Do we need a spare room?

We are currently staying in the delightfully quirky ‘Hotel Re’ in Singapore, which, like many hotels, has a large ‘function room’.

It has often amused me that, by definition, function rooms are frequently the only rooms in a building with out any designated function until one is inserted into them. ‘Dining room’, ‘bathroom’, ‘bedroom’, ‘office’ are all obviously purposeful.

Of course, in homes, there’s often the ‘spare’ room – used for storage, for an occasional study, as an additional bedroom for guests. But how necessary can a room called ‘spare’ really be?

When we first bought our (2 bedroom apartment), we set up one room as the bedroom and one as the study/guest room. But, like many, we planned on upgrading to a larger 3 bedroom townhouse later on, where we could have a dedicated ‘spare room’ for guests, and unfettered access to our study/library.

It soon became apparent when we looked around, that to buy an apartment in the same suburb with an extra bedroom (and no other additional facilities) would cost an exorbitant amount extra. Enough, in fact, we calculated to keep any guests (or ourselves) in a hotel for around two whole years. More than enough to buy an entirely separate one bedroom studio apartment in the same area.


So we dismissed the townhouse idea, and bought a small apartment as an investment instead.

But we soon found other ways to inflate our lifestyle…

like upgrading the bathroom.

In our case, the ‘bathroom’ was an inaccurately named room, in that it did not feature a bath – something we found important. We made measurements, we even had a plumber friend take a look, and figured out a way we could kind of squeeze a corner bath in, albeit with a lot of work and disruption.

And if we really spent up big, we could make that corner bath a spa, we imagined.

The average ‘budget’ bathroom renovation in Australia costs around $10,000 to $20,000, while higher end or larger bathrooms can easily double this budget.

But ‘Just because you can afford to renovate, doesn’t make it the right decision. You should consider all the pros and cons before committing your time and money’ says an article on

Pros of renovating

  • Potentially add resale value.
  • Improve your standard of living.
  • Upgrade the quality of fixtures to stand the test of time.
  • If your family needs a bigger home, you can save on stamp duty, agent and other fees.

Cons of renovating

  • Potential to overspend and overcapitalise.
  • May have to move out of home while works are being completed (or live in dust!). To these, I would add:
  • May involve throwing away perfectly serviceable fixtures before they are worn out (environmental impact).
  • Hidden costs such as council approvals, architects fees, and budget blow-outs on some projects.

Even before we left our jobs and started travelling, we used to spend around a month or more out of our home each year for holidays, work trips and visiting family, leaving us with 10 or 11 months in the apartment. Three months of the year are generally too hot to enjoy a hot soak anyway.

How many times a week or month do most people use their baths? And for those that have spas, I bet the number of times they use the spa function is even less frequent.

Applying the same kind of thinking as above, what if we simply ‘rented’ a spa when we felt like it? Why be permanent owners of a depreciating asset when we could pay a little bit extra when we were already staying in a hotel and felt like a spa bath? At around $50 extra per night on the hotel tarrif, we could enjoy 400 nights in upgraded rooms for the cost of renovating our bathroom, and not have to deal with cleaning or maintenance. (It should be noted that in the location our apartment is in, installing a spa would not increase the value of the property or desirability as a rental).

I suspect there are a lot of things like this.

How often would you use the fancy new outdoor dining area you’re planning on building? How many parties could you hold at restaurants, parks, or other public places and have a change of scenery instead?

What about the expensive media room? The swimming pool?

Are there ways you could ‘rent’ these facilities for much cheaper instead – and enjoy the variety, and a lack of maintenance costs and work?

Of course, this solution won’t work for everyone, and in some cases, you really can add value to your home through smart renovation, but I think it’s worth considering – especially if your planned upgrades are more a response to the sort of home you feel you ‘should’ have, rather than the one you actually want or need,or that will improve your home’s resale value.

31RentWhat home upgrades are you currently dreaming of?
And could you rent them more cost-effectively instead?

Today’s featured image is from the glitzy bathroom at Hotel Re!, Singapore.


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2 thoughts on “Do we need a spare room?

  1. hi to all in singapore, raining cats and dogs here, yes the car is having a great time being washed in the yard, geez should have built a spare garage for the visitors. last time i used a “rental spa bath” in big 4 cabin in Qld ended up at the doctors and 2 weeks off work, picked up serious disease, medical bills cost more than 2 weeks wages!! great to hear you arrived safely, got to go now to colac flooded drains and truck wash + casterton and coleraine are flooded again and the town is closed with the highway cut twice in 4 days. cheers pete the plumber signing off.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Pete! Great to hear from you.
      You raise a very good point about the maintenance of ‘rental spa baths’ not always being as good as it would be if they were our own.
      This is certainly something to consider!!
      Take care in the wet!♨?

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