Housing Options for LGBTQ Singaporeans Who Don't Identify With The Conventional "Family Unit"

lgbtq housing singapore

It’s no secret that public housing in Singapore (i.e. HDB flats) is very much aimed at the conventional family unit — straight married couples, preferably with kids.

Meanwhile, LGBTQ Singaporeans (and anyone who doesn’t fit in the conventional family mold) have to poke around in the “singles” section.

To be fair, the regulations are more liberal now than a decade ago. Before 2013, singles could not even buy HDB BTO flats. And for the past few years, the government has been steadily bumping up housing grants for singles. Things could be worse.

If you fall under the category of “single”, here are the housing options you currently have:

  • If you’re at least 35 years old, you can get an HDB BTO, HDB resale flat, or an executive condominium (EC)
  • If you don’t want to wait until then, you can buy a resale EC or private property

In this article, we’ll walk you through the five available housing options and help the LGBTQ community navigate the restrictions that apply.

 

HDB BTO flat (for singles >35 years old)

Although queer couples can’t get married in Singapore, you can still take part in the Singaporean tradition of proposing by asking “want to BTO?”

Because once you’re 35, you can get a BTO flat with your partner (under the Joint Singles Scheme, or JSS) — or on your own (Singapore Singapore Citizen Scheme, or SSCS). It’s perfectly legal to apply under one person even if you plan to live together in it.

You’ll both need to be Singapore citizens and first-time home buyers, and your income must fall under $7,000 a month (if applying alone) or $9,000 jointly (if applying under the Joint Singles’ Scheme). 

Provided you meet all these requirements, singles can only apply for 2-room flats in non-mature estates such as Punggol or Sembawang.

Despite all these restrictions, BTO launches are very popular among singles because of the unbeatable price tag. 2-room Flexi flats start from just $100,000 before housing grants. You can also pay for it with an HDB loan, which requires a very small downpayment of 10%.

However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll snag a BTO the first time you try. And even after you successfully ballot for one, you still have to wait 3 or 4 years for it to get built, during which you’ll need to figure out some other form of accommodation.

Check out the latest HDB BTO launches here. 

 

Resale HDB flat (for singles >35 years old)

A much less restrictive — and much, much faster — way to get an HDB flat in Singapore is to buy a resale. 

Once they hit the big 3-5, single Singapore citizens can buy a resale HDB flat, again either solo under SSCS, or with a partner under JSS.

Apart from the age and citizenship criteria, there are hardly any other restrictions. There’s no income ceiling, and you can own private property (as long as you sell it off within 6 months of getting your resale HDB).

More importantly, there’s no restriction on flat size or location. Your budget is the limit.

Read also: Are HDB Resale Units Really More Expensive Than BTOs?

Resale HDB flats are more expensive than 2-room BTOs, but it’s possible to find reasonably-priced 3-room HDB flats from around $300,000 before grants. You’ll need some extra money for the renovation though.

If your income is under $7,000 a month (for sole buyers) or $14,000 across the household (for joint applicants), you can also qualify for an HDB loan. This allows you to finance the flat with just a 10% downpayment. And once that’s sorted, you can pretty much move in right away.

Browse for HDB resale flats on PropertyGuru.

 

New EC (for singles >35 years old)

A third public housing option that’s open to singles is the executive condominium (EC), which looks and feels like a private condo, but is cheaper due to government subsidies.

Singles can buy new ECs only under the Joint Singles Scheme, so apply either as a couple or in a group of up to 4 single citizens above 35. Your household income must be under $16,000 a month, and none of you can own any private property in the past 30 months.

If you meet the criteria, you can apply for any size apartment you like. As with resale flats, your budget is the main restriction. ECs start from about $800,000 for the smallest (2-bedroom) units, and there are no grants for singles. 

You can’t get an HDB loan for an EC, so you’ll have to get a bank loan and pay 25% of the purchase price as the downpayment. That’s $200,000 for an $800,000 unit.

Bear in mind that ECs launches are quite infrequent, and after buying a new launch unit, you’ll need to wait another 2 to 3 years before you can move in.

 

Resale EC (for singles under 35)

If you don’t intend to wait until you’re 35 to get your own place, you can either buy private property (see below) or a resale EC.

ECs can be sold on the resale market after the owner has occupied it for 5 years. After 5 years, the EC is considered semi-privatised and can be sold to Singaporeans and PRs above 21 — no need to meet any other requirements or apply under a scheme!

This is a great option for LGBTQ singles or couples who want their own place ASAP. But the downside is that there aren’t many ECs on the market, and they’re mostly in non-central locations.

Surprisingly, resale ECs are no more expensive than new ECs. You can find 2-bedder units going from $800,000 in freshly-MOPed EC developments like Watercolours and Blossom Residences. With a bank loan, expect to pay $200,000 for the downpayment.

The prices are expected to rise after the 10-year mark, though, because they will be fully privatised and can be sold to foreigners.

Browse the top condominium apartments for sale on PropertyGuru. 

 

Private property (for singles under 35)

Finally, there’s private property, which of course have no restrictions on who can buy and sell them. (The one exception is landed houses, which can’t be bought by foreigners.)

As long as your budget permits, there’s nothing stopping you from buying a private condo unit in the location of your choice.

Similar to resale HDB flats, there’s a huge supply of private condo units for sale and therefore a big range of price points as well. 

You can find shoebox apartments in Bukit Panjang from just $500,000; while on the upper end of the scale, a new launch condo unit in District 9 would start from around $1.5m to $2m. Landed terrace houses start from about $3m.

Affordability would be the key factor and you’ll have to decide based on your budget for the 25% downpayment, and what kind of mortgage payments you’re comfortable with.

 

Things aren’t perfect, but at least there are options

Some of you may find this list of housing options painfully restrictive, while others might be amazed that there are even housing grants for LGBTQ.

Whichever it is, we hope you’ve found this guide useful. Housing in Singapore isn’t cheap, but if you can afford it, nothing beats owning the roof over your head — especially when you are a vulnerable minority. Good luck with your search!

 

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