By KK Tong (guest contributor)

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a shoebox unit in The Inflora, a recently-completed condominium in Pasir Ris.Having heard plenty about shoebox units and how terribly small they are, I was looking forward to seeing an actual unit for myself. Although I had visited many such units before at new condo launches, those were ‘engineered’ units designed to make them seem much bigger than they actually were, usually through the disproportionate use of mirrors, the removal of doors, and the replacement of concrete walls with glass ones.

There is no defined size for shoebox units, but they are usually below 500 square feet. In the past, such units were confined to the city and city fringe areas, but nowadays you can find them in all corners of Singapore, from Hougang to Sengkang to Pasir Ris. Given the huge numbers of shoebox apartmentstaken up by buyers today, I am assuming that some are bought for self-stay, rather than for investment.

Fig 1: The Inflora

Inside the Unit

So, the key question is – how liveable are shoebox units? Let’s take a look at the actual unit I saw, which was a ground floor unit of 463 sf.

Fig 2: Floor Plan Type 1(a)

As you enter the unit, there is a small foyer where you can place a sideboard or some sort of cabinet as the space is quite wide. These will create some storage as the amount of storage provided in the unit is very little.

As an alternative, you can also choose to build a row of cabinets along the length of the wall in the living area. However, the width of the cabinets may have to be a little narrower to minimise intrusion into the living area. With this option, you may need to do away with a dining area as the sofa needs to be set back a little. A possiblesolution is to move the dining area into the balcony as it is spacious enough to accommodate a proper dining set.

Figure 3: Living /Dining Area


Figure 4: Kitchen

The kitchen is adequate enough as it comes equipped with a washer/dryer (housed within the lower cabinet), an induction hob, an oven, as well as a fridge. The only downside I see is that the kitchen does not have sufficient storage and counter space. The inadequate counter space may make it difficult for someonewho loves to cook complicated meals, but it is sufficient for those who only do minimal or simple cooking. Aspiring chefs can always fix anadditional pull-out counter without encroaching into liveable space.

Figure 5: Bedroom

The bedroom is spacious enough to place a queen sized bed and a side table. The two-door wardrobe provides sufficient space for your clothes. Although there is not much space to create additional storage in the bedroom, you can build shelves on the wall facing the bed to put your books and other knick knacks.

Figure 6: Bathroom

The bathroom is a pretty comfortable size and comes with ready shelving which should be sufficient for toiletries. With proper lighting installed, it can also suffice as a vanity area.

Shoebox Units – Liveable?

Personally, I think that this particular unit is pretty liveable for a single, as the layout has little wasted space. For hoarders however, shoebox units may not be suitable as storage is minimal. With a balcony included, it does make a cosy enough home for one. For a couple, it will be a bit of a squeeze, but perhaps acceptable for some.  However, I’d draw the line at that because anything more than two persons will be crowded.

A Look atShoebox Units for Sale

For those who are considering getting a shoebox unit, the following are some options for your consideration. These are condominiums which were completed between 2014 and 2016, and are located in different parts of Singapore. For a fair comparison, all of them are 99-year leasehold projects.

Happy house hunting if you think that you will be happy living in a shoebox unit!

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