You’re not alone if you always fantasised about moving out of your parent’s house at 18 years young. After all, that was the “dream” sold to us by countless American movies and TV shows. But that’s easier said than done in Singapore where housing is a scarce commodity, and public housing can only be purchased by single pringles aged 35 and above.
In spite of these hurdles, there’s an increasing number of young adults pursuing a home life of their own. Data from the Department of Statistics also showed that the number of Singaporeans under 35 who are living alone or away from their parents rose from 23,700 in 2015 to 51,300 in 2020. While that means the odds of you finding a potential housemate have gone up, so have property rental prices.
To help you get started on a life of independent living, here are some options you can take if you’re a single under 35. Couples who aren’t recognised by the law can also check out the cost considerations involved, the pros and cons of each option, and which course of action would best suit their current lifestyle and financial means.
Option 1: Renting
Image credit: Jessica Lai
The first option to consider for singles who want to move out before 35 is to rent a place of their own. While most people choose to rent a room in a shared house, others have rented out entire flats with like-minded friends so all their roommates are familiar faces. However, each option also brings about different types of costs.
Renting a shared room in an HDB flat, condo, or a house
Renting a room in a shared HDB flat is one of the most affordable options for those who are on a tighter budget.
Price range: From $300/month in a shared room in Yishun to $4,000/month for a private room with an ensuite bathroom in the Marina Bay area.
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Pros of renting a room:
- Most affordable rental option
- Flexibility to choose beyond an HDB
- Possibility to make new friends with fellow tenants
Cons of renting a room:
- Shared communal spaces
- Lack of privacy
- More rules to adhere to
- Possibility of not getting along with tenants
- Security might be a concern with unverified tenants
Renting an entire HDB flat, condo, or a house
Renting an entire apartment or house is a viable option for those who have a few friends joining their venture. This can take away the anxiety of having to “bond” with roommates you don’t know.
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The cheapest unit we could find in mid-August was a 2-room HDB flat in Bukit Panjang going for $1,800/month. A 3-room HDB flat in a more central location like Hougang would start from $2,800/month. A 2-room condo in Toa Payoh is also going for a similar rental price at $2,750/month, although it comes unfurnished.
Data derived from HDB’s Q2 2022 rental statistics are based off the rental process for lower-income families and the parenthood provisional housing scheme.
Pros of renting an entire HDB or condo:
- You can share the space with your predetermined group of friends
- Rules won’t be as strict
- Privacy is yours
Cons of renting an entire HDB or condo:
- Utilities might not be split evenly
- Can be more expensive
Some renters choose to get a place near their office for an easier commute, while others prefer a more centralised location so going out is easier. It’s also important to consider whether you want to rent a place in a mature or non-mature estate.
A mature estate like Ang Mo Kio would mean more amenities and better public transport, but that might also mean a higher monthly rental. On the flip side, non-mature estates like Yishun, Woodlands, Punggol, and Sengkang rank among some of the most affordable places to rent in Singapore.
HDB or Condo?
Renting in Singapore is a little different from the rest of the world thanks to HDBs. Renting a HDB can be more affordable than renting a condominium, but it comes with a few caveats. HDB landlords might be pickier about pet ownership – and rightfully so – and a condo would offer greater security.
That’s not to say HDB estates aren’t secure. Bukit Timah, Bishan, and Marine Parade are some of the safer neighbourhoods with low crime rates.
HDB also has rules to take note of whether you’re a landlord or a tenant.
Some landlords include utilities like Wifi, electricity, gas, and water into the rental price. Make sure you clarify with your potential landlord how much these monthly bills will set you back, as these can be hidden costs that you might not think about immediately when browsing rental listings.
It’s good to think about what you get when you sign the tenancy agreement. Does the house you’re renting have the basic necessities like a washing machine, dryer, and kitchen? If not, you’ll have to find a laundromat nearby.
Those who choose to rent a condo should also think if having amenities is worth it. Some condos just have the bare essentials like a BBQ pit and a gated estate, while others have the whole works from a pool to a fitness centre and a sauna.
Pros for renting:
- Flexibility to change locations
- Not tied down to loans
- Less upfront financial commitment
- Generally able to move in ASAP
- The home could be fully furnished
Cons of renting:
- Limitations when it comes to renovation and decorating
- Bound by the landlord’s rules and tenancy agreement
- Rent can be increased and would not stay fixed forever
- Is not considered an asset, and doesn’t contribute to your mortgage
- No government grants are offered for renters
Singles who just want a short-term plan or are on a budget
For those who aren’t about to get married soon yet want to live independently from their parents, renting is the best option. This lets them get a taste of what it’s like to live on their own without entering a long-term financial commitment with a mortgage.
