Singapore Apartment Hunting Mayhem – Part 3

By Dave Fox

Welcome to Singapore Apartment Hunting Mayhem, Part 3, the fourth of five installments in this horrifically long account of how my wife and I found an apartment in Singapore and are actually still married in spite of the process.

If you have not yet read the preceding sections, you might want to check them out first:

Or you could skip them and have a few beers instead, so that you won’t even notice you have missed tons of details leading up to this point.

In today’s episode, we  finally get to the end of the damn story and find out what happens… which leads us to the questions, “Why will there be a Part Four if we get to the end of the story in Part Three?” and “Was it really necessary to start with Part Zero and make Part Three the fourth installment? This is all very confusing!”

Next week, assuming I am not trapped under a heavy object and have the energy to write something, I’ll wrap this up with a look at what’s been happening since we moved in to the abode and the hood. But you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. I’ll probably not even notice that you have wandered away from your computer.

Day 6 (continued)

Kattina ponders apartments and grilled stingray at a Singapore hawker centre.

… We eat in the largest hawker centre we’ve seen. Imagine a covered, hot and humid, outdoor food court with 100 stalls to choose from, and lots of people yelling at you to choose theirs. With a big decision looming, our nerves are so frazzled, it takes us 30 minutes just to decide what to eat. And we know the clock is ticking. While we sit there munching dumplings, other apartment hunters are scrutinizing our potential homes.

We cross the day’s second apartment off our lists. It just didn’t speak to us. “Should we consider the first place?” I ask Kattina. Sure the prison cells would suck, but the rest of the place is bursting with character. And as the saying goes, “Location, location, location.”

“No. I want you to be happy in your office.”

What she really means is, “Your cell will make you surly. I do not want to deal with a cranky whiner when I come home from work every day.”

So we’re down to the two neighboring apartments: the unfurnished, overpriced one in the building that had already started feeling like home, and the tree house place with panoramic views, dumpster furnishings, and turtles. Price, according to Pearly, is not an issue. We can negotiate on the pricier place. She thinks we can get either one at the same price.

We waver. Then, we waver some more. I eat my dumplings and waver. I drink my Tiger Beer and waver. We each pop an Extra Strength Tylenol as we continue wavering.

Yes, the turtle apartment has crappy furniture, but I can dispose of it. While Kattina’s at work, I can find out who will take it away for us. Furniture aside, I love the building.

“You want to flip a coin?” Kattina asks.


I fish a Singaporean 20 cent piece out of my pocket. Heads, we decide, means we go for our original first choice. Tails means we take the Wolf Blitzer turtle apartment.

I am about to flip the coin when I realize that Singaporean 20 cent coins have no definitive heads or tails sides. One side has the national coat of arms. The other side has what I think is a palm frond. We decide the palm frond side will represent Wolf Biltzer.

The turtle loses. Our original building, it is!

“Are you okay with that?” Kattina asks.

“Don’t ask me that or I’ll start wavering again.”

Back at our hotel, Kattina calls Pearly. If the owner will come down in price – by a lot – 600 Singapore dollars a month ($465 US) – we’ll take it. Pearly thinks he might. However, she says, the owner of the turtle place has realized it’s overpriced. He’ll give it to us for $300 Singapore bucks less than he was asking.

We resume wavering.

All this wavering is starting to exhaust me.

And probably you too, so let’s get to the point.

Kattina points out other issues with the turtle building. Its pool bumps up against a busy road. It’s not a peaceful place. Furthermore, just before our wedding, I spent a month guiding tours in Europe. I’ve been living out of suitcases and boxes for two months now and Kattina’s as exhausted with it as I am. She doesn’t want to deal with disposing of the 30-year-old dorm room furniture that clogs the turtle apartment.

But what about the money we’d save?

We are no longer capable of making this decision. Some innocent bystander is going to have to decide for us.

Luckily, down by the hotel pool, there’s a cocktail reception happening for all of the new teachers.

“Furniture is really hard to dispose of in Singapore,” says one. “The Salvation Army won’t take it if it’s not in excellent shape.”

“Go with the place you love and don’t look back,” says another. “We maxed out our housing budget in the last city we lived and never regretted it.”

I feel so relieved someone else is making this decision. I call Pearly. “We want the unfurnished place. The more expensive one.”

She calls back an hour later. The owner has rejected our offer. However, he’ll compromise. A hundred bucks a month more and it’s ours. “Or the other place is still available.”

Kattina and I discuss things further. It is a totally non-sensical discussion. I call Pearly back.

“We’ll take the cheaper place if he’ll just remove some of the furniture.”

“He won’t do that, Dave. He doesn’t want to deal with it.”

“Okay, then how about a compromise? We’ll replace what’s there with stuff of equal or greater value, but not necessarily piece for piece. We’ll replace the four rickety desks and two shabby, side-by side couches with one of each that’s worth a lot more money.”

“He won’t do that.”

“But he’ll be earning money in the added value of the furniture we leave behind!”

“Yes, Dave, but the last tenants were a group of three teachers from Japan. They wanted all of that furniture. He’s afraid if you get rid of it, he’ll lose out on a renter when it’s time to find new tenants in two years.”

“But he’s about to lose out on a renter right now!”

But Pearly has done all she can. She’s been on the phone all afternoon negotiating for us. The turtle apartment owner won’t budge. And suddenly, after hours of indecisiveness, one thing suddenly becomes screamingly clear:


At 11 p.m., Pearly is back at our hotel with papers to sign for the place we’ve liked best all along.

The view from my secondary office.

The Aftermath
We spend the next couple of days in a state of buyer’s remorse thinking of the cash we could have saved, but as the weeks pass, our remorse fades. My office has a skyline view, and I can look down through my new glass-top desk at the palm trees. There are no turtles, but there’s a carp pond.

And from the seventh floor, my wifi signal reaches down to the swimming pool. On sunny days, I have two offices. I’m writing this blog entry from poolside. Now, if only Wolf Blitzer, or a turtle that looks like him, would come serve me a margarita, life would be pretty close to perfect.

More Aftermath…

Published on Friday, September 30, 2011

2 Responses to “Singapore Apartment Hunting Mayhem – Part 3”

  1. September 30, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    well done … a pain in the butt .. but worth it.
    Many people have BIG problems with house hunting here, somehow or other we missed all that drama.
    But be warned, make sure you take photos of EVERYTHING, every little scratch, mark or whatever. Date it and send a copy to your agent. We lost over $2500.00 on a few little scratches and a spa that didn’t work .. and we never used. Total pain … we were in ours for 4 years … “Normal wear and tear” does not enter into the discussion…
    LL’s get a brand new apartment everytime someone moves out!

  2. Joan Kerr
    September 30, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Thanks, Dave! I loved reading it…and even if you didn’t love writing it, doesn’t it feel good to have it all down on paper and out of your head?

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