Yup, rental flat. As in, renting directