The Alpha Renovation Journal, PART 1) Owning Your Dream Home Can Be Mildly Depressing

Mosaic tiles. The options are dazzling and the shopping experience beats having a good meal of fried chicken any day! (No, it doesn’t)

I’ve been out shopping for tiles. Can you tell?

Sooner or later, you will need to buy a house. A house protects you from the harsh elements of living in Singapore, like the scorching sun, the annual PSI 180 haze, and of course, COE prices.

Buying a house is also a rite of passage into adulthood, because we all need a mortgage to motivate us to work till our deaths. By “everyone” I mean those who aren’t trust fund babies. When you are legally bound to the bank for the rest of your life, you will somehow sober up and think, “I need to drink less”.

But all jokes aside, you will also need to buy a house because you can no longer negotiate with tyrannical landlords who increase their rent every year just because they “feel like it”, or someone is not giving them enough attention, or they couldn’t find their latest Birkin bag in camel python. Remember, as a tenant, you have the rights of a single-cell organism.

As a tenant, your living conditions are thus subject to economic forces, evil condominium security, and your landlord’s hot flushes.

These unscrupulous humans raise their rents indiscriminately despite not maintaining their leaky air-conditioner units, weedy gardens, and swimming pools, which is another term for “recycled rain water filled with children’s urine”.

As much as you want to be a kind person, you will grow to resent the landlord, and nobody will blame you. But you will invariably ask yourself, “Why don’t I become a landlord instead?”


More interesting photos of tiles, so you can see how EXCITING tile shopping is.

To morph into this shrewd capitalist, and in the process cause a tiny part of your soul to shrivel and die, you will need to devise a way to afford, and own a house. Firstly, you need to arrive at a budget for your home.

Determine Your Budget, Determine Your Misery

It’s quite simple. Take your entire family’s income for the last three generations, and what potential buyers would pay for your internal organs, and your grandmother, then – get ready for this – understand that it’s not enough.

If you’re aged 35 and below, of average talent and skill set, you might need to plan the number of kids you’d want to have.

The scale looks something like this:

If you’re getting a BTO, you might be able to afford one child.

If you’re getting a 5-room flat, you should be able to afford a schnauzer.

If you’re getting a condominium, you will be sensible to get a goldfish. They can go for two weeks without food.

Anything more expensive, you should consider terrariums. They take care of themselves.

Even if you find all the leftover foreign currency from your travels from under your sofa cushions, and organise flea markets every weekend for the next decade, you will come up short. If you want to sell cupcakes to save up, it’s going to take roughly 7,845 years.

So the best way to afford a house is to spend less, then ask yourself, “How much do I want to owe the bank when I finally retire?”

At this point I should advise you to sign a mortgage with a banker with a pleasant face. This is because he or she will be servicing your loan, answering your myriad of questions concerning your fast vaporising bank account, and having a pleasant mug lessens the possibility of you yelling profanities at them.

That would be a starting point.

(Next post: How To Decide What Kind Of House You’ll Want to Buy. And, My New Neighbourhood)


Have you seen enough photos of tiles? Look out for photos of my run down, pre-war apartment in the next post!