‘Family’. Yes for the longest time, the idea of public housing and family building goes hand-in-hand. Our founding father, the late Lee Kuan Yew has a vision to build a nation of home-owning society. To his success, over 80% of Singaporeans were living in an HDB by the 1980s. All of us who grew up during these period had been conditioned to accept that one has to live at home with our parents….until you get married. Straight men often use the subject of ‘getting a HDB flat together’ as a way of proposal. (So unromantic, I know.)
The government was first hesitant in extending public housing to single individuals because there was a high demand for flats, and the priority went to families. Flat ownership for singles was also inconsistent with the government social policy of encouraging marriage and the preservation of the traditional family unit.
Thankfully, the liberalisation of the housing policy towards singles came in Oct 1991, when it was announced that single Singaporeans aged 35 and above can purchase a flat from Housing and Development Board (HDB).
And since then, 35 years became the ‘unofficial’ age for single adults to get a home of their own. The policy also became a ‘leeway’ for gay Singaporeans to buy a HDB flat for the very first time. But waiting till 35years old is a very long wait. Many will agree that, gay or straight, it can be unbearable for many to live at home till 35. For the LGBT community, there’s sometimes a more pressing need to move out. Many LGBT folks are not out to their family, thus having to hide one’s sexuality even at home is unbearable. And some for unfortunate ones, they might even be rejected by their family and forced to move out.
Before making that move…
The choice of home comes down to an individual financial status and income. If you start working young, have good income, and have accumulated enough monies in your CPF account, the option of buying your home way below 35 years old becomes possible as you can look for something in the private market, such as studio or 1 bedroom condo.
But alas, not everyone makes a 5 figure income, limiting their home choices to public housing or rental. Even with grants provided by the government, it’s important to have enough savings and a contingency plan should one loses their job (and income).
This is specially so for single LGBTQs who doesn’t have a partner’s income to fall back on to tide through rainy periods. Here are some methods you can follow so you don’t end up in a financial stress:
- Have enough fund to sustain yourself, especially in case of emergencies or unexpected loss of job/income. Generally rule of thumb is to have 6 months of income set aside for rainy days. Thus the idea of planning and saving as early as you is so important.
- Central Provident Fund (CPF) is also a key factor – understand how much you have in your CPF account and get assessment done for loan eligibility. Speak to your LGBTQ-friendly real estate agent to discuss your options and how much money your can use from your CPF towards property investments.
- Before embarking on a property search, speak to a mortgage banker to get an assessment on your financials and affordability range of the property you can get. Get an IPA (In-principle Approval) on the max loan quantum you can based on your income and current financial status.
- If you are considering to buy a HDB, you should look at the possibility of taking a HDB loan vs Bank Loan. You will need to fulfil a list of criteria for HDB loan. At the end of the day, there are pros and cons of each types, so speak to your agent to find out more.
Going the Rental Path…
For many single working LGBTQ, unfortunately the chance of buying a home of their own may take a very long time (if ever). They cannot afford a private now, but they cannot wait till they turn 35 years old – either their choice or they are forced to move out. So renting a place becomes unavoidable.
Many LGBTQ started off renting a room, sharing with an apartment with other tenants and slowly save up till they are able to get a place of their own. In Singapore, there are no anti-discrimination laws protecting tenants from discrimination on any grounds, including sexuality. It can become an unpleasant experience when trying to find a place with LGBTQ-friendly landlord, and flatmates. If you lucky, share an apartment with some fellow LGBTQ friends. Or else, remain closeted in your shared apartment.
Ideally, it’s easier for LGBTQ individual to rent entire units in Singapore (e.g. studio apartment or a three-room HDB flat) than a single room with common tenants or a stay-in-landlord.
In my next post, I will do an in-depth coverage on “Diversity-Friendly” Rental for LGBTQ to touch on tenancy agreements and dealing with landlord and tenants.
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