What pre-school teacher Jessica Guo, 37, loves most in a home is having children around.
“Without loved ones, a house is not a home,” she says.
The single mother, who got divorced in 2011, and her daughter Bing Jing, 10, moved into their own HDB three-room flat in Jurong West last August.
“I feel like I need more children for the flat to be even more like a home,” she says.
“I would like to have one more child, so my daughter has a sibling for company.”
Ms Guo, who is studying part-time at the Singapore University of Social Sciences for her master’s degree in early childhood education, has a natural affinity with children.
Jessica’s tips for new homeowners
1. Do not buy electrical appliances online for safety reasons, as they may not be certified by local authorities.
2. Measure the dimensions of every corner in the flat carefully before buying furniture, so that no space is wasted.
3. Buy toilet accessories made of materials such as plastic or stainless steel because wood products are more prone to turning mouldy in Singapore’s humid weather.
The fourth of five children, she had yearned to look after her youngest sibling, a brother. But as the family’s only son, he was deemed too precious to be left in her care. So she turned her attention instead to her neighbours’ children, to play with and help look after them.
“It has always been my dream to be a mother. My child is the driving force of my life. Most of my salary is spent on my daughter, very little on myself,” she says.
For that reason, her flat is simply done up, at a cost of just $13,500.
She would like to buy a piano, but that is an expense that will have to wait.
“When you have a young child to raise, savings are more important than spending a lot on renovations and buying things for a flat,” she says.
How did you feel when you stepped into your own home for the first time?
I felt great and was inspired to imagine how the flat could look, such as where I could place my tea set, create a comfortable reading corner, and place a wardrobe large enough to hang my dresses, instead of keeping them folded.
How did your daughter help with the design of your home?
She wanted to have the whole flat painted in pink. But I told her that the living room is also a place for entertaining friends when they visit, and I wanted to have my room done up in my own style.
I wanted her to have a sense of ownership of our home, so I agreed to have her room painted pink, but in a lighter shade, as a more intense one is tiring on the eyes.
What do visitors like most about your flat when they visit it for the first time?
They like that it is neat, small and cosy, with a little bit of an arty ambience. Some elderly visitors, who live alone in four- or five-room HDB flats, say they would like to move to a smaller place like mine, because it would be easier to clean and they won’t feel as lonely living in it.
How well do you know your neighbours?
I know all the neighbours who live on the same level as me. I greet and chat with them; I invite them to my home too.
What do you like best about your neighbourhood?
The library. It’s where I can go to read and enjoy a moment of tranquillity.
What makes you look forward to coming home each day?
My home is a place where I can completely relax with my family, listening to each other and sharing our ups and downs.
Watch how a couple crowd source ingredients from their neighbours to bake a community cake: