Bird’s eye view

Bird's eye view

Home before home begins.

So much for a nice steady blog, eh? It’s been three months, but here we are – within Sharktower at last.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how collecting the keys works. Do note that these are based on our personal experience of purchasing a BTO 4-room flat directly from HDB, as a couple. So the steps and experience may vary from person to person.

Buy fire insurance
The default plan is $1/year, which covers the structures only. If your floors or items burn up, too bad. So we opted for the enhanced plan that covers our renovation works and personal items as well. It also has accidental death coverage. #kiasu (FYI, the enhanced plan comes on top of the default plan.)

Get a queue number
Sit down and wait, and make sure to watch the TV screen, not the red dot-matrix numbers.

Get your identity verified
Hand over your identification as well as the letter you receive in the mail.

Agree to the Home Protection Scheme insurance
This one, which is a couple hundred or so per year per person (paid through CPF), ensures that if one of the co-owners dies, the other isn’t stuck with a mountain of debt. The policy will help pay for the flat.

Agree to having them wipe out your CPF
Goodbye, stack of cash that I have accumulated over the years. And no, you can’t choose to have them take out the minimum (5%, in our case) and leave the rest. They’ll take everything.

Get briefed on the remaining loan amount and monthly instalments
Figure out how much gets deducted from whose CPF each month, and settle on how long your loan will last. We had to option of shortening it from 30 years (the longest possible) to 20 or so, but you can’t change your mind after that. So yeah we stuck to the longest option, which also means lowest monthly payments.

Sign a bunch of documents
I can’t remember offhand what exactly these are, but they’re basically the agreements to lease and whatnot. Just keep signing and signing.

Pay for your Service & Consultancy Charges
They’ll hold your keys and documents hostage as you go pay the fifty-odd dollars. This monthly fee funds the neighbourhood maintenance stuff, like cleaning of common areas, replacement of corridor lights, landscaping, and so on. Also I recently discovered this amazing service that helps to remove bulky items (refrigerators, televisions, whatever) up to three times a month – for free!

Typing all this has reminded me that I need to go set up GIRO transfer for subsequent payments; they don’t send you reminders each month. Also, the links above are for my specific town council, but the services I mention are pretty much universal for HDB estates.

Get your keyssssss
Finally! They’re separated into little keyrings based on function, and all of them are clipped into an adorable little pouch. They also give you an A4 portfolio case to store your paperwork. I’ve seen some people (via their blogs and stuff) get interior design magazines in this case… oh well.

And then you’re free to go! There’s also the option of applying for your Singapore Power services, but it’s a long line and you can easily do that online or through their mobile app. I used the latter and it’s incredibly painless; they even designed an interface for you to take and upload photos of your identification so you don’t need to locate a scanner. And anyway it’s not like they turn on your power/water immediately; there’ll be a separate appointment for that, where a friendly uncle (in my case) comes by to wave a magic wand at the fuse box and flip all the switches to the taps. Gas comes later; you really don’t need that anytime soon.

Here are a couple more photos of the view from Sharktower:

Bird's eye view

Looking across Fernvale from the little corner window in our bedroom.

Bird's eye view

The stunning view from the laundry balcony. You can see all the way to Punggol (where the river bend is) and then to the Straits of Johor and then Johor itself.

And now the next stage begins: renovation. There will be a long post on that. Soon.


Friday Faves

Keeping in line with the theme of a fresh start for the new year in many ways, today’s Friday Faves is a roundup of links that have to do with self-improvement. Most of them are in listicle style because attention spans are limited (I know mine is) and they’re really more fun to read.

Friday Faves - photo by flickr user Leong Him Woh

Photo by flickr user Leong Him Woh

Timo Kiander suggests 5 zeros to achieve every day in order to keep your mind clear and help you stay productive and on track.

Try Shawn Parr’s 10 steps to better productivity and performance in both your professional and personal life. (That’s a lot of alliteration.)

If you’re feeling stuck and adrift, Mark Manson asks 7 questions to help you figure out what you want to do with your life. They aren’t the questions you think they are!

For those who aren’t fans of interacting with people, Jessica Stillman has 3 tips for promoting yourself and/or your business that are really quite useful to read, regardless of your -vert status.

Work is certainly not everything when it comes to being a better person. Drew Greenblatt draws up 10 ways you can make the most of family time. He focuses exclusively on quality time with children and spouses/partners, but some of the tips are transferable to most lifestyles, such as unplugging during mealtimes.

If you – like me – are trying to get fitter and healthier this year, have a look at Aly Teich’s 10 tips to helping you stay on track.

