Having experienced both types of residence, we share our positives and negatives about the two to (hopefully!) help in your own decision.
Whether you’re new to Singapore or you’re a seasoned local who’s pondering your next housing move, many of us have wondered whether we would be happier in a condo or a landed house. Deciding on which family-friendly neighbourhood in Singapore is best can be tricky enough, but what kind of home would suit you and your family better?
Us mums on the HoneyKids team have experienced both condos and houses, so reckon we have a good idea of the plus and minuses for each property type when you have kids. Can’t decide? Read on for the real experiences of both styles of living…
Condo or house? The condo mums weigh in
CONDO LIVING: THE PROS
There are so many condos in Singapore, that you’re completely spoilt for choice. Our advice? Work out what area you want to base yourself in for work and schools, then look at condo complexes within your budget. Need more convincing in the condo or house debate? Read on!
The year-round scorching sunshine here in Singapore means a pool to cool off in is a huge bonus for the whole family. Think of the free exercise you’ll get with that regular swimming, plus easy access to swimming lessons for the kids!
Most condos have at least one playground where your little one can let off some steam and make some new buddies. The playground is usually a great place to catch up with other parents, too.
Gym membership can be costly here in Singapore, so having access to a gym within the condo is perfect for those of us who like to work out. Because running in aircon = bliss.
Making friends at a condo is easy peasy. You’ll always find a friendly face at the playground or at the pool, plus having kids is a definite conversation starter! These friendships can help enormously in the settling in period.
Those lush gardens and the insect control aren’t going to be your problem. You get to live with a beautiful garden that you have to take zero responsibility for!
Got a car? If you’re torn between life in a condo or house, parking is usually a lot easier in the condos in Singapore. Chances are you’ll have an allocated space, and if not there will be ample room to find a spot in. There will also be dedicated areas for guests to park so visitors won’t be irate trying to find a space when they come to see you.
You can sleep easy knowing there are security guards on the front gates and patrolling the common areas, too.
CONDO LIVING: THE CONS
Lack of space
Not all, but a lot of, condos in Singapore means small apartments that are somewhat limited in space. (Singapore is obsessed with how many sq feet you have!) The newer the condo, the smaller the space – unless you count the balconies, which many developers do, annoyingly! Storage can also be an issue. No room for cat swinging.
It can be slightly lacking. Beryl on the ground floor will know instantly when you have a delivery, and Mike on the fourth floor will know that your kid bit another kid on the slide last Thursday.
High density living
Generally, there will be a lot of apartments in your complex. And this means that there will be a lot of people wanting to use the pool, gym etc at peak times. BBQ pit on National Day? Forget it! Lots of people living in a small area can also mean lots of noise.
No open space
Unless you are lucky to have a large balcony, then the lack of instantly accessible outdoor space in your home can make you (and the kids) feel a bit stir-crazy. It also means lots of arguments about whose turn it is to walk the dog if you have one.
It’s a pro, we know, but sometimes these guys also earn a spot on the cons list. Overzealous security were often viewed as the fun police by our kids with their endless rules. On more than one occasion, we’ve also had friends denied access to our condo if they didn’t have photo ID on them. Rules are rules for sure, but sometimes those rules rather got on our nerves.
The landed house mums chime in
LANDED HOUSE: THE PROS
We loved life in a condo, but the lack of space did become an issue over time, especially when we increased our brood from two kids to three! And then friends started leaving in droves and resort-style living lost its shine. In the great condo or house debate, houses in Singapore aren’t for everyone. But, having taken the plunge, we can happily offer some insights into the pros and cons of the big condo vs landed house debate…
While space is a premium here in Singapore, a landed house will afford you some sort of outside space for you to fire up a BBQ in, and entertain the kids and their friends in. If you have a garden big enough, then pool rental is pretty easy here in Singapore and definitely worth considering. (If not, there are tons of really cool public pools and free water play parks around the city). The dog also won’t need as much walking if there’s a yard to run around in…
Once you shut your front gates, there’s no one busy-bodying in your space. Plus the neighbours are much less likely to have any idea what deliveries you have had, or that your child bit another child!
More for your $
You tend to get much more space for less money when it comes to renting a house. This is obviously relative to your location and other factors, but we swapped a teeny apartment for a three-storey house for just a few hundred dollars extra a month.
Space away from each other
No longer are the kids’ bedrooms directly off of our living room. They are now two floors up and away from our living space, which means we can finally have the volume up on the TV once they are in bed. It is also much easier to have guests over for dinner without having to ‘shhhh’ them to keep the noise down. The extra space also makes it much more interesting for serious games of hide ‘n’ seek.
LANDED HOUSE: THE CONS
Mosquitos (and other pests)
Mosquitos can be more of an issue. The critters seem able to seek us out regardless of how much citronella we douse ourselves in. You will definitely need to factor into your monthly outgoings regular pest control to keep on top of the creepy crawlies: rats and snakes can also be an issue.
Back to those security guards: this time the lack of them. There is not much to stop an unwanted visitor getting into your garden. Security lights and a burglar alarm would be advisable, and a dog is a helpful deterrent if you have one!
No ready-made social life
If you or the kids are feeling bored, there is no community area to meander along to without making an effort to get out and about. You won’t have friends on tap to call upon in moments of emergency (like not having enough eggs for the cake you are baking).
There’ll likely be no pool, and no gym (although the latter might not be a con!). Meaning taking the kids to proper swimming lessons will be considerably more effort.
Living in a multi-storey building, even if it is just one more floor, means more rooms to clean. And all those extra windows and doors means more dusting to do. If you’ve been filling up all that extra space with junk, spring cleaning will be a monumental task that you’ll need to rope your hubby and the kids in on if you don’t have a helper.
Of course there is no right or wrong when it comes to making your ‘condo or house’ choice. Our advice: just go with what works best for you and your family – with rental leases generally being one to two years, no choice is permanent and you can always mix it up with your next move anyway!
Illustration: Aliff Tee for HoneyKids Asia