My search for a multigenerational home took an interesting turn last week when I started considering Executive Condominiums (ECs), a real estate segment that I didn’t even know existed before I started this apartment search!
In last week’s article, I listed 13 EC evolutions that were less than 400 units and larger units (over 1,900 sq ft in size), and this week I decided to narrow my search to the evolutions among the 13 that are currently Units over 2,000 sq. have ft listed for sale under $ 2 million (at the time of writing, at least. Property is moving fast in 2021!).
This narrowed my search to the following four executive condos:
- Heron Bay
- The dew
- The Esparis
For those whose budget can exceed $ 2 million, I’ve rounded up all of the EC developments (less than 400 units) that have penthouse sales listings currently available (if you’re wondering why I’m only looking at penthouses (This is because ECs are very popular with families with young children, and not having a neighbor upstairs is the only way to avoid little feet rattling over my head):
Note: Some ECs charge additional fees if you need a parking space and for the use of facilities, so ask the agent before buying!
For example, Windermere charges a fee for using the barbecue area, while The Esparis charges a fee for booking the tennis court.
I have to admit, I had a pretty good idea of these ECs in my head before going to any of the sessions.
After watching dozens of YouTube videos and researching the properties online, I just knew The Esparis was going to be great, followed by The Dew and finally Windermere.
After all, The Esparis only has more than 200 units (it’s tiny for an EC), uninterrupted views of the Sea Shell Park greenery (for certain units, plus a staggering amount of indoor / living space (relative to total square footage) so how could it not be the best of all?
In fact, I was so confident about The Esparis that I planned to dedicate my next article to a full review! But I learned from it not to judge a book by its cover, as Windermere was ultimately my favorite development.
The Esparis and I didn’t really get off to a great start.
I found the drive to The Esparis to be quite stressful as there was a lot of construction and traffic even on the weekend, which made me wonder how bad the traffic would be during peak hours (assuming we ever work full time from the office again, that is ).
Of course, this could have been an isolated incident, but I couldn’t help but think that it might be because of the construction of the Pasir Ris East MRT station, which is part of the Cross Island Line and is due to open in 2030.
(So only eight to nine years to build!).
Additionally, The Esparis is in a fairly built-up area with high-rise buildings all around, so despite its proximity to Sea Shell Park, it felt a bit claustrophobic (compared to other developments like Windermere).
I was really shocked to find out the property is roughly 150,000 square feet as it felt like it was less than half the size.
A good driveway is a must in my book, and the inflection into The Esparis was manageable but a bit narrow – I can’t understand why management didn’t just move the planters out a little to widen the curve!
That said, The Esparis has a lot of pluses as you can see in the very long “What I Like” section below.
ALSO READ: Ultimate List of 23 HDB Executive Maisonettes: Location, Price, Size & Are They Worth Buying?
What I like:
- Several blocks overlook the Sea Shell Park and thus have an unobstructed view of the greenery (namely stacks 14, 15, 20, 21, 26 and 27). Since Sea Shell Park is not a very famous park, you don’t have to worry about people gathering under your windows, staring into your unit and making a lot of noise. Additional bonus: the units facing the Sea Shell Park do not get the western sun!
- The duplex penthouse here has the largest indoor living space (in relation to the total area) that I have seen so far on a ground floor: there is only one balcony / roof terrace (on the second floor) that is large enough to be functional ( i.e. you can put a living room or dining room on top) but it’s not so big that it feels ridiculous. In addition, the outside area is rectangular so you don’t lose space in strange non-working corners.
- The bedrooms (en-suite) on the upper floor of the duplex penthouse are designed in the shape of a dumbbell, which allows maximum privacy and the space in between is large enough to be a study, another bedroom or a family room.
- There is a back gate that will take you straight to the bus stop. (However, since there is little set back between the blocks and the fence, the units at that end of the blocks would be making some street noise.)
- Very spacious, rectangular living-dining area: there is even space for my six-seat dining table and my piano!
- A decent yard for the laundry
- Large windows (in some units the full length) make for nice and bright units.
- Windows in the stairwell, kitchen and bathroom provide the much-needed ventilation.
The development has its own Parcel Santa machine which makes online shopping easier (maybe this should be listed in the Cons section as it would be bad for my wallet?)
- A well-planned parking lot (except for the turn-in): Unlike recent developments, there are visitor parks and these are divided into sections that are between the lobbies so your guests don’t have to walk too far for you. (In some settlements, all visitor parking spaces are grouped into a god-forbidden section of the settlement, resulting in a long hike to the blocks.)
