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Really? A retirement resort?

You know you’re getting old when news reports about retirement homes excite you. Particularly when you’re hitting the big 50 and have no children to support you in your old age. So there was a semi-helpful article in the Sunday Times about the “first retirement resort’’ to be built here. Waaah. Resort! So where’s the sauna and spa? The swimming pool? Didn’t say.

Where is it? Jalan Jurong Kechil, said SunTimes. Hah? Jurong? Actually no, it’s in Bukit Timah, according to TNP today. Wah. Good address. It’s really funny for TNP to talk about the crowds on Sunday… Hmm…probably led there by the SunTimes report. (I am assuming here that people still read the newspapers)

Okay, enough pot shots. Now to get down to the nitty-gritty.

You know, we’ve had enough news about housing old people over the years and how the infrastructure should be made “elder-friendly’’. It’s one big reason for the HDB’s upgrading programmes – old people can no longer climb the stairs to reach their flats because the lifts don’t stop at every floor. And it’s the main reason for the building of studio apartments which appears to have lost some of its shine in recent years, with the final take up rate for the first six months of last year at less than 70 per cent although there were two applicants for every flat. Note that there is an income ceiling: average gross monthly income of all applicants should not exceed $10,000.

Of course there are old folks homes with medical staff on standby. But it simply isn’t Asian to be children who dump their aged parents into other people’s care even if there are pressing reasons to do so. I mean, who would look after the grandkids? But what about the middle-class retirees who don’t have to draw on their Eldershield because they are able-bodied and are still sentient beings who don’t want to depend on their children? And who want to splash around in a Blue Lagoon?

A nice retirement village would fit the bill.

So it seems World Class Land, the developer of the Hillford (is it on a hill and are there good views? Doesn’t say in news reports), can claim that this is “the first development of its kind’’ in Singapore. (Move over, HDB and your studio apartments! The private sector is here!)

I wish the papers had done the job of comparing the apartments with what is on offer in public housing. But they are probably wary of doing a “puff’’ piece that would amount to free advertising.

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So here it is, according to the developer’s website.

–         The Hillford is a 10-minute walk to the upcoming Beauty World MRT station (Faster if I roll my wheelchair at top speed).

–         It has various “famous’’ schools nearby, such as Bukit Timah Primary School (parents please note and buy for investment purposes.)

–         It has a 24-hour concierge (it bills itself as the Ritz-Carlton Residences of Bukit Timah by the way) and its “payable upon usage ‘’. You wonder about the service and conservancy charges…

–         It will have five restaurants, seven medical-related facilities, one beauty salon, one laundry/flower store, one convenience store, one mini-mart bakery, one childcare centre (!), one eldercare centre and one “retail shop’’. In other words, it’s an integrated development, like every place else is now in Singapore.

–         It has a petanque lawn! (must learn to play this!)

–         And there are four swimming pools (splash, aqua aerobic, dip and spa) and even a Blue Lagoon…

So what did those who throng the showflats say about this? It’s interesting that they were more interested in the inside than the outside.  No non-slip flooring outside the bathroom. Marble tiles are “cold’’. Not enough space to manoeuvre a wheelchair. Toilets do not come with grab-bars. (And the URA had said that the site was released with special conditions to facilitate the “development of a private retirement housing project’’. )

In this instance, the HDB studio apartments beat the Hillford over the indoor amenities. It even has an “enlarged door eye viewer fitted on the main door’’.  

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Then there were people there who looked to be buying these apartments for investment, rather than to live in. Perhaps, they were thinking of their own future. Rent them out in the meantime, and then move in later. They are probably not going to be fussy about who their tenants are. Who cares right? So long as the rent is paid.

 This “retirement resort’’ might well be a draw for singles as well and newly marrieds.  There is, after all, no bar on what sort of people are eligible to buy. (And they wouldn’t mind not having non-slip floors and such)

What’s the price? It is $388,000 for 398sqf one-bedder, $498,000 for 506 sqf and $648,000 for 657sqf.  Remember that this is private property with condo facilities and a concierge on call.

Come to think of it, this “retirement resort’’ might well not have very many old folks living in its 281 units when it’s ready…Who cares right? So long as the developer collected the money.

PS. TNP had an accompanying story today next to the Hillford article about a couple who downsized to a HDB studio apartment. I wonder about the reason for this. To stop old people from buying private apartments that are beyond their reach when there are cheaper options  available?   


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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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