Touring Opera Estate: The remaining affordable freehold landed enclave

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

It’s been quite a journey touring all the 5 estates on the “cheapest freehold landed estates in Singapore” list. For those who are new, here’s a list that I’ve visited thus far:

To cap it off, Opera Estate is a huge estate bordering Frankel Estate. It’s so big I had to visit twice to properly view it and comprises the following streets:

  • Aida Street
  • Maria Avenue
  • Carmen Street
  • Carmen Terrace
  • Dido Street
  • Tosca Street
  • Tosca Terrace
  • Fidelio Street
  • Figaro Street
  • Dafne Street
  • Swan Lake Avenue
  • Lakme Terrace
  • Norma Terrace
  • Ernani Street
  • Rienzi Street
  • Jalan Khairuddin
  • Jalan Bintang Tiga
  • Jalan Terang Bulan
  • Terang Bulan Avenue
  • Taman Siglap
  • Jalan Bangsawan
  • Metropole Drive (Not marked on URA Space as part of Opera Estate but given that the streets above and below it are, I’m assuming it is too)
  • Jalan Tua Kong (Not market on URA Space as part of Opera Estate, but with the symbol of the estate on the street sign so…)
Am I the only one who thinks the estate looks like the number 7? Note the blue marker marks the Malay Cemetery which is one condo away from Opera Estate (which lies above the cemetery on the map)
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Opera Estate is bordered by New Upper Changi Road in the North and Bedok South Road in the East (past which lies some light industrial buildings). The West and South are a bit more complicated as this landed enclave is shaped like the number 7, but basically, you can find Siglap Road and several condos such as Flamingo Valley, Park East Condo and The Hacienda around the West and South of the estate.

I was rather surprised when I saw Opera Estate on the list as I had always thought of it as quite an expensive area. This impression was reinforced by the sizeable houses I saw walking around the area. If you can get one of the detached homes here for $3 million and under, I’d be very, very surprised.

Where can we buy one of these for $3 million?!
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
I suspect “cheapest, freehold” landed was referring more to something like this. There’s definitely redevelopment potential to maximise the plot ratio here.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

A quick Google search showed that whilst there are houses going up to $11 million – which anyone would be hard-pressed to label affordable – there are also a few “gems” in the area going for $3 million plus:

Fun fact: Someone nabbed a bargain in the middle of last year, paying $2.2 million for a 2,286 sq ft house on Dido Street! Apparently, it was purchased without a viewing! Also, looking at the sales records of Opera Estate showed that the last three sales were under $3 million. It seems that Opera Estate has houses that cater to people with a smaller budget as well as those with more to spend.

I find this helps to make the Estate feel more spacious – in an area like MacPherson Garden Estate where 99 per cent of the houses are tiny, everything feels super squashed. However, even though there are small and more affordable options in Opera Estate, the smaller houses are interspersed with bigger ones, and hence the entire enclave feels much more spread out and welcoming.

Walking around Opera Estate, I had a good enough impression to visit it twice – (whilst more densely packed than Teachers Housing Estate ) it is nonetheless waaaaaaaaay more open than MacPherson Garden Estate and even Thomson Hills Estate. Just look at the difference in the two linear parks next to Opera Estate (top photo) and MacPherson Garden Estate (bottom photo):

Siglap Linear Park starts from the shophouses at Jalan Bangsawan.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Even the alleyway between the houses and the commercial units at Opera Estate (top photo) is almost twice that of MacPherson Garden Estate (bottom photo)!

The linear 'park' at Mac Pherson Garden Estate, in comparison.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

 

Decent distance between the backyard of the houses and the commercial units at Jalan Bangsawan.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Too close for comfort at MacPherson for my liking (having restaurants and food outlets near your house increase the likelihood of pest issues FYI) – also the alley could do with a little sprucing and a bit of a paint job.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

However, whilst the roads are quite wide at Opera Estate, a lot of residents park on the roadside and because the roads are pretty busy (some even have buses going through!), driving through the estate is quite a hassle.

Even at 7am in the morning when you drive through the estate, you’ll see on-coming cars in your path every few minutes driving straight at you. It’s not the most relaxing drive, really, since many drivers in Singapore are quite aggressive.

Bus 42 comes right into Opera Estate - if I remember correctly this is along Fidelio Street, on which there are several bus stops as well as Opera Estate Primary School.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
As you can see, there’s a bus stop here. So with buses on this road, cars parked along the roadside, and oncoming cars, it can feel a bit like you’re playing some kind of dodging game driving along, particularly when the vehicle that swung into your lane is a huge bus.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

(The road here is actually wider than the ones which I had issues with – at least here, the cars are allowed to park as it’s a dotted white line and the roads are a bit wider – there were quite a few narrow streets which had single/continuous white lines and tons of cars parked on the roadside resulting in meandering traffic.)

