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HDB living in Singapore: Tour this snug one-bedroom flat in Queenstown

By: Amy Brook-Partridge; photography by Michael Bernabe & Emily Cornelius

Sid and Prudence live in a one-bedroom flat in Queenstown, one of the first HDB estates to be built in Singapore. It’s estimated to have just over 83,000 residents; here are the couple’s views on being a part of this community.

Sid and Prudence’s ninth floor flat is a breath of fresh air, quite literally. With the windows open from front and back the breeze whips refreshingly straight through the apartment. This was one of Australian expat Prudence’s requirements.

“I really wanted somewhere with a breeze; I wanted floor boards, not tiles; and I wanted white,” she says emphatically.

The couple met at a party in Bangkok just over two years ago; and when Prudence knew she would be passing through Singapore again 14 months ago, en route to a three-month placement in Cambodia that was part of her law degree course, they reconnected. “I had to focus on my placement, but after I met Sid I also realised I wouldn’t be going back to Sydney to start my Masters,” says Prudence.

Sid, originally from India, has been living in Singapore for over three years, initially in a condo in Farrer Park; but when the couple got together, they started to look for alternative accommodation. They found the flat through a friend of a friend, and Sid sent Prudence, who was in the US at the time, photos and a description of the apartment before letting on that it was an HDB.

 

“From the pictures I thought it was amazing,” says Prudence, “and although it actually works out costing slightly more than a condo, without having all those little extras, I thought the sacrifices were worth it purely for the feel it had compared to some of the condos he’d sent me information on.”

HDB life works well for Sid and Prudence. “Number one, it’s really convenient,” says Sid. “There are two MRT stations close by, plus a shopping centre and a hawker centre; and once you’re inside there’s really no difference between being in an HDB or a condo.”

For Prudence, who experienced Singapore condo living during two of her high school years, there’s a positive difference. “There’s a sense of authenticity about living here, and being part of Singapore, rather than in a bubble, however nice that bubble is,” she jokes.

When it comes to meeting the neighbours, Prudence admits she’s no wallflower. “I’m a bit of a Harry-have-a-chat,” says Prudence. “Most of the time, I’m ready to have a conversation. I know that a few doors down there’s a unit that used to be occupied by the current tenant’s grandfather. We’ve always found people friendly here.”

Before the couple moved in, the flat had been fully renovated; a wall had been knocked down to reduce the number of bedrooms from two to one and create more open space. It came fully furnished, and the design seems to fit with Sid and Prudence’s own tastes. “We’ve added a carpet and the sofa, but that really is pretty much it,” she says.

Adventures in the area

When I first meet Prudence we bemoan the fact that we’ve smashed our phone screens; hers is far worse than mine, but for a far more exciting reason. “I love mountain biking, but my phone doesn’t!” She frequently rides up around Bukit Timah, and along the Green Corridor and surrounding trails.

One activity she does miss is swimming, and as yet she hasn’t ventured to any of the local public pools. “I do have a friend who lives in Robertson Quay who goes away quite often, and when I cat-sit I get to use her condo’s facilities, which is great.”

For food and drinks, they amble up to Holland Village at least two or three times a week. As vegetarians, they frequent an Indian stall in the food court, and sometimes have drinks in Wala Wala; or they visit eateries in Dempsey. “Living here means we don’t have to jump in a taxi and head from one spot to the other; we can explore more, and we like that,” says Prudence.

Recommendations

Rodalink Bike Shop (“for getting the bike fixed”)
1 Commonwealth Lane
#01-14/15 One Commonwealth
6475 4833

Cha Cha Cha
Mexican Restaurant
32 Lorong Mabong
6462 1650 | chachacha.com.sg

Two Chefs Eating Place (“it’s just downstairs from where we live”)
116 Commonwealth Crescent
#01-129

Adept Therapy
Oriental massage
Holland Village Shopping Centre
#03-26
6467 5507

This story was first published in Expat Living’s April 2015 issue.

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