Reader’s Letter – Singapore’s Shoebox Condos are Not So Bad

By Mr. Propwise

In response to a previous article, Geylang Shoebox Condos – A Comparison, we received the following reader response which I’d like to share with you:

Dear Mr. Propwise,

Thank you for this useful research.

However, I think there has been some misconception about these so-called shoebox condos.

These shoebox condos are nothing new. But many property reports and research analyses have missed some important points, and they don’t do justice to these smallish condo units. Maybe some better terms should be used so as not to belittle these very useful dwellings.

I have been to some countries, long before these “shoebox” units came into being in Singapore – for example, in Switzerland, Japan and Hongkong, to name a few. They are called “studios”. Many are even smaller than our “shoeboxes”.

I have seen some of our shoeboxes. Perhaps some of our property experts should go look at Guillemard Edge. At 441 sq ft, a unit has a decent bedroom, toilet, full balconies, and even a study area, big enough to accommodate a single bed. The condo has two lap pools, a rest area, a small gym and it stretches between two Lorongs – 28 and 30.

To me, these smallish units are very liveable, compared to the much more expensive Hongkong shoebox units, which I have visited.

Young executives desiring to own a freehold condo unit that they can afford would find these suitable for their budget. Sure, it might make more sense to buy a 3-room HDB flat in mature estates like Toa Payoh, which could cost 50% less. But not many would qualify, unless they are married!

So, such shoeboxes in Geylang offer an alternative choice – relative affordability, good location (close to MRTs, shops and eateries, near to CBD and other amenities), a freehold title, and relatively good rentability (easier to rent out and higher rental returns).

And for singles who wish to be on their own and work in the CBD, these offer a good alternative to renting a room, whether in a condo or in HDB flats (e.g. a 3-room HDB flat in Toa Payoh costs about $ 1,700 per month). What would the mortgage be for 30 years for a unit in most of these shoebox developments in Geylang? And not forgetting that these are freehold. After 30 years of paying they will be fully owned, but NOT for rental flats!

In short, these condo units have been overly discredited and wrongly analysed. Many writers have not done justice to these smallish (not small) condos by their often negative comments.

Regards, TI

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2 Replies to “Reader’s Letter – Singapore’s Shoebox Condos are Not So Bad”

  1. I declare I own a Pinoy shoebox in Manila. It is a smallish 32 sq. M but comfortable enough for a couple. Before I rent out, my wife and I stayed a few weeks after taking over the flat.

    In Spore, many so-called analysts have vested interest one way or another. So they sing the same tune even against their own conscience. There are very few independent and non-vested Analysts here. So you see or hear parrots galore.

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