35 and Single: What Type of HDB Flats Can Single Singaporeans Buy?
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35 and Single: What Type of HDB Flats Can Single Singaporeans Buy?

Kenneth Fong
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I was having ma la xiang guo for lunch, with an old friend from BMT, when the conversation invariably turned to one of three things:

He was particularly interested in the last point because, according to him, my place is aesthetic AF:

Ken's Aesthetic AF Bedroom
Pictured: what my bedroom looks like, ONLY when people come over

Also, he’s at the age where he would really like to have a place to call his own.

But the problem is, he’s single and not 35 years old yet (more on this in a bit).

And unfortunately, a condominium is out of his budget.

Which got me thinking…

What if I were single and younger than 35?

What kind of HDB housing options would be available for me?


TL;DR: What Type of HDB Flats Can Single Singaporeans Buy?

35 and Single What Type of HDB Flats Can I Buy

If you are a single Permanent Resident

You cannot buy an HDB BTO flat or an HDB Resale flat either.

The latter is only possible if you form a family nucleus or are legally married.

So your only option is private housing.

If you are a single Singapore Citizen

As a single, 35-year-old, Singapore citizen, you can buy:

  • a 2-Room Flexi HDB BTO flat in a non-mature estate, or
  • an HDB Resale flat on the open market

Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of both options:

HDB Flat Options for Singles

2-Room Flexi HDB BTO Flat (99-Year Lease)HDB Resale Flat
PriceMore affordable
(from $90,000 excluding grants)
More expensive
(from $243,000, median prices for a 3-Room flat)
LocationNon-mature estates onlyNo restriction
AvailabilityLower
(depends on HDB BTO launch)
Higher
(depends on your preference)
Income Ceiling$7,000
(per month)
None
(but ceilings apply to grants)
Lease99-YearRemaining
(less than 99 years)
Size of flat36 to 38 sqm (Type 1)
45 to 46 sqm (Type 2)

Note: 45sqm is about half the size of a 4-Room HDB flat
Varies
(2 to 5-Room)
Waiting TimeLonger
(about 3 to 5 years)
Shorter
(almost immediately)
Able to Sub-let?Yes
(whole apartment; but only after 5-Year MOP)
Yes
(can rent out rooms)

If you’re looking for an affordable option, the 2-Room Flexi HDB BTO is a clear choice.

If you need something quick and in an area of your choice, then an HDB Resale flat is the way to go.


Why Do We Need HDB Housing Options for Singles?

Simple.

Because more and more Singaporeans are comfortable with singlehood or are putting off marriage until they’re older.

In fact, according to the Department of Statistics’ Populations Trends Report for 2019.

The proportion of singles amongst the resident population aged below 50 years, rose between 2008 and 2018.

Among those aged 30 to 34 years, 40.4 per cent of males and 27.4 per cent of females were single.

This is up from 35.1 per cent and 24.4 per cent respectively in 2008.

Squidward Lamenting His Singlehood
Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | Giphy

And there’re many reasons why this is happening.

From putting their careers first to singlehood becoming an acceptable lifestyle.

Or in my friend’s case… the fact that he can’t marry his partner legally despite Singaporeans becoming more liberal towards gay marriages.

Which means that in the eyes of the law, he and his partner are technically single.

And that also means that they do not qualify for most HDB schemes that would otherwise allow heterosexual couples — who are married or are eligible to marry — to purchase an HDB flat.

What Are the HDB Eligibility Requirements for Singles?

Since we’re talking about HDB flats, it’s a no-brainer that they are only available to Singaporeans or Permanent Residents (PRs).

And even then, PRs are only eligible to purchase an HDB BTO flat if their spouse is a Singapore citizen.

So if you’re a single PR, an HDB flat is out of the question.

For Singapore citizens, you have to be at least 35 years old to apply as an unmarried or divorced individual.

