Apartment Hunting in Singapore: What is an HDB Flat?


HDB (Housing and Development Board) is a common acronym in Singapore which refers to various types of public housing built by the government. For foreigners, the term “public housing” is often connected to low budget housing developments meant soley for low-income residents; however, in the case of Singapore’s real estate market, this term refers to multi-story condominium projects utilized by more than 80 percent of the country’s  population.

A Typical Housing and Development Board  Project

Due to its small land mass, Singapore’s housing projects focus on maximizing the amount of space that allocated to them. This is why a single housing estate (a block where there are multiple flats) is a self-contained environment that may include schools, clinics, grocery stores, and even recreational facilities like indoor pools and basketball  courts.

Are all Projects by the Housing and Development Board the  Same?

Originally, flats built by the Housing and Development Board were meant to cater primarily to low-income residents and were purchased via financial aid programs such as Singapore’s Central Provident Fund. Over the past 30 years, real estate demand within Singapore has shifted resulting in the creation of public housing developments oriented towards higher income consumers. Flats available today have different layouts, sizes, and locations based on an individual’s price range and are clear evidence of a shift in the Housing and Development Board to appeal to a broader consumer  base.

What is the General Size of a Common  Flat?

The following are common sizes of most projects started by the Housing and Development  Board:

a.) 2-room (45 square meters)

b.) 3-room (65 square meters)

c.) 4-room (90 square meters)

d.) 5-room (110 square meters)

e.) 3 Gen (115 square meters)

f.) Executive Flat (130 square meters)

While you may think that these apartment sizes are quite large, you need to consider the fact that they are meant to house entire families and not just one individual. Most families in Singapore tend to live within the 2-room to 4-room units since this falls within their general price range for purchasing or  renting.

What Does a Housing and Development Board Flat Look  Like?

A typical flat consists of a living area (typically divided into multiple sections based on the needs of the buyer), a kitchen, a bedroom with an attached bathroom and a storeroom that often houses a family’s washing machine. They follow either a rectangular or square design, and the kitchen is within the living area  itself.

New Trends in Housing  Use

One common trend that has been growing in popularity in Singapore is for multiple people to rent the same flat in order to live closer to where they work. Low-income foreign workers that come to Singapore often find that they are unable to afford monthly rent on their own, and thus opt to share the unit with other people in a similar situation to save on expenses. A typical 2-room property can sometimes house four to five people within the same unit with all them sharing the cost of rent, as well as bills like electricity, association dues and water. Do note, though, that not all housing projects allow this and set a limit on the number of individuals per unit. It is due to cases like this that people who purchase units to rent them out often ask the admin department of the building what their policies are regarding the maximum number of people allowed stay in the  flat.

What are my purchasing  options?

If you are thinking of buying a flat, there are several options that you can take into  consideration:

a.) Browsing  Online

One of the easiest methods of finding an HDB flat is to go sites like Property Guru and browse through their various listings. Using a property website’s search engine is the fastest way for you to find what you are looking for in the most convenient way  possible.

b.) Visiting the Showroom of a  Developer

By visiting the showroom of a developer, you will be able to see for yourself what the flat looks like, as well as its overall size. This option is good for people who want to see the property with their own eyes before committing to purchase a  unit.

c.) Asking for the Assistance of a  Broker

The last method that you can opt for is seeking the help of a real estate broker. Brokers have more connections than you do and are more likely to find flats not listed online that are in excellent condition with affordable  prices.

When purchasing and type of property, be sure to make an visual inspection of the place before committing to any purchase. You need to make sure that everything is in good working order before you commit to  buying.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.