Sunday, 12 June 2016

Buying That Condominium

Remembered the 5Cs that was commonly used decade ago? :
"Five Cs of Singapore" – namely, [C]ash, [C]ar, [C]redit card, [C]ondominium and [C]ountry club membership – is a phrase used in Singapore to refer to materialism. It was coined as a popular observational joke about the aspirations of some Singaporeans to obtain material possessions in an effort to impress others. 
From the Wikipedia (here), not from me ok!

It is unimaginable for Frugal Daddy to fantasy a lavish lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I live a highly comfort lifestyle but not a lavish one. By opportunities, I was introduced to the lifestyle of living in a condominium. Not that I have never came across a condominium before, but experience it again and again with improved financial ability does create some real sort of imagination that I may want to live like one.
After-all, it has to be so attractive enough to make most people aspire and "slave" for it.

It is within my reach to buy one which is moderately priced without affecting much of my financial stability. I went to several showflats and done serious thinking. Fortunately, not too long before I realised it is just another distraction. There are good condominiums and most are not that good enough for me to move. For that few good ones, it really take luck to get them at an undervalued or reasonable price. Whether you are a fan of luck or you think the whole world is at your mercy, I leave this part to you. Let me explain why buying a condominium is a distraction that will not enhance much of my lifestyle.

I live in a top floor corner unit with complete privacy, beside MRT and shopping mall, unblocked view and quietness. To buy a condominium with equal size that comprises all the elements mentioned, it can be more than $1.5 million easily. This is easily 5 times of what I have paid for my current house, to replicate the same privilege my current house given me. This is to say if I moved, I may have to compromise on the location and some of the conveniences that I am already enjoying. I am not a fan of leverage, so getting mortgage that I can't fully paid off now to service my condominium is definitely not a consideration. If you do your math assuming the Singapore property market continues to grow at currently already pricey rate, you may get your capital back. However, this means your cash-flow is highly affected. Of course, I assume my readers are not multi-millionaires/billionaires. The pull factor is not strong enough. How about the facilities?

Facilities Embedded in the Condominiums

No doubt, it is great having gym, swimming pools, Jacuzzi, cosy chairs and park to loiter around with your family within your "highly guarded" premise. There are tons of other facilities customised for each project that are not mentioned. Talking about highly guarded, I actually went in the premises just by saying I am one of the potential buyers and wish to take a stroll. I suspect if I don't approach the security, they may not even noticed that I have walked in.

My house happened to have oversight of a relatively new condominium premise. Anyway, not that I enjoy invading others' privacy, but just happened the condominium rest in front of my cosy sofa at the direction of my TV. Might you, it is supposed to be a "premium" project among condominiums. From my observations, less than 15 persons in the 3-4 swimming pools during peak hours, which I deemed as weekends. For other facilities like BBQ pit and Gym, says, another 30 people max? There are easily more than 450 people living in that condominium project. This works out to be less than 1% of the population using the facilities during the peak hours. Let us not imagine some of the users are not owners, but visitors. I actually also have oversight at some part of their houses, trust me, most of them ended up paying the premium to watch the same TV and resting on the same sofa that you have in your HDB flat.

Let us assume that you are a heavy user of the facilities, can you pay maintenance fee of $3,600 to $4,800 a year to get the similar facilities that condominiums' owners are paying for additionally? It is not difficult if you think hard enough. How huge Singapore can be? You will find yours, even you decided to skip public sport facilities for private ones.

I do have access to quiet swimming pools, gyms, nice parks and cosy chairs. Just that I have to travel 30-45 minutes for it. Come on, don't be so lazy, you can't have the best of both world.
I know it is good to just jump down from your apartment into the swimming pool, assuming you are still alive after that. For me, I would like to swim at 5am daily, that can most probably happen, only by owning a condominium or staying near a club house. There are always things that are good to have. What are the essentials and what are the things we are willing to pay money, the money that most of us used most of our youth and precious time in exchange for? I can't say for all, so you have to think it for yourself.

There are instances that condominiums can be treated as a form of investment, just make sure you do your math and enjoy the facilities on the by-the-way basis. It can be done.

No offence to all who bought condominiums. If you are rich enough, nothing wrong to own one.

For me, my fantasy is over. I am happy with my house and my neighbours. I may move one day, if there are better unit that may serve my family better. Wait till that day...I don't know when, I may also have all the 5Cs, that I am the least motivated for.

This new 5Cs (Not really new actually) could serve you better: Compare less, Cherish what you have, Choose your attitude, Complain less, Change your circumstances and yourself. For more explanation, click here.

What are your 5Cs?


  1. Frugal Daddy,

    It's like buying a car - some buy performance; some buy to show others.

    My 5 Cs are:


    Wait! The last "Charity" bit is bullshit... I'm not a bleeding heart.

    Who am I kidding?