Those who want to live with their friends and move out of the nest ASAP
It’s not uncommon to see groups of friends in their 20s find a place to live together. While there’s a whole other conversation to be had on conflicting living arrangements and styles, this option lets young adults live on their own terms with people they’re comfortable with.
P.S. Here are some must-know tips on renting as told by millennials.
Option 2: Buying a regular condo
If you want to own your own slice of paradise before you turn 35, buying a condo is another option available for singles out there. Owning a condo is also one of the “5 C’s of Singapore,” and you’ll be able to start accruing your own assets.
Contrary to what some people might have you believe, buying a condo doesn’t have to be a bank-breaking endeavour. Sure, it’ll definitely cost more than your average HDB flat, but those with the finances can get a shoebox or even a 2-room condo from under $1M.
However, buying a condo requires a hefty initial financial commitment. Here’s a rough breakdown of a payment plan if you’re taking on a bank loan on a $700K condo:
On top of the estimated $782K you’ll be paying for the condo, you still have to pay the interest on your bank loan which can be another $173K spread out over 30 years. But if you have the cash flow and means, this is definitely viable.
One of the main reasons why homeowners choose to buy a condo is for the amenities offered within the condo compound. Most condos have a pool and a gym, but there are other properties that don’t have them which would make them more affordable.
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Just because you bought a condo when you were single, doesn’t mean you won’t find your true love in the future. Should you decide to upgrade your home to accommodate your growing family, the potential resale value and viability of your current condo have to be taken into account before all that happens.
Pros of buying a condo:
- Amenities like pools, BBQ pits, gymnasiums, saunas, clubhouses
- Safety and security within a gated community
- Can keep up to 3 pets
- Condo can be a potential investment property
- Can lease out spare rooms without HDB’s approval
Cons of buying a condo:
- Smaller square footage in most cases
- Heat & noise pollution
- May not be able to apply for HDB in the future
- High monthly maintenance fees
Singles with more financial stability and who want to own a potentially appreciating asset.
If owning a private property is within your means and it’s something you’ve dreamt of doing, you’ll be happy to know that singles under 35 years of age can buy a condo, unlike an HDB. While it is more expensive than renting, your monthly mortgage payments will go towards an asset you own, rather than towards someone else’s assets.
Option 3: Buying a resale executive condo
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If you don’t want to fork out the money for a condo, but still want to own a piece of property, buying a resale executive condo is the way to go.
The difference here is that ECs are semi-public housing with all the fancy amenities offered by private condos. They also become privatised after 10 years, but singles under 35 can buy an EC once it hits its 5-year minimum occupation period (MOP).
The cost of a resale executive condo would come up about 25-30% lower than that of a private condo. However, even though it started off as subsidised public housing, resale EC buyers are not eligible for any CPF housing grants.
A quick search shows that the most affordable EC on the market now is a 2-room unit at Choa Chu Kang for $680,000. At 570sqft, it’s a lot more spacious than the most affordable condo unit albeit almost 20% more expensive. Here’s an example of how much it’d be to finance the EC:
- More affordable than a regular condo
- Similar amenities offered compared to condos
- Singles don’t need to form a family nucleus to buy a resale EC
- ECs privatise after 10 years, so homeowners can sell them to foreigners
- The value of the EC goes up after its 10-year mark
- Resale EC has already been built and is ready to move in
- Limited quantity of ECs on the market, which means locations are few and far between
- Cannot use CPF housing grants
- Subject to Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) which limits the total loan amount you can service monthly. It’s currently capped at 55% of your monthly income.
Sandwich class singles who can’t afford a new condo just yet, but want a slice of private property at a more affordable price
Buying a resale executive condo might not be at the top of your list. But if you’re in the “sandwich class,” and a condo is a tad out of reach for you at the moment, a resale EC will solve your housing conundrums all the same.
What to do when you turn 35 and are still single
You’re not out of luck just because you aren’t getting married and therefore can’t get a BTO or resale HDB. “Singles” in Singapore under 35 years old still have plenty of options if they want to live away from their parents.
While most might end up renting, there are those who have the financial means and the support from their parents to buy their own condos, too. There’s no right or wrong here, only what makes sense for you and how you choose to live.
Of course, there is a fourth, unpalatable option of just sucking it up and staying with your parents for a few more years. But this lets you save up for your eventual home if you can tahan a few more years. Once you hit that milestone, you can then look towards buying your own HDB flat even if you’re single.
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