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Why I live so far from the office

For many people who work abroad, they tend to rent a house close to the office so they can come to work easier. But the price isn’t cheap. If it’s cheap, it isn't a good room. Let’s see what I do with my daily commute when staying far from the office.

Trong Nguyen
December 28th, 2019

“I stay at Yishun” - “What? Toooo far. Why do you stay there?”

That’s a common reaction from my colleges when I tell them the new house I’m renting. Why so surprised?

I’m from Vietnam and I have been working in SG since last year. My wife and I are both working here, so we rent a house to stay in. And it locates at Yishun. If we take the MRT to go to work, it takes about one hour. For many people, it seems very far and a waste of time. For me, it’s the best. Let me tell you why.

First, you have to know that renting a house in Singapore is very expensive. If you want to rent a room, SG$700/month is the base price. It’s an old and small room. I’m good with it, man is easy. For a woman, it’s different, or at least, with my wife.

She wants to stay in a good place which is a new, tidy, clean toilet, big enough so she can cook. Condos are her options.

Last year, we rent a room inside a condo. It was a 20m2-room inside a dual key unit (a house that has one main room and one small room and they are separated). The location was very convenient. But on the other hand, the price is too expensive (SG$1,600/month) for that space. Especially, the smell wasn’t “nice” because we cooked a lot.

After a year, we decided to find a bigger room. We moved to Yishun that located at the north border of Singapore. Your friends usually make a joke that we could walk to Malaysia from my house.

Inside the new 55m2-room, we have a bedroom that equals the whole old room, a big kitchen-living room. We can cook any type of food without worry about the post effect of cooking. With all the things we need for a kitchen. The room comes with a big balcony where we can watch the blue swimming pool and breath in the fresh air every morning.

In the condo, we have one big pool and many other small pools. A well-equipment gym. Under our feet, it’s a giant mall where we can buy anything we need. Walking for more 100m, there’s a movie theater.

In a nutshell, we can stay there for our holiday.

The price of the room is more expensive than the old one just a bit. But it’s worth it.


Second, the biggest concern, it takes two hours for daily commute between the house and the office. For many people, two hours a day for the commute is too much. It depends on what can we do for those two hours. With me, it’s the most enjoyable time of the day.

Most people are busy with their phones for messaging, watching videos, reading news. For me, it’s the best time for reading and writing.

I read more books from the time I moved to the new house. I read every morning when I’m on the train.

I used to forget how to read a book. My wife and I spend all day for work. The night is the time to eat and talk with each other. It’s very selfish when using that time for personal things. So we try to interact with each other during the night.

So one hour in the morning is good for reading. When going back home from the office, I use that time for writing. Yes, I write on the train. One hour is a good amount of time for us to focus and dive deep into our thinking. It’s challenging to write with 30min, but with one hour, it’s enough. When we do it in one working week, we will have five hours in total.

Fun facts: I wrote all the posts on my blog on the train, during the way to go home. I came up with many ideas on the train.

And on the train, I have time to reflect my day. Sound very academic, but it helps me a lot. I put all the stress, all the mess on the paper, then I feel good again. You should try it sometime, writing all your messy thoughts on paper. Leave all the tress to papers.

So yeah, that’s why staying far from the office is very good for me. You don’t have to do the same. Because my habit is a bit weird for some people. But it works well for me. You don’t have to follow all the rituals that great artists did on Daily rituals: How artists work. Just find a time that works for you, and repeat it to make it a habit.

Forming a new habit is all we need to be a better version of ourselves. Reading the The power of habit if you need more motivations.

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