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How Living in a Singapore Condominium is Really Like

Around 80% of Singaporeans live in the Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, which are subsidized public housing. For the uninitiated, aside from the standard HDB flats, there are Design, Build, and Sell Scheme (DBSS) HDB “sandwich” flats which are designed and developed by private developers, but are still subject to the same eligibility rules, terms and restrictions as new HDB flats. Similarly, Executive Condominiums (ECs) built by private developers, have the amenities of a private condominium but can fully privatized only after 10 years.

Since a majority of Singaporeans lives in HDB, most may wonder how living in a private condominium estate is different from an HDB estate. Well, this list should shed some insights into how the experience is really like…

1. Ease of access to exclusive private facilities

In general, private condominiums have a wide range of facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, saunas, tennis courts, BBQ pits, spas and so on right at your door step. In recent years, such facilities have expanded; some private condominiums even have communal theatrette (Flo Residence), mini Velodrome, bicycle garage (Westwood Residences) and even concierge services as well!

Nevertheless, such facilities will only be of use to you if you really need to use them. In addition, as these facilities are still shared among all the private condominium residents, if the number of units for your condominium is very high, the chances are you will probably have to wait for your turn to use these facilities too.

 2. Convenient access to family friendly services

It turns out that living in a private condominium is not as inconvenient as most believe! Artra, a 400 residential project, actually comes with…believe it or not…a whopping 16 retail shops, a 10,000 sqft and even a childcare centre in their estate! Even suburban private condominiums like High Park Residences offer fitness classes such as yoga, aerobics, kickboxing, cooking lessons aside from the sport classes such as swimming, aqua aerobics and tennis lessons. Grandeur Park Residence  also offers guitar and violin classes (by Mandeville Conservatory of Music) in-house too.

Even though these family services are being offered by the private condominium, they usually come at a cost after a few years. The decision on whether to continue these services at a fee will be determined by the residents of the condominium through voting.

Condominium: Lighthouse
Design: ArtMuse Interior

3. Enjoy better security  

Private condominium residents get to enjoy a much better security. The security provided usually comes in the form of key access card to grant entry to the facilities, the block and sometimes even the floor of the unit. Furthermore, security guards are stationed at the guardhouse and they patrol the grounds too. Also, guests arriving at your private condominium will need to register with the guardhouse, and be buzzed in for you to unlock either the gate or activate a specific lift for your visitors.

However, trespasses by members of the public still cannot be completely eliminated. “Condo-crashing”, where members of the public illegally enter the private condominium, has been on the rise in the last few years. In most cases, piggybacking aka as tailgating (when the member of the public tags along with another person who is authorized to gain entry) are hard to detect and prevent.

Condominium: Lighthouse
Design: ArtMuse Interior

4. Step into a world of greater privacy and exclusivity

Most private condominiums are either built in reclusive places or are situated at much coveted metropolitan enclaves. For instance Seaside Residences, located at the idyllic Siglap, boasts a seafront living where you can catch panoramic sea views. As for projects like RV Altitude, they are nestled right in the heart of the bustling city. In addition, private condominiums are actually self-enclosed private enclaves (with landscaped gardens or even sky  gardens) which are protected by walls and gates and this meant that you generally get to enjoy greater peace and quiet. In addition, as there are fewer number of people living in a condominium than in a typical HDB block,  it is actually less crowded since there could be as little as 3 units per floor of families sharing the same floor as you.

Nonetheless, the tranquility of your living environment still depends a lot on your immediate neighbors. The neighbor-related problems are usually handled by the condominium’s Management Office (MO).

Condominium: Grange Infinite
Design: Pavillion Creation

5. Revel in more freedom to own pets

Keeping your furry companions in HDB flats are harder as compared to keeping them in private condominiums. This is because HDB has stricter rules when it comes to pet ownership; you are not allowed to keep more than one dog in your flat and only HDB-approved dog breeds are allowed. However, cats are not allowed in HDB flats.

Although pet ownership in condominiums is less restrictive (for instance, a maximum of 3 dogs is allowed per private (non-HDB) premise), you should always check with either the MO or the Management Council (MC) to find out the condominium by-laws before owning one.

Condominium: Grange Infinite
Design: Pavillion Creation

6. Access to unique condominium design

It is obvious from the list compiled by URBAN ARCHITECTURE NOW,  the private condominiums in Singapore do themselves apart through iconic designs!

To cite a few examples, Sky Habit designed by the renown Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie and D’leedon by the Zaha Hadid architect, has been featured in international magazines and websites. The Interlace private condominium has also won World Building of the Year at World Architecture Festival in 2015.

Condominium: Treehouse
Design: Free Space Intent

In summary, living in a private condominium generally has more perks. However, all these benefits come at a price and at the expense of space too.

Condominium: Treehouse
Design: Free Space Intent

Maintenance fees are more expensive

To put things simply, living in a private condominium is more expensive; the conservancy charges for HDB flats comes in 2 digit figures, while a typical private condominium’s maintenance fee usually goes beyond $250, with some as high as over S$1,000.

The amount of the maintenance fee is dependent on how many shares your condominium commands and the type of private condominium you live in. In addition, some of the condominiums’ MC also charges fees for the booking and usage of certain condominium facilities such as the tennis court, function rooms and the BBQ pits. As a general guideline, the maintenance fee will slightly increase over the years as the private condominium ages.

Condominium: Livia
Design: Fuse Concept

Home interiors are smaller and more compact

Due to the expensive land costs, the size of a private condominium unit is generally smaller than a HDB flat equivalent.  In addition, with the increased loan curbs and purchase restrictions, the average size of condo apartments on sites acquired via the Government Land Sales has decreased over the years. As a result, the sizes of the newer private condominium units are still relatively smaller than the ones found in the older private condominium projects.

Nevertheless, with some creativity and the right renovation professionals, the challenges of a compact home interior can easily be addressed with creative home interior ideas, designs and solutions

Condominium: Livia
Design: Fuse Concept


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