to work easily,” Adrian recalled.
One tool that helped them with their search was PropertyGuru, as they could narrow down listings, view detailed photographs before shortlisting, contact genuine agents, easily look up previously completed transactions, and reliably estimate the budget required to purchase a home in any location.
“PropertyGuru comes to everyone’s mind whenever the need to rent or purchase a house arises. We have been using PropertyGuru since searching for our first home in Bishan and our rental unit at Bukit Timah. It’s very user-friendly, contains thousands of up-to-date listings, and is so convenient that we can shortlist potential units even when we are commuting or in bed,” Adrian said with a laugh.
Prior to making an offer for their current home, they viewed four other houses during the circuit breaker period in June 2021 – comprising two condominium apartments and two cluster houses.
They quickly realised it wasn’t practical for them to purchase a large condo unit near the city as the PSF price was too high, and their budget could only get them a 3-bedder which could not meet the needs of the family.
Ultimately, they decided on a four-bedroom, four-storey cluster house as it checked off the criteria they had. In fact, it was love at first sight and they put up an offer within a couple of days of viewing the house.
"We had viewed two cluster houses with similar layouts, one at Bukit Timah and the other at Whitley, but eventually decided that the neighbourhood around Whitley is not as developed and doesn’t have many amenities such as the markets, supermarkets and coffee shops. Particularly, we would need to walk considerably further to reach the nearest MRT station." Adrian remarked.
However, the sellers of the Bukit Timah unit requested a nine-month extension as they were renovating their new property. This condition suited Adrian and Grace and it was something which they readily agreed to.
"We loved staying in our rental unit – our estate and neighbours were fantastic, so we didn’t mind spending more time there. It also provided us with a longer transition period to make all the necessary arrangements for renovation and the eventual house moving," Grace reiterated.
That said, the house was in a move-in condition and did not require major renovations, especially electrical and wet works. One major change the couple did was to hack the walls in the basement to create a second living and entertainment area. They planned to use the space for hosting friends and kept one of the two previous rooms there for their helper.
The Joys of Living in a Bigger Home
Having moved in just three months ago, the family is still getting used to living in a larger space. While their first home and subsequent rental unit were both approximately 1,000 sq ft in size and single-storey units, their current home is triple that size and spreads across four floors.
“To have four bedrooms for a family of four may seem unnecessary, but we now have an additional bedroom for our parents, and that also doubles up as a television area or a working space for work-from-home,” Adrian shared.
Grace added, “We also zip-tracked the top floor balcony area, and added a table, chairs, and a spin bike. We are enjoying the cool nights upstairs, where I spin while the children do their homework or play. It also acts as an extended play area for the children during the day for hosting friends.”
One thing Grace enjoys now is having an outdoor patio area filled with plants: lemon trees, figs, finger limes, mints, blue peas, bonsai, succulents… the list goes on.
“Watching the plants grow reminds me of taking care of our children. We water and feed them, look out for insects and prune them, but there is only so much you can do as the lemon decides when to turn yellow, or fig, when to ripen.”
When asked about future plans for the house, they felt there would be no major renovations and they are planning to stay here for at least five to ten years, until the children complete schooling.
Presently, the location has fulfilled one of the main reasons why they moved in the first place – for the first time, their children travelled to and from school by themselves.
“It was a milestone of sorts and definitely a proud moment for us. I am sure it was a huge thrill for them to try that on their own as well,” Adrian quipped.
“No one can predict the future, but we can see ourselves living here for a long time. Perhaps, when our kids get married and leave the nest, we can think about downsizing,” they both said with a laugh.
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