More Malay households living in one-, two-room flats

Cheryl Chiew28 Jul 2021

Some reasons explaining why more Malay households were living in smaller flats included young families who needed interim housing while trying to acquire their own flat or families who have financial difficulties.

The Census of the Population 2020 showed that the proportion of Malay households staying in one- and two-room Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats has increased to 16% in 2020 from 8.7% in 2010.

Those living in three-room HDB flats, on the other hand, held firm at 22% in 2010 and 21.1% last year.

The Ministry of National Development on Tuesday (27 July) said there are various factors contributing to the hike in the number of Malay households staying in one- and two-room flats.

The first reason it cited was the increase in the number of Malay households living in public rental flats.

“This was in tandem with the increase in the supply of HDB one- and two-room public rental flats over the last decade, from about 45,500 in 2010 to about 62,000 in 2020,” said the ministry in Parliament.

It was responding to Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan who asked the reasons for the large number of Malays moving to smaller flats.

Some of the Malay households who moved to public rental flats were young families who were unable to continue living with their parents and were in need of housing while working towards acquiring their own flat.

Others were families who have no other housing options after having sold their previous home due to changes in family or financial circumstances. 

Then there were also the seniors “who had little savings or income and did not have family support or were unable to stay with their children”.

The second reason cited by the ministry was the increase in the share of Malay flat buyers who acquired one- and two-room HDB flats—from 3% in 2010 to 8% in 2020.

The increase, which was also seen in other ethnic groups, could be “partly due to singles being able to buy new two-room flats since July 2013, as well as seniors right-sizing from bigger flats to two-room Flexi flats”, explained MND.

Meanwhile, the ministry said it is encouraged that many families staying in public rental flats have acquired their own homes.

It revealed that about 4,600 households have moved on to their own homes in the past five years, up by over 70% from 2,600 households in the previous five years. Of these, about 40% were Malay households.

“Another 2,000 households staying in public rental flats have booked new flats from HDB and are awaiting their completion, of whom around 40% are Malay households,” added MND.

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Cheryl Chiew, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this story, email: 


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