- After being together since 2015, Joy Oh and Eddy Kur were looking to settle down.
- They found their dream home after viewing 17 apartments and paid 459,988 Singapore dollars for it.
- The first-time homeowners celebrated by getting married in their new house.
This story is part of a series called “Millennial World,” which seeks to examine the state of the generation around the globe. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with 31-year-old Joy Oh, a digital-content producer who works in a creative agency in Singapore.
My husband and I started dating in 2015. We both work in the creative media industry, which meant that we were always busy with our jobs and weren’t able to spend a lot of time together.
It was hard for us to visit each other’s houses, too. Back then, my husband — who is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia — was living with his brother. They were renting a one-bedroom apartment for 1,500 Singapore dollars a month.
I was still sharing a room with my brother in our family’s four-room Housing Development Board, or HDB, flat in Yishun, in the northeastern region of Singapore.
HDB flats are Singapore’s public housing. Most Singaporeans choose between two types of HDB flats: a build-to-order, or BTO, flat, which is a new apartment sold on a 99-year lease, or a resale flat, which is available on the open market.
As our relationship progressed, we decided to buy a place together
In 2018, we started applying for a BTO apartment. But BTO flats are often oversubscribed, and we failed to secure a place despite trying three times.
Eventually, we decided to look for a resale flat with a budget of SG$500,000, or around $370,000.
We were only considering either a four-room or a five-room apartment because we were planning to stay there for the long term, and that would give us enough space to start a family in the future.
That aside, we had a pretty long list of requirements for our future home.
In terms of location, it had to be near my parents’ place and easily accessible by public transport. Ideally, we were looking for a corner unit on the top floor of the building.
Natural light and ventilation were important to us as well, so we wanted a flat that had windows facing more than one direction. Ideally, I wanted windows that would span the entire length of the wall.
We viewed 17 apartment units before we found our forever home
When we first viewed our current five-room flat in Khatib — a 10-minute walk from where my parents live — we knew it was the one. It checked off everything on our list.
The asking price of the 1,302-square-foot flat was SG$480,000, but we managed to get it down to SG$460,000. Our agent told us that there’s usually a SG$20,000 difference between the listing price and what the seller’s willing to take, so we used that as our gauge.
While we loved the apartment, the unit number of the flat is an inauspicious figure in Chinese culture. The seller ended up giving us a SG$12 discount so we could pay SG$459,988 for the home — double eights represent good fortune.
After our down payment, we took out an HDB housing loan of SG$389,100 to finance the rest of our home. The HDB loan comes with a fairly stable interest rate of 2.6% per annum, and we now pay SG$1,773 for our monthly mortgage.
Although we bought the house in July 2020, we only got the keys in February 2021 because the sellers requested an extension of their stay — which we granted. We started renovating the home right after.
We used our own creative skills to design and source almost everything on our own, although we hired a professional interior designer to oversee the project.
However, the renovation was challenging due to mismatched expectations with the interior designer and multiple delays due to the pandemic. We didn’t move in until October 2021.
We celebrated by getting married in the house
We decorated the place and signed the papers in our living room. It was a cozy, intimate affair and we even got sushi takeout afterward. There was no better way for us to round off our long, complicated homeownership journey.
In hindsight, I’m glad we took the time to view as many units as possible.
House hunting was stressful, but I always tried to remind myself to slow down, take a step back, and remember to enjoy the process. And in the end, having the best life partner helped to make things fun!