Unless you’re an orphan with no siblings, then you may apply for your own flat under the Orphan’s Scheme when you turn 21 years old.

You’ll also need to deal with the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) quota.

Coz, y’know… this:

Hao Gong Ming Good Citizen Textbook
Source: St Nicholas Girls’ School Alumnae Association | Facebook

It’s to ensure a balanced mix of various ethnic communities in our HDB towns.

So as to preserve our multi-cultural identity and promote racial integration and harmony.

TBH, the EIP and SPR won’t be a huge problem in terms of affecting your eligibility.

But it’ll probably affect your flat’s location depending on the quota.


What Type of HDB Flats Can Singles Buy?

Assuming you’re a single, 35 years old, Singapore citizen.

You can choose to buy either a 2-Room Flexi HDB BTO flat in a non-mature estate.

Or an HDB Resale flat on the open market.

Here are some pros and cons of both options:

HDB Flat Options for Singles

2-Room Flexi HDB BTO Flat (99-Year Lease)HDB Resale Flat
PriceMore affordable
(from $90,000 excluding grants)
More expensive
(from $243,000, median prices for a 3-Room flat)
LocationNon-mature estates onlyNo restriction
AvailabilityLower
(depends on HDB BTO launch)
Higher
(depends on your preference)
Income Ceiling$7,000
(per month)
None
(but ceilings apply to grants)
Lease99-YearRemaining
(less than 99 years)
Size of flat36 to 38 sqm (Type 1)
45 to 46 sqm (Type 2)

Note: 45sqm is about half the size of a 4-Room HDB flat
Varies
(2 to 5-Room)
Waiting TimeLonger
(about 3 to 5 years)
Shorter
(almost immediately)
Able to Sub-let?Yes
(whole apartment; but only after 5-Year MOP)
Yes
(can rent out rooms)

2-Room Flexi HDB BTO in Non-Mature Estates: Affordable But Small

If cost is a major concern, then a 2-Room Flexi HDB BTO flat is the most affordable option.

But it’ll definitely be smaller in size.

To give you an idea of what kind of living arrangements you’re looking at, this is what a 2-Room Flexi (Type 1) will look like:

2-Room Flexi Type 1 Floor Plan
Source: HDB

And this is the floorplan for a 2-Room Flexi (Type 2):

2-Room Flexi Type 2 Floor Plan
Source: HDB

You’re also limited to applying for a 2-Room Flexi in a non-mature estate.

So that limits your choices, and you might not be able to live in an estate that’s your first choice.

Another thing to consider would be the limited availability of 2-Room Flexi flats too.

Because not all BTO projects will have 2-Room Flexi flats.

And even if they do, at least 40 per cent of 2-Room Flexi units in a project will be made available to the elderly.

One last bugbear is the waiting time.

After the booking of your flat, you’ll still have to wait about 3 to 5 years for your flat to be built.

So if you applied when you’re 35, you’d be moving into your new flat when you’re celebrating your 40th birthday.

HDB Resale Flat: More Expensive But More Readily Available

If you want to get your own place asap, then you’ll probably want to explore your options on the resale market.

Where you can purchase almost any type of HDB Resale flat as long as you can afford it.

But doing so also means that it’ll definitely be more expensive.

Even if you went with the smallest HDB Resale flat currently available: a 3-Room HDB Resale flat.

Note: 2-Room Flexi flats were only introduced in 2015, so we’ll probably only see them on the market in 2025 when the first 2-Room Flexi flats have been completed and have fulfilled their 5-year Minimum Occupation Period

You’d still be looking at coughing up at least $243,000 — this is a median amount based on HDB resale statistics correct as of 2Q 2020.

One more thing.

If your resale flat has less than 60 years remaining on its lease, the amount of CPF which you can use to pay for your home will be pro-rated.

So as your mortgage matures, you might find that you’ll need to fork out more cash to service it.

