For a very long time, a condominium was a luxury that many in Singapore coveted. After all, it was one of the “5 C’s of Singapore”, the other 4 being a car, credit card, country club, and cash. But that sentiment has seemed to have fallen off in recent times as people have come to realise that owning a condo came with its fair share of headaches.
Don’t get us wrong – many Singaporeans still have a condo on their wishlists. However, there are plenty of long-term condo owners who are starting to regret buying a condo and turning instead to the “6th C of Singapore”: complaining. Here are some of the top condo regrets and complaints that long-term homeowners have shared with us.
1. Monthly maintenance fee is a waste of money
Image credit: TheSmartLocal
The cost of a condo is more than just its asking price. You’ll also have to factor in the monthly maintenance fees and sinking funds that you’ll have to pay. While there are plenty of condos with super low maintenance fees – People’s Park Complex famously has one of the lowest fees at $100/month – but there are many more that cost at least $400/month.
For Joycelyn and her family’s 4-bedroom condo in the Upper Thomson area, they have been paying around $400/month for the past decade since the development top’ed. Couple that with the mortgage that they pay and it’s a brutal hit to the purse strings every month. Sure, they’re paying for the maintenance of the entire condo which has 2 pools, gyms, and barbeque pits, but these are all amenities that they’ve only used once or twice in the 11 years they’ve stayed there.
“Our barbeque pits suck and my family doesn’t really swim anyway,” Joycelyn said. However, she tries to make the most of the gym at the very least.
2. Condo management is made up of residents, not professionals
Surprise, surprise, but the condo management council – the people who manage your sinking fund contributions and monthly maintenance fees – are comprised of regular residents. Sure, there might be a professional managing agent that takes care of the accounts on a full-time basis. But most residential disputes and complaints will have to be resolved by fellow residents who might have their own problems to settle.
Image for illustration purposes only.
Image credit: Bluwhale Tile
“The facilities at my condo are always in such a sorry condition but for years the management has neglected to take care of it,” Nicole, a 15-year resident of a condo in Braddell Heights said. From chipped tiles in the swimming pool to elevators that are constantly “down for maintenance”, Nicole’s condo is in desperate need of some tender loving care.
However, since her strata’s council is comprised mainly of her neighbours, many of whom work full-time, these recurring issues always end up taking a backseat as no one wants to do anything about it. In comparison to HDB town councils and their efficiency at rectifying issues within an HDB estate, condo stratas look like lazy bums.
3. Security guards are either too relaxed or too strict
One thing that differentiates a condo from an HDB is the security measures. However, some condo security guards are a bit more relaxed when it comes to enforcing who can pass through the gates.
For example, Alice, a condo-dweller of over 12 years in the East, occasionally spots her condo’s security guards letting just about anyone through without much checking.
Image credit: Eatbook
Then on the opposite side of the fence, there are condo security guards who are so strict that they don’t allow food delivery drivers to even enter the condo. This was a point of vexation for Steph who had to collect her food delivery orders from the guardhouse every time she ordered something, negating the convenience of food delivery apps.
4. Very limited parking space
Oh to have a sky garage for your cars.
Image credit: GC Privé
A long-time complaint of condo residents is the lack of parking. “We used to have 2 cars, so we had to ballot and pay extra money just to have a parking spot for our second car,” Joycelyn said. However, they soon sold the second car and gave up the second lot as neighbours would disregard the allocated lots and park their cars there.
Some condos like People’s Park Complex and Marina One Residences don’t even include parking when residents purchase their units. To a layman, this feels very much like a first-world problem, and it is.
5. Condos are a lot smaller for the price you pay compared to HDBs
Condos and HDBs often get compared to each other, price-wise. Even though their offerings are poles apart – subsidised housing vs. swanky amenities – the crux of the argument is the space you get for your money. Namely how HDBs are winning as you pay less per square foot.
Just look at the square footage of the HDB flat on the left versus the condo on the right.
Image credit: PropertyGuru
Looking at Bishan for example, a 5-room HDB flat usually goes for around $900K-$1M on the market. For that same amount of money, you can only buy a measly 1-bedroom condo. If you wanted a condo with the same amount of bedrooms and is of a similar size, you have to be prepared to shell out at least 2-3 times the price of the HDB flat.
A condo with a comparable square footage to an HDB flat, but costs more than twice as much.
Image credit: PropertyGuru
Image credit: PropertyGuru
Research by PropertyGuru also showed that the average condo size has gotten smaller year after year. With most condos having the same 99-year leasehold properties like HDB flats, you’ll be shelling out double the price just for the amenities.
Read one homeowner’s perspective on why she moved out from a condo to an HDB maisonette.
6. The sheltered lot is always taken by neighbours who never leave
Sheltered parking lots are one of the best perks of condo ownership, especially if you own a car. However, this is a limited commodity in certain condos. And there’s always that one condo resident who never vacates that sheltered lot, treating it as their personal parking space.
“There are some residents who live in blocks that are far away from mine, but they’ll always park at my block which is sheltered and walk to their house, even though their block has vacant parking lots,” Joycelyn complained about her inconsiderate neighbours. Thankfully, security guards at her condo will wheel clamp any cars that are not parked in their allocated lots.
Condo regrets & complaints in Singapore
Owning a condo in Singapore is definitely a luxury that not many can afford. However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. From ineffective management councils to a lack of amenities, living in a condo can be a bit of a pain in the behind. This is why it’s important to find a condo that fits your needs and wants.
For example, if you don’t have a car, you don’t have to worry about a lack of parking. Similarly, if you have a preferred pool and a regular gym membership, you can opt for a condo with fewer amenities to save on monthly maintenance costs.
Read other articles about condo living in Singapore