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Living next door to mum on the cards

IDEAS WANTED: Mr Khaw asked how parents could be encouraged to live in non-mature estates with their married children.


    May 26, 2014

    Living next door to mum on the cards

    MORE married couples are opting for public housing near their parents or under the same roof, compared to a decade ago, and the Government is looking to encourage such living arrangements.

    Citing the findings of a recent Housing Board survey, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that last year, 37 per cent of couples lived with their parents or close to them in the same HDB estate.

    This proportion is up from 31 per cent in 2003, he wrote in a blog post yesterday.

    The preliminary findings from HDB's Sample Household Survey, Mr Khaw shared, showed that 50 per cent of couples preferred such living arrangements, but only 37 per cent were able to do so.

    He supported families living closely together.

    "It makes a lot of practical sense, besides nurturing strong family bonds and allowing family values to be passed on from grandparents to their grandchildren," he wrote.

    The Government must do more to help families to live close to each other, Mr Khaw said, and sought public feedback about giving them priority and grants in getting their flats.

    Some suggestions he put forward included giving Build-To-Order (BTO) flat applicants "absolute priority" if they applied for a flat in the same HDB estate as their parents, and increasing the housing grant for eligible first-timers who wanted to a buy resale flat near their parents' home.

    Mr Khaw also asked how parents could be encouraged to live in non-mature estates with their married children, or if HDB should build more three-generation flats and if Singaporeans would be willing to pay more for them.

    Corporate communications officer Raymond Poon, 33, said that BTO projects in mature estates were usually hotly contested.

    "Those from our parents' generation tend to live in mature estates...And resale units there are very expensive, which isn't a great idea for young couples who have just started working," Mr Poon said.

    Ms Lim, 34, a finance manager who benefited from the $40,000 grant to buy a resale flat in Bukit Panjang near her in-laws' place, said increasing the amount would help younger couples who could find housing prices steep.

    However, not everyone felt that more support was a good thing. Finance executive Brennan Chen, 36, felt that some couples could just "use" their parents to get the extra grants or added priority in getting their flats.

    "At the end of the day, is there any effort to spend time with their parents? Staying nearby does not necessarily mean more family bonding," Mr Chen said.

    But for those who were already living near their parents, the reasons were clear.

    Ms Lim said that because they lived close by, her in-laws could help take care of her two daughters. "It'll be more convenient to look after my in-laws when they age," she said.

    Music teacher Tay Jiun Ngiap, 41, who lives in an apartment near his parents' flat in Yishun, said that when they needed help, he could easily pop over to fix things.

    "At first, they expected immediate attention," he said. "When you live too close together, it becomes too convenient. But, I would say our family bond is stronger now."

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