Property Stories Touring Teacher’s Housing Estate: The Cheapest And Most Spacious Freehold Landed Estate (D26)
- December 26, 2021
- 12 min read
In today’s short attention span world with many different things vying for your attention, those who want to stand out have to resort to certain “tactics”. So if a property ad wants to get the attention of property hunters such as myself, the words “fire sale” or “undervalued” should do the trick. (Unfortunately, they’re seldom warranted as they tend to be indiscriminately used!)
Another attention-grabbing phrase is “one of the cheapest freehold landed estates in Singapore” which is what first drew my attention to Teacher’s Housing Estate and resulted in me trekking over early one weekday morning to tour the houses. (Note: the houses here – a total of 256 as per the records in 1968 – are a mix of freehold and 999-years leasehold – almost as good as freehold, dating from 1885.)
The first word that comes to my mind once I stepped into Teacher’s Housing Estate is “sprawling” (or “expansive.” In case it’s not clear, “expansive” is always a good thing in the Singapore property context.) Everything seems to be on a bigger scale here, from the wider distance between the houses to the houses themselves. The roads are so broad, they feel more spacious than many prime Bukit Timah estates (think Mount Sinai) and even some GCB neighbourhoods that I’ve visited. Whilst Teachers’ Housing Estate comprises only terrace houses, these terraces are bigger than some semi-detached houses that I’ve seen! (The inter-terraces are around 1,600-1,800 square feet whilst the corner terraces are larger at 2,000 sq ft+.) To get a sense for yourself, you can check out this YouTube video that I found of someone doing a driving tour of the estate.
When touring MacPherson Garden Estate, I could immediately see why it frequently makes the list of Singapore’s cheapest freehold landed estate (a lot of houses require a significant amount of work and/or are limited in size – some less than 1,000 sq ft and barely wider than my arm span!) but with Teachers’ Housing Estate, it was different. Although I could see that many of the houses are old – they still boast the original architecture (and thus may not have had their plot ratios maximised). But they do not look rundown and the estate feels both comfortable and well-loved. (In fact, 2 reviews on Google comment that a lot of “rich people” live at Teacher’s Housing Estate – am not quite sure why that is relevant for a Google review, but it’s not a comment I would have expected of a neighbourhood that frequently makes the list of Singapore’s cheapest freehold landed property!)
Because the house is built on a slope, one side of the basement actually opens into the garden (or yard), allowing light to flood the house. This also makes it possible to build a 2nd entrance into the house, which is perfect for multi-generational families: the various generations can come and go (or have guests over) as they please, maintaining their privacy. No need to explain to your parents why you are going out yet again when you’re already long past the threshold of adulthood. (Or vice versa- elderly parents can sneak out more often to have kopi with friends without overly concerned children babying them too much.)
If you don’t need that much space, the “terraced” structure of the house also makes it possible to turn it into a dual-key property and rent out either the lower or the upper portion. (Personally, I would prefer to live on the upper story, as upstairs neighbours can be noisy, especially if they have young children.)
The neighbourhood is very old-school and charming: it rather reminds me of the Sembawang Beach estate which I visited a while back and fell in love with. True, there isn’t a sea and beach here (also no fumes from industrial Malaysia) but there are lots of open green land, a humongous playground and nice and quiet surroundings. (Teacher’s Housing Estate is about a 20-minute walk to Lower Pierce Reservoir, which is perfect for nature lovers.) Moreover, the drive here was much, much shorter so living here would definitely be much more convenient than near Sembawang Beach! It was also a very easy drive from central Singapore – straight roads and not much traffic despite it being peak hour. I can definitely see myself living here.
As I toured Teachers’ Housing Estate, it struck me that one thing I really struggle with about flats in Singapore (besides being packed together like sardines) is conformity. Due to estate rules, flats can be quite cookie-cutter (you need – and may not receive – permission to change your doors, your windows, to build on your own roof terrace etc.) Landed houses, in contrast, allow you the freedom to really express yourself and build a home that not only suits your way of living but that you also love. This is especially true at Teacher’s Housing Estate, where many houses are brimming with personality.
For history buffs, here is some information about Teacher’s Housing Estate – I won’t repeat it in this article as I presume you’re here to find out more about property rather than history. In a nutshell, Teacher’s Housing Estate was initiated by the Teacher’s Union in the 60s and completed in 1967 to provide affordable landed housing for the teachers then, which is why the roads are all named after famous philosophers and teachers:
- Munshi Abdullah Avenue
- Omar Khayyam Avenue
- Kalidasa Avenue
- Tagore Avenue
- Iqbal Avenue
- Tu Fu Avenue
- Li Po Avenue
There is a row of shophouses within the Estate that provide basic services, from an old-school bakery to a pet-related shop, laundry service, pizza shop, and even church! It makes life easier if you have a restaurant nearby and, according to Google, the food at La Pizzaiola is good: 4.4 out of 5 stars.
You’re also only a short walk or drive away from several restaurants, such as Casaurina curry and Sanpachiro (4 minutes walk), and a 14-minute walk to Sembawang Hills Food Centre.
The newly built Lentor MRT, which opened earlier this year, is an 11-minute walk away and will be the site of a new mixed-use development, so you can expect more shops to be built in the future. (A supermarket or 2 would be very handy!)
Things to note
- There is only 1 primary school (CHIJ St Nicks) within the coveted 1km mark, which could be a reason why the neighbourhood is so tranquil! In fact, we walked by the playground several times within the hour and it was only used by a group of elderly residents.
- I really, really like this estate but someone I know who has made a lot of money in property warned me that Teacher’s Housing Estate is extremely humid, due to its being located in a valley, which would result in one’s things spoiling extremely quickly, so something to think about there. If anyone has experience living in a humid home, please do share in the comments below!
- Do note that properties built on slopes may suffer from slope creep after a while, so you may want to get a contractor/ structural engineer to check out the stability of the slope and the house foundations!
- One side of Teacher’s Housing Estate is bordered by the freehold condo Meadows at Pierce. Interestingly, its penthouse sells for about the same price as a corner terrace here!
- If you’ve been following my house-hunting series, you’ll realise that I love properties set amongst open green spaces. Teacher’s Housing Estate certainly ticks the box but, unfortunately in Singapore, open spaces seldom last as most are not protected. If you look at the masterplan below, you’ll note many large empty residential plots around Teacher’s Housing Estate, some with plot ratios of 2.1 (meaning that the new developments will be high rise and very noisy/slow to construct). 2 Lentor Hill plots have just been released this year so I’m not sure how long residents will have before they start living in the middle of a massive construction site.
Teacher’s Housing Estate ties with Sembawang Beach as my favourite landed estate so far, but some things need careful consideration, such as the humidity and the slopes. Moreover, recent prices have moved up – there are only 2 inter-terraces for sale at about $3.5 million and if you look at the Squarefoot chart below, the average price after 2020 seems to be higher than before, which I’m guessing is due to COVID and the newly opened MRT/ increased accessibility.
(One current for sale listing, for example, is only doing the sale through video and won’t allow viewings until after you’ve made an Offer to Purchase! When the market is so hot that property sellers have that much power, I find it best to be cautious.)
Nonetheless, I am definitely going to save this to my property watchlist, along with the Jalan Loyang Besar condos and Sembawang Beach houses. See you again next week when I go to tour another of the landed estates that frequently populate the “Singapore’s cheapest freehold landed estates” list!