#Housing101 : A senior’s guide to housing options in 2023
What are your HDB housing options as a retired senior in Singapore
If you are approaching retirement or are already retired, you may be faced with a number of important decisions to make regarding how you plan to live the rest of your golden years. Housing, and where you call home, may be one of them.
The term ‘empty nesters’ refers to a couple or individual who resides alone after their children have grown and moved out. That is where the term ‘empty nest syndrome’ is also derived, which describes a state of depression and loneliness that parents may experience when their children leave home to start independent lives.
If you have adult children, moving in with them may be an option you are considering, or perhaps you are looking for alternative housing options to live by yourself. In fact more and more seniors in Singapore today are living alone — according to the Department of Statistics, an estimated 83,000 elderly persons aged 65 and above will be living alone in 2030, compared to 47,000 in 2016.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the different housing options that are available to seniors today, as well as various housing monetisation options that can help to supplement your retirement income.
To stay or not to stay with your adult children?
The decision to live with your adult children depends on a mutual understanding of your adult children’s needs and your own.
The benefits of living with your adult children include having emotional and caregiving support. Living with your children can provide a sense of companionship and alleviate ‘empty nest syndrome’ especially for seniors who are feeling lonely or isolated after retirement. Staying with your children can also help lessen financial costs for retirees, as they may not have to pay for housing or other living expenses.
On the flipside, staying with your adult children has its drawbacks as it can mean a lack of privacy for both parties, and lead to an overdependence on your children—which can be emotionally and financially draining for both. With smaller apartment sizes in recent years, each party’s living environment will also require specific reconfiguration to accommodate each other’s preferences and needs. Living independently of each other can likewise help to remove interference with each other’s lifestyles and avoid the straining of relationships.
Whatever your choice or circumstance, it is prudent to be aware of the various housing options available to you and plan for your retirement years.
HDB Housing Options
The Housing Development Board (HDB) has a few measures to help seniors meet their housing and retirement needs, depending on your preference to remain in or move out of your current flat.
HDB Short Lease 2-Room Flexi Flats
Firstly, there is the option to downsize to a 2-room Flexi Flat with a shorter lease (between 15 to 45 years). The lease duration can be adjusted in 5-year increments to lower the purchase price of the flat, but it must cover the youngest applicant till the age of 95. To be eligible to apply, you must be 55 years old and above, and at least 1 applicant must be a Singapore Citizen. For BTOs, there is also an income ceiling of $14,000. There are also certain priority schemes that you can benefit from as a senior.
With a shorter lease, you won’t be able to take up any housing loans. You must make full payment either in cash or with your CPF Ordinary Account. You also cannot rent out or sell your flat on the open market; you can only return the flat to HDB to receive a refund on the remaining value of your lease.
HDB Community Care Apartment
Similar to the 2-Room Flexi Flats, a Community Care Apartment (CCA) is a 2-room flat with senior-friendly fittings and features, and integrates care services to support the elderly. The flat will automatically come with a Basic Service Package, which includes basic health checks and 24-hour emergency monitoring and response. Other services such as housekeeping, meals and laundry can also be added at additional costs.
Eligibility conditions are similar to the Short Lease 2-Room Flexi Flats, except you must be at least 65 years old to apply for a CCA. Priority will be given to those with care needs, such as assistance with daily living activities.
HDB Monetisation Options
Silver Housing Bonus (SHB)
If you choose to downsize to a resale flat that is 3-room or smaller in the same town, you may be eligible for the Silver Housing Bonus. This includes a cash bonus of $30,000 if you top up at least $60,000 into your CPF Retirement Account from your sales proceeds. You will also get a CPF LIFE monthly payout of $530 to supplement your retirement income. Unlike the short-lease flexi flats and CCAs, you will be allowed to rent out a room for additional income.
Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS)
If you prefer to stay in the same flat, you can sell the tail-end of your lease back to HDB under the Lease Buyback Scheme. This includes a cash bonus of $7,500 after topping up $167,700 (Basic Retirement Sum) to your CPF-RA, and a CPF LIFE monthly payout of $1,140 to supplement your retirement income. You are also allowed to rent out a room for additional income.
It’s not too late to boost your retirement savings
As a senior, you have decent options for housing, whether you wish to remain in your current home, or downsize to a smaller home that more comfortably suits your lifestyle. A key thing to note is that the greater your retirement savings, the more options and flexibility you’ll have with regards to housing and standard of living. As such, it is important to continue saving and investing even after retirement, and also consider the impact of inflation and unexpected expenses.
It may be beneficial to consult a financial professional who can help you with your retirement planning. Financial planning in your advanced years requires a different approach, with a focus on wealth preservation instead of aggressive wealth building. With the right approach and planning, seniors can enjoy their golden years to the fullest with confidence in their financial security.
While the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.
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