This is Home (Part I): Housing In Singapore

In recent weeks Shiok! has received numerous suggestions about local topics to discuss…and one topic stood out in particular – our HOME in Singapore. This is the first of a 3-parter series.

History Begins… 

Almost 1/3 of people lived in dilapidated slums and squatter dwellings with inadequate sanitation in Singapore in the early 1960s.

In 1964, the government introduced the Home Ownership for the People Scheme to give citizens a tangible asset in the country, a means of financial security and a hedge against inflation. This push for home ownership also helped in the overall economic, social and political stability of the country.

In 1968, the government allowed the use of Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to place the down-payment and service the monthly mortgage loan installments. This helped more become home owners. Today the CPF is a touchy topic but it has no doubt helped many Singaporeans in the past!

In 1981, the Home Protection Scheme, administered by the CPF Board, was implemented to ensure that dependents of HDB flat owners would not lose their homes because of a default in loan repayments, in the event of death or permanent incapacity of the sole breadwinner.

Now, in 2014, Singapore has one of the highest home-ownership rates globally with 90% of residents owning homes. Credit goes to the public housing policy. The Housing & Development Board (HDB), currently houses 82% of all resident households. Of course, the public service of Singapore is commended across the globe for its HDB successes, but there are other types of homes worth a mention too in this following list:

HDB Flat

Singapore’s HDB landscape in the heartlands is arguably as iconic as the towers of MBS, but HDB comes out tops certainly for being around much much longer!

HUDC Flat 

HUDC flats were built in the 1970s and 1980s as a housing option for middle-income citizen families. Only a handful of these developments remain today.

Walkup Apartment

As the interesting name suggests, these are apartment units that you have to walk up to, i.e. there are not lifts or escalators in the building. More often than not there are no facilities as well.


Condos are a dime a dozen nowadays in Singapore, with the property craze leading to many developers building condo all across Singapore. Condos are apartments that come with facilities, including private carparks and sports centres like swimming pool, gymnasium, tennis courts etc.

Executive Condominium

What sets this category apart from a Condominium is the ownership restrictions, such as eligibility to buy and income ceiling.


Penthouse units are very exclusive because they are units on the highest floor of a condo and are usually larger or even double-storey, limited in quantity on the market and offer extra value such as the best view.


Townhouses are landed homes (housing with private land) set within a condominium development. Other than providing the exclusivity and comfort of landed living, it also offers a full suite of facilities that includes 24-hour security. 

Detached House or Bungalow

An independent house such as the beautiful images below show. The entire land is privately owned and bungalows are priced in the top end of the property market in Singapore.

Semi Detached House

Semi-detached housing are pairs of houses built side by side as units sharing a partition wall. These are landed properties as well.

Terrace House

A row of houses attached to one another, not unlike a multiple-detached house. This category falls under landed property too.

Shop House

Shophouses are Singapore’s heritage, as most of them were built pre-independence and display chinese/european influence. In the past, they were built with the intention for shops at the bottom, residential units above. Many of these shophouses are under conserved status today, meaning that they cannot be demolished or have their facade altered.

BTO Flats

The latest development from HDB introduces an upgrade on flats – BTO stands for Built-to-order and offers Singaporeans flexibility in owning their first home. The first of its kind was introduced to us as Pinnacle, and what caught many people’s attention was its award-winning architecture and design.

Pinnacle @ Duxton was awarded the 2011 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence. Image by HDB.

Upcoming Estates

What can we guess about the future of upcoming estates in Singapore? Would there be higher and smaller units stacking em up like Jenga (even Jenga has a limit to how high it can stack)? Or would the urban planning authorities reclaim more land such as Tuas and Tekong area? Will that be at the expense of our ports and would Singapore still be the world’s busiest transshipment port? There are so many considerations to make on the grid of Singapore just to expand and accommodate housing options for all.

What would you do?

Thinking out loud, could we build downwards? That might creep into the underground cables of all sorts… Nah, that would probably cause a power shortage!! No electricity isn’t a good thing! I would say the HDB has done a great job to house Singaporeans since it was set up, and should continue to spearhead our city’s housing developments.

What would the future of the Singapore households look like?

This writer is one who feels that it might still look great on the exterior but homes are getting smaller and smaller in size.

Above all…there is no doubt that Singapore is where home is! Although we now stay in the above types of housing, and no longer stay in kampungs, we can still share the kampung spirit! Share with us yours today!

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