Staying at the top floor of an HDB block

When it was time to choose our HDB flat about five years ago, I remember I had to arm myself with knowledge on selecting a good flat. The golden rules I was given by older people were:

  1. Avoid west-facing flats, so that your house will not bear the heat of the afternoon sun.
  2. Avoid the flats at the top floor because it is usually very hot up there and there might be leaks since the water tanks would be directly above the top-floor flat.

I did not follow one of the rules and I did not regret it. I chose a flat at the top floor.

I was sure I had to avoid west-facing flats as I personally experienced the heat at my parents’ place, which had some afternoon sun. If the afternoon sun (and it’s not even direct) could make me so irritated (especially after taking afternoon naps), I must make sure I don’t get a flat that will make me frustrated when I return home.

During the selection of my HDB flat, I was concerned about staying at the top floor due to the golden rules I mentioned above. So, choosing one was a huge leap of faith. Nonetheless, the signs I encountered before my flat selection helped me take this faith step. The signs include meeting people who stayed at the top level and shared how much they enjoyed it.

Here are the pros and cons of staying at the top floor.

The bad

  • The lift stops at almost every level in the morning when you use it to go down. Please factor in an extra 5 minutes for lift-taking in the morning when going to work. And no, I won’t walk down more than 20 levels worth of stairs.
  • Top-level flats are usually susceptible to house break-ins as it’s quieter up here (e.g. less movement up and down the staircase). We installed a CCTV and window grilles to mitigate this potential problem.
  • Some delivery companies charge by the number of levels to deliver big bulky items that can’t fit into the lift (e.g. mattresses), so imagine the amount you have to pay if they have to deliver by climbing the stairs… *shudders* But in our case, it hasn’t been an issue. A standard king-sized mattress can fit into the lift.

The good

  • The view up here is beautiful. The skies we see are always full of surprises.
  • No noisy footsteps from neighbours above.
  • No pipes in the toilet. Spacious toilets.
  • Higher ceiling than all other flats below – penthouse feeling. Good for us because Hubbs is quite tall.
  • And it’s not hot at all, because we don’t get the afternoon sun. It’s windy in the evenings. So the key thing is to avoid west-facing flats.
  • Top-level flats get higher resale value, although this doesn’t really relate to me because we plan to stay in our flat for a long, long time.

In summary, I would recommend you to get a top-level flat if you can, as long as you don’t get one that is west-facing. Best is if you get one with an unblocked view. The beautiful skies we see and the relaxed vibe we get from the extra space at the top level make those (ad-hoc) inconveniences we get seem so insignificant.