Condo Reviews I’ve Lived At The Rochester Residences For 4 Years: Here’s My Review Of What It’s Like For Family Living
- June 28, 2022
- 13 min read
In one of the pieces of advice we’ve given here at Stacked, we did an extensive comparison between Concourse Skyline, 76 Shenton, and The Rochester Residences. And so while The Rochester Residences isn’t in as glamorous a location – it is a bit of an under-the-radar development as most people don’t think of it as a residential area.
Constructed in 2011, The Rochester Residences only has 334 units and is a 99-year leasehold development. Despite its age, it remains one of the more attractive condominiums in the area because it is conveniently close to the MRT.
In addition, the Rochester area is set to appreciate more in the coming years because of the upcoming Rochester Commons. This development will feature a Grade A office tower, bungalows, a hotel, and an executive learning centre. Plus, if you factor in the tech firms within the vicinity, there is definitely more upside to this area than you might think.
While these features certainly do make up for the estate’s age, it’s always better to hear from residents who are actually staying there.
Ms. Siobhan (*not her real name for privacy reasons) and her family first moved into Rochester Residences in 2018. With roughly four years of living in the estate, they have collected a lot of valuable experiences to share with potential buyers.
Let’s take a look at their way of life in this estate to get a more realistic expectation of the place. But before that, it would be good to know what convinced them to reside at The Rochester Residences.
How Other Estates Compared to The Rochester Residences
Like most homebuyers, The Rochester Residences was not their first choice. She said that they looked at a few other estates, but most “were smaller in size for the same psf”, Ms. Siobhan elaborates.
“For example, another estate was within walking distance to an MRT station but the route was quiet and dark. There was another unit in a freehold estate that was also near an MRT station, but it had dark interiors due to lesser window openings.”
The other condos they took into consideration didn’t hit the mark with concerns about safety and design.
Ms. Siobhan chose not to name the estates so as not to put them down. However, what’s important to note here is that a home is a very subjective choice. What works really well for someone, may not appeal to another – so you should use these personal reviews as a way to filter – but ultimately, it’s always best to make a trip down to see for yourself.
What Made The Rochester Residences Stand Out To Us
So what considerations did Ms. Siobhan and her husband have when they were still looking for a home?
She revealed that most of the factors were from their own experience when they were still living in the South East. During that period, their workplaces and kids’ schools were in the West of Singapore, so the site wasn’t really that convenient.
“Our kids would either take an hour to commute by public transport from school or wait for us to pick them up after work, which is usually past 8pm,” Ms. Siobhan said. Thus, it was only natural that one of their key considerations for a home is one that’s in proximity to an MRT station. Their main priority is for their kids to be able to commute to and from school easily.
Since their children were entering upper primary back then, they also had to keep their options open for a generally accessible location to cater to secondary school possibilities. “We heard of many stories of long hours in secondary school, so reducing travel time was ideal,” she recalled.
Ms. Siobhan shared that after they moved to Rochester, their kids were able to return home early from school themselves. “We observed that they were more rested and had more time on their hands,” she added. These are plus points that are often overlooked by buyers. After all, time is truly the only thing that you can’t get back.
Another important consideration they had was a unit with a relatively large communal space since their family does quite a lot of things together. “With the kids entering their teenage years, we hope to continue our family activities rather than to isolate themselves in their respective rooms with their devices,” she said.
Needless to say, The Rochester Residences satisfied their requirements.
“When we first stepped in, we were struck by the airiness and brightness of the unit. We also liked the 3+1 configuration where we could dedicate a study area for the kids’ devices and our work.”
We asked Ms. Siobhan about their favourite parts of staying at The Rochester Residences, and she broke it down into three Cs – Convenience, Connectivity, and Configuration.
“We love that the MRT station is a short 7-minute walk away along a brightly lit main road,” she contently said, “which means that our teenage kids can commute by themselves past evening without us worrying about their safety.”
As an aside, Google Maps puts it as 3 minutes (if you walk by Star Vista), so perhaps it’s a matter of the route you take and how fast you walk.
For her own convenience, Ms. Siobhan goes over regularly to Star Vista – sometimes a few times a day, which is only about a 2-minute walk away (it is literally just next door). She said that if in case she forgot something, she could always run over to Cold Storage or 7-Eleven for eggs, milk, etc. Their go-to quick meals are EAT or Subway.
Ms. Siobhan said that when they were working from home and wanted to have a change of scenery, they would just head to Starbucks opposite Rochester Residence or at Dewtogether Cafe in Star Vista.
When it comes to enrichment activities, the Rochester Mall located below Rochester Residences got them covered. “After school, without having to cross any roads, our kids change from the residential lifts by themselves for lessons in robotics, drums, violin, taekwondo and at The Learning Lab.” she said, adding that she also sees many other residents doing the same as well.
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Her family loves how The Rochester Residences is only a short walk to Buona Vista Station. This MRT interchange has both the East-West and Circle lines, which means faster routes to many places.
In addition, there are several bus stops near the area – some of which are less than a 3-minute walk. “Our eldest attends a secondary school in the Bukit Timah area,” she said. The bus provides another alternative ride aside from the MRT, with the bus ride taking approximately 20 minutes from school.
And if they choose to drive along the way, it’s a great boon that Rochester Residences has short, direct access to AYE to the city or to the west.
The third C is all about their unit’s layout or configuration. With their unit connected by a balcony, they get to have natural lighting with good airflow through the house without exposure to the afternoon sun. There’s also plenty of space for their kids to run around.
