The Evolution Of House Hunting

9101087077-300x180I went to look at a house yesterday. It’s a new, cozy 1-storey terrace house with its own porch, about the same size of my current apartment (1100 sq. ft).

Why am I looking to rent a new place? Haven’t I just upgraded my lease last May to rent the entire apartment to myself?

Shortly after I looked at the house, I spoke to my friend – and we discussed how interesting it is that our needs and priorities for a house change as we grow older. Is this a case of lifestyle inflation?  

3 years ago…

My priority was an area with lots of greens – I don’t like living in a concrete complex – and one where I can run around the area. I also didn’t mind living with other people. I just wanted to have a place to go back to after work and re-orient myself – I was used to living with housemates and I have no problems zoning out and be on my own.

I rented a room at $250/month  in an apartment complex of quiet family neighbourhood. It’s quite a distance away from my office (25km), but as I was using the highway it’s only about 30 minutes commute. Since I also didn’t have any commitments, I was not rushed for time. I was able to run every morning and weekends and prepare to go to work in time.

2 years ago…

As my responsibilities grow at work, I look for convenience to my workplace. Additionally, since I started working in Kuala Lumpur my family visit became more and more often – and it’s apparent that having the space and privacy to entertain them is important. As I had to move out anyway from my first house because my housemate got married, I looked for an apartment nearer to office (10km), and managed to get a master bedroom with en suite bathroom as well as private parking for $400/month.

After a few months, I took up the smallest room in the house when it’s clear no one is going to move in and my rent increased to $650/month. Over time, my family had come visiting countless times – my parents, brothers, nieces and even my friends – I am glad to have a place for them.

Now…

I never had any plans of adopting cats (it was only a distant dream for when I have a house in the woods), but on New Year’s eve I’m left with a family of four cats and now I know I cannot imagine a life without them.

As they grow, I know I cannot compromise any spaces for them (it’s important for them to be able to roam freely in the house) – so when my housemate moved out from the middle room I immediately let my landlord knows that I want to rent the entire apartment. I’m now renting at $950/month.

Lately I have been thinking how nice it is to have a small parcel of land as an outdoor space for my cats.

My eldest cat (the mother) was an outdoor cat before she was adopted and she tends to get restless if left indoor for a while. Now she comes out with me everyday when I go to work and waits for me to come home in the evening. Since my apartment is a gated compound and she was an outdoor cat, I was quite convinced that she would be able to look after herself (she never venture out on the streets, just relaxing around in the middle yard and smelling the grass – even my neighbours and their kids have taken a fancy to her lately).

Now the two boys are also showing tendencies to go out, and it’s not helping that their mother is enticing them as well (she would walk halfway out the door and call the kids or attempt to play hide and seek with them behind the door from outside).

Which is why I’m contemplating moving to a landed terrace house. However, a lot of factors come into play in my decision – my travel plans, having to buy new furniture and appliances (my current apartment comes fully furnished), and safety (gated apartment is considerably safer for someone who lives alone compared to terrace house).

What do you think are factors I need to consider when renting a home on my own, with four cats in tow?