August 14, 2022

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House hunting: Which condos are the best for a family of 3 whose priority is school proximity?, Lifestyle News

3 min read

Hello,

Firstly, thanks for all the articles, enjoy reading them.

We are a family of three, with a two-year-old and would like to upgrade to a condo (big two bedder unit or a regular three bedder), and having primary school options within 1-2KM will be our priority.

We like City Square Residences for its location and freehold nature and would like to seek your opinion if it is still a good buy now for own stay, considering that prices seem to be at an all-time high. While City Square Residences is freehold and closer to the train station and mall, however there are fewer choice primary schools within 1KM, as compared to Kerrisdale, where HongWen Primary school is within 1KM.

Our next concern will be affordability as we can get a three bedder unit at Kerrisdale, while we can only afford a two bedder at City Square Residences. Ideally we will like to stay in this property for ten years until our son completes primary school.

We are also open to Potong Pasir area, like One Leicester / Nin Residences, but am afraid that we may need to worry about exit strategy as that area has many condo projects. Bartley Residences is also one of our option as it is very near to the train station and Maris Stella Pri Sch but has lesser amenities compared to Potong Pasir.

Thanks for taking your time to read our email and sorry if our thoughts are not too clear, as this will be a very big purchase and we want to be sure we will not be overpaying or have to worry that the property does not appreciate as the past trend.

Thank you

Hey there

Happy to hear that you have enjoyed our content! Thank you for sharing your intended purchase with your requirements too. As school proximity is the main priority for the upgrade, we will share some of our thoughts and analysis on the developments based on the criteria that you have shortlisted. For a more structured read, we will categorise based on the three different districts and we will try to shed some light on the future potential for your future exit strategy.

Let’s start with District 8. City Square Residences and Kerrisdale share the same set of amenities and transport links with Farrer Park MRT station nearby. For those that drive, it is within a minute’s reach of the Central Expressway (CTE) and is in close proximity to Central Business District (CBD). Between the two though, Kerrisdale is located slightly further away and on the quieter side of Farrer Park.

On the other hand, we do like the separation between the residential blocks and commercial space for City Square; which allows for some privacy from the main buzz on the commercial side with a road separating the two. But because of that, it puts all the residential blocks out of the 1 km radius from Hong Wen School which is your preferred school, which then leaves only Kerrisdale to be within proximity to Hong Wen School.

For now, only Stamford and Farrer Park Primary School are within the 1 km proximity range. However, do note that the two schools will be merged from next year onwards.

City Square Residences:

With an extensive land size developed by reputable developer, CDL, City Square Residences offers a good range of facilities including two tennis courts, Karaoke television (KTV), a bowling alley, and even an extensive park! However, with over 900 units here, it comes as no surprise about the facility offerings here.

It does also have a wide range of unit offerings here from studio units to the biggest four-bedroom units, so the developer has catered to both investors and own stay profiles. Price-wise, it has risen well over the years, and currently stands at $1,8xx psf.

Plus, with its freehold status and it being an integrated project with a mall and connectivity to Farrer Park MRT station, you do have value retention in the long run.

The launch of Piccadilly Grand does give some indication of the demand of the area, and with 77 per cent sold on launch day is very encouraging indeed. While it could partly be attributed to a dearth of major new launches in 2022 so far, the addition of Piccadilly Grand and the new Build to order (BTO) flats in Farrer Park will be helpful to support prices here in the next few years.

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Layout analysis:

At 840 sq ft, the two bedder units here are definitely larger in size as compared to the average new launch today. The unit opens to a long foyer area which allows for some privacy.

In addition, the entrance comes with a neatly tucked closet/storage cabinet for shoe or storage purposes. The unit comes with a good-sized enclosed kitchen with plenty of cabinet space on both sides of the area.

We do like the wide living and dining area here; as it is spacious for a two bedder unit. Like most older developments, bedrooms here are of a decent size however the master bedroom here comes with bay windows which takes up unnecessary space.

On another note, the master bathroom here comes with both a bathtub and shower; a rarity in two-bedroom units today.

Lastly, both bathrooms and kitchen areas come with ventilation windows which is great for natural ventilation.

On to the downsides; we are not too sure of your laundry regime, personally, we prefer a proper yard or balcony area for laundry; which is lacking here.

While a dryer may solve the laundry issue, most family profiles still prefer the traditional way of drying their laundry by hanging in a yard or balcony space. Thus this layout would cater to a smaller group of buyers.

Kerrisdale:

Located just a few hundred metres away from City Square Residences, Kerrisdale is a leasehold development and the oldest development on your list. It is situated on a quieter street; and is away from the main road with only 481 units so Kerrisdale is less dense as compared to City Square Residences.

