COVID-19 has been around for a hot minute. By now, you might know friends, friends of friends and/or family who may have had a scare or contracted COVID-19. Perhaps you have tested positive and had to isolate yourself at home or in a facility.
It has also become the norm to show your vaccinated status when entering a mall or an eatery and ‘digging your nose’ weekly with home ART test kits for peace of mind.
In a time when Singapore is trying to transition from living with COVID-19 as a pandemic to an endemic, these are all the processes that have become part of our daily routine. There’s still fear, too, of the consequences of the virus. We’re also starting to receive booster shots, which aim to renew the immunity of the community.
Bearing the brunt of this is our healthcare system, as well as our overwhelmed healthcare workers. Since mid-September, reported daily COVID-19 infections have surged beyond the 1,000 mark and now average at about 3,000 every day.
In this case, especially if you have at-risk folk at home, living near a hospital could be a boon. However, for many of us, being close to somewhere that is possibly receiving hundreds of infectious patients daily – albeit temporarily – might send germaphobes amongst us running away screaming.
So what do Singaporeans think about living near a hospital in the near future, when COVID-19 has become endemic (and hopefully becomes like the common cold)? Let’s find out.
With Higher Activity Near Hospitals, Comes Higher Noise Levels
Living near a hospital is akin to living near a busy town centre, MRT station, shopping mall, sprawling school or market. You may need to compete with hospital visitors or vehicles for public transport and parking space. Plus, you might be caught in more traffic jams or deal with congestion when turning in and out of your area, especially when navigating busy or narrow roads.
With higher activity comes higher noise levels. There’ll be increased traffic and footfall to the area, so those who need peace and quiet should reconsider living near a hospital (or any major amenity, really).
Don’t forget, hospitals operate around the clock. Emergency sirens will likely blare every now and then, even during the wee hours of the morning.
When asked if she would live near a hospital, Elaine, 28, doesn’t mind as “noise doesn’t bother” her as she’s usually “plugged into [her] favourite tunes while working”. It’s her dog that usually ‘disturbs’ her instead.
“I’ve never experienced living close to a hospital, so I’m not sure how often I’d hear piercing sirens or if I’d be woken from my slumber.”
“However, I could consider living near a hospital if it means that rents are lower. As an independent business owner, my income stream currently isn’t too stable, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A significantly lower rent could reduce my financial burden but I’d probably go recce the place first and ask those living there about the noise levels.”
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But for Frank, 47, who works in construction, living close to a hospital is a definite no-no for him, especially with the current virus outbreak.
“It’s often noisy in my line of work, so I’d definitely like to come home to peace and quiet. That’s why I decided to move to an area outside the central region that’s also further from the main town centre. I drive, so it’s alright for me.
“My current property is close to nature, so I can wake up to hear bird calls and go for a jog every morning. Not sure if it’s in my mind, but the air feels fresher and my neighbours seem less stressed out too.
The Convenience of Living Nearby a Key Amenity
Our small island has no fewer than 20 hospitals – a mix of public/restructured, private and community facilities – to serve the millions of people in Singapore. Some of those we spoke to agreed that while they wouldn’t want to stay right at a hospital’s doorstep, it would be nice to have a major amenity within the neighbourhood.
Here’s a handy map of hospitals in Singapore:
Especially for those living with the elderly or whose family members have chronic conditions, staying close to a hospital means less travelling time or even a matter of life or death in a critical situation.
This is also one of the reasons why HDB has started rolling out Assisted Living Flats for the elderly, with all of the senior-friendly fixtures, services and even proximity to a care home and a polyclinic.
Raj, who stays with his 80-year-old father, often shuttles back and forth to a hospital for his dad’s checkups, as well as the rare emergency visit. They take a taxi each time, and the fare, when added up, can be quite hefty.
The business manager lives in the east and usually takes his dad to SGH for regular doctor’s appointments.
“Believe me, I’ve considered moving closer to Outram, but as that area is quite expensive. Sometimes, during peak periods, we spend a lot of time stuck in traffic jams and [even more time] waiting to see the doctor at the hospital,” he adds.
Nur, 22, agrees staying close to a hospital can be advantageous, but for a different reason. She is currently studying to be a nurse and hopes to rent a room close to the hospital she’ll be attached to for training so that she can “quickly reach home, shower, and crash”.
Meanwhile, Ms Wong, 38, a designer who stays in Telok Kurau, has lived close to a hospital for most of her life. Despite this, she barely registers its presence and never visits the facility as it is a private hospital – her insurance only covers public/restructured hospitals.
Bad Luck Living Near Hospitals: Superstition or Stigma?
When buying a home and renovating it, some would consult a geomancer for advice on improving the home’s fengshui. Tips could range from painting the walls a specific colour to adding water fixtures.
There’s also a lot of discussion on the directions your home should face for positive energies, the locations of drains, water bodies, toilets, places of worship and even proximity to hospitals.
Like Frank, ‘pantang’ folks may not even want a view of a hospital from their window, no matter how far off the building is. Ms Wong doesn’t share this sentiment, but her friends do. She notes that when she tells her friends that she stays near a hospital, some would exclaim loudly.
“There is a bit of stigma when you stay close to a hospital. Perhaps that’s why some relatives never seem to want to visit my home, citing that it’s not convenient as they live in another part of Singapore.”
Tip: the superstitious who live close to hospitals could compensate for the proximity by choosing a higher floor or an apartment facing away from the hospital.
Does Living Near a Hospital Affect a Property’s Resale Price?
Another practical consideration when living near a hospital is to consider the property’s resale price. For now, the sentiment is that properties near hospitals are being sold at a lower price. This is in part due to the sentiment living near a hospital is ‘unlucky’.
Those who plan to make their purchase a forever home could possibly benefit from lower property prices. On the flip side, those who bought a home at a bargain because it’s near a hospital may have trouble reselling it for a high price.
However, other factors affect price, such as distance to other amenities such as key public transport nodes, shopping malls, schools, etc. In the future, as Singapore’s population continues to age, staying close to a hospital might become a plus point and a key consideration for buyers.
Frank, Raj and Ms Wong agree, but for different reasons. Frank is on the hunt for an investment property. He is working with an agent to determine a property’s top factors to best attract future buyers and renters. As long as he isn’t living in the property with his family, he will follow trends and the market demand.
Raj’s consideration is that he and his wife are not getting younger and may need to access hospital facilities in their old age. They know they cannot rely solely on their children to care for them. He is hopeful that new BTO developments will be launched in a suitable location within 2km of a major hospital.
Ms Wong believes that to sell or rent out a property successfully, one must market it to a niche audience. In this case, those who work in hospitals would be the target audience.
“Seeing as how the medical staff often work so hard and for such long hours, having a home close to their workplace can reduce their exhaustion. Even if it’s for a few hours, they can head home, change, have a meal and nap in their own bed,” she explains.
Pros and Cons of Living Near Hospitals
Based on the points shared above, we’ve consolidated them and split them into the pros and cons of living near a hospital:
In general, there’s a mix of views regarding living near a hospital. While these people we’ve spoken to do not represent what everyone in Singapore thinks, it does give some insight into the various reasons for and against living near hospitals.
It’s also worth noting that Singapore is an Asian country, with ethnically Chinese citizens forming the majority. They could have strong beliefs around geomancy and fengshui, which causes them to shun buying property near hospitals.
Then again, looking at how properties at former burial sites that include Bishan, Ngee Ann City, Novena and Bidadari have prospered, perhaps Singaporeans aren’t such a superstitious bunch after all.
Would you live near a hospital? Perhaps the better question would be: how close would you live to a hospital?
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.
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