I find that expats here often face the dilemma of wanting to live in a landed house just as they did back home, yet also desiring more social interaction and a sense of communal living to beat the loneliness of being alone in a foreign land. Cluster homes help bridge the gap – landed houses within a managed estate, with provision of shared facilities such as swimming pool and gymnasium. It also helps that they often rent at a much lower $ psf/mth than their condo apartment counterparts.
I had the opportunity to view a number of cluster house developments today while assisting a tenant client in securing a home in Singapore, so I thought I’d share my thoughts as well as client’s feedback on the projects we visited.
Radiance @ Bukit Timah
We had to snake our way around narrow lanes dotted with parked cars to reach this estate, which I felt could pose quite an annoyance when you’re in a rush to get in or out. The 17 terrace units enclosed 3 sides of a small rectangular swimming pool decked in shades of sea-green, with a small gym room at the fourth side of the pool. Fairly convenient in the sense that you’re walking distance from the stretch of popular f&b outlets along the Chun Tin Road stretch right opposite Beauty World and Bukit Timah Shopping Centre (both rather sleepy old shopping centres), though those not inclined to hiking up slopey roads (yours truly) would definitely need a car to get around. My nature-loving client rather liked the tranquil corner unit facing away from the main road, with views of Bukit Timah Hill from the roof terrace. One thing we both found odd was how the place seems to already be showing signs of weathering despite being just two years old.
This popular 174-unit estate is quiet, facing away from any main roads, but just a 400 metre walk along an easy, flat path to Sixth Avenue, where it’s convenient to catch a bus or taxi cab. This has a playground and BBQ area, so slightly better facilities than Radiance. But having been completed in 2003, signs of age are also starting to show. Fairly good balance of being away from the maddening crowd yet within easy reach to places like Holland Village and Turf City, great for running errands and leisurely pursuits.
There are a mixture of terrace, semi-detached and detached homes within this 54 unit estate. We loved that the basement is still a bright, cheerful area (at least for the semi-d we viewed), and the finishings in this project seem to be of better quality than the above two. The unit was enclosed by an aesthetically-pleasing combination of stone walls and green shrubs, affording the occupant peaceful privacy, while still allowing a good breeze to flow through the living/dining area. There was also a nice private jacuzzi pool facing away from pedestrian traffic, a nice touch considering many “private” jacuzzis I’ve seen don’t actually offer the users much privacy! The use of an elevator lift also makes living in a multi-storey home more comfortable, especially if you often return from overseas trips with heavy luggage. It’s not surprising that this project was fully sold by the developers.
Each of the 18 detached houses here have a nice little private enclosed space that may be used for a water feature, a garden or simply a patio. They encircle a courtyard containing a swimming pool, with a small wading pool by the side. There was definitely a lot more thought put into the design and finishings in this project. Even the bomb shelter, usually an eyesore in most Singapore homes, was tastefully concealed behind wooden paneling. Instead of the usual paint and plaster, bay windows here come with marble tops, and look far more inviting as a spot to enjoy a good book (see my post a few weeks ago on bay windows).
Again, you really must have a car if you wish to stay here as it’s buried deep inside the maze of little roads branching off of Sixth Avenue and Duchess Road. Of the two blocks, I would avoid block 71’s tightly bound rows of terraces (CORRECTION: These were actually two rows of semi-Ds side-by-side, but so tightly-packed I wrongly recalled that they were terraces!). Unit 71 itself looked promising as it was a detached located right at the end of the rows of crowded smaller houses. Unless you have an exhibitionist streak and really enjoy neighbors staring right into your home; the facing terraces are simply too close for comfort. And unlike Watten Residences, the jacuzzis are right on your front porch, which is enclosed by a low, glass barrier, so you’re pretty much on full display to anyone walking by the row of homes! Block 69 was better as the houses are placed around the swimming pool thus a greater distance between one house and the opposite house.