You’ll also want to factor in renovation costs, so if you’re going for a resale flat, make sure you purchase a flat that you can really afford.


What Kind of Housing Grants Are Available for Singles?

Thankfully, singles also have access to housing grants to help them finance their purchase.

The type of CPF housing grants that are applicable depends on what type of HDB flat you choose as a single.

HDB Grants for Singles: HDB BTO

Single Singapore Citizen Scheme

If you’re applying for a 2-Room Flexi HDB BTO flat as a single applicant.

Joint Singles Scheme

If you’re applying for a 2-Room Flexi HDB BTO flat with one or three other Singapore Citizen singles.

  • Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) (Singles) up to $80,000, with monthly household income capped at $9,000

Orphans Scheme

If you’re applying for an HDB BTO flat (no restrictions on flat type) with a sibling who is a Singapore Citizen or PR, and parents are deceased.

  • Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) (Singles) up to $80,000, with monthly household income capped at $9,000

HDB Grants for Singles: HDB Resale

Single Singapore Citizen Scheme

If you’re buying an HDB Resale flat (no restrictions on flat type) as a single applicant.

  • Singles Grant up to $25,000 (for 2- to 4-Room flat); $20,000 (for 5-Room flat or bigger), with monthly household income capped at $7,000
  • Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) (Singles) up to $40,000, with monthly household income capped at $4,500

And if you live with your parents (meaning parents listed as occupants)

  • Proximity Housing Grant of $15,000, with no income ceiling

And if you live near your parents (within 4km radius of your parents’ home)

  • Proximity Housing Grant of $10,000, with no income ceiling

Joint Singles Scheme or Orphans Scheme

If you’re buying an HDB Resale flat (no restrictions on flat type) with one or three other Singapore Citizen singles.

OR if you’re buying an HDB Resale flat (no restrictions on flat type) with a sibling who is a Singapore Citizen or PR, and parents are deceased.

  • Singles Grant up to $50,000 (for 2- to 4-Room flat); $40,000 (for 5-Room flat or bigger), with monthly household income capped at $14,000
  • Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) (Singles) up to $80,000, with monthly household income capped at $9,000

FYI: if 2 singles apply, each applicant will receive half of the full grant each; even if more than 2 singles apply, a maximum of 2 applicants will receive the grant

Bonus: Pro Tip for Same-Sex Couples

For same-sex couples, like my friend, you can apply under either scheme — as long as both of you meet the abovementioned eligibility criteria.

However, when you’re applying under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme.

Only ONE of you can be the legal owner of the flat.

This means that the non-owner partner will not be able to use their CPF monies to pay for the flat or obtain an HDB loan.

They will also not have any legal rights or claim over the flat (eg. for renovation, rent, or selling of the flat).

So if both parties want to contribute to the payment of AND have legal rights to the HDB flat.

You’ll want to apply under the Joint Singles Scheme instead as both applicants will have their names recorded as co-owners.


So… Which Should I Get?

If you’re looking for an affordable option, the 2-Room Flexi HDB BTO is a clear choice.

If you need something quick and in an area of your choice, then an HDB Resale flat is the way to go.

One other interesting aspect of choosing a resale flat is that it gives you the ability to rent out rooms to generate additional income.

But with the 2-Room Flexi flat on a 99-year lease, you can only choose to rent out your whole apartment.

And that’s only after you meet the minimum occupation period of 5 years.

Apart from the pros and cons of sharing your home with renters, this definitely opens up a possible stream of passive income.

Still need help deciding?

Why not check out our SeedlyCommunity and get your questions answered by our friendly community of professionals and everyday Singaporeans?

35 & Single: 2-Room HDB or Resale or Condo?

About Kenneth Fong
Owner of a 4-room HDB BTO and married to a financial clutz. Probably the closest to an adult you can find on the Seedly team.
You can contribute your thoughts like Kenneth Fong here.

Still have more questions after reading the article? Fret not, ask our community here!

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