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Black-and-white houses in Singapore: We find out what it’s like to live in one of these colonial homes

The residents of two stunning black and white houses share their experience of living in Singapore’s colonial homes.

 

Location: Alexandra Park

Australian Anne Mathison and her English husband Neil have lived in this Alexandra Park house for eight years with their three children Sophie, Lauren and Alexander, now teenagers.

What made you choose this house?

I was passing by to visit a friend and happened to see it. It looked derelict, but as it was on a hill I thought “Great! No mosquitoes.” My friend told me that the tenants were about to move out and so I went over to meet them and introduced myself. This eventually led to us getting the lease on the house before it was even advertised. That’s how it worked in those days! It’s all done by tender these days.

What do you like about the area?

This area is very quiet and has plenty of mature trees. It also has a lot of garden space, which I love. What’s more, it’s very close to Orchard, which means that the children have easy access to the shops and cinemas.

What do you like best about the house?

I love the charm of this old house, its rustic appeal, the open windows and the through-breeze, the high ceilings and teak flooring, and the outlook over trees.

Any dislikes?

Yes, I have an aversion to super-huge cockroaches, and the mould can get out of hand sometimes. Otherwise, there isn’t much to complain about.

Which is your favourite part of the house?

The gazebo. It’s very tranquil, and with the lovely Balinese statues I have in it, it reminds me of Bali.

Do you know anything of the house’s history?
We have an old gardener who lives on the grounds, who has  been here for 50 years. He told us that the Chief of Military Police lived here in the 1950s and that there were no fences or roads back then.

Have you had any unusual experiences while living there?

We’ve had a few snakes over the years, but in general this is a happy house that has a lovely feel to it.

Do you ever feel you are missing out on the facilities available in a condominium?

No, it feels very natural to live in a house, and we have done so all the time we’ve been in Singapore. We never felt that we were missing out on facilities, because we have always belonged to clubs.

 

Location: Fifth Avenue

British expats Jacqui and Andy Parsons first moved to Singapore in 1994 on a two-year contract. Sixteen years later, they are still here. For the past eight years, they have lived in this beautiful Fifth Avenue black-and-white with their helper, Tina, and their four children: Daniel (13), Imogen (11), Tom and Luke (9), plus two dogs. Having moved several times, this time they are staying put and have recently signed up for another two years on the lease.

What made you choose this particular house?

We’d been thinking about moving to a black-and-white for some time. With four young children, the idea of having more space and a big garden definitely appealed to us.

What do you like about the area?
It is easy to get anywhere from here; the kids spend a lot of time doing sport at Turf City, which they can walk to. Personally, I love having Cold Storage and Simply Bread at the bottom of the road, but the walk back up the hill is a bit of a killer!

What do you love about the house?

It really feels like a home, and it’s just the right size for us. The garden is great and since we’re on top of a hill we get a nice through-breeze.

Any dislikes?
Because we’re surrounded by private housing there is no insulation against construction. We are now onto the third building site in our immediate vicinity since we moved in.

Which is your favourite part of the house?
I love the pool deck, which we re-designed about two years ago. I also love the large study, which is where Andy and I spend most of our time.

Do you know anything of the house’s history?
It dates back to the 1930s, when I believe it was owned by the National University of Singapore.  Back then it was divided into two separate apartments and was occupied by various lecturers and their families, who could access the top floor via a spiral staircase at the back. The staircase is still there.

Have you had any unusual experiences while living there?
We had a knock on the door a few years ago from a woman in her mid-twenties who used to live in the house when she was a young child. We let her wander around and listened to her reminiscences about how the house was once laid out. It seems that quite a few walls have been knocked down since she lived here.

Do you ever feel you are missing out on the facilities available in a condominium?

No, never!

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