We examine some of the housing issues facing single women in Singapore and offer some helpful tips.
The world is celebrating International Women’s Day today (8 Mar) with many events taking place to commemorate the special role women play in our society. Despite this, many of them, especially single women, continue to face challenges when it comes to buying a home in Singapore. At PropertyGuru, we want to help everyone, including women, make a more confident property decision, and have identified some of their main issues and offered tips to help them through their home buying journey.
One major concern when buying a home is security, more so for single women who intend to live on their own. Living alone means they won’t have anyone to protect them from potential intruders who might try to break in.
Singaporean Alexis Poon made security a priority when she started looking for an HDB flat about eight years ago.
“As a single woman, safety was an important consideration. Before signing on the dotted line, I took a walk around the neighbourhood in the evening just to check if the common areas were well-lit and free from strangers lurking around,” said the 43-year-old.
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Aside from checking the area’s reputation, some experts also suggest installing home security systems with loud alarms to prevent potential burglaries. If possible, avoid staying in corridor units facing the public walkway as it means less privacy and could attract prying eyes. Also, try to foster close ties with your neighbours as they’re living closest to you and can help out in case of emergencies.
If there are couples in Singapore who are both earning yet struggling to repay the monthly instalment on their housing loan, what more for single women.
Affordability was an important consideration for Poon. “I was buying the unit on my own and would not be able to turn to a husband to pay the mortgage if I suddenly found myself out of a job,” she said.
Purchasing a home own your own can be financially tough, but it’s not impossible. It requires discipline and strict budgeting, which means knowing how much you earn and listing down where the money is being spent.
According to financial gurus, your mortgage payments should not exceed 30 percent of your monthly salary. Another advice is to save enough money for the property’s downpayment, as a higher initial cash outlay will significantly reduce your monthly loan instalments. You should also set aside enough money in case of medical emergencies or if you get retrenched.
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No man’s an island. People need the companionship of others in order to thrive and prosper. If you’re living alone, there’s a chance that you could fall into loneliness and depression.
So if you’re a single woman who intends to live alone, then its advisable to look for a home that is within proximity to your family or close friends.
“Like many single women, I was expected to help look after elderly parents, especially if they fall ill. As such, distance between the family home and my new place was an important consideration. Hence, I intentionally narrowed my home search to properties within walking distance of my parent’s home,” said Poon.
Another good piece of advice is to invite your friends over to your place during weekends, or plan a weekly social activity. You can even initiate simple social interactions with your neighbours, which could help foster a closer relationship.
4. Age restriction
Another challenge is that HDB only allows Singaporean singles aged 35 and above to purchase a flat. As such, Poon hopes that the authorities will consider lowering the age requirement.
“In view of the increasing number of singles in Singapore, I think the government should look into lowering the minimum age to purchase an HDB flat. I would suggest lowering it from 35 to 32.
“I know of many singles who wish to move out of their family home, but are unable to do so because they have yet to hit the qualifying age of 35. There are no age restrictions for private property, but many are unable to afford the much higher prices,” noted Poon, who bought an HDB flat in the central region.
She said one group greatly affected by the age rule is divorced mothers, who are forced to move back to a cramped family home with their children or rent a small apartment until they reach 35.
“I think single parents should be allowed to purchase an HDB flat (if they can afford it) regardless of gender or age. Children should not be made to suffer because of their parent’s divorce,” she added.
5. Limited options
Poon also pointed out that singles can only buy 2-room BTO flats currently. If they want to purchase a larger unit, they need to purchase a resale HDB flat.
“I think the government should re-look this regulation and consider allowing singles to apply for three-room BTO flats as well. Singles should not be forced to make a choice between affordability and a more spacious and comfortable home,” she said.
She also feels that the government should review its policy of only offering grants to married Singaporeans who want to live near their parents.
“This is another policy that I think the government should re-look. The duty of caring for elderly parents tends to fall more heavily on singles because the married child would be busy caring for their own kids. I think the grant should be given to any child who chooses to live near his or her parents regardless of marital status,” she added.
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Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email firstname.lastname@example.org