Young couples not keen on 3-Gen flats

From ‘3Gen flats? No thanks, we’d rather live on our own’, 9 June 2014, article by Yeo Same Jo, ST

YOUNG couples taking part in a dialogue on housing were largely against living in new jumbo-sized flats with their parents after marriage, echoing the preliminary results of an online poll that showed most young couples would rather live on their own. Most of the 20 couples taking part in the Ministry of National Development (MND) session were worried about the lack of privacy of such three-generation (3Gen) flats.

“Personally I value freedom and I want my own space,” said chemist Toh Ke Min, 24, who took part in last Saturday’s event, the first of three conversations held to find out how housing policies can help draw families closer.

Her boyfriend, transport operations officer Quah Hai Hui, 26, shared her sentiment. “I’m apprehensive about what my in-laws think about me. Living in the same flat as them might bring some conflict,” he said.

Others said the 3Gen flats, meant to encourage multiple generations to live under one roof, might be difficult to sell in future, as they can be resold only to other multi-generation families.

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‘Jumbo’ is not as big as it once was. The 3Gen flats at Saraca Breeze @ Yishun come with 4 bedrooms, 2 of which with attached bathrooms, and has an area of 115 sq m. In 1990, a ‘jumbo’ unit in Woodlands had SEVEN rooms (150 – 165 sq m), created by knocking down the wall between 3 room and 4 room units. It was practically a presidential suite by today’s standards. Today’s 3Gen units are more ‘Grande’ than ‘Jumbo’, really.

With prices starting from $335K, calling these 3Gen flats ‘jumbo’ makes it seem like a steal, when it’s almost the same size as a 5-room flat, which your property agent will try to sell to you, along with your aged parents and kids, as ‘cosy’ despite the superlative tag. In 1986, if you wished to stay close to your old folks but prefer to retain your privacy you could get an extended unit with a ‘granny’ flat attached, a 40 sq m studio apartment with its own toilet and kitchen, the smallest of the range being 133 sq m, still more spacious than the current ‘jumbo’ flat.

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It wasn’t long before Singaporeans began exploiting the extra space for other uses, as a ‘workout room’,  study, workshop and a maid’s bedroom among others. By 1992, the ‘granny’ project was faltering and HDB eventually put a stop to it, with some experts explaining that old people preferred to live away from their married children. Today, there is the ‘retirement village’ for those who would rather live alone than play nanny to Junior when Mom and Dad are slogging their asses off at work.

We all appreciate MND’s aims to meet the national objective of happy-family togetherness, but as the survey results show, perhaps there is a limit to how physically tight families should be when it comes to sharing living space. There are squabbles, and then there are, at the other extreme, horrific bloodbaths. Not everyone gets along and sits around being entertained by grandfather’s stories like the folks in Under One Roof, nor is every family as ‘kampung-spirited’ and accommodating as some 4 generation HDB households. In pure economic, White paper terms, squeezing an extended family in a 3G flat makes sense. Until, of course, it is decided it’s better to send the old folks to a nursing home in JB before someone gets killed, that is.

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3 Responses

  1. […] – Everything Also Complain: Young couples not keen on 3-Gen flats […]

  2. […] about it, can be a nightmare. At a housing discussion held by the MND, young couples cited the fear of conflict with their parents and in-laws as a key reason for preferring not to purchase a 3Gen flat. In fact, […]

  3. Many selfish people around.

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