It is notoriously difficult to find an affordable, freehold landed house (or even a reasonably-priced leasehold landed one!) in Singapore, especially in Bukit Timah, which has many GCB enclaves. Hence, when I saw a freehold landed house listing at around $3 million at Hillview Garden Estate, I immediately thought of adding it to my landed tour series as I have previously not covered any landed estates in the West.
Well, some people may say that Upper Bukit Timah isn’t really Bukit Timah. But, if you’re dead set on buying a 999-year leasehold or freehold landed home, want to live in West Singapore, and don’t have a massive budget – this is almost as good as it gets for now.
When I typed “Hillview Garden Estate” into the URA space map, these were the streets that pop up:
- Jalan Dermawan (appears to have the biggest houses (and asking prices) in the area: if I had the $$ and wanted to live in this area, this would be the street I would choose as the road’s here are really wide. You can have cars parked on both sides and still have space to comfortably drive through the road!)
- Chu Lin Road
- Chu Yen Street
- Jalan Gumilang
- Jalan Intan
- Jalan Remaja
- Elizabeth Drive
- A little further South there are also the roads Hillview Drive, Hillview Crescent etc but these do not seem to be part of Hillview Garden Estate, despite the similarity in the names.
Currently, these are the properties available for sale (at the time of writing) if you have a $3m-ish budget:
One thing I love about Hillview Garden Estate is that the houses here (even the terraces) are very sizeable. So sizeable, in fact, that my Mother kept insisting the terrace houses were detached. (Yes, even though the houses shared adjoining walls! I think we need to have a refresher on the difference between a terrace and a detached house…) Anyway, all the terraces listed above have land sizes of over 2,000 sq ft. To give you a sense of how big this is for a terrace property, note that at MacPherson Garden Estate, some of the landed houses are only 900 sq ft in size!
However, do keep in mind that with a landed house, bigger isn’t always better. I’ve observed that the noisiest landed houses tend to be the “mid-sized” ones between terrace and GCBs as they aren’t that far from their neighbours but have space for a pool or playground so the kids can rambunctiously romp outside all day – as is their right since it’s their house! But that usually comes at quite a downside unfortunately for their neighbours. (You should hear some of my friends who live in semi-detached houses complain, they can even hear the kids next door sitting inside the house with ALL the windows and doors CLOSED!!) Having said that, I didn’t notice any pools in the houses at Hillview Garden Estate.
When I visited Hillview Garden Estate, it reminded me a little of Teacher’s Housing Estate. As mentioned above, the houses are quite well-sized, even if they are terrace houses, so the area feels more spacious than the average Singaporean landed enclave. Perhaps this is also thanks to several parcels of empty land bordering in – which will probably be developed into condos soon, and the area is actually quite hilly. Unlike Teacher’s Housing Estate which is in a valley, Hillview Garden Estate is more like a series of small rolling bumps (similar to Sembawang Hills but less congested). As Hillview is already bordered by quite a few high rise condo developments, Teacher’s Housing Estate still feels more serene (at least for now).
However, similar to Teacher’s Estate, the lanes here are more generous than the Singaporean average. Another thing I like is that some of the surrounding condos have thoughtfully situated their facilities between the blocks and the landed houses, which leads to a very nice setback between them. Note the road in-between is the one the bus travels through though, so I don’t know what the road noise is like from within the units. (Noise travels upwards.)
Regarding what’s around Hillview Garden Estate, it looks like an odd-shaped pentagon on the map. 2 sides are bordered by high-rise condos, and 2 sides by green forest (designated as a park and for special use so you won’t eventually be completely surrounded by tall buildings, unlike Thomson Garden estate) and the last side by empty land that is waiting to be developed into high-rise residences and an educational institution.
Probably because of the abundance of surrounding vegetation and empty land, the air felt particularly fresh when I was walking around Hillview – so much so that I would be happy to walk around the area even if I wasn’t doing a tour for Stacked! (I know that the weather has been wet this week, but the air certainly doesn’t feel as fresh when I walk around my current flat, so I don’t think it’s related to the rain.)
