Property Stories We Moved To A 38-Year-Old Executive Maisonette: Here’s What It’s Like To Stay In An Old EM In Jurong West
- November 25, 2022
- 9 min read
When Winnie (*not her real name for privacy reasons) and her husband were looking for a home for their future family years ago, their top priority was a place with at least three bedrooms as they wanted to have kids. This meant that the place had to house them for the next 10 to 15 years.
Another big factor they considered is the proximity to public transport and amenities, as the couple was not planning to buy a car anytime soon. They also wanted their place in the west near Winnie’s in-laws. “We actually had a detailed discussion where we laid out all these factors,” she recalled.
They actually weren’t considering an executive maisonette at first, as Winnie preferred newer HDBs because they had the rubbish chutes located on the outside.
So why would they include EMs in their choices when they have been phased out already – with the last batch built way back in 1995?
And mind you, this occurred back in 2016 way before the pandemic, and demand for bigger homes just shot through the roof.
Well, here’s a quick answer in two words: space and layout.
What Sets Executive Maisonettes Apart
For the uninitiated, executive maisonettes were first built in the 1980s. These units typically span two floors and a floor area that range from 1,540 sq ft to 2,140 sq ft. This makes it a draw for homebuyers who want a bigger and more unusual home.
Although it must be said, the large space is not just where the allure of this type of HDB unit comes from. There’s also the logical layout where the upper floor is focused more on the residents’ privacy while the lower floor is geared towards its communal purpose.
While the second floor holds the bedrooms or private living quarters, the first floor usually has a study or utility room aside from the kitchen, dining, and living area. The utility room can be repurposed into a house helper’s bedroom or a bedroom for grandparents who are staying with the family. It can also be used as a home office space, which is perfect for today’s developing work-from-home culture.
The amenities that surround HDB maisonette estates are also a big plus. Since these HDBs were built decades ago, it’s only natural to expect that they are now located in mature estates.
All that said, it doesn’t come without drawbacks.
If you’re planning to get one today, expect only 60 years left in the HDB lease period. You’ll also have to deal with possibly extensive repairs, considering how old some of these units can be.
But even with these drawbacks, Winnie and her husband still chose to live in an EM because there are also specific positive points that only their maisonette at Jurong West St 41 can provide.
What Made Investing On EM Worth It
Back when they were still searching for their home, the couple considered a few developments in the area.
She said they were able to view units in Parc Oasis and Parc Vista. However, they had issues with the layout.
Parc Oasis has a big yet awkward-shaped living room and tiny bedrooms with clunky layouts. On the other hand, Parc Vista only has low-rising units, which her husband didn’t like. “He prefers to live above the 5th floor,” she added.
We asked Winnie what attracted them to Jurong West St 41 in the first place.
“My husband knew the area well as it was next to his old primary school and near his childhood home,” replied Winnie.
She admitted that the HDB was older than what she had hoped for, as she first had her eyes set on a younger HDB as the rubbish chute is located outside the unit.
However, she said that the bathrooms, in particular, were really spacious in comparison to other units they saw.
“Because it’s an old HDB executive maisonette, the bedrooms are large and I can easily fit all three of my kids into one room. I even outfit a full half-office in my master bedroom complete with 2 desks, a queen-sized bed, and wardrobes and storage.”
She said there was plenty of space in the living/dining areas. Her kids didn’t feel cooped up, even during the dreaded Circuit Breaker.
Their location is also ideal. Winnie further elaborates that they’re an easy walking distance from two different markets/hawker centres, together with a whole slew of coffee shops and neighbourhood shops like clinics, bakeries, fast food, hair salons, and a small NTUC FairPrice.
Truly, these are the benefits that come from a very mature estate.
Their childcare is within walking distance, and they have a nice park just downstairs. The Lakeside MRT is also within walking distance but far enough that they don’t get bothered by the noise. Plus, the shopping malls at Boon Lay and Jurong East are just 1 to 2 MRT stops away, which is great on the weekends.
The Benefits Of Living In A Mature Estate
Winnie shared that their typical weekday mornings start off with them sending their kids to school on foot. “There are at least two different childcare centres within walking distance,” she added.
And then they head off to work, to which they have two alternatives — via the MRT or by car. If they choose to go with the first option, it would only take them about a 7 to 10-minute walk to the station, which is mostly covered. With two expressways nearby, going to work either by car or taxi is also a convenient option.
On days when they’re working from home, they can pop down to two different neighbourhood areas in different directions – which are both only a 5-minute walk away. They can choose to have hawker food or dine at fast food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, etc.
On weekends, they would bring their kids down to the malls at Jurong East for extracurricular classes like art and ballet. They would also pick up groceries from the FairPrice Xtra and have lunch from various places. Sometimes, they also choose to head to Jurong Point, which is just one stop away, for another huge FairPrice Xtra.
“I really enjoy having all that wonderful local food within walking distance, but also the convenience of two huge FairPrice Xtras to do my grocery run.”
She added that pretty much any shop you see downtown can be found in Jurong nowadays. There are multiple Don Don Donkis and a huge Daiso at IMM, to name a few. But she said she’s still waiting for a Sushiro.
Living With The Drawbacks Of An Old HDB
The estate is not without flaws, and Winnie openly shared these experiences as well. “There is only an open-air carpark available so cars can get exceedingly warm in the day.” Not to mention, this can get inconvenient when it’s pouring cats and dogs as well.
With the estate literally next to a primary school, the car park can get full during lunchtime on weekdays since parents park there to fetch their kids.
Winnie also pointed out a minor point specific to their home. “Our unit faces the corridor so I don’t get to open my dining room windows often for privacy. Although, I do get to open my balcony doors so airflow is not an issue.”
She said that with Jurong West St 41 now being close to a 40-year-old estate, there are some cracks on the floor at the void deck. However, there’s been a fair amount of maintenance too, so she said nothing feels like it’s going to break. Maintenance work done over the past two years included refreshing the open-air car park and the whole block going through HIP.
The HDB has two lifts per block, and occasionally one of them will be under maintenance. Thankfully, Winnie never had the experience of both of them being down at the same time. And as far as she knows, there aren’t any horrifying stories of the lifts trapping anyone.
Considerations For Those Planning To Get EM at Jurong West St 41
If you’re close to buying an EM unit at Jurong West St 41, Winnie reveals that no Citygas piped gas is available. While she has now gotten used to cooking with LPG tanks, it was quite a shock for her when she realised there was no piped gas.
“To be honest, I personally just designed my IKEA kitchen with space for two LPG tanks,” she said. “Calling for replacement tanks means delivery within the next two hours so it’s really convenient. It’s also cheaper because it’s completely dependent on how much you use the gas.”
Also, Winnie said that for some reason, the sound conduction from the park downstairs facing out the living room and the master bedroom is incredible. She’s not sure, though, if this is happening just for the units on the 6th floor. Most mornings, they’re woken up by parkgoers exercising to music. She can often hear people talking at the park as if they were on the second floor.
“It’s not a big bother but it always amazes me,” she added.
As for their future plans, Winnie and her family are content with where they are at.
“When we bought the place, we knew we would stay past MOP. But back then, we hadn’t had any kids yet. Now with 3 kids, we have a better sense that we will likely only move out when we know we won’t need to be close to the primary school anymore.”
She said that they would be staying around nine more years – when the youngest is in primary 5, and his siblings are in sec 1 and 3. When that time comes, Winnie said they might consider a place where it will be easier to commute to wherever their secondary schools are. “But at least we know that this house is big enough to hold us even if we delay moving out.”