Some say that moving homes is one of the most stressful life events that people can go through. Having laid in a hospital bed staring at the ceiling hoping that there was a slight chance that some spaghetti monster in the sky was looking down on me having my back I would disagree wholeheartedly. But moving apartments is…cumbersome and with a lot of moving parts so I thought I would run through what I did to make the move as efficient and stress-free as possible. Although this applies specifically to Singapore; maybe the organisation of it all can be adapted to other cities around the world.
In Singapore, there are usually two agents involved in a property rental. Your agent that you as the lessor have contacted to find a property and the actual landlord’s agent. I had had enough of paying our property agent half a month’s rent when we dealt with the landlord’s agent most of the time anyway for issues. You see, in Singapore, if you only renew one year contracts each year your agent needs a monumental fee (only if your rent is above $3500 also) to print out the contract for you to sign. Anyway, it’s very vague but if you only deal with the landlord’s agent then all that crap goes away. Lesson learned. Always look for properties that are being handled by the landlord’s agent.
So I used 99.co and propertyguru.com.sg exclusively and near the end of my hunt 99.co was the go-to website as it’s just a little more clear and the searches are more customisable. I looked for listings that said “landlord agent – no fees” which are few and far between but they are there and we did end up finding one which we jumped on and went with.
So you have to start, then, getting your stuff in order.
Starhub/Singtel/Whoever to change your service address. This gets more complicated if you have fiber and you will have to pay relocation and installation fees if your new apartment doesn’t have any. We actually cancelled our TV subscription and fiber so I had to bring the TV Receiver box, remote, fiber modem, fiber cable, and HDMI cable to a Starhub Service Centre to confirm cancellation.
We don’t get a lot of mail but you may want to forward any mail that goes to your old address to your new one and you need to fill out this form and hand it in to a post office. $30 for one month forwarding.
You would have an Aircon maintenance contract with someone already so give them a heads up and arrange for them to do their last visit with or without you there depending on timing.
One thing you may not have a contract for is curtain cleaning which you must do on a semi-regular basis here in Singapore. More if you smoke like a chimney in your own home I guess. I have used Singapore DryClean Expert who come dismantle and put back up your curtains so you don’t have to worry about that. We had 20 day curtains and 20 night curtains which they charged $540 for. Not cheap but probably the most reasonably priced out there. They also answer emails from their website quickly which pleased me (tardy replies is a pet peeve of mine).
There are nightmares abound about landlords holding people for ransom before moving out of their property. You see, we pay two month’s rent up front in Singapore at the start of a rental agreement. Then anything they see weird before you move out will be deducted from that. Wear and tear. Define it? Yeah. And therein, lies the problem. Stains? Cracks? Holes? Smashed windows? Smashed furniture? Grafitti? All debatable. Well, not really. But you can see where arguments may occur.
The one thing I realised in trying to make our apartment look brand spanking new after spending 6 years in it is that there are a lot of homemade recipes out there that clean stuff good! Mattress sweat stains (yeah, that’s right)? Hydrogen peroxide, baking powder, and a drop of dish soap. Magic. General stains? Vinegar yo. Then you have the American imported Magic Erasers which help with wall marks and smudges of a hundred steadying hands along the years.
Who is going to be in charge of your delicates? Who is going to throw your stuff in to the back of a van like a surly baggage handler at a crappy airport? You have many to choose from and everyone in Singapore, it seems, uses someone else to move stuff. I contacted two. Elite Movers and Shalom Movers. Both have good reviews and both have bad reviews. Elite replied to my email the fastest so they had the upper hand from the start. Shalom actually called me back about a day later. They both came and assessed my apartment and they both were nice and professional. Shalom quoted $750 and Elite quoted $500. After a few confirmations with Elite, I went with them. They duly delivered 45 boxes, tape, paper, and bubble wrap, and the job of realising how much crap we had collected commenced.
Figuring out how your new apartment has nothing in common with your old apartment is natural so some extra purchases may be necessary. If you are buying or are being given stuff by people you can use GoGoVan to hire a driver/mover to transport smaller quantities of stuff. My friends gave us two book shelves so I hired a 2.9m van with driver for $45. I had arranged a move with LaLaMove but the time arrived and van was not moving on the GPS map for a good 20 minutes. Finally I rang the driver, who sounded like I woke him up and he muttered “Wrong number”. Never again LaLaMove. You can use Lazada etc. to purchase anything else (including furniture) and get them delivered. Screw Ikea!! See what I did there?
And, of course, what’s a new apartment without adding some colour, joy, and some lovely aromas (other than our plethora of Yankee Candles) in the shape of some nice flowers?! A Better Florist has some great bundles to pick from and get delivered right to your doorstep.
A whole bunch of letters and paragraphs to sum up a lot of work, sweat, blood, and tears in moving apartments in Singapore. Looks simple right? Enjoy.