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5 Things I Didn’t Expect to Find In My New BTO Estate

I don’t know about you, but I was eagerly counting down the days till I could get the keys to my Build-to-Order flat. Never mind the constant renovation dust and debris that come along with estates that have just received their Temporary Occupation Permit — I was ready to start a new life and adventure with my husband.

Plus, moving into a different neighbourhood is always an exciting affair, what with decorating our new home, befriending new neighbours and exploring nearby amenities and eateries. And after two years of staying in mine, I can safely say that it’s been an interesting experience filled with unexpected finds - here are my top five.

1. Hive of home-based businesses

From specialty coffee to beauty services and florists, my estate has no lack of thriving home-based businesses. Imagine being able to pamper yourself with a professional manicure and picking up a cafe-worthy cup of joe after without even having to leave your block. If I’m feeling like it, I can even get a tarot card reading or attend a jewellery-making workshop. Plus: Not only do I get to support fellow neighbours and enjoy accessibility, I also get to support local talent too.

2. Convenience of group buys

This may just be one of my favourite finds. For the uninitiated, a group buy host consolidates orders from everyone and purchases in bulk. This way, not only do participants save on otherwise hefty delivery fees, they get the chance to try new foods without having to commit to a minimum purchase that normally comes with online orders. Personally, I also appreciate that I get to skip the crowd and queues at physical stores - joining a group buy is especially useful for festive shopping like bak kwa and mooncakes from popular brands.

3. Active interest groups

Thanks to social media and active chat groups, BTO estates like mine have been experiencing a revival of the good ol’ kampung spirit. For one, it’s a lot easier to find interest groups in a new estate. No matter if your interest lies in gardening, dogs or yoga, you’re bound to find like-minded neighbours with similar inclinations. If you haven’t already done so, this is your sign to start getting active in these tight-knit communities and make new friends during meet-ups!

4. All eyes on you

With all that said, high-rise living isn’t always a bed of roses. Fellow residents are generally pleasant, but I’ve come to realise that they are also a lot less tolerant. You’d better be on your best behaviour and not dispose of rubbish in the wrong places or blast loud music at night - lest you get called on the block’s group chat or get reported via official channels like the OneService app. While I get that high-density living often comes with its fair share of friction, I must admit that I’ve never seen so many complaints submitted promptly via both the block’s group chats and official channels on a regular basis. It’s not uncommon to see police cars arriving to settle disputes between neighbours too.

5. A need to draw curtains

Last but not least, curtains or blinds are definitely a must for BTO dwellers. Before moving in, I didn’t realise just how much privacy can be compromised with the newer flat designs. A pain point for BTO dwellers like myself is probably the proximity of the units and how several of them are designed to face each other directly. Coupled with three-quarter length windows, this means the activities of the households opposite each other are practically on display 24/7 - so be sure to draw those curtains to enjoy some me-time without prying eyes. 

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