Monday, November 28, 2005

What is an apartment?

What is this thing called an 'apartment'? Is it an asset, or is it an expense item? What exactly is it for?

Many people think that an apartment is an asset, but I think it's not. To me, getting a leasehold property is not very different from renting an apartment. You have to pay so much for it, and in the end it's not even yours forever....

Consider an apartment that costs $200,000 or more: this is really an extremely high amount to pay for a small living space, if the family earns a combined income of about $7,000 or less. I have encountered many people who say, 'But the flats are so nice!' My reaction is, 'Of course they are nice! Look at the price tag!' Expensive goods are always nice!

I personally treat my own apartment as a rented apartment. How can I consider it mine, when I can only finish paying for it 30 years down the road? The looming 'balance to be paid' exerts a great psychological pressure on me every day. I ponder quite often about the possibility of downgrading to a one-room flat, camping by the East Coast beach, or migrating to a developing country for my retirement...All of which then turn out to be unrealistic options, unfortunately. The second option is also not allowed in Singapore; I think some creative local folks have thought of camping as a good way to save $$, but the local police force is too smart for them! ('want to camp by the seaside and save money right...?!! We'll catch you!!)

For the first option, I'm not sure if I'll be eligible for the one-room flat, which will not be big enough for my stuff anyway (e.g. books, clothes, junk, etc). Sometimes I entertain the wild thought of upgrading instead (!) just so that I'll have a bigger space to store my junk. But then I thought, why pay so much just to store things that you will hardly ever use?

So what is an apartment? A place to store junk? My friend recently told me that her nicely renovated condo is simply a place for her to take a shower, get ready for the next day's work, and sleep. Based on this definition, an apartment is an extension of the workplace, for it merely prepares us (and 'repairs' our body) so that we can continue to work, and thus continue to pay for the apartment. This logic leads one to conclude that an apartment is the raison d'etre of a person's life: we exist for the sustenance of the apartment, not the other way round.

I have yet to find a satisfactory answer to the question of what moral status an apartment should have in my life. If anyone could enlighten me on this, that would be great.


Blogger Mr Wang Says So said...

The Heavenly Sword must meditate on the nature of impermanence. No, the apartment is not really yours, but then nothing else is, anyway.

Mon Nov 28, 11:07:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hi Mr Wang, my distinguished guest :)

I have meditated on the nature of impermanence, with respect to the flat...And I have obtained a profound insight - it all boils down to insuffient CPF!!! :)

Mon Nov 28, 06:48:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Kace said...

You are just trying to scare me from getting my own apartment. It will not work! :)

Mon Nov 28, 11:28:00 PM 2005  
Blogger xenoboysg said...

Welcome back Master Heavenly Sword,

"Unrivalled in the latter years of Han, Lord Guan towered high above all men. bold in arms by dint of godlike might, he knew his letters in a scholar's right. Like glare of day, his heart reflected true, his spring and autumn honor touched the clouds -- a shining spirit to live through history, not just the crowning glory of a world in three."

Most important.

Take care and don't the worries get you down.

Tue Nov 29, 03:03:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...


Kace: I'm not scaring you; it's really very scary... :)

Xenoboy: Thanks for the profound passage, which I struggled to understand :)

If I am indeed a Master, how come I am suffering from poverty? Sigh...

Tue Nov 29, 12:21:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Alson Teo said...

Hmm…an HDB apartment is the greatest illusion conjures up by our government. But it is also the only place I can walk around wearing only my underwear.

Tue Nov 29, 01:50:00 PM 2005  
Blogger trisha said...

The other great illusion conjured up by the government, and your friends as well - is Upgrading.

You upgrade, and then you get enslaved even more.

Tue Nov 29, 05:08:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hi Alson, aha...looks like Singapore's weather is too hot for you... :) But you can do that at the swimming pool too, no? :)

Hi Trisha, ah..I didn't think of that! :)

Tue Nov 29, 06:22:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Alson Teo said...

That will be swimming trunk my friend. :)

Wed Nov 30, 02:42:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous keat said...

"You have to pay so much for it, and in the end it's not even yours forever..."

Name me one thing that is :) In any case, why would you want anything to be yours forever? How long will you be around in this world anyway? You don't need something to be yours *forever*, for it to be yours *now*. Which is why I don't understand the importance people put on the difference between leasehold & freehold: 99yrs vs forever - what's the diff if you've only got, say, 70 more years to live?? Or maybe I'm just clueless...

As for your friend whose condo is "simply a place for her to take a shower, get ready for the next day's work, and sleep", if she has a problem with that, then the problem lies not with the condo, but with the way she chooses to live her life. Not everyone needs to live like that.

Wed Nov 30, 04:05:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Sleepless in Singapore said...

Hi welcome back. I thot u won't be back until Mar or something?

Thu Dec 01, 05:56:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hi Keat - freehold ppty's value won't depreciate much....and you can pass it on to your kid(s)...

Hi, I came back cos I miss you guys too much! ;)

Fri Dec 02, 08:47:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Merv said...

Of course everything is not permanent, but knowing that, would you still choose the most expensive option?

It shouldn't be the case of

'If I'm going to travel on the Titanic, I might as well choose first class'

The money saved can be used to buy stuff that truely make you happy.

Unless, of course, buying a super big apartment, makes you happy.

Fri Dec 02, 11:58:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hi Merv, I agree completely with what you said! Well put! :)

Fri Dec 02, 07:12:00 PM 2005  
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