- As with most government developments, amenities are close by. There is a community center right outside the door and a giant supermarket about 150 m away.
ALSO READ: 4 Reasons HDB Upgrades Prefer Executive Condos Over Private Condos
- A very well thought-out architect: The Esparis penthouses have many small details that make life much more pleasant and enjoyable, such as a skylight over the entrance foyer for natural light and sloping windows under the bay windows that allow you to ventilate your apartment, when it rains without water getting into the apartment! The height of the bay window (in the penthouse) also makes it perfect for a tea counter or shelf – in fact, I couldn’t even tell it was a bay window at first! (Note: I also checked out a non-penthouse unit at Esparis and the section under the bay window is just the normal solid wall, meaning no sloping window to let air in.)
- The Esparis is a relic from the beloved Singaporean era of air raid shelters and bay windows.
- There are five to six units per block, so it can be louder. (Two elevators per block of 10 floors each. Dew and Windermere, however, only have four units per block.)
- There is only one lane for visitors and residents, so depending on the number of residents driving, there may be traffic jams at the entrance.
- It’s right next to a temple – I’ve never stayed next to one, but I’ve heard that life near a place of worship can be, say, less quiet The other neighbors, as mentioned above, are high-rise buildings (and nearby), which makes the site of the development feel much more cramped than it actually is.
- Standard Penthouse Ceiling Heights: Most penthouses have the bonus of above average ceilings (which don’t count towards your square footage unless it’s a double volume unit).
The grounds and facilities are showing their age: some painting, etc. wouldn’t hurt.
ALSO READ: EC vs. Resale Apartment: How Much More Can You End Up Paying?
All in all I would say the duplex penthouse at The Esparis is a very, very reasonable apartment with good bones that would be perfect for a family that wants to live in the east and needs lots of space. Unfortunately, due to the heavy traffic and the fact that my mother works in Jurong, I am not convinced this is the right place for us.
From the east it goes straight through Singapore to the west of Singapore, as The Dew is in Bukit Batok. The Dew has even fewer units than the Esparis – in fact, it has the lowest number of units of any EC.
(There are only three ECs with fewer than 300 units – The Dew, The Esparis, and Nuovo.) The 248 units are spread over two 16-story blocks on 122,773 square feet of land, so some of the penthouse units have decent views.
What I like:
- The Dew is the most exclusive and private ground floor with the fewest units (only 248).
- The living room has a high ceiling, making it appear more spacious. (If, like me, you’re into the great feeling of having a high ceiling.
- There is no shortage of amenities: there is a 24-hour Giant and NTUC within five minutes (and Sheng Shiong within 10 minutes).
- You’re only two bus stops from Bukit Batok MRT (and West Mall) – I grew up in the west so this is a familiar area to me!
- It is also located next to the Ulu Pandan Park Connector which will take you all the way to Buona Vista.
- There are large windows so the units are bright.
- Windows in the kitchen and bathroom reduce the risk of mold – so far this has been the case in all ECs that I have checked out, in contrast to the completely private condominiums!
ALSO READ: Is An Executive Condo Still Worth It: An Analysis of 53 ECs
- The Dew is right next to a primary school. (Although this is probably a benefit if you have kids this age – I was told that Keming Primary School is one of the top 60 elementary schools in Singapore and the best in Bukit Batok – for me it means going to Majulah Singapura every morning hear, five days a week, which is not my idea of rest (noise wanders up.)
- The Dew Penthouse has a ridiculous number of open terraces – I counted four! While I like the outdoors, the fact that a 2,420 square foot unit at The Esparis has four bedrooms (with the option of building a fifth) while the Dew only has three bedrooms is very revealing.
- Additionally, all units in The Dew are triple, so the main difference between a “normal” unit and a penthouse unit at The Dew is that the penthouse has more outdoor space, has a high ceiling and is a maisonette. While my article views condos as homes (not an investment), this rings some alarm bells in my head (regarding the effects of reselling).
- Additionally, while the numerous balconies are nice and rectangular, the living-dining area looks more like an oddly shaped Tetris block (Note: the 1862 sf penthouses have more efficient floor plans with a rectangular living-dining area but no high ceiling.)
- There is an air raid shelter, but thank goodness no bay windows.
While I haven’t been able to find a property to shortlist this week, I hope the reviews from The Dew and The Esparis will help you with your apartment search.
ALSO READ: 4 State Real Estate Outlets To Look For In 2021
This article was first published in Stackedhomes.