Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our New “Home”

I actually wrote a full blog and had published it, but just as I clicked “publish”, something happened and I lost my post. So I’m typing this again.

Hmmm, how should I start (again)? We’ve moved into our new flat and already we want to move out. There were a series of happenings that led up to our eventual moving, and it’s been tough. We just didn’t say it. But now I will.

When the maid came over to the new flat, she couldn’t stop about how old, run down and dingy this new place was. And that she couldn’t believe we were paying this amount of rent for such a place. What she didn’t know was: 1. That rental prices have shot up since, and 2: The previous few flats that we saw were a lot worse than this. This place that we’ve moved into is very similar to the first flat we rented when Julien came to Singapore, but we had paid rent for this first flat at a lot lower a price compared to the market rate. Our first landlord or landlady I should say is nice. She was a retiree and she and her husband were going to stay with their kids in a bigger home. She was really attached to this flat, and couldn’t bear to sell it, so even after she moved, she regularly came back to clean the flat. When I met the landlady, she told me that she wasn’t really renting the flat for the money, which explains why we got that flat at below market rate. She just really wanted someone to look after and take care of the place while she was “away”. So why did we not rent the same flat from our first landlady? Well, because she’s already found a tenant.

We had signed a 1 year lease with this landlady to be renewed yearly until we found a place of our own. She knew we were just married and looking for a place to buy. We’ve stayed there about 2 years, and our lease was almost up for the 2nd year. I guess perhaps Julien prefers variety and did mention loosely that maybe we should look for a new place to rent. If we did find a place we liked, good. If not, the rent will be renewed anyway at the end of that year, so we were not too bothered.

Lesson 1: If it’s too good to be true, then it’s not good.

I received a call from a relative one day, proposing us to rent his parent’s place. His situation was pretty similar to the land lady’s – he had bought a bigger place and the plan was for his parents to live with him. Hence, we could occupy his parent’s flat. A bigger flat for the same rental price as our first flat. That sounds pretty good. We were told that we could stay until we found a place of our own. The deal was on! We told our landlady that we found a bigger place and we didn’t need to renew the rent for the following year.

Lesson two: Pay attention to your spouse. They pick up things you may not.

When we went over to my relative’s parent’s place to collect the keys before the move, Julien had somehow picked up some vibe that his parents were not too keen on moving. I wasn’t feeling it, so I didn’t think too much about it. Looking back now, I do wonder if they wanted to move in the first place and what were they told about our lease at the first flat? Because I have an inkling that this could have been the cause of a huge misunderstanding. Now, it seems that they had the impression all along that they were doing us a favour by renting us the flat since our lease was going to be up. That’s not the case here. We broke our renewal with the landlady. The infamous line to us before we left, was “Anything can be discussed in the future since we’re all family”. That would be lesson 5 for me.

Lesson 3: Always, Always, Always draw up a contract, because it could be the only thing that could protect you, even from family.

So we broke our renewal and moved into the bigger flat. About 2 – 3 weeks after moving into the flat, we were told that my relative’s dad wanted to move back! What a situation to be caught in! What was funny about this, was that this news didn’t come directly from my relative or his dad. We had to hear it from other relatives who would call me up and volunteer the information. Apparently the news was passed around till it reached me – his dad would stress out his wife, his wife would call my aunt and stress her out, my aunt would call my parents and stress them out, then my parents would call me. I don’t like this merry go round system, so I called this relative direct to check if the rumours were true and they were. We even offered to move out, since we had time to move back into the first flat as the landlady had not rented it out yet, but we were told that it’s alright, and that he could be over reacting.

Lesson 4: It’s easy to let someone in your home, but never as easy to get them out.

