A freehold 3-bedroom unit for $880k? It's possible, if you can live in a space under 700 sq ft

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Did you know that some of the smallest flats in Hong Kong can go as tiny as 186 sq ft? For reference, that's about the same size as one and a half car park lots. 

But that's for the subsidised housing front, although it doesn't get much better for private developments either, with a new class of developments called "nano flats". 

It is a result of the expensive cost of land in a country of limited size, and the density of people just means that developers have to go smaller and smaller in order to attract buyers who can't afford bigger ones. 

This is what happened to the Singapore market too, until 2018 when the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that the average size of new flats outside the central area will have to be a minimum of 85 sq m.

And in nine areas (Marine Parade, Joo Chiat-Mountbatten, Balestier, Telok Kurau-Jalan Eunos, Stevens-Chancery, Pasir Panjang, Kovan-How Sun, Shelford, and Loyang), it will have to be at least 100 sq m. 

Nevertheless, there is still a place for such small flats. Despite what most people would deem as an unliveable space, it could still make sense for a small section of the population.

For those who see a home as just a place to sleep (they are out to work most of the time), or prioritise having condo facilities over a bigger living space, the lower quantum of these homes can often be all that is needed for them to make a purchase. 

So for those who have a small family and want to live in a condo but have a limited budget, here are some of the smallest three-bedroom units in Singapore:

1. Treescape 603 sq ft

If I had to hazard a guess for where a small three-bedroom unit would be located, the Telok Kurau area would definitely be at the top of my list (hence why this was one of the nine areas to have the new ruling of at least 100 sq m). 

Treescape is a boutique development of just 30 units, freehold, of course, just like much of the area. It is located at the end of Lorong N Telok Kurau, which is actually quite a good spot as it is more private.

While it doesn't quite face the Siglap Canal, it is next to the Park Connector and just across landed homes so the views are quite unblocked.

It is also from here that you are able to enjoy quite a scenic walk down the Park Connector towards the upcoming Marine Terrace MRT station on the Thomson East Coast line. 

The unit itself is the smallest that I've found for a three-bedroom unit, at just a tiny 603 sq ft. 

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It is an efficient unit (I suppose it has to be given the size). There's no entranceway as it opens straight up into the unit, and the living and dining are definitely on the small side.

You probably can't place bigger than a two-seater sofa, and your dining space is not suitable either for more than four people. 

The kitchen is small too, so much so that the washer/dryer has to be located on the balcony. Both common bedrooms are only big enough for a single-sized bed, but at least the master bedroom does come with an attached bathroom. 

The last unit was sold at $850,000 but this was nearly two years ago in July 2020, so prices today should be closer to a million.

Still, for those who are willing to put up with the size but need three bedrooms, the price point is undoubtedly attractive. 

2. Forte Suites 624 sq ft

Forte Suites was only recently completed in 2018, so it is considered to still be a relatively new development. There is a total of 106 units, so it's small and more exclusive in that regard. And like many of the developments in the vicinity, it is freehold as well. 

It is located at the end of Rangoon Road, which should normally be more private, but because it is also next to the CTE, you'd definitely have some encounter with road noise here.

You are about nine minutes walk away from Farrer Park MRT station. It's a very straightforward route too, just one path all the way down Rangoon Road.

At 624 sq ft for a three-bedroom unit, this is one of the most compact three-bedroom units around.

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The good thing is the entrance doesn't face directly into the living and dining, so you do have some form of privacy here. Like Treescape, there isn't any space in the kitchen to place the washer and dryer so this is on the balcony instead.

The kitchen is definitely small here, and the countertop space and storage will be limited.

The floor plan shows both common bedrooms without a bed in place, but judging from the total size of the unit, you are unlikely to be able to place anything more than a single bed in either of them.

It does have a bomb shelter too, which is good for additional storage, but I think most people would have preferred to have more living/dining or kitchen space here instead.

The last three-bedroom 624 sq ft unit was sold for $1.305 million, but this was back when it was launched in Jan 2018. Since then, there have been no resale transactions so it's hard to really say what the current price would be.

3. Natura @ Hillview 635 sq ft

Natura @ Hillview is a sort of new development that was completed in 2016. It has a total of 193 units and is a freehold property located in the Upper Bukit Timah region. It's pretty close to The Lanai and suffers from the same issues like the lack of an MRT station within a daily walking distance.

