5 Housing Options for LGBTQ Singaporeans Who Don't Identify With The 'Conventional Family Unit'

·8-min read
5 Housing Options for LGBTQ Singaporeans Who Don't Identify With The 'Conventional Family Unit'
5 Housing Options for LGBTQ Singaporeans Who Don't Identify With The 'Conventional Family Unit'

It's no secret LGBTQ+ couples in Singapore find it more difficult to purchase property with their other half. Public housing in Singapore (i.e. HDB flats) is very much aimed at the 'conventional family unit'—straight, married couples, preferably with kids.

Meanwhile, marriage between LGBTQ+ couples in Singapore is not legally recognised under Singapore law. So they (and anyone who doesn’t fit in the conventional family mold) have to poke around in the 'singles' section when looking at housing options.

To be fair, the regulations are more liberal now than a decade ago. Before 2013, singles could not even buy HDB BTO flats. And for the past few years, the government has been steadily bumping up housing grants for singles.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the five available housing options and help the LGBTQ community navigate the restrictions that apply.

Summary of Using Options for LGBTQ Couples in Singapore

If you fall under the 'single' category, here are the housing options you currently have:

Flat Type

Age

HDB BTO 2-room Flexi Flats (non-mature estates)

At least 35 years old

Resale HDB Flats

At least 35 years old

New Executive Condominium (EC)

At least 35 years old

Resale EC

Under 35 years old

Private Property

Under 35 years old

There are other terms and conditions such as your citizenship status, income ceiling and whether or not you've owned an HDB flat before. Scroll to each option to find out more about the particular terms and conditions, as well as the grants available.

1. HDB BTO 2-room Flexi Flats (For Singles >35 Years Old)

Although queer couples can’t get married in Singapore, you can still ask your partner “want to BTO?”

Because once you’re 35, you can get a BTO flat with your partner (under the Joint Singles Scheme, or JSS)—or on your own (Singapore Singapore Citizen Scheme, or SSCS). It’s perfectly legal to apply under one person even if you plan to live together in it.

According to HDB guidelines, you’ll both need to be Singapore citizens and first-time home buyers, and your income must fall under $7,000 a month (if applying alone) or $9,000 (if applying under the Joint Singles’ Scheme).

Provided you meet all these requirements, singles can only apply for 2-room flats in non-mature estates such as Punggol or Sembawang.

Despite all these restrictions, BTO launches are very popular among singles because of the unbeatable price tag. 2-room Flexi flats start from just $100,000 before housing grants. You can also pay for it with an HDB loan, which requires a very small downpayment of 10%.

However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll snag a BTO the first time you try. And even after you successfully ballot for one, you still have to wait 3 or 4 years for it to get built, or even longer due to the COVID-19 construction delays. Check out the latest HDB BTO launches here.

2. Resale HDB Flats (For Singles >35 Years Old)

A much less restrictive—and much, much faster—way to get an HDB flat in Singapore is to buy a resale.

Once they hit the big 3-5, single Singapore citizens can buy a resale HDB flat, again either solo under SSCS, or with a partner under JSS.

Apart from the age and citizenship criteria, there are hardly any other restrictions. There’s no income ceiling, and you can own private property (as long as you sell it off within 6 months of getting your resale HDB). More importantly, there’s no restriction on flat size or location. Your budget is the limit.

You might ask, "Hey wait, aren't HDB resale flats more expensive than BTOs?" That's definitely true, but it doesn't mean an HDB resale flat is 100% out of your budget.

While HDB resale flats are more expensive than 2-room BTOs, but it’s possible to find reasonably-priced 3-room HDB flats from around $300,000 before grants. You’ll need some extra money for the renovation though, as some older flats may not be in the best shape.

If your income is under $7,000 a month (for sole buyers) or $14,000 across the household (for joint applicants), you can also qualify for an HDB loan. This allows you to finance the flat with just a 10% downpayment. And once that’s sorted, you can pretty much move in right away.

If all this sounds good to you, start browsing for HDB resale flats.

3. New Executive Condominiums (For Singles >35 Years Old)

A third public housing option that’s open to singles is the executive condominium (EC), which looks and feels like a private condo, but is cheaper due to government subsidies.

Singles can buy new ECs only under the Joint Singles Scheme, so apply either as a couple or in a group of up to 4 single citizens above 35. Your household income must be under $16,000 a month, and none of you can own any private property in the past 30 months.

If you meet the criteria, you can apply for any size apartment you like. As with resale flats, your budget is the main restriction. ECs start from about $800,000 for the smallest (2-bedroom) units, and there are no grants for singles.

You can’t get an HDB loan for an EC, so you’ll have to get a bank loan and pay 25% of the purchase price as the downpayment. That’s $200,000 for an $800,000 unit.

Bear in mind that ECs launches are quite infrequent, and after buying a new launch unit, you’ll need to wait for another 2 to 3 years before you can move in. For those who intend to live in an EC, here's everything you need to know about buying an executive condo in Singapore.

4. Resale Executive Condominiums (For Singles Under 35)

If you don’t intend to wait until you’re 35 to get your own place, you can either buy private property (see below) or a resale EC.

ECs can be sold on the resale market after the owner has occupied them for 5 years. After 5 years, the EC is considered semi-privatised and can be sold to Singaporeans and PRs above 21—no need to meet any other requirements or apply under a scheme!

This is a great option for LGBTQ singles or couples who want their own place ASAP. But the downside is that there aren’t many ECs on the market, and they’re mostly in non-central locations. However, there are older ECs that are within walking distance to the MRT stations.

Surprisingly, resale ECs are no more expensive than new ECs. You can find 2-bedder units going from $800,000 in freshly-MOPed EC developments like Watercolours and Blossom Residences. With a bank loan, expect to pay $200,000 for the downpayment.

The prices are expected to rise after the 10-year mark, though, because they will be fully privatised and can be sold to foreigners.

5. Private Property (For Singles Under 35)

Finally, there’s private property, which of course have no restrictions on who can buy and sell them. (The one exception is landed houses, which can’t be bought by foreigners.)

As long as your budget permits, there’s nothing stopping you from buying a private condo unit in the location of your choice.

Similar to resale HDB flats, there’s a huge supply of private condo units for sale and therefore a big range of price points as well.

You can find shoebox apartments in Bukit Panjang from $500,000; while on the upper end of the scale, a new launch condo unit in District 9 would start from around $1.5 million to $2 million. Landed terrace houses start from about $3 million.

Affordability would be the key factor and you’ll have to decide based on your budget for the 25% downpayment, and what kind of mortgage payments you’re comfortable with.

LGBTQ Couples Buying Property Together in Singapore

Housing in Singapore isn’t cheap, but owning the roof over your head is a pretty nice feeling. If you're not in a financially comfortable spot to buy a property, you can look towards renting a whole apartment or a single room.

Whichever housing option you choose, we wish you good luck with your search and hope this article has been helpful!

More FAQs about Housing Options for LGBTQ Couples in Singapore

Can LGBTQ Couples Buy Housing Together in Singapore?

Technically, yes, but not as a married couple under Singapore law.

What Housing Options Do LGBTQ Couples in Singapore Have?

If you’re 35 and older, you can get 2-room Flexi HDB BTO flats, resale HDB flats and new ECs, as well as private property. If you’re under 35, resale ECs and private property.

Where Can I Find ECs in Singapore?

You can browse PropertyGuru listings for ECs on sale.

What Is the Income Ceiling for a 2-room Flexi BTO Flat?

$7,000 a month (if applying alone) or $9,000 (if applying under the Joint Singles’ Scheme).

For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.

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