Housing affordability and options for singles remain top concerns among Singaporeans
A recent podcast episode by The Straits Times saw two single Singaporeans elaborating more on these concerns.
Cost of living and housing have been raised as issues of concern among Singaporean youths in recent times.
News of resale flats sold for over a million dollars have dominated headlines, along with the lengthy time it takes to secure a Built-To-Order (BTO) flat.
Singapore’s housing policies mandate that applicants for public housing have to be part of a family nucleus, whether they are getting married, are applying to live with their parents or siblings, or have children under their legal custody. Otherwise, they have to be at least 35-years-old.
A poll by the National Youth Council (NYC), which saw a total of 1,000 respondents, found that the top three priorities for Singaporeans when it comes to housing are accessible public transport (61 per cent), affordability (57 per cent), and amenities around the area (53 per cent).
Mohamad Arshad, a 26-year-old sales development executive who recently graduated from Singapore University of Technology and Design, currently lives with his family in Pasir Ris.
While he is not looking to buy a house, he intends to purchase a flat in the same area in the future.
Arshad cited affordability as his top priority, followed by amenities which include coffee shops, polyclinics and grocery stores.
Accessibility to public transport came in as a third priority for him, noting that the public transport system in Singapore is constantly improving, with a new MRT station planned to be built near his bus stop in Pasir Ris East in the next six years.
Above all, he still wishes to stay close to parents so should they have any medical needs, he can attend to them as quickly as possible.
“If I have my parents move in with me, it would be easier to bring them for their monthly check-ups, or any appointments that they have or if there’s any issue, I can just bring them down to the polyclinic.”
On affordability, as a fresh graduate with less than a year’s worth of working experience, he shared that a major restraint would be his lack of Central Provident Fund (CPF) reserve.
“I have to look at how much I have to fork out monthly from my CPF to pay for my flat… and how this will affect me when I start a family or if I have any other life goals to achieve,” added Arshad.
That said, he still hopes to remain financially independent and that he and his future partner would be able to afford a house with their own means. He’d rather do without the pressure of relying on family members, such as his parents.
Similar to Arshad, 36-year-old Cho Ming Xiu also places high value on the pricing of flats.
Ming Xiu, who started a non-profit mental health organisation in 2016 for youths and young adults, called Campus PSY, currently lives with his family in Sengkang. He is actively searching for housing options in Punggol and Sengkang.
Initially, when he was still in a relationship, he was looking at applying for a BTO flat. However, now that he is on his own, the dream of affording one seems quite unattainable, despite being eligible for the Proximity Housing Grant and the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG).
He said: “It’s better (when) you can do it with your other half (because) the subsidies will double and it will lessen the burden.
He added that there aren’t sufficient housing options for singles. Presently, if a single person were to purchase a BTO flat upon hitting age 35, their only option would be a two-room Flexi flat.
“The housing policies are more pro-family because the cornerstone and foundation of our country is really celebrating families.
“I was wondering if the Government or the relevant ministries can look into how we can also celebrate singles… Everyone has their own choices.”
When talking about the resale market, Ming Xiu claims that the reality isn’t too different, that prices have yet to abate despite cooling measures in December 2021 and September 2022. Most recently in December 2022, a five-room HDB flat in Jurong West was sold for more than $850,000 – a record high – while a two-room flat in Choa Chu Kang was sold for over $300,000.
Apart from the rising prices, his other worry would be the decaying lease value for resale flats. If there aren’t many years left in the lease, it would devalue the property, affecting one’s chances of earning a profit.
While he agrees that flats should be used for owner occupation and not as an investment asset, as with 49 per cent of respondents in the poll, he understands the desires of Singaporeans who want to upgrade to bigger flats or even to a private property.
“I’m not trying to propagate using a house as an investment tool but I’m just saying it’s really to help one to improve their life.”