Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ruling the Roost

I felt like I signed away my life -- again -- last night. Two years of it, at least. I have entered into the umpteenth flat lease in my life, thereby digging my soles deeper into the ground and giving it instructions to stay put for another couple of years. The erratic property market here in Singapore has finally caught up to me and threatened to render me homeless by the start of the new year. My landlord hopped on the selling spree bandwagon and decided to rake in at least a hundred percent profit by putting my current flat in the market. Like honey is to bees, my little Chinatown abode within arm's length of Singapore's celebrated business district was clinched just like that. Doesn't money matter to people anymore these days?

Getting the call from my landlord was like receiving a sentence of death. His usually side-splitting funny jokes sounded like metal on asphalt as he attempted to keep the conversation light. Serves me right for entering a non-binding agreement with him in the first place. Two years ago, my gentleman's arrangement with him was the dog's bollocks -- no deposit, no contract, and dirt cheap rent considering the location with all utilities thrown in. Now, the tables have turned and I'm the one with the tail in between my legs. And legitimately homeless at that.

Though I had a quarter to get my act together, I knew that with every single day that passes, rental rates go up a few hundred dollars. What I would have paid for a good two-bedroom apartment in a decent location a couple of years ago would get me a bathroom in the border of Malaysia. So either I suck it up or buy a lottery ticket and pray hard that I hit all the right numbers. The likelihood of the latter depresses me so I opted for the former. Over the weekend, I drowned myself in phone calls to various property agents and sheepishly informed them of my budget and my choice of area. If it weren't for the phone lines between us, I would have gotten spit on vehemently a hundred times. Thank goodness I couldn't see the sneers. The funny part is, the amount I'm willing to shell out for a new place is actually double the amount of money I'm paying right now. I'll clue you in -- it's not small. It's enough live on for a month sans all unnecessary luxuries. And I've allowed myself to veer more than five train stops away from the city proper in terms of location.

It was a surprisingly short process though, me snagging a new place. The end came unexpectedly after a long tiring work day followed by back to back viewings of what seemed like dirty giant boxes dubbed as apartments. It was the last one on my schedule and it was pushing nine o'clock at night. I was cranky, extremely hungry and running out of patience -- the agent was late! I walked towards the apartment complex with a heavy heart as I was sure the place looked crappy inside (despite the grand exterior) or that they made a mistake on the pricing as it looked suspiciously "cheap" (at this point, the word has become entirely relative). I'm not sure what kind of fortune surrounded me last night but everything just fell into place. It was an affordable rate (no need to sell my left kidney), located in my preferred area, and the flat didn't look like a war broke out inside it. I must've made the quickest decision in my life as I found myself saying "I'll take it" before I could even blink. In this market, people looked for flats and houses with checkbooks in tow. I didn't think I would find something so quickly that I didn't dare to bring mine -- but I do know how to beg profusely. I managed to convince the agent and the owner to settle the paperwork with me today instead. So as I write this, I am now a few thousand dollars poorer, bound in this country for at least another two years, a certified suburban (in my books, at least) and a future commuter fighting her way through the rush hour throng. Despite all of the above, I at least know that I will have a roof over my head.

So, yes, the next two weeks will be filled by the familiar glow of the moonlight as I pack up boxes once again and ready myself to shift. I've had more than enough practice stuffing in the devil. Though I will only move some fifteen minutes away, it seems to be a whole new world to me. No more skyscrapers, no more brightly lit fireworks during Chinese holidays, no more noisy cars and buses all throughout the night, and no more going home for a kip during lunch time. And the next two years will be filled with new experiences that will surely be missed when it's time for me to move again.

I once told a friend that even though two years sounds like infinitude sometimes, we don't realize just how short it really is. I cannot fathom that I've been living here for three years already (I only counted the months recently and cannot get over the shock) as it only feels like it was yesterday when I dragged my luggage out of the famous Singapore international airport for the first time. In two years' time, I will be slightly younger than twenty eight years old and the number just fries my brain. Two years ago, I was barely twenty four and still trying not to get lost. Somewhere in the middle I apparently grew up and hopefully matured, and adopted this city which I call my own for as long as it's willing to have me. I have nothing to my name but a clumsy collection of experiences -- and perhaps a few dollars just enough to buy noodles for supper. That should be enough for now, no?


Anonymous Maverick said...

hhhmmmmm so u live in singapore? and i thought u lived in United States. Is the real - estate market so booming in singapore? I live in Arizona and right now the market here is on the down side.

1:36 AM  
Blogger Zee said...

thank god i'm home!

2:30 AM  
Blogger thisisme said...

I'm glad you found a place reasonably painlessly and quickly. I signed a one year lease where I am now in July 2002 and nothing has changed since. I'm a bit worried because the Melbourne property market sounds a bit like Singapore. Good luck with the move - sounds like you have the packing bit sorted, but the utilities are the bit that always get to me.

4:38 AM  
Blogger M@ said...

I am frightened by time, for sure.

7:59 AM  
Blogger APOO said...

What doesnt break you only makes you stronger. But two years lease?? Wow! Thats a little too much... but then, hopefully you are locked into this price for 2 years.

You have a flair for writing! Keep blogging (so I could keep reading)

10:53 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

It must have been a big relief Princess. Btw, the new blog banner looks good.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Well, at least you got a good deal amidst all the insecurities around you. I wish that you are able to call this new apartment 'home' pretty soon. :)

12:47 PM  
Blogger Superficial Gibbering prater said...

only the princess can make a dull experience such as finding a house..so intersting...i have shifted "home"...not once..but twice in the last four months..so i think u are far better... :P

12:56 PM  
Blogger Standbymind said...

Shifting can be a world changing experience for sure..

Wishes :)

New look looks great!

5:43 PM  
Blogger mathew said...

whats happening in singapore these days..seems like everyone is moving out all the time..and my cousins says the rents have skyrocketed much higher than the skyscrapers..

5:45 PM  
Blogger MeMyself_n_I said...

glad to know you did manage to find a place. i hope you settle in pretty quickly.

you write really well. you've found a new regular reader. :-)

5:46 PM  
Blogger Ab said...

hey that was a treat to right..
I remember early this year, even I was on a house search.. I rem i wud leave th house at 7, seartch a locality on foot (just asking around - i hate/dread those agents) then work for 8 hours, and then again, search from 6:30 - 8 at a new location..
and ya, th pathetic way people look at you when you tell them yr budget plus requirements... (they have this stuff called bachelor apartments, which are absolutely filthy sttlements, but its assumed ok, as its just for bachelor's.. oh well, of course, no discount on price - i even saw a few of those filthy holes)
well finally by luck i got a hostel accomodation at a very very inexpensive place, on the pretext that I was a student (theoretically I am) but ill stop being a student in a year and a half, and having to repeat the process gives me the creeps already

7:41 PM  
Blogger William said...

Cool banner. To buy. To rent. To move. Headache-y stuff. Hope you don't have too much to pack.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Jennifer McKenzie said...

*bows in admiration* You have an adventurous spirit and I love reading your take on everything.
Congrats on the new place. I hope the move goes smoothly.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Vik said...

Oh yea tell me about that. I hate packing even for once and you have been doing that for a while that too. and I hope the flat that you have finally got is like a bee's knees to you. Time to relax in the new abode and take it easy for another 2 years and obviously worry about the rest later.

I guess the property surge is not common everywhere in the Asia. Strange is'nt it. Wonder where the money is all present? The property rates in the southern india is like a 300-400% increase in about 6 years

1:04 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

"That should be enough for now, no?"




8:09 PM  

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