08 April 2011


Well, we found a home, but we are unable to call it ours just yet. This evening we discovered a few things that did not make us happy while obtaining measurements, so we requested that a housing inspector review the property before we make a two-year, many thousand dollar commitment. If it all works out, by the end of next week, hopefully, Paul and I will be residents of Singapore's East Coast neighborhood, just a block away from the East Coast Park and its gorgeous beach. We went to the park/beach yesterday; a few photos can be found on the bottom of the page. If this place falls through for any reason, we will be back to square one with only six days until we become homeless again.

The condo we selected is a three-bedroom unit (known as a 2+1 here) with gorgeous floors, great windows and two large balconies with planter boxes all around the perimeter. When I read about the planter boxes on the realty website, I was excited for our viewing so I could see which flowers would be in the boxes. I quickly learned that the planter boxes are DIY. Empty. No soil, no rocks, no nothing. The neighbor's planter boxes look so pretty. Why can't mine just come like that? I suppose I will just have to fly my grandmother out here to get them started. In fact, I should keep her out here so she can be my full-time gardener. You see, I kill things. I inherited the death thumb from my mother. My grandmother, however, has been blessed with the beyond the grave thumb. That's right, she brings the things that my mother and I kill back from the dead. Amazing. 

I like this residence because it is quaint - only 16 units in the building, two per floor - and it is the only one of the eight we saw that came without any furniture. We didn't notice that "without any furniture" also meant without a refrigerator until the landlord's agent pointed it out tonight. We actually saw the hole, measured the space and started thinking of things to fill the space. Oops. 

In the U.S., finding a furnished or even partially-furnished apartment is nearly impossible. If one does find a furnished apartment, the price is typically much higher than the rent on an unfurnished apartment. In Singapore, people just leave stuff behind, which is a real problem because we don't want their stuff. Who wants to sleep on a mattress on which someone else has lived? Hotels, I know, but would you like to buy a mattress from a hotel? I didn't think so. There is something about owning a used mattress that just disgusts me. And a Hello Kitty couch? Really? In the living room? One place we visited had dark pink and lime green walls in two of the bedrooms and the hallway. The landlord's agent was not keen on us repainting. Really? No white walls allowed? This place is weird. And frustrating.

Want to know what else is weird and frustrating? Doing laundry in the kitchen. In our temporary residence, the stackable washer and dryer unit is located in the kitchen next to the stove. My unmentionables hang from the cupboards, and when I fold the laundry, the piles of clothes are stacked on the tiny counter, on the gas burners, on the electric burners and on any other space I can find in my kitchen. Don't worry, Mom, all of the burners and outlets have power switches in addition to the standard knobs so none of the burners are ever on - except today when I was folding laundry while boiling pasta for lunch. Yes, I found penne and Prego at the store today, so I can still get my pasta fix. There are even Italian restaurants on this island. Imagine that. Your non-Italian, Italian girl will survive in Singapore. 

The kitchen is the one room in our current apartment without a cooling system. You see, Singaporeans are very energy conscious. There are recycling bins on streets, trash sorters available for purchase in lieu of standard trash cans and electricity is something that is used in moderation. When we checked into our temporary housing, we were advised that we would be allotted S$10 a day for electricity and we looked at the woman like she was crazy when she advised that the air conditioner should not run all day. We weren't sure she realized it was 94 degrees outside. 

All of the electrical outlets have on/off switches, our hot water heater is turned off unless we turn it on to shower or wash something and central air is nonexistent. Singapore does have air conditioning - I think Air-con, as it is called, is the national motto - but there are individual Air-con units in the common rooms and the bedrooms. It really makes sense if you contemplate it - why cool an entire house when you are sitting in one room? But why not add one to the kitchen? Sense that not make does. 

I don't know what I am going to do if we have to start this search over again. I wish it were as easy as walking into a place, asking to see a unit and signing a lease within 30 minutes like before. Gone are the days when finding a place to live was easier. Gone are the days when we could drive ourselves across the city in search of a residence. Gone are the days when I was employed! Sigh, today marks my official last day of work. When I awake in the morning, I will officially be retired. Or unemployed. Or a housewife. 

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