Over the course of about 6 months, things changed from, it’s alright, to yeah he’s a depressed but it’s ok, to I think you may need to start looking for a flat. And look for a flat we did! We looked hard. Most of our time, including our weekends, was spent either visiting flats, or looking through websites for property rental. Unfortunately, most of the flats we viewed we could not LIVE in literally. There was hardly any renovation done, no new paint, the paint was falling from the ceilings and the walls, the toilets were old and the squat type which are not ideal for our cats, some of them did not include any furniture at all. This went on for months! We got sick of looking at rotten flats we couldn’t see ourselves living in. So we asked for help. Our relative did help forward some links for property rental, but some were already rented out, others the agents did not even bother calling us back, and one or two, Julien was honest about our cats and we were rejected.

I don’t know when we decided this, but we were so sick of living at someone else’s mercy, and maybe also sick of looking at rotten rented flats, we changed our minds and decided to look for a place to buy. And we did view many flats. Even shortlisted 3 to buy. But for various reasons, we didn’t in the end. I was spent. I remember sitting at Holland Village after a viewing and I started to tear uncontrollably. I just felt helpless, lost, and homeless.

Lesson 5: At crunch time, there may never be room for discussion, even as family.

Another few weeks after, I received an sms from this relative asking me if we could let them know when we would be able to find a flat to buy so they can inform their dad, because he’s started to ask them everyday now when we are moving out. I think that was probably the biting point for us. I don’t know about others, but for me personally, I don’t know how to answer to a question like that. How long would I take to find a place I like to buy? I don’t know. When we see it we will know it. I didn’t want a situation where we committed a time frame and come that time, we still haven’t found anything suitable. What then? Are we to blame then?

One quick phone discussion with the Yeti and it was decided that we would move out immediately. This stress was just not worth it. Never mind that the rental prices have gone up. Never mind that the next flat is not even what we would like. Never mind that it’s far and inconvenient. We just want out. So the next day we just arranged for as many viewings as we could in that one day and picked the least lousy flat to rent.

Lesson 6: It’s always better to just be honest, even if it seems like it’s the hardest thing to do.

I’m pro honesty. Tell me the truth even if it hurts. That’s me. Perhaps for the longest time this relative has been trying to buy time for us (I don’t know that for a fact), by telling his dad that we’re moving soon, but at the same time telling us that things are ok and that his dad’s just over reacting. I don’t know this for a fact but I’m quite sure something along those lines happened. That the situation presented to me was not as it was completely. And probably more so for the father.

Lesson 7: Accept, Deal, Adapt, Forgive, Let go.

I also don’t know what had transpired between my relative and his parents, but it seems like they have the impression that they have “given us a lot of time to move but we didn’t do anything about it.” And I don’t appreciate their sentiments one bit. We were stressed, frustrated and spent just trying our best to find what was ideal. The maid complains about our current place, but she doesn’t know how bad the other places we had viewed prior to this place were. Given a choice, we wouldn’t even choose this place! We just did plainly because we had no choice.

We tried to think of alternatives for my relative’s father to move back in as soon as possible because that’s all he seems to be able to think about. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have a place to go to. It doesn’t matter that we need time to find an ideal place that’s liveable. It doesn’t matter that rental prices has gone up. It doesn’t matter that the lease was broken even before it was finished. It just doesn’t matter. All that matters is how much he wants his flat back. We proposed for him to move back and we take the guest room while he stays in the master bedroom, and we look for another place from there. But that was declined. Also, I’m just realising that had we really signed a contract with them, they would have to compensate us for the rest of the year since we moved out before the year was up.

So I’ll just say this. Stop the speculation/gossip. If you really want to find out what happened, then speak to me directly. There’s this great invention called the telephone. There’s no need to call up people who are not involved to stress them out unnecessarily, and there’s definitely no need to sift out information from the maid either, especially after we’ve moved.

I’m upset and disappointed, but I guess my next step would be learning to accept, deal, adapt, forgive and finally, to let it go.

1 comment:

Papa français said...

Hello, this post is not a surprise to me... Next lesson: do not have regrets about decisions you were not able to take freely. Further next lesson: now just take plenty time to look for a flat you will BUY, a flat you both like, in a place you both like... at a price you both can pay!!! And further following next lesson: there is not ONE flat in Singapore which will meet 100% of your ideal requirements. All the best to Ting and Yeti, the dream-team.