Looking at the neighbouring heavily forested area, I do wonder if wildlife is an issue here. I had previously been researching the leasehold houses at Almond Avenue (which is not too far away) and when I messaged a resident of the area to enquire what it’s like to live there, she didn’t sound like she liked it much. (“Monkeys… wild boars…” In short, she was soon going to terminate her lease!)
Like Opera Estate, there is a row of shophouses within Hillview Garden Estate. I ended up returning back with a few cartons of eggs! Though there are fewer shops here. They include:
- an egg store (they sell salted eggs and chicken eggs which range in price from $5.50 to $9, depending on the size of the eggs – price is per carton of 30)
- A spa
- A pub
- An Italian restaurant
Other than these shops, Hillview Garden Estate seems to be a bit inconvenient when it comes to amenities, the nearest commercial units seem to be at Hillv2, which is around a 10-15 minute walk away. According to the directory, there is a Starbucks, Cedele as well as Hillview Market Place (not the cheapest of supermarkets, though very nice).
As for transportation, Hillview Garden Estate is a 20-minute walk to Hillview MRT station according to Google Maps, although there is a bus that runs through the edge of the estate. (It doesn’t seem to come very frequently though, as the same people were still waiting for the bus 30 minutes into my walk. On the bright side, the reduced frequency meant that Hillview felt more tranquil than Opera Estate.)
Things to note about Hillview Garden Estate
- Fun fact: One of the 1st Google suggestions that cropped up when I typed “Jalan Derm….” into my search bar was “Jalan Dermawan haunted house”. Today, the mansion in question has been demolished and only the gates are left but apparently it’s one of Singapore’s most famous haunted houses. (The plot in question is at the top of the slope.) If you are or are not willing to live in an area with a haunted house, I’d love to hear why in the comments! (Sorry, I’m nosy.)
- There are quite a few noisy dogs in this neighbourhood- don’t get me wrong. I LOVE dogs, am trying to rehome one actually. But this is the only estate in which I’ve heard 2-3 dogs bark continuously early in the morning. (And not around the same time, so the barks were independent events and not chain reactions.)
- There are several childcare institutions within the estate as well as a nursing home, United Medical Centre, at Elizabeth Drive.
- I think choosing the right plot here will be crucial as some houses are on higher grounds than others, some units have morning and afternoon sun whilst others don’t and obviously the properties next to the childcare centres will not be the quietest. (Although when I was previously researching a flat next to an old folks home, temple and shops, the residents told me it’s actually the elderly care centre that is the loudest, so you never know.)
- Moreover, because of the hilliness of the region, many of the houses are elevated and you need to climb steps to access the front door of the house, which is not ideal if you have babies in prams or old people in the family. It might be possible to rebuild the house level (or to have a ramp) but you would need to consult your architect/ contractor about this.
- The area is very green- in addition to the huge forest (park + special use area), there are also several smaller parks dotted within the estate and a community garden, which I thought was a nice touch. (See the URA Space map at the top of the article for the park locations).
- It’s near to Lam Soon Industrial Building, where there is a garden centre/nursery.
- PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I think it’s the T-Junction where Hillview Road meets Upper Bukit Timah (am not 100% sure as I was driving and couldn’t note the road name) but this is 1 of the worst signposted big roads that I’ve driven on. There are turning lanes left and right at this junction, but apparently you can only turn right at certain hours (and this information is shared on a very small sign which many drivers may miss. I certainly did, thankfully my Mother pointed it out, if not it could have led to quite a serious accident as the roads here have a lot of vehicles travelling on it even at 7-8 in the morning.)
- Speaking of traffic, the traffic from Hillview Garden Estate back into town is pretty heavy (the heaviest I’ve ever encountered on all my property tours, 99% of which are done at the same time in the morning) and there are a lot of heavy vehicles on the road, so if you have elderly relatives who drive, you may want to take note.
- There are several new condos coming up in the area, 1 of which is Mount Botanik Residences as well as Midwood
Join me again next week when I’ll be back to reviewing condos, this time, Clementi Park, one of the largest freehold developments left in Singapore. It looks to be a good alternative for people who are still debating between condos and a house, as it has extensive groups and big units!