Their balcony is more than 2 metres wide, which her parents initially thought was a waste of space. The couple did some DIY for their decking and put on a 7-seater dining table to maximize the space. They installed blinds to keep the elements away. They also installed a rocking chair, beanbag, and a swing in the area, making their balcony a great place for lounging in or reading.
Since they have the dining table on the balcony, it opened up more space in the living room. The unit certainly satisfied their initial desire to have a large communal space in the home.
Ms. Siobhan said that she also loves how every unit in the estate has its own privacy since they are spread out on each level. “None of the main doors face each other,” she said, “and for units with main doors side by side, there is a wall that separates the two doors.”
What A Typical Rochester Day Looks Like
Every estate has its own unique atmosphere, usually stemming from the community, amenities, and other environmental factors. If you’re planning to stay on any property for this matter, it’s always important to understand if it’s something you’re willing to change for or if it aligns with your current lifestyle.
We asked Ms. Siobhan to describe the way of life in The Rochester Residences, especially having stayed there for years already.
Ms. Siobhan said that despite the estate receiving TOP in 2011, the management had been regularly upgrading the facilities. She listed some of the upgrades the estate went through in the past 2 years, including:
- Gym renovation with new equipment in 2021
- Tiles along the corridor on each level were re-laid
- Lift lobbies on each level were revamped with mirrored walls
There are also new lounge areas, furniture, and BBQ patios. She said that along the driveway, the management introduced new lighting features, which brightened up the space.
Weekends are when the family can fully enjoy their place – with work and school set aside.
“On weekends, we could be jogging and cycling along the Rail Corridor from Buona Vista to Jelita or King Albert Park,” Ms. Siobhan shared. They could also be taking a five-minute walk from Rochester to McDonald’s at the Metropolis for breakfast.
Occasionally, they would walk to Shen Siong at Ghim Moh or Fair Price at Holland Drive for groceries, each taking less than 10 minutes or around 15 minutes, respectively. “In the afternoon, we drive the kids for their weekend enrichment either at Clementi Mall, Upper Bukit Timah or Bukit Merah, all within a 15-minute drive away,” she said.
“We dine out on weekends and there are plenty of F&B options nearby.” Some of the places they go to include Holland Village, Ghim Moh Market, Fusionopolis, ABC Market, Tiong Bahru Plaza, Queensway IKEA, Vivo City, and Alexandria Retail Center. “We look forward to more dining places at the upcoming Rochester Commons,” Ms. Siobhan remarked.
When it comes to parks and recreation, One North Park (Rochester East) is right at their doorstep. They usually go to the West Coast Park Dog Run, One North Park (Biopolis) opposite Rochester Residences or Kent Ridge Park. But when it comes to their favourite spot, Ms. Siobhan said that nothing beats the open space along Dover Road/Maidstone Road.
A Look Behind The Rochester Residences Facade
No property or estate is perfect, and The Rochester Residences is certainly no different. Ms. Siobhan was also open to sharing some downsides of staying at the estate.
“Occasionally on Friday and Saturday nights,” she disclosed, “laughter and banter from patrons of the bar downstairs can be heard, and only dies down by 10 pm.” Ms. Siobhan said that this usually occurs twice or thrice a month only. But otherwise, the estate is generally quiet.
Parking is another downside. She said that, unlike other condos, family and friends who visit them have to pay parking fees as the residence carpark is shared with The Rochester Mall carpark. “So we warn them beforehand,” was their immediate and only solution. “The 4-storey spiral carpark ramp takes a while to get used as well.”
For improvements, Ms. Siobhan has one thing in mind. “It would be great if the condo has an air conditioned function room. This will be useful to host events or activities.”
Considerations Potential Buyers Should Know
Now let’s get to know some interesting details The Rochester Residences has that you won’t usually find in brochures and other marketing materials.
Ms. Siobhan said that there are families in the estate, and they are diverse. “There is a large Japanese community, as well as kids from different nationalities who go to the nearby international schools.” On school days, it’s pretty normal to see several school buses serving the Japanese and International schools.
“Our family has received Korean snacks during Chu Seok and have been invited for games with kids from other international neighbours,” she happily said.
They also have children going to local primary schools, which are 2 to 3 stops or less than 10 minutes drive away. These schools are Fairfield, ACS(I), Henry Park, and Nanyang.
For a better sense of the diversity, in the level where Ms. Siobhan’s family is staying – there are four Japanese, one Korean, and two local families. The remaining units are a mix of locals and Koreans with no children.
In terms of maintenance fees, Ms. Siobhan said that the total cost is comparable with most estates. “We pay for maintenance of common areas in the mall and hotel on top of our estate maintenance.” The monthly fees include car park cleaning and daily mopping of walkways. The fee amounts to a total of approximately $400 for a 3-bedroom unit.
Ms. Siobhan said that she’d been asked if they share facilities with the adjacent Park Avenue Rochester Hotel. “The short answer is that the hotel guests and mall patrons have no access to Rochester Residences.” However, she shared that residents of The Rochester could use common areas such as the hotel’s car park or drop-off, which are separately located from the residences.
If you’re planning to buy a unit as an investment, The Rochester Residences caters to this purpose. Ms. Siobhan has observed that there is no lack of interest from expatriate families. “The rental yield is relatively high,” she said, “and many work in the nearby One-North area.”
Staying At The Rochester Residences
The Rochester Residences has been around for more than a decade already and continues to age well. While there are a few gripes that Ms. Siobhan and her family have experienced on this estate, its location and community are really what make it a really liveable area for them.
As to how long are they planning on staying at The Rochester Residences, Ms. Siobhan answered “We plan to stay another 5 to 7 years as our entire family is comfortable and happy here.” She added that there are several universities and polytechnics nearby as well, which will be convenient for their children in the years to come.
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