It offers a decent range of facilities though again (the pool is big and there is a badminton court), while units here are spacious in size and efficient in terms of layout efficiency. Prices have appreciated well over the years, and currently stand at $1,2xx psf which is decent for an RCR development and as you mentioned, for the same quantum as City Square, you could get a spacious three bedder unit here.

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Layout analysis:

At 1,270 sq ft, it is an efficient and squarish layout, and a relatively safe choice for a family own stay profile. We do like the flexibility of the kitchen setup here, with the lack of internal columns, which allows for an open kitchen layout as well if you prefer that.

In addition, the unit comes with a decent yard area for laundry and an en-suite utility room with a proper ventilation window panel and WC; which could potentially be used for storage or to house a helper. The living and dining areas are of a good size which is great for families with young children; as there is more space for the kids.

The bedrooms are all of an acceptable size and similar to City Square Residences, the master bathroom comes with both shower and bathtub set-up.

On the other hand, the unit comes with planters instead of a proper balcony space; a downside if you are one that prefers proper outdoor space with comfy seating to enjoy some fresh air. All in all, this is a very decent layout, especially for family own stay profiles.

On to the next district, District 13 with One Leicester and Nin Residences; both of which are located within 1 km proximity to St Andrew’s Junior School; with Nin residence set slightly further away.

Amenities-wise, both developments are located within walking distance to The Poiz Centre, The Venue Shoppes, and the nearby HDB enclave for basic amenities options. Additionally, Nin residence stands out with additional amenities options located over at the new Bidadari BTO enclave.

In terms of connectivity, both developments are within walking distance to Potong Pasir MRT station. And you also have ample bus services along Serangoon Road; connecting the area to other parts of Singapore. For those that drive, the PIE entrance is within minute’s reach with CBD about a 20-minute drive away.

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One Leicester:

With only 194 units in total, the majority of which are three and four bedder units, we do believe this development caters to a specific group of buyers; owner own stay profiles. From the data below, backed with low transaction volume and very few unit offerings on property portals; One Leicester ticks the boxes for proximity to St Andrew’s Junior School, amenities, and Potong Pasir MRT station.

It offers a decent range of facilities including a tennis court, a rarity today, especially with a unit count under 200. However, despite the spacious size offered here, it comes with lots of bay windows which most buyers aren’t really fans of. Overall, with its freehold status, it does stand you in better stead if your plans change and you are planning to hold on for a longer time period.

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Layout analysis:

Similar to Kerrisdale, the three bedder unit sizes here are spacious in size. Coming in at 1,249 sq ft, this is slightly larger than the usual five-room BTO flats if we were to compare it hence this may be considered a slight upgrade in terms of unit size.

On to the plus points of this unit, the unit opens to a foyer area which provides some privacy, and with a horizontal unit set up here, it allows for more natural lighting into the unit via the balcony and window panels respectively. The unit comes with an enclosed kitchen in an L-shape layout and in addition, there is a proper yard area for laundry and an in-unit household shelter for storage or as a helper’s room.

All bedrooms here are reasonable in size; and can accommodate a queen-size bed minimally. Lastly, both bathrooms come with ventilation windows for natural ventilation.

On a less positive note, units here come with bay windows in the dining, bedrooms, bathrooms, and even the bedroom walkway! This takes up a lot of the internal space and if you’ve been looking for developments in this age range, this was a common design trait back in the 2000s through the early 2010s. Overall, with the sheer unit size and squarish layout, it can cater to most family own stay profiles.

Nin Residences:

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Layout analysis:

For a relatively new development, the three bedder units here are considered quite spacious and well laid out. At 1,238 sq ft, it ticks a lot of boxes, especially for a family own stay unit.

The unit opens straight to a good size kitchen area with the provision of a wet & dry kitchen; a great set-up especially for those that love to entertain.

Plenty of cabinet space for storage but it comes with the expense of the lack of a proper yard area for laundry and an oddly placed washer area right next to the household shelter doorway.

However, we do like the in-unit household shelter here which could be used for storage or a helper’s room. Moving further into the unit, it offers a wide living area that could potentially fit in a good size sofa; but you will have some constraints for the dining area as it is bounded by the foyer and the entry into the hallway leading to the bedrooms.

We do also like the neatly tucked storage cabinet along the bedroom walkway; extra storage space is always a huge plus for families.

Bedrooms here are decent in size while the master bedrooms are spacious in size, especially for a relatively new development.

We do like the addition of a walk-in wardrobe here and the two extra window panels are a great welcome to see; which allows for more natural light and ventilation into the bedroom. Plus having a little balcony is also a rare perk to find. Lastly, both bathrooms and kitchen area come with windows which is great for natural ventilation.

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Bartley Residences:

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Layout analysis:

At 1,098 sq ft, this is the smallest among the three bedders mentioned here.

The unit opens to a foyer area with a wall that provides some form of privacy. Similar to One Leicester, the layout comes with a horizontal unit set up which allows for more natural lighting in the unit though we must say the living and dining area is on the smaller side.

