#ShoeBoxLiving at 25

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
#ShoeBoxLiving at 25
“I have no investing knowledge and I don’t know how to invest,” Khai admits. “So all I did was to work as much as I could, and just save, save, and save.”
“I broke down in front of my mum. When I first heard the news, my dreams were instantly crushed.”
This was Khairulnizam in July 2018, in the aftermath of the introduction of further cooling measures that would require buyers of private property to fork out more money upfront, amounting to 5% more of the property’s purchase price.
Khairul—also known as Khai—had been house hunting with $150,000 worth of hard-earned savings in cash and CPF, which he had been accumulating since completing his secondary school education. After seven years, he had barely saved enough to afford a small condominium.
With the additional outlay the cooling measures required, Khai thought his hopes of owning his would be delayed by a few more years—or so he thought.
Today, the 26-year old-civil servant now lives in a cosy 1-bedder in a Woodlands condominium. Coming from a family of six children, Khai grew up in a cramped 4-room HDB flat where space was a premium. As the third child, he would share a room with his younger sister. The youngest two siblings respectively slept in the living room and in the parents’ bedroom.

A first taste of freedom

Khai’s parents brought him to a condo showflat when he was six, and he was fascinated with property ever since.
“As far as I can remember, I would always draw up every showroom’s floor plan after our visit,” Khai recalls. “I enjoyed studying it even when I was just a kid.”
The lack of privacy in his parent’s 4-room HDB flat spurred the teenage Khai to start saving for his own home. Every day, Khai would flip through newspapers to keep up with the latest property news and local property trends.
And once he had completed his O-levels at the age of 17, Khai leapt into the workforce, juggling two retail jobs to maximise his earnings.
Throughout his polytechnic years, Khai continued to work part-time tirelessly. After school, he would rush to one of the two retail shops to fulfil his roster. Khai’s packed schedule meant he had minimal entertainment and leisure time. Incidentally, this also helped him save quite a sum of money.
“I have no investing knowledge and I don’t know how to invest,” Khai admits. “So all I did was to work as much as I could, and just save, save, and save.”
When National Service beckoned, Khai continued to set aside more than half of his pay to finance his dream home. Khai’s purposeful habit stuck with him all the way and it eventually paid off seven years later, despite the cooling measures scare.
“I remember the night when the property cooling measures news broke,” Khai said. “I was on a night shift at my current job and my agent, who had been bringing me to view houses, called me and asked if I wanted to quickly make my purchase before midnight.”
The revised property cooling measures would mean that Khai’s initial budget for payment wouldn’t be enough. After midnight, the measures would come into effect, pricing the 25-year-old Khai out of his dream condominium.
“Where was I supposed to find the extra money?,” Khai thought.

Seek and you shall find

Despite the tears and midnight deadline, Khai eventually kept a level head, telling his agent he didn’t want to rush into a big purchase. He reworked his finances and lowered his budget so that his war chest would be sufficient for the initial payment.
To help with things, Khai has been active on PropertyGuru for as long as he can remember. Continuing his search via PropertyGuru with his agent, he finally found a place to call home: a 1-bedroom apartment nestled in serene Woodlands—perfectly within his budget.
Shoebox apartment in Woodlands
“Look at the green scenery I have here,” Khai gestured from his balcony like a king. “When I post my home photos online, everyone asks me where I live because they can’t believe a condo in Singapore has such beautiful scenery! It’s usually concrete jungle everywhere.”
Shoebox apartment in Woodlands
Even though his apartment is one of the smallest unit types in the development, Khai loves it because, to him, the unit’s 431 square feet floor area is just right.
“Home is where I can be myself,” declared Khai. “I would always tag my home photos with #ShoeBoxLiving.”

Resort living on a shoestring

Single guy living in a shoebox apartment in Woodlands
Khai now spends half an hour at his balcony every morning, enjoying his favourite breakfast and relaxing to the mini waterfall sounds of one of the condominium’s ten pools.
Shoebox apartment in Woodlands
“I was shocked to find out that this place has ten pools! I only knew that when I moved in.” Khai chuckled.
Khai continues to maintain a regular savings plan. In the future, he intends to move to another location for a change of environment. But, for now, Khai is as happy as a lark with his first home.
“I look at my home and I feel ‘home proud’.” said Khai with a wide smile.
Read stories of other people and their home journeys, or find a home on PropertyGuru.
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