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This S’porean Rented A Tiny Shophouse Loft In Katong Solo For A Small But Cute Space

7 April 2023 | BY

For young Chara Low who rents a small loft space in a Katong shophouse for around $1.8k/month, renting has a been a life-changing 2 years.

Living in a Katong Shophouse Loft
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While renting a home used to be a concept largely foreign to most young Singaporean adults, in 2023, it is a movement. Be it for mental health or just for the sweet taste of independence, we’re seeing a wave of young Singaporeans taking that leap to live on their own.

For young Chara Low, who rents a small loft space in a Katong shophouse for around $1.8k/month, renting has a life-changing 2 years of her life. Here’s what she’s learnt: 

Renting a tiny $1.8k/month loft in Katong

shophouseloft-spaceImage credit: Chara Low

Even in Chara’s own words, her apartment was a “tiny space”. With her home only comprising a toilet just by the entryway, a living space that doubled as an office and dining area, a small pantry, as well as a loft that served as both her closet and bedroom space, there were definitely some space constraints. 

Living in a Katong Shophouse Loft
Image credit: Chara Low

However, Chara did not let that daunt her. Her pantry functioned sufficiently for someone who didn’t cook often, but on the days that she did feel the pull to whip up a little something, she’d turn to her handy Toyomi electric cooker.

shopouseloft-sofabedImage credit: Chara Low

It was a pleasant surprise when she found that the couch that came with the apartment was actually a sofa bed. She also made sure to purchase other furniture pieces and homeware for her home that were either easy to stow when not in use or could pull double duty and function as storage or decorative pieces.

Living in a Katong Shophouse LoftChara even found creative ways to dry her laundry when her laundry rack gave way.
Image credit: Chara Low

Finding her apartment in Katong

In a Q&A video on her YouTube channel, Chara details how she found her charming walkup, the factors she considered, and some tips that might help you on the same journey. 

Chara started off the house hunt by shortlisting the districts that she could picture herself living in, and then her price range. Those factors helped her narrow down her search on websites such as PropertyGuru and 99.co.

Another piece of solid advice: sort your search findings by “Newest” instead of price or recommended. She highlights that the property market is wildly competitive and moves so fast, that if you deliberate too long on a property you’re keen on, someone else might take it off your hands.

Don’t be afraid to bargain with your future landlord. To borrow Chara’s words, “it’s not just negotiating about price, it’s also negotiating about what you’re getting, maintenance, and furniture.”

She recounted being granted her request for a change in a washing machine, floor tiles, and a shower head. While her negotiation for her landlord to pay her new furniture’s cost did not result in full success, in the end, she still managed to convince her landlord to pay for half the cost.

Chara stresses the importance of understanding your lifestyle and needs as a homeowner before making the decision to rent because once you’ve got the apartment, breaking the lease isn’t an option.

She also shared that it’s crucial to pore through the tenancy agreement, now all landlords have the same terms and conditions, and understanding your rights as a tenant will help protect you from unnecessary costs.

“My first place asked for a 1-month deposit but my second place asked for a 2-month deposit and I was shocked because I didn’t read my contract to know that. This property also allows for anything above a certain price to be provided by the landlord, so for everything that is broken, you can ask for a replacement or fixing from the landlord. If I didn’t read it, I wouldn’t know.”

Pros and cons of living in a shophouse

Living in a Katong Shophouse LoftNo space for a television, but a portable projector allowed Chara to enjoy her favourite shows and bring some ethereal vibes to her space.
Image credit: Chara Low 

We’ve covered the pros and cons of living in walk-up apartments pretty extensively, but to add onto that, Chara says that the biggest reason that drew her to this particular shophouse unit was its charming neighbourhood and the myriad of amenities and food options in the vicinity. 

On the other hand, she did acknowledge certain pain points: Strategising the best time to throw her trash was one very cumbersome thing she came to find about shophouse living. This is unlike the convenience which the rubbish chutes in high-rise apartments provide. There are also fewer amenities and services compared to condominiums, such as a swimming pool, gym, parking, and security guards.

And while she viewed the many stairs to her home as opportunities to clock in some exercise, she did encounter quite a number of unhappy delivery men who demanded extra payment for carrying her purchases up the stairs.

Being situated right smack on Joo Chiat Road, noise and dust pollution was also another thing she had to grapple with – she still chooses to look on the bright side, regarding the sounds of traffic as “white noise”.

Life lessons gleaned from living alone

shophouseloft-livingalone

Image credit: Chara Low 

There are plenty of insightful lessons to be reaped from living alone, and Chara reveals that renting an apartment solo allowed her to be in control of her own decisions and prioritise herself.

Responsibility is one thing that undoubtedly comes with the solo renting experience and Chara learnt to embrace that by viewing her space as an extension of herself. This mindset made chores a lot more bearable.

We might have a space to call our own in our family homes, but it’s not uncommon for young adults to feel stifled and unable to openly express themselves and truly “adult” until they’re completely out of their parents’ nest.

Despite the challenges that come with living alone, Chara describes renting as “a magical experience”. Although she didn’t choose to extend her 2-year lease, she still recounts it as a fulfilling experience that she would recommend to others. 

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Cover image adapted from: @chachachachara

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