The unit comes with a decent-sized kitchen with an L-shaped configuration; this allows for a little more cabinet space. In addition, it comes with a proper yard area for laundry.

As mentioned earlier, the in-unit household shelter is a plus for storage space or to accommodate a helper’s room. Additionally, we do like the provision of a jack & jill common bathroom here; as it is efficient and effectively makes one of the bedrooms an “ensuite”. Lastly, both bathrooms and kitchen come with ventilation window panels which is great for natural ventilation.

On the downside, while the master bedroom is of a good size with a small balcony (although it looks too small to be really useful), the common bedrooms here are on the smaller side.

We are uncertain about the exact area but a comfortable size common bedroom should at least be able to accommodate a queen-size bed minimally. This is especially important to be on the safe side when it comes to a future exit plan.

Future potential:

The Boon Keng area has seen quite a few BTO launches in the past few years and we do foresee future upgrader’s demand for resale options in the vicinity.

Similarly over at Bidadari Estate, with 12 BTO projects, four of which were completed have made the area more lively with more amenities added into the area including The Woodleigh Mall.

This indirectly puts Nin Residences and Bartley Residences with an upper hand when it comes to convenience to amenities as both developments are located closer to the new estate. Nin Residences would cater to family own stay profiles that prefer to be in a smaller community yet are within walking distance to amenities over at Potong Pasir side.

Additionally, with over 7,800 BTO units in the area, upgraders demand that prefer to stay in the same locality may likely pick the condos in the Bartley/Potong Pasir region, especially with Nin Residences located within the 1 km range to St Andrew Junior School and Bartley Residences located right across highly sought after Maris Stella High School; which will likely attract an upgrader family profile when it comes to future exit.

Hence it boils down to layout efficiency as most family profiles would still prefer a spacious and efficient unit size to take the leap from their BTO flats to a private property.

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Conclusion:

The most important thing to identify for a property purchase is the motivation for doing so. And because you’ve already highlighted that the proximity to a primary school is the most important criteria, that should form the basis for you to make your decision on which is the most ideal development for you and your family.

As such given the options that you have picked out, it is quite clear that City Square Residences would be the first to go, given that it doesn’t quite fulfil the school option for you. Not to mention, your budget is only able to purchase a two-bedroom unit here is a major downside as no yard, utility room, or third bedroom for future proof if your family grows bigger makes this the least practical choice. And so while it ticks the boxes for convenience to amenities and the MRT station, the rest of the package really doesn’t fit your requirements.

Many upgraders sometimes forget to think about the practical aspects, and switching costs. Moving from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom in the future can be a lot more troublesome than you think, both in the aspects of time and stress.

Personally, out of the three-bedroom options, we would pick Nin Residences for the newer facilities, lower unit count, and proximity to St Andrew’s Junior School and CBD. Additionally, Nin Residences stands to benefit with walkable distance to both Potong Pasir and the newer Bidadari estate, and this leaves you with tons of options when it comes to basic needs/amenities.

To be honest, a ten-year timeline is a long period of time hence a development that is within walking distance to amenities, transportation links, and school (covering the basics) is always going to be a safer bet.

Perhaps the biggest drawback currently would be the noise from the main road which could be a disturbance to your kid’s sleep in the afternoon (so be careful which stack you pick). We understand your concern about competition from neighbouring projects when it comes to future exit, but with the Bidadari estate nearby you do have a large pool of HDB upgraders to support the prices in the future.

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To be fair, Potong Pasir/Woodleigh and Bartley area are pretty much built up and the developments in the area are a mixture of various development types from small boutique developments to full-fledge condominiums with a full range of facilities hence catering to different groups of buyers.

Nin Residences in this case offers convenience to public transportations and amenities across two neighbourhoods, plus with two primary schools options within 1 km proximity namely, St Andrew’s Junior School and Cedar Primary school – it fulfills your main criteria here.

Bartley Residences will be our second pick for proximity to Maris Stella High school and relatively decent facilities offerings but on the other note, unit sizes are on the smaller side among all the developments mentioned here added with smaller living, dining, and common bedrooms which may be a huge drawback, especially among family own stay profiles.

Do take note that most of the three bedder stacks here face the main road and BTO construction hence noise would be the major issue here. Although to be fair, with the completion of the BTO project and The Woodleigh Mall, the area will see more amenities added into the area.

One Leicester for a smaller community with decent facilities offerings added with freehold status; which is great for value retention in the long term. However, do be mindful of the maintenance fees due to its lower number of units here and the upkeep cost over the years. Additionally, units here come with lots of bay windows which take up space.

Kerrisdale, is the oldest development among all and we are wary of the lease and upkeep cost in the long run since you are looking at a beyond ten years exit plan.

With this, we hope that this would prove useful in your decision-making.

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.

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