Friday, February 1, 2013

Home Away From Home-lah


I have to be honest.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I’ll be living in a foreign country some day.  It was never my intention to migrate away from the homeland, much less try to raise a family in a place other than the Philippines.

Nevertheless, I was always curious as to how other people live in another country.  So in the hopes of helping out a kindred spirit, I’ll try to best explain in this post what are the usual views and conveniences we have here in our home away from home-lah.

The Madir and the Little One lounging by the pool.

I like living here in Singapore; don’t really have much to complain about.  It’s a first class city with an amazingly efficient and accessible public transport system; abundant wide, green open spaces; and a whole lot of other facilities that we are lacking in in the Philippines.

The people (most of them) are nice and one of the most courteous I’ve countered in my travels (in and out of the home country).  You can see the pride they have for their nation and their way of life.

At Home

A lot of the people here live in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats.  It's a government initiative that started years before aiming to provide every Singaporean a place for them to call home. 

HDB apartments

And these are not your run-of-the-mill shoebox units, mind you.  Unlike in the Philippines where tons of developers pass off ridiculously priced, 20-something square meter (or even less!) rectangular apartments as “decent” living spaces; here in Singapore, flats are usually huge and spacious. 

Only recently have the market been infiltrated with these shoebox units.  From what I’ve noticed, these types of flats are usually offered by private developers, but there are still a number of private estates that offer the usual spacious 2 to 3 bedroom units.

A private estate in Singapore

To Void or Not to Void

Most residential towers (both private and HDB estates) here have void decks at the lower floor.  Usually equipped with tables and a few seats, these areas serve as a place for residents to get together and socialize with their neighbors.  Weddings can even be done here.  J


HDB towers do not have reception areas nor are they staffed with security personnel.  It’s very open and almost anyone can just climb up to your floors.  Although it’s relatively safe here in Singapore, you’d still hear instances of petty thievery like missing shoes and clothes stolen from outside apartments.  You can never be too careful.

Conveniences

The Husband (and to some extent, the Little One and I) have, at one point or another, lived in a total of 3 different flats here in Singapore since 2008; all housed within private estates. 

From all 3 units that served as our home here, I’ve noticed that developers, with some aspects as required/mandated by the government, have included a number of conveniences you’ll have difficultly finding in our home country.  (Please note that these are from what we have had enjoyed in our past homes located within private estates.  I cannot speak for those in HDB flats.)

Switches

First off, electrical outlets here are installed with on/off switches to control the current that passes though them.  No need to unplug appliances when not in use.  Simply switch the outlet off.

Electrical outlet with on/off switch

There is also a built-in water heater for those who simply can’t start the day without a warm, relaxing shower/bath.

Water heater switch

To save on space, washing machines here are mostly the top-loading kind...

Top-loading washing machine

... with the washing hung on thick poles usually placed outside the windows for quicker drying.  How, in heaven's name, they could have carried these laden with just washed, slightly wet clothing and attach it to the sockets outside their windows is way beyond my comprehension.  It is good exercise for the arms, though.  J

Laundry out to dry

Us?  We usually just hang our washing on drying racks located inside our flat.

Units are also usually equipped with their own trash chute that directs refuse in central containers at the bottom of each residential tower.

Although the stink sometimes can roll up on to the lower units, something we learned the hard way when we rented a flat on the 2nd floor of a private estate.  It wasn’t so bad, though, as the scent clears once the central trash bin is taken out (which, thankfully, they do so everyday).

Be Kind and Recycle

Although Singapore has yet to curb/ban the use of plastics, it does encourage everyone to recycle.  One way of doing this is by providing trash bins that will encourage recycling.

Recycling bins

Although flats are installed with trash chutes, residents are required to segregate their recyclables and drop them off directly at the proper bins located off the side of each towers’ void decks.

Green, Open Spaces

There are also an abundant number of public parks here.  Green patches located in various areas of the Lion City maintain and provide cool areas for the public. 

Considering this country is closer to the equator than we are, I’m always surprised to find that I’m not so much bothered by the heat here as compared to when I’m in Manila.  It’s not as humid and dirty (in a way).

Kent Ridge Park

We were lucky enough that one of our homes had a public park beside it.  Way before I was pregnant, I’d usually go there in the mornings for a quick jog, or simply to stroll along and take pictures of the animals and plants.

Play and Exercise Areas

Play and exercise areas are also scattered in various locations here, most provided for by the government.  There’s also a small area serving this purpose for private estate residents as well.

Play area in one of the local neighborhoods

It’s a very good initiative and keeps both the young, and older, ones physically active and healthy.

Home Sweet Home-lah

It is quite an experience living in a different country.  Although I am missing my own family in the Philippines, the thought of the Husband, the Little One and I being a physically complete unit here is enough to keep me going.  J

7 comments:

  1. I don't imagine living outside the Philippines either, but you're lucky you're with your kid and your hubby. :)


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  2. don't these residential towers have their own groceries, hawker centres and other facilities as well? that's what i remember then. from school, i usually take a bus near one and do my grocery, have my clothes washed in a laundry and have a hair cut in a barber shop, he he he

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    Replies
    1. I think in the old HDB towers and flats they have a lot more commercial services. The newer ones I've been seeing usually don't have much anymore. Usually the void decks and play areas na lang. =)

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  3. Lapit lang naman Phil sa SG kaya madali pa rin umuwi pag nahomesick ka. =D I agree, ang liit ng condo units dito.

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  4. Wow. Thank you for sharing. :-) Ako naman ay bibisita lang jan sa Singapore. I am planning to go there at the end of this year. So pwede kitang tanungin ng info for affordable accommodations?

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm...we haven't been staying in hotels here kasi it's so expensive e. But you can search for affordable accommodations at Agoda.com or HotelTravel.com. =)

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    2. Oh! I just remembered. There are affordable accommodations in Little India and China Town too. You can look there. =)

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