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The three bedroom unit comes in at a very compact 635 sq ft. The entrance opens straight up into the kitchen, living, and dining, so there's definitely no privacy here.

The dining and kitchen are essentially the same space, which to put it bluntly means that you don't really have much space to move around here.

It's a single countertop for the kitchen, so aside from the hob and sink, you really don't have much free space to work with. Like the rest of the units so far, the washer and dryer has to be relegated to the balcony space.

Both common bedrooms are only big enough to contain a single-sized bed, but the good news here is that the bathrooms have natural ventilation due to the AC ledge located on the outside.

I do like that the wardrobe space in the master bedroom is neatly flushed against the wall, but having another balcony space for the master bedroom in an already small unit isn't very ideal.

The most recent three-bedroom 635 sq ft unit was sold for $880,000 in May 2022.

4. The Rise @ Oxley Residences 667 sq ft

The Rise @ Oxley Residences is a relatively new condo that was built in 2018. Located at Oxley Rise (hence the name), it is a freehold development with just 120 units.

It does enjoy a very central location, getting to Orchard is obviously very convenient here, as with travelling to the Bugis area or the CBD. You can walk to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station in about 10 minutes, and with three lines intersected here (North South, North East, Circle) you are pretty much spoilt for choice.

The newly built commercial building at 9 Penang Lane does help with more food options within quick access, but given you are close to Orchard this shouldn't represent much of an issue.

There are also commercial spaces within the building, like Mox @ Oxley Rise which is a co-working space, a Kindergarten, and a cafe called Lilac Oak which is quite highly rated on Google.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The three-bedroom unit itself is just 667 sq ft in size, with one of the first things that you'll notice is the number of AC ledges. As this is located outside each bedroom, the obvious downside here is that you won't be enjoying a full-length window in any of the bedrooms.

I do like that the household shelter is flushed to the side, and the additional storage space will definitely come in handy.

It is actually a dumbbell layout, so the master bedroom and common bedrooms are separated by the living/dining area, which is good for some privacy for its occupants.

As you might expect, both common bedrooms can only fit a single bed, and neither bathroom has a ventilation window.

The advantage here is that the living and dining are separate spaces, and unlike everything else that we've seen so far, the longer kitchen counter does allow for the washer and dryer to be stored here.

What's not so good is the walkway to the master bedroom, which is quite wasted in my opinion.

The last comparable unit to be sold at The Rise @ Oxley Residences was in July 2017, at a price of $1.582 million.

5. Ascent @ 456 689 sq ft

If you've first heard of Ascent @ 456 you might probably assume it's a commercial building - and you won't be completely wrong. It does have three levels of shops, so you do have some eateries on the first level for some quick bites.

You are set along Balestier Road though, so access to food isn't really going to pose any issues.

You are also close walking distance to Zhongshan Mall where there's more food and an NTUC, which is really convenient as well.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

At 689 sq ft for a three-bedroom unit, it is on the bigger side for this range of very compact three-bedroom units. It comes with a dedicated kitchen space that can be enclosed if you wished, although the very strange aspect here is that to use the common bathroom you have to walk through the kitchen.

As with three-bedroom spaces under 700 sq ft, you aren't going to have either common bedroom big enough to fit a queen-sized bed.

The dining area does have a balcony located on the outside, but that tiny sliver of space means that it won't be a very comfortable space to sit and chill.

The living space is small, and you will be very limited in the size of sofa that you can fit here too. The master bedroom has a bigger balcony though, and with the household shelter as its storage, you do have a bigger than usual storage space here.

The most recent 689 sq ft unit was sold for $850,000, but this was quite some time back in February 2019.

Final words

Let me just end by saying that obviously, these three-bedroom units aren't going to fulfil the needs of most people. With limited common bedroom space, a small kitchen, and for the most part, having to do laundry on your balcony, it will be limiting to your lifestyle.

But for those whose biggest constraints are their budget, it could make some sense - just as long as you know what you're getting into.

For what it's worth, it could be a sensible idea to try renting such spaces first, to see if the constraints are something you can live with.

For help on homeownership and guidance, reach out to us on Stacked with your questions. If you're certain you're ready to buy, you can also check out our in-depth reviews of new and resale projects, to make an informed choice. 

ALSO READ: Symphony Suites, Skies Miltonia or Signature at Yishun: Which 3-bedroom is better for a 5- to 10-year horizon exit

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.