Giving the right support to newly arriving expats and locals alike to securing and settling in to new homes is so crucial – and rewarding.
I spent the Christmas holidays in Malaysia, the country of my birth but one I’ve neglected to visit for many years. I felt the need to get re-acquainted with Kuala Lumpur, to explore Ipoh with Malaysian friends who recently bought a holiday home there, and finally to look in on my father’s best friend who lives in the township of Shah Alam 40 minutes outside of KL, ahead of his 90th birthday.
We packed in a lot in 8 days! And being in the property business, one of my passions is visiting different homes, enjoying the differences in layout, décor and cultural interpretation on what makes for a comfortable dwelling.
From a kampong village house on stilts to a newly built village bungalow by a river on the edge of a jungle with bars on all the windows to deter burglars; glorious sunsets, sweet fresh air, the magical jungle sounds. To a terraced 3-bedroom family home with postage stamp garden in KL’s affluent suburbs, to a 3-bedroom apartment in a smart new resort with mountain views to die for! Then to a large detached house with pool and delightfully overgrown garden just outside KL – the homes I was privileged to see, and stay in some, came in many shapes and sizes. And irrespective of what shape and size they were, I was welcomed in all by their residents who cherish them.
It got me thinking about my own home, my décor, my treasured possessions, and how lucky I feel to be able to have such a comfortable and safe apartment here in Macau. We tend to take things so much for granted. I watch the news in horror as hundreds of homes in Australia are being eaten up by bush fires, as homes are crushed by bombs in Syria – people’s entire belongings destroyed in just a few minutes.
As I understand it, much of the angst among the young people in Hong Kong that fuels their protests is a sense of helplessness in never being able to afford a home of their own, real estate has become so prohibitively expensive there.
I came across an interesting article on the Stories section of BBC News (bbc.co.uk/news/stories), about an elderly woman and her adult son who choose to live on a bench in south London. The pair has become a fixture on Mitcham Road, a part of Tooting’s community. The mother in her 70’s and son in his 30’s, originally from Somalia, have lived under blankets and a bright blue tarpaulin, on a busy London street for more than four years. By day they sit and watch the world go by. They don’t beg, they don’t block the pavement, they keep their space clean. At night they pull the cover over and sleep. The bench has become their home. Assumed to be another tragic homeless statistic, but no, they’ve been offered a series of flats by the council. Each offer has been refused; they haven’t even gone to look. Living on this bench in Tooting, rain, snow and shine, appears to be a choice.
So I guess my message is that homes mean different things to different people but generally they are where you feel at your most relaxed. All the more reason why in my profession, giving the right support to newly arriving expats and locals alike to securing and settling in to new homes is so crucial – and rewarding.
The old adage rings true – home is where the heart is, it’s the place where you feel the deepest affection, no matter where you are. I was delighted to come back to Macau after our whirlwind travels. And be it a park bench or a spacious family house, there’s really no place like home!