About a year ago I started looking for an apartment to buy. I looked at three possible markets: Melbourne, Macau and Hong Kong. Since I spend most of my time in Macau, that was the natural choice. It also helped that the mortgage rates are super low in Asia right now. I was able to get a mortage at 2.3%, which compared to the rates in Australia is ridiculous!
I wanted this home to be truly my home, which meant designing it to my own tastes. I didn't want to buy a new apartment where it felt like such a waste to tear things down and re-do things, especially if it's a place that nobody had ever lived in. Instead I found this perfect place that was quite run down. It was a project where I could rip everything out and put in new floors, new walls, new partitions and so forth. It needed a freshening up, but it was perfect for me.
I bought the apartment and was finally ready to start the renovation job in March. Obviously I had to have a walk-in closet for my clothes and my 200 pairs of shoes. Every girl wants that Sex and the City walk-in closet from the movie but it's really difficult in Asia. The size of that walk-in closet could be the size of a master bedroom for most people here.
After that came the more mundane details: floor tile. Wall tile. Toilet paper holders. Shower heads. Sinks. The list is endless.
It's a much bigger project than I imagined but it's something that I find extremely enjoyable at the same time. I am choosing every little detail of the home that I'm about to move into. I have to think about what it is that I need and then design things according to my lifestyle and my daily life. For someone who has traditionally been a somewhat messy person, that's not easy.
Making all these choices in Macau adds to the difficulty. You've got to take into account the cost of importing items to a place where maybe not a lot of people have installed them before or know how to repair them. Often it's easier and wiser to buy things that are local or from China, where you can get something "close enough". It might be 80% of what you really want but at 20% of the cost, and everyone knows how to install it and fix it.
I have contractors, of course. I go to the apartment at least once a week to double-check everything that they're doing. I find it's best to be very clear with every little process. "This is my vision. This is what I want." It's really hard to start ripping things out and doing it all over again if you're not clear.
Interior designing has always been a field that I've been really interested in. This renovation project has opened my eyes a bit to my natural talent in that field. Next time I buy a house (maybe in Australia), I'll probably look for another sort of do-it-yourself project.
If they would just lower the interest rates...
Celina Lin is a member of Team PokerStars Pro.