Shrinking household size requires 300,000 homes to be built in 10 years

Victor Kang14 Oct 2019

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This comes as the average household size fell to 3.2 from 3.5 in 2018, resulting in the average sizes of new private houses going down to 70 sq m (753 sq ft) from 111 sq m (1194 sq ft) in 2018.

Singapore must build at least 25,000 housing units annually to reach 300,000 units by 2030 if the average size of the household will go on contracting at a similar rate with the past 10-year period, reported Singapore Business Review citing CBRE.

The average household size fell to 3.2 from 3.5 in 2018, resulting in the average sizes of new private houses going down to 70 sq m (753 sq ft) from 111 sq m (1194 sq ft) in 2018.

Data from Singstat revealed the number of households with a single person grew 69 percent to 185,400 as compared to a decade ago. This comes on the heels of a failing general marriage rate in 2018 to 47 per 1,000 unmarried resident females, from 67 per 1,000 unmarried resident females aged 15 to 49 years old in 1980.

During the same period, the number of couple-based households without children rose by 43 percent, while single parent households rose by 28 percent, contributing to reduced household sizes.

CBRE pointed to growing land costs as a cause for shrinking house sizes as developers are keen on keeping prices low.

It noted, however, that this does not translate to reduced living space per person because of contracting household appliances, lifestyle changes and digitalisation of media.

As an example, CBRE said the living space per person inside an HDB 5-room flat stood at 28 sq m (301 sq ft) for the past 20 years.

The government is also freeing up space to accommodate more residential land in the Greater Southern Waterfront, Kampong Bugis, Tengah and Bayshore. It is estimated to produce 67,500 housing units.

Meanwhile, HDB introduced options to seniors where they can either participate in a lease buyback scheme where they could sell a flat’s remaining lease or monetise their flat by rightsizing to a smaller one.

“Although public flats with shorter leases are already available, this option is still lacking in the private housing market. In that respect, there could be more housing sites with shorter tenures injected into the private market,” said CBRE.


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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


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