Sunday, September 4, 2011

Reflections on Condo Living

Home Sweet Home

I’ve always been a “village” person.  For all my life I’ve lived in my parent’s house in a nice middle-class suburban (a nice way of putting it to mean that we’re a bit far from “civilization”) subdivision.  There was a year where I decided to be “independent” and lived in a 5-story apartment in the Katipunan area but that was just barely a year.  Hubby was the same except for a year when he got assigned to Indonesia.

On the other hand, my bestfriend, TheDiploWife once mentioned that she and her hubby are “condo” people.  They’ve lived in flats / condominium units most of their lives and just couldn’t imagine any other way to live.  Moving to Sri Lanka, my hubby and I became condo-dwellers.  It was a different kind of experience with some ups and downs:

The Ups:
  • It was just right cozy place for us.  Living in a house would be too big for two.  Even with baby on board, our unit is just right.
  • It’s awesome to have a balcony with a view.  It’s not exactly the view of the Eiffel Tower but a nice view of Colombo nonetheless.  We don’t normally hang out there (except for the laundry to dry, pardon the pun) but during my pensive moments, it’s a nice place to stare out and reflect.
  • The breeze is awesome – thank you to the Bernoulli’s principle and some open shafts in our building.  When we’re lucky it also serves as a natural exhaust especially when we’re cooking. 

The Downs:
  • Do you really hear your upstairs neighbour moving their furnitures, heavy footsteps and drilling in the middle of the night?  I thought our place looked “shoshall” – looks are deceiving and in terms of building construction materials, it’s not quite so “shoshall” after all. 
  • Is it about renting (rather than owning the place or even about condo dwelling) but if something breaks down with the fixtures, you have to replace it.  Of course you don’t know where to get the damn thing.  Good thing driver is what you would call, ma-abilidad (he would find a way to get it fixed). 
  • It’s been more than a month and our building complaints have not yet been answered – no action on the complaints itself (eg. there are stray dogs in the compound, no speed limit and no exhaust in the elevator – imagine when the person who just rode it has bad BO... good Lord!) or even a written reply.  Where my parents live, my mom would just call the guardhouse and wala! her complaints have been acted upon.  Talk about excellent customer service.

At the end of the day I’m pretty sure either way there will be ups and downs.  I mean back at my parents’ house we would complain of a neighbour who would scold her child like there was no tomorrow – toxic!  My mom was this close to calling Bantay Bata (like a child patrol).  At least here, it’s just the furnitures making noise.  A bit creepy at 12mn though.  If I had a choice and looking at our growing family, I would still pick village living any time of the day.  But as with condo living, you really have to choose your neighbourhood right.  Are the neighbours psychologically sane?  Haha!  Just kidding.  But does the neighbourhood have win-win rules and regulation for a tranquil existence?  Do they provide excellent customer service?  Security!  What are the amenities provided?  In the greater scheme of things, what I really want is my home to be a respite from the crazy world I’ve been facing all day.  Not an extension of it.  But at the end of the day, that is really utterly determined by the people who live in it.  And where I am right now, it is just perfect.      


  1. Hi Ta, gosh seriously?!? You can hear the noise of your neighbors? Normally we only hear our neighbors when they are doing construction work. I guess that is the benefit of living in an old apartment. They used to make them sturdier back then aye?

    But one time, there will be a neighbor drilling at night. I immediately asked the guards to knock on their door. When it didn't stop, I personally knocked on their door and explained that there is a 5pm limit to construction work inside units (and weekdays only). And so far the guy has not bothered me. Is it possible to do that in your condo? Not "complain" but directly request the guard to go to the noisy unit to ask them to do it during the day?

    Before we also had harassment from our neighbors re the dog. During Ramadan admin would ask us to remove the dog from the premises. And because it is customary for locals here to smile and say yes when they mean no, we just did the same.

    However giving admin, security, housekeeping and maintenance rendang and cupcakes during the holidays has helped improve service A LOT. We were amazed we didn't do this earlier. Seriously, they went out of their way to find a part in our gasul tank that was missing (dangerous!) during the start of the holiday, a day when EVERYTHING is closed. And nahanapan nila ng paraan. Buti nalang binigyan namin sila ng pagkain nung natapos yung fast nila. Normally hindi nila gagawin yon. Anyway I hope my suggestions help. =)

  2. Hey sweetie! Yes we hear loud noises from their apartment - mostly the furnitures. We do call the guard whenever we hear any drilling or construction past the allowable time. It stops naman. Pero kakagalit lang diba?

    Come to think of it, yes we should start giving them stuff! We used to give food after a party we had pero once lang yun. We should give them stuff quarterly. That's what my mom did with my milk allocation back in Manila and she has become the "queen of the village." :-) Thanks for the reminder!


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