Too Expensive to Move

I’m finding my condo to be a bit too small as my kids grow older. At the moment we’re all still sleeping in the master bedroom together. There’s a queen sized bed and three single mattresses for the kids.

Rachel has turned five years old and she will need her own bedroom soon.

Sometimes it’s quite… err… “inconvenient” sleeping in the same room with the kids. What a nightmare if the kids were to wake up at an inappropriate moment.

We have another bedroom reserved for guests that doubles as the kids playroom. At the back of the condo there’s a small room that has been turned into a store room.

Doing the Math

Before getting married, my original plan was to start off with a small condo. In my naivety I only expected 1 child and I didn’t predict house prices doubling after 5 years.

But we’ve had 3 kids in the span of 4 years. The value of my condo has also doubled, but even after selling it, what could I afford to buy? A slightly bigger condo?

My salary cannot keep up with the demand because our expenses continue to increase every year, especially daycare and kindergarten fees.

No Relief

It’s not helping that property developers seem to be releasing premium and luxury class properties nowadays.

I don’t know who keeps buying these properties at crazy prices, and where they’re getting this money from.

More bad news. In the past few days our stock market is dropping so fast, and the value of the Ringgit has depreciated so much.

I’m not going to blame anyone. Some people want to blame the government but I hardly think this problem is their fault.

And what can the government do really? If you’re the seller of a property won’t you want to sell for the highest value? Even if you slap speculators with 15% RPGT, they’re earning 85% profit that they will promptly invest in another property.

Property prices can only come down if there’s no demand but I can only expect demand to increase.

Staying Put

We’ve just decided to see how things turn out in the next few years. One thing for sure, property prices will never go back to the way they were a few years ago. My only hope is to earn more money.

I’ve already started some small home refurbishment projects on the condo. Perhaps I’ll spend a little bit of money making our condo a bit more comfortable and be satisfied with what I have.

Maybe it’s time to convert that back room from a store room to a bedroom.

I am aware of the fact that I’m fortunate to even own a property when thousands out there are even worse off than me.

Staying in the condo does have advantages. We have facilities to use. There are security guards around all the time. There’s only one entrance so I don’t have to worry about burglars from any windows, back door or roof.

IKEA GORM Shelving Unit Project

Poey Chin and I decided a couple of weeks back, that it was time to get some new shelves to reduce the clutter in our condo.

We went to IKEA to take a look at some GORM shelves. I came home, made some measurements and we decided to go ahead with the purchase.

Last Tuesday night I went over to IKEA and brought these home.

ikea gorm from the store

Two sets of GORM Shelving Unit 78 x 55, with two sets of extra shelves. Total was around RM350.

Be careful to select wood that isn’t cracked or chipped.

ikea gorm untreated wood

We planned to use the shelves in the kitchen so I wanted to protect the wood from grease and make it easier to clean.

I wanted to get the paint from IKEA, but they were sold at RM25 per 375 ml. I decided to get Nippon Timber Finish at RM30 per 1 litre.

I bought 2 litres so I could give my new shelves multiple coats of paint.

ikea gorm with nippon timber finish

After the kids went to bed on Wednesday night, I dragged everything out to my condo balcony and started work.

It took me 3 hours to finish putting the first coat of paint on everything (in semi-darkness).

It was 11:30 pm when I finished, so I just left everything to dry outside. Here’s a photo I took the next morning.

ikea gorm after first coat of paint

I was on leave, so after breakfast I spent another 3 hours putting on the 2nd coat of timber finish. I missed a few spots from the night before because it was too dark.

After I finished the 2nd coat, I used up the rest of the paint putting a 3rd coat on the main surfaces.

Here are the results.

ikea gorm after final painting

I left them out on the balcony to dry (in the shade) for 4 hours, then I brought them inside.

You can see all the components just waiting for assembly. I didn’t want to start assembly right away because the kids were around.

My RM350 Lego set.

ikea gorm waiting for assembly

Here’s a comparison of the wood before and after painting.

Not very scientific of me, because I took photos of different pieces of wood and the lighting was different.

The difference is a deeper colour, and they surface is glossy. It feels kind of waterproof.

ikea gorm before and after painting

We waited until the kids were asleep on Thursday night, and began putting the pieces together.

Tip if you want to try this at home: get some power tools!

ikea gorm assembly

I had to use my small screwdriver attached to a socket thing, and it was such hard work putting in all the screws.

If I had a powered screwdriver I would have been done in minutes. But it took me (and Poey Chin) 2 hours to put one of the shelves together.

It was so tiring we had to finish the second shelf on the next night.

ikea gorm completed

Our kitchen went from this:

ikea gorm kitchen before

To this.

ikea gorm kitchen after

Still not perfectly organized but hey, we were so tired after all the hard work.

The next night we used 1.5 hours to put up the second shelf and put it near our washing / storage area.

It went from this:

ikea gorm washing before

To this:

ikea gorm washing after

The re-organizing is still a work in progress. I’ll whip out my electric label machine and assign proper zones for everything.

I’m so happy we have some extra shelves to store things properly, instead of piling them on the floor or stuffing our store room.

It took me and Poey Chin 10 hours to get everything done, in the span of 3 nights.

I’m so happy with the results that I’ve forgotten the pain.

We’re thinking of another IKEA project soon. Saw some shelving units that would be great for organizing the toys and children books!



New, Old Light

Before we moved in to our condo, we installed these set of lights in our kitchen.

old lights

Like any modern homeowner, we installed energy saving bulbs or CFLs.

CFLs would save energy and save us money in the long term right?


We must have gone through more than ten light bulbs in the last four years.

Maybe the lights were not wired properly. Maybe there were power surges and spikes.

The bulbs couldn’t last more than a few months before they would burn out.

I don’t think we’ve been cycling the lights on and off too often. I even tried installing regular light bulbs but they wouldn’t survive either.

Last month two light bulbs failed.

So I had enough. I didn’t want to spend any more money on expensive light bulbs, so we replaced it with this fluorescent light.

new fluorescent light

No-frills, bright and economical. Now we have a new set of old (fashioned) lights.

Hope we don’t have any problems from now on.

My living room lights are giving me the same problem. The CFLs don’t last more than a year.

I suspect low quality light fixtures or low quality installation could be a factor.

I’ve been buying Phillips CFLs so I don’t think the light bulbs were an issue. I even tried buying some GE brand imported light bulbs but those died too.

Anyone have any idea what could be wrong?

In the future I would be careful about buying low-quality light fixtures. I guess our focus was mainly on the design and the price.

But how am I supposed to know which are good quality or not?

I would probably stay with fluorescent lights.