When a Smaller Home Fits: A Family’s Move from a Jumbo to 4-room Flat

To Angelia Rowe, Tampines will always be home. It is where she and her husband, Charles Rowe, purchased their first matrimonial home and raised their first two children, Ashley and Deborah. 

They then moved approximately two kilometres away to their family home of 22 years – a jumbo flat opposite Tampines Junior College. In this property their youngest child Natalie was born and raised. The best memories were made together as a family in this home, which housed their family of five, Angelia’s parents, their helper, and their dog Spotty. 

“Tampines is amazing! There are three malls nearby and several markets close to our place,” says Angelia, 60, who currently works part-time as a health screener. 

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From bad to worse

Things took a turn for the worse in 2016 when Charles was diagnosed with cancer. As the primary breadwinner, it was clear the family needed a new source of funds. With the Tampines East MRT station on the Downtown Line up and running, they felt their home could fetch a higher price. Hence, they decided the time was right to sell it and buy a more a affordable home so they could cover household and medical bills. 

Not wanting to move away from the estate they love, the couple searched for smaller five-room flats in the area. However, they never found a home that felt “right”, so they continued staying in their jumbo flat.  

Sadly, Charles passed away a year later in 2017. As much as she did not want to, Angelia had no choice but to let go of their beloved home and look for a new place. She was unemployed at the time as she left her job to take care of her husband and did not want to burden her two older children financially. Also, Natalie was set to study abroad in Australia.

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Unravelling A Hidden Gem

While she wanted to stay in Tampines, Deborah advised her to consider non-mature estates in the Northeast as they were likely to be cheaper and newer. Thus, there was a higher chance of a price increase down the road as the area becomes more developed. While a BTO flat was an option, time was not on the family’s side. They needed to sell the jumbo flat quickly as the bills were piling up and waiting for a BTO to become available wasn’t a realistic option.

Via PropertyGuru, Angelia and Deborah utilised the search function and its filters to find four-room flats in the Northeast region that fit their budget of between $400k to $450k. Numerous options popped up, and they started reaching out to seller agents to arrange house visits. 

“I remember visiting numerous apartments in Hougang, Sengkang and Punggol. It got really tedious as we could only arrange for visits in the evenings or on the weekends. Plus we don’t drive, so it was hard getting around,” recalls Angelia.

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After numerous viewings, Angelia decided on what she considers a “hidden gem” after viewing it thrice. Firstly, the house was just five years into its lease and right beside Oasis LRT station, which is only two stops down from Punggol MRT station and Waterway Point. The Punggol Polyclinic was set to open later that year, which is convenient for her elderly parents to arrange for doctor appointments. Coney Island is also a short distance away. 

But to Angelia, both the buyer and seller agent missed out one crucial bit of information – that a shopping mall would be opening up right beside the Polyclinic soon. 

“All that was mentioned was that there is a McDonalds and Starbucks around there. There was no mention of the Oasis Terraces shopping mall that was being built, which now houses an NTUC, Anytime Fitness, a coffee shop and even a wine shop!”

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The Modern and Sleek Look

During house visits, she remembers loving the modern concept of an apartment she saw and wanted her new home to have that similar look and feel. She especially loved the revamped entrance of the bomb shelter. 

While the flat was in good condition, Angelia completely tore down and renovated her home to reflect the sleek look she was after. It involved breaking down a wall in the kitchen for more of an open concept, redoing the floors from ceramic tiles to parquet flooring, and concealing the shared toilet and bomb shelter with a feature wall with tic-tac doors. 

With the renovations in place and the house fully paid for, Angelia now lives (almost) worry-free in her very own masterpiece of a home. 

For now, Punggol is home, and she looks forward to forging new memories with her loved ones.

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