And in an article that I very much agree with, Jennifer Dziura declares that we should ban the term “working mom” from our vocabulary.

Run Slow

It’s a new year; a new start in many ways. Hope your 2015 shapes up to be as spectacular as you want it to be!

Run Slow - photo by flickr user graham

Photo by flickr user graham

Am still aching (in a good way!) from an hour of Power Flow class yesterday, this time at Yoga Movement‘s Carpenter Street studio. I’ve just updated my computer and phone apps, organised the latter, unsubscribed from a lot of unnecessary email lists, and am getting a head start on some projects that I’ve procrastinated on (in my defence, I was out of town and it was Christmas + my birthday).

I also slept a ton this morning and afternoon, pausing in the middle to eat a McDonald’s breakfast, and have found updates on a rather pressing issue involving the Sharktower estate – updates that aren’t the absolute best scenario possible, but are certainly much better than the worst.

I feel fantastic.

Friday Faves – birthday special!

Today I turn 27! It is very exciting. And so here are a handful of things that are ‘for the house’ but also reflect the ridiculously nerdiness that is not quite hidden within me. Everything is from ThinkGeek except for the last.

Friday Fave - USS Enterprise Pizza Cutter

Pizza: the final frontier. Look at this pizza cutter, though; it’s super sleek and you can make warp drive noises as you slice into the pizza.

Friday Fave - Adventure Time Mugs

Part one in a ridiculous round-up of Adventure Time stuff is a pair of mugs based on the Card Wars episode (I totally have the game as an app and it is as fun as it looks in the show). I would probably claim the Dweeb one for myself; GY can have the Cool Guy one.

Friday Fave - Adventure Time Monopoly

I love Monopoly, and I love Adventure Time. This combines the two in a diabolical game that will tear friendships apart as you scream at each other about stealing the deed to the Nightosphere from under one another’s noses… I must have it.

Friday Fave - Adventure Time Munchkin

I told you I have lots of AT stuff. To be honest I’ve either not played Munchkin before or have forgotten what it’s like, but I don’t even care, I just want this game. It looks so fun.

Friday Fave - PvZ Risk

Yet another game that I have the app of and totally adore. Plants vs Zombies is charming yet weirdly challenging (damn you, pole vaulting zombies!), and this game combines it with Risk. Or you can flip the board over and play the regular-style game.

Friday Fave - Firefly Clue

For a slightly more obscure reference, here’s a Firefly version of Clue. River’s been kidnapped – who betrayed her? Was it Mal in the kitchen with plastic dinosaurs? Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal, Captain Tight Pants!

Friday Fave - Millennium Falcon Lego

And the best and most unattainable for last – the Lego Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon. It’s enormous, incredibly detailed, and no longer being produced, which means that it’s selling for about five thousand bucks on the internet. One day I will own this. One day.

Hope you’re all having a great holiday weekend – happy Christmas, and merry new year!

Friday Faves

It’s officially less than two weeks to the new year! I’m really excited, for a multitude of reasons – so I’ve rounded up some really great 2015 calendars. As usual, I tried to link to as many fantastic local artists and sellers as possible.

Friday Fave - 2015 Calligraphy Calendar by Happy Hands Project

I’m really into how minimal and soothing this handmade calligraphy calendar by Happy Hands Project is.

Friday Fave - 2015 Calendar by Purrballs

I’ve seen the Purrballs‘ work at various comic conventions – it’s pretty much as cute as you’d expect. This calendar features their kitty characters in a bunch of scenarios. Too cute!!

Friday Fave - 2015 Dinosaur Calendar by Crafty Gru

By the way, have you seen the Jurassic World trailer? I can’t wait. Until then, there’s this dinosaur calendar by Crafty Gru.

Friday Fave - 2015 Mindful Calendar by Holstee

One of my aims this 2015 is to be more mindful and more intentional in everything I do – this Mindful Living calendar by design collective Holstee seems like it might give me a boost in that.

Friday Fave - Hobonichi Techo

And this is the planner/calendar I’ve been using all year and am raring to begin for next – the Hobonichi Techo. It’s a little bulky but I love how much space there is for to-do lists, daily sketches and doodles, pseudo-artistic washi-taping of train tickets and the like during trips, and all manner of randomness. I also rather belatedly figured out that “Techo” isn’t pronounced “tech-oh” in the English manner, but “te-cho” like in Japanese. Which is actually quite obvious, seeing as how it’s a Japanese product and te-cho means hand-book. I’m not very bright.

What calendars are you guys using? Do you prefer an enormous poster-like calendar on your wall, or a nice desk calendar with space to write appointments into, or just the default app on your phone?