    The last C is: Char bo :)

    1. Hi SMOL

      At least you have 4 / 5 core values that "looks" great. As for the last C, as long as it is not Cannibalism.

    2. Last C for him is Casanova...

  2. I have been constantly asking myself about that choice. Should I (and my family) choose to live luxuriously in a 1.5m condo or should I settle to live in a comfortable 500k hdb and still have a passive income of 2.5k monthly (conservatively based on 3% returns with no leverage at all).

    1. Hi Luan Boo

      If the condo can give you sufficient cash flow and still yield you 3% a yr after you decided to sell, why not?

      Just do your math and you will know

  3. Why living in condo means luxuriously?
    Garung guni and strangers can not knock at your door anytime they like.
    The worst thing is you are a late to bed, late to rise owl.
    It gives you more privacy, that's all.

    Money always in your pocket give many choices of living.
    Live luxuriously if you want.

    1. Hi Temperament

      Totally agree. However, if pocket is very deep, can live luxuriously with condo too. Most people don't have such deep pockets i assume. More like using leverage

    2. This comment from Frugal is interesting. So there must be some key benefits else even pocket deep why buy Condo ? Search inner self on the Why is important.

    3. Hi Cory

      Put it this way, if all you need is $2m for lifetime, and you got $4m cash, you can consider buying that $1m condo if it did improve your lifestyle. Keyword: If it did

  4. I read in one of SundayTimes articles many months ago; this businessman wrote an article after so many years of building up his wealth and included one landed property with beautiful landscape.

    One "fine" day during his few days of MCs at home; he came to realize that his family's two maids are the ones really enjoying his property and garden. He found his two maids were sipping their afternoon tea and chatting in the garden after they have finished their household chores while both he and his spouse were slogging harder at their business to accumulate more wealth but have no time to enjoy what they have built at home. :-)

    1. Ha! Ha!
      CW, you reminded me again what Charlie Munger said in 2016 meeting:-

      “I think if you see the world accurately it’s bound to be humorous because it’s ridiculous.”

    2. Same as money. Some accumulate so much money but refuse to spend more on their loved ones and themselves when they are still alive. Some of them end up letting up some strangers become close friends to spend their money.

    3. Hi CW

      Great story about the landed property. Shared with my wife.

  5. I know of a relative who stay in a 3rd floor of less populated projected. Every morning the sun will shine through the half height glass balcony into the full height walled glass room. When he wakes up can take a peek on the pool from his bedroom. The carefree and peacefulness feeling is enormous he said.

    1. We will have to see the trade off to get this sunshine. If it means more hours working under the sun for sweat and blood, still carefree and peaceful?

    2. Still some may have not fully understand the moral of the story of that SundayTimes article contributed by this Singapore's businessman.

      He needed to be sick enough to have that few days of MCs resting at home to realize the value of the comfort of his home.

      For who?

      Did he and his spouse really enjoy the value of their beautiful home and garden?

    3. I think than the essence is your affordability. If you are one who work like dog even on Sat or/and Sunday. And you going to have lesser sleep to get a condo, it will be silly at this extreme. However for those who enough earning on a 5 day week 9-5, we need to take steps to enjoy the fruits of our labour with our family. I know the kids love it despite smaller room. And he is very please with the new environment and serenity. His neighbours are also of a more align intellectuals compared to previously. Ofcourse not all condos are same. Some developer will pack project like sardine to lower the price for mass market who can just afford to stay into condo. You may not see much differences or worst fully occupy by middle class immigrants who are not align to locals.

    4. Hi Cory

      Neighbours depends. For my instance, my neighbours are well educated young couples with children of similar age. You can easily guess which location. People are generally very nice in HDB. I have seen many irritating people from condominiums too. Intellectually aligned? Maybe. If we define wealth accumulation with intellectual and condominiums.

      Personally, 5 days work week is already most of our most productive time. Most people work 9-6, inclusive of 1 hour lunch time. Plus travel, not much left for family during weekdays. You have housechores, it will spilt over weekends. If children are enjoying it without parents reminding where the wealth from, it will only bring more harm than good, in my opinions.

  6. Hey Frugal, i certainly have no plan to change "Frugal" lifestyle on what is 9-5. Just trying to give an example on Free and Not Free, to edge the decision whether you like to go over to seek condo dream. Again neither am I arguing free people should try either. LOL

    Maybe i am unclear on the HDB part. If you read again, i did mention condo tenant has same problem. Is each own condition. And is about probability thrown in too. I use to stay in HDB so i have no plan to generalise the population. :)

    1. Hi Cory

      Thanks for providing information without standing on either side. It is always good to have more information on hand. Just make sure we don't get paralysed with it when it is time to act. :)

      So you have moved from HDB to condo? Why not share your experience? I believe the readers will benefit. For me to write off a condo lifestyle without staying in a condo is not fair enough, i supposed. Haha.

    2. I stay in neither now ! :P