[Property] Buying a Property in Singapore: Overview

Singapore is regularly named as one of the most expensive cities in the world. And yet, it is also one of the most livable ones. Recent articles rank Singapore as the most liveable city for Asian expats for the 14th year in a row (2019).

So what does it mean for someone who wants to live in the city, whether an expat, or a local? Does it make sense for you to buy a property for an investment perspective, or should you rent, especially if you are a transient expat staying for 2, 5, or 10 years?

Follow this website for a series of posts on the topic of buying a Property in Singapore, from the perspective of a buyer, and as someone who has lived here for more than twenty years.

Leave a note if you would like a post on any additional topics or matters.  Continue reading “[Property] Buying a Property in Singapore: Overview”


22 March 2019

I was running through my old blog entries, and realised once again how important it was to write. There were so many details that you overlook when you rely on your memory. I read through sentences and blog posts on events that I have long forgotten.  When I finished scrolling to the last entry on the page, I paused and asked myself, if I had to record one thing about today, what would I say?

I love you Mummy. 

Friday, 22 March.

I decided to work from home today.  After dinner, my mum and I sat by the television to watch a movie together. She said, I can’t believe you are moving away when you get married.

What will I do next time that I want to watch a movie together with you?

Indeed. No matter how much I love a stranger, it’ll never be the same as staying with the one person with whom I’ve spent most of my life. Despite all our arguments and disagreements, it is hard to imagine that you won’t be coming home to be with her. It didn’t even feel this bad when I went abroad to study. Perhaps I always knew that it was transient then. In that split second, I almost felt like I was seven again –  I would rather stay home in the comfort of my own family. I wanted to just dive into her arms and her breasts. I don’t understand why people get married. I never want to leave this nest. 

And then I understood. That’s precisely why people get married. To have the comfort of a someone permanently in life. I’m thankful my parents have one another in life. And I wish we will always have each other too, at least for many many decades to come.


Property Searching

Property is such a odd thing. It’s an asset, it’s a dream, and it’s a huge burden. I hardly know if it’s a source of joy that should be embraced, or if it’s a financial shackle that should be avoided at all costs. I would say Singaporeans have a love affair with property that never goes away, but it is likely inaccurate to claim that trait as wholly Singaporean.

It should be an investment but instead, the purchase is one that I cannot detach my wants and desires from. In the end, the choice wasn’t so much logical as it was “I want this”. And yet, of course it must be more than just a financial investment. It’s a place you call home, and in which you wish to live for the next 10, 20 and 30 years. The decision  should not be made only with the cold hard logic of the financial considerations.

With that, I have paid my first cheque as the deposit for the first property of my life. With the man I’ll marry in slightly more than a month. No one can say where life brings you to, and yet, it is inherent in every marriage that we promise to try, and we believe we may just well make it. And that, I guess is the true joy that’s worth celebrating – the hope, the vision and the promise.

So this is a brief update of the property search, to find a place to call home.

The Thirty Diary

I crossed the 3- a few months back. I didn’t blog then. And I hadn’t been blogging regularly despite my new year resolution.

If anything has changed, a sense of urgency had crept upon me that I never noticed before. Some days, I lie on my bed, open my eyes and start to think, it’s just another decade before I’m 40, and another before 50 etc. It’s a path of no return. So, what do I want to do with my life?

I am not sure I will find the right answer. But I want this decade to be a process of finding that answer and making it work. I should certainly regret if I never try. For my thirties, I pray for the wisdom to be self-aware, for the clarity of vision in knowing what is important and for the discipline to be focused in trying to achieve my goals. 

There is an interesting Chinese article on Wechat that I read  a couple of months back, <二十几岁,没有十年> by 孙晴悦 . It translates loosely as, “Your Twenties Don’t Hold Ten Years“. There’s a book published by her under the same title, which I hadn’t read. But the article struck a chord:

Source: http://view.inews.qq.com/a/20151130A03DBW00

The twenties are not like any other decade. At the beginning of the journey, we see it as a long long stretch of time. Endless. After all, at the age of twenty, a decade is half your living experience. It appears misleadingly as though an eternity awaits you. But as the author said, for many of us, the twenties are just made of “three” years – the first of which is spent aimlessly in the university, the second of which in we suddenly wake up to submit our CVs, rent apartments, rush after the train, and the third is spent doing work which we don’t like and living in a city which we do not want to. Then, suddenly, we wake up from the daze to discover that we are thirty.

And there is some truth to that. Enough truth that I start feeling a sense of loss for all the additional things that I wish I had done if I were given back that extravagance of the youthful decade.

I’m not saying that I hate being thirty. I love being in the thirties – you are at a stage of your life with enough financial capabilities, limited responsibilities, but enough energy,  and gradually growing into your own maturity/style and having a better knowledge of yourself. What is there not to like?

And my twenties were certainly not wasted. I enjoyed university, and unlike many, I love learning and school changed me for the better. My first job both taught me and pushed my capabilities. I met the best colleagues who remain great friends even after I left. I wanted to try teaching – and I did. I got a scholarship and went to do the Masters that I always wanted, at a university that had been the place of my dreams from the time I was eight. After which I decided I needed to structure my own career development and not leave it in the hands of a firm that clearly had a different agenda from yours, and I went on to take up a job in an emerging economy. I also chose a place where I could retrace my own roots.  I have lived in three entirely different cities in my twenties, each of which as I’m fully aware, shaped a part of the personality that I have grown into today. I explored three different career options, and took back something from each experience. I met a boy (actually, may be more than one) who made me contemplate a future together. It would be a denial of the privilege and good fortune that had been blessed upon me to downplay the wonderful experiences that I’ve had in this past decade. And yet, with the wisdom of hindsight and the maturity that time brings, I just wished… I spent my twenties even better.

I wish I had been even more open minded. More disciplined. I wish I had designed my career/work and love plans better. I wish I had more focus and had been more self-aware of my development path. I wish I wasted less time on unworthy people. I wish I spent each weekend a little better. I wish I spent each free hour more productively. I wish I picked up more skills. I wish I had the perseverance and determination to finish up with the lessons and the skills that I was trying to pick up. I wish I took care of myself better. I wish I took care of my family better.

I still do not know where I want to go, but I wish the thirty years old me will take this to heart and bring the message along as a reminder.

Our thirties will still hold mistakes and regrets and remind us of our inadequacies. But may my thirty years old self spend the next ten years in the company of the wisdom gained. Thou shall not make the same mistakes.

– Letters from my twenties. 

Have you wondered where you’ll be?

Have you? I have.

HBR: Don’t spend your life making up your mind

You spend your life making decisions. Meanwhile, things change. Your values change. Your dreams change. What broke your heart or made your day at 4 is inconsequential at 40. What breaks your heart or makes your day at 40 was incompre­hen­sible at 20. And there will come a day when you would give everything you have left to have what you have right now.

I should be living the moment, and yet I wonder if I’m not having the focus or discipline that I need in making my life work. Life’s all about achieving a good balance. And with all thesis, you need to dissect that question. So what’s “a good balance” and how can I learn to get better at it?




[Books] The Singapore Story

TSSI have been reading “The Singapore Story”. It’s strange that I never picked up the book before despite my respect of Lee Kuan Yew, but I was a self-avowed ahistorical and apolitical person. I knew the importance of history, I just didn’t enjoy it. And I’m a little self-indulgent that way.

It has been a long time since any book lit any spark in me. This did. More than history, more than politics, it was the writing, the story-telling and what it reflected of the man who told the story as much as of the times. There was an unerring stamp of Lee Kuan Yew’s identity in his words. A complex, thoughtful, hard man with a razor sharp vision – not always likeable (least the image of a warm old grandfather in white hair waving to his supporters in modern day Singapore misleads you), but someone who made his own path to get what he wanted and in the end, the good thing for Singapore was that he wanted a world which is better for the people around him.

Because of his precision of thought and careful use of words the book said as much from its printed letters as it did from in between the lines and also what was left unsaid. There is a story you read, and then there is a story you get from between those words about the man who said them. He is surprisingly fair and honest in the book, and totally unapologetic. This was a man who was clear of what he did, and would do it again, no matter how you would judge him to be.

I have always been a very straight-forward person, and I took pride in that unflinching core sense of identity. Saying what I felt and immediately doing what I wanted made me “real” and “sincere”. If anything, this book showed me the importance of vision, of observation and reading men, of knowing when to take a step back to gain two steps ahead, and when “politics” is really an art that goes beyond the defined arena. He was an honest man, honest in what he wanted and driven to achieve that. Some would say he was ruthless and manipulative. I can see hints of events that might have been interpreted as such. The actions are always factual. The story that ties them together will always be intentional, and driven by the storyteller.

History is kind to him when looking back at the events on hindsight. But he built this history, which a nation of people are grateful for. One could hardly begrudge some one like him that favour. No one is perfect and I doubt he aimed for perfection. Thankfully for a nation of people, he aimed for something more, and achieved that. Was he always right? Probably not. In life we could perhaps think of better conclusions, but I couldn’t think of a better person who might have have been actually able to achieve that, or even something as close to a good chapter as The Singapore Story had. I’m still awed, and even more, I’m inspired.

On Seeking Love

There are those inexplicable moments of vulnerability in our twenties which invade our invincible façade and make us start questioning if there was something inherently wrong with us which prevented us from finding love.

Yes, I’ve been through that.

“Being single is a choice. I refuse to compromise. I’m living the life that I want to live and making myself the best that I can be. I just have not met the right person.”

I’ve heard all that. Not the least from my inner self to my vulnerable self in the middle of the night. It can all be true. But there are moments when the truth is not the answer to the yearning in your heart.

And then I started, “Project Getting Attached”. It’s a posthumous name to the Project by the way. I wouldn’t be so cheesy. Or that frank with myself then. It seemed to me then that the endeavour smacks of desperation. Continue reading “On Seeking Love”