Amenities

Located in the Northern part of the estate near Jalan Bangsawan is a row of quaint shophouses and you can find yuppie cafes such as Baker & Cook (a bakery with outlets at Bugis & Dempsey) and Black & Ink (Western food I believe) there.

(I was pretty impressed by the fact that Baker & Cook was open at 730 on a weekday morning! It’s a nice feeling when you can stroll down the street and grab a leisurely breakfast.) There is also Saffrons (Indian Muslim food) and Plank Sourdough Pizza.

Further down South near Jalan Tua Kong are more shophouses, which house the famous Springleaf Prata and an upmarket Halal-certified butcher, Zac Butchery. I love landed estates with shophouses within them, as it makes the area feel like a village.

Indeed, Opera Estate seems to have quite a good community (which you associate with village life)- none of the areas I’ve lived in has ever given out free tingkats, for one!

More shophouses in Opera Estate
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
What a nice gesture!
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
More nice neighbourly initiatives.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Supermarkets are also conveniently located as residents can cut out from Terang Bulan Avenue, cross New Upper Changi Road, and find themselves at NTUC in eight minutes. It’s also a mere 10-20 minutes stroll (depending on which street you live on) to Bedok Mall, where you can find Baskin Robbins, Best Denki, Cotton On, Guardian and many other shops.

As for public transport, there are several MRT stations around the estate (Bedok MRT, Siglap MRT, Kembangan MRT) – so most houses should be around 10 minutes walk from one. Since the buses practically come inside the estate, it’s safe to say that bus access is not too bad as well!

There is a very small park within the estate – it is probably too small for the number of houses one can find in Opera Estate but more outdoor exercise machines line Siglap Linear Park which brings you all the way down to Marine Parade Road. This park is actually one of my favourite things about Opera Estate as it makes a lovely, relaxing place to promenade.

Playground located behind the Baker & Cook etc shophouses – good location as the kids have a space to play outside whilst the parents chat in the cafe!
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
The Siglap Linear Park makes for a lovely stroll – there were quite a few people using it in the morning but it never felt crowded as it’s quite wide.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

 

Some of the outdoor exercise equipment you can find along Siglap Linear Park – I think that’s The Hacienda condo behind it. I did consider it for my house search as well, but there aren’t many units for sale. (Also elderly Mother = Not a fan of walk-ups).
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Star Learning Centre, Opera Estate Primary School and Football Field lie within Opera Estate, so the houses closest to these educational institutions may have an issue with noise.

The entrance to Opera Estate Primary School is on Fidelio Street and the football field is next to the Siglap Linear Park.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Lots of kids gathered together = not the best if you want a quiet environment. Might be better to look at the houses further away from Fidelio Street.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
This is at the Northern part of the Estate, near New Upper Changi Road – there’s an MRT line in the background but I didn’t hear any noise from it on either of my visits.
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Apart from one small reserve site next to Aida Street, there doesn’t seem to be any empty pieces of land around the area, so major construction shouldn’t be an issue. (Note: since some of the landed houses are still single-story buildings, it’s safe to say that there will be demolishing and rebuilding of the landed houses.

However, given the lack of empty plots of land, massive construction projects shouldn’t be a concern in the near future. Well not unless The Hacienda condo en-blocs – it is a walk-up apartment built in 1986 so it is getting on in years!)

The Estate is spread out enough that it has its own signboard
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Lovely as these old homes are, I wonder how long they can last in a country like Singapore which is all about maximising space?
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
You can see how much potential for expansion there is here – in case it’s too tiny, I’m comparing the yellow house with the white one behind it
PHOTO: Stackedhomes
Out and about early on a weekday morning in Opera estate – how cute is that… vehicle? Bike? (Not sure what the right name for it is)
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Having viewed the five different landed enclaves on Stacked’s “cheapest, freehold” list, Teachers Housing Estate and Opera Estate tie as my favourites, I prefer the feel of Teachers Housing Estate but the problems that arise from being located in a valley (humidity/ ponding/ lack of wind/ upcoming construction etc which kind commenters have brought to my attention) make Opera Estate a much more practical choice.

Moreover, unlike Thomson Garden Estate, Opera Estate is mostly surrounded by other landed houses so you don’t find as many tall buildings looming over you, except for the Northern part of the enclave (Jalan Terang Bulan) which borders the Chai Chee HDB blocks. I did a quick search of the neighbouring estates and some for similarly priced freehold landed houses (i.e. around $3m) so don’t forget to look at those too, if Opera Estate is an area you’re interested in.

Much as I like Opera Estate, some parts of it aren’t right for everyone. For example, I have a friend who would definitely say NO to living next to the cemetery! The key, in my opinion, would thus be doing your research and choosing the right street on Opera Estate (assuming it’s within the budget of course!)

And that’s the end of my affordable freehold landed estate series! If you’d like me to explore more landed estates in Singapore please leave a comment below!

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.