Of opportunity costs and trade-offs
When you choose or settle for a smart alternative over an idealistic one, you’re doing so for the value it provides you – maximum returns at minimum cost. This is otherwise known as ‘opportunity cost’. For example, I decided against purchasing a car and relying instead on public transportation and ride-sharing services, such as Grab.
My reason was simple: to minimise my living costs, and to maximise my savings. I’ll be able to use the extra funds for investment purposes and downpayment on my first property. My calculations showed that a Myvi would cost me RM855 per month - loan instalments (RM574) plus petrol (RM81) and parking (RM200).
On the other hand, taking a Grab to and from work (my office is located in Mid Valley) would only cost me approximately RM400 a month (RM20 daily). There are, of course, some cons to bear in mind such as higher prices during peak periods. At the end of the day though, these small trade-offs are worth it.
I’m a Bangsarian, and I’m not breaking the bank!
Late last year, I had a major decision to make – I required a new rental unit as my existing lease was ending in December 2017. Living near the city centre was a must, so as to be near my workplace and reducing commute time but obviously, rent wouldn’t come cheap!
However, I was ready to trade-off on a few luxuries in order to achieve my goal. I managed to secure a room in an old apartment building just 400m away from the Bangsar LRT, and 5 minutes away from my office! Here are the main trade-offs:
- This condo is over 35 years old and is just basically a tower within a compound (which resembles a pound lot).
- There are no facilities or any lifestyle components whatsoever.
- The area is slightly ‘dodgy’ as the neighbouring property is an under-maintained, low-cost flat.
Comparatively, my old apartment in Titiwangsa had a pool, gymnasium and a much more conducive vibe. Nevertheless, my current unit is well-maintained and security is really tight. Also, there are only 30 units within the tower, so I never have to wait long for the lift!
The best part is I’ve managed to cut down on my monthly expenses (for rent, utilities and commute to work) by RM200, as shown below:
|Old place (Titiwangsa)||New place (Bangsar)|
|Rent + utilities||RM950||RM950|
|Transport costs (Grab + public transportation)||RM400 (RM20 x 20 working days)||RM200 (RM10 x 20 working days)|
Quite a few of my acquaintances have questioned my decision of living in a ‘dump’. The financial benefits I get in return far outweigh the supposed luxuries sacrificed. I will take the extremely advantageous commute – which translates to more sleep and lower transport costs – any given day. Also, the convenience of living in such a central location that’s close to a myriad of social hangout spots and shopping malls mean that I can keep my current lifestyle!
Know your priorities and what you’re willing to sacrifice
As detailed above, my major life decisions are wholly dependent on my personal priorities, all of which support my financial freedom aspiration. In that same vein, for those who are currently deliberating about their first property purchase, it’s important to bear in mind personal aspirations.
As everyone has different priorities and obligations, we’ve provided you with some tips to help you in a specific aspect of your property hunt – whether it's for location, lifestyle, or both!
1) Value for price
Landed: This type is usually much more expensive than their high-rise counterparts. Besides having a larger living space, other bonuses include having your own privacy and not having to share common areas with other residents. However, price tags vary considerably between locations, so do consider alternative cities which offer more affordable homes.
With recent improvements in Klang Valley’s connectivity infrastructure, there are numerous options available for the savvy homebuyer. Some developers have already introduced attractive projects, measuring at least 1,000sf within the RM400,000 – RM700,000 range. There are many good deals worth considering in the sub-sale market too. These aren’t bright and shiny, but they’d make great starter homes with a new coat of paint and some maintenance works.
High-rise: With its lower entry-point, high-rise properties are very popular mainly due to the variety of facilities provided such as a gym, pool, playground and sauna. Also, most of the newer properties are part of an integrated development, offering excellent convenience to its residents.
Value-added amenities include LRT/MRT/KTM stations, learning institutions and shopping malls. However, those planning to start a family will have to be willing to spend more in order to upgrade to a bigger unit down the road, since this type generally comes in more compact sizes.
2) Maintenance costs
Landed: The only maintenance cost incurred is for security, especially for gated-and-guarded communities. This is also dependent on the density of the community i.e. the lower the density, the higher the cost per home. Other than that, all maintenance expenses will be borne by the homeowner.
High-rise: Maintenance costs are usually higher since there are facilities and common areas to take into account. Fortunately, the monthly amount is split among the many homeowners – most high-rise properties are densely populated, with at least 200 units in a development.
Nevertheless, purchasers should research more about the property management team’s capability. Condominiums/apartments rely on good maintenance to keep the building in working condition. If the property management team is subpar and not diligent in collecting the funds plus carrying out the necessary upkeep, the development could depreciate in value quickly.
3) Safety & quality of life
Landed: Gated-and-guarded residential projects are seen as safe havens, especially by families or those looking to start one. These areas, when well-designed, ensure that the crime rate is kept at a minimum. Think: proper fencing, ample lighting, CCTVs and security guards who monitor the movement of visitors in and out of the community.
High-rise: Safety issues are one of the main concerns for potential property purchasers. Most condominiums and apartment buildings nowadays are equipped with at least a 3-tier security system, including 24/7 CCTVs and mandating the usage of a residents-only access card. There’s also one, or at most two, entry/exit points which makes it easier for security to monitor the comings and goings of people.
Lifestyle? Location? Why not both!
At the end of the day, it boils down to what you want versus what you need. As long as you’re able to differentiate between the two, and do the necessary research, the trade-off between needs and wants can be minimised. And what do you get in the end? A happy balance, so good luck!
This article was repurposed from "Landed house or high-rise? It depends – I recently ‘upgraded’ to Bangsar & I’m saving money!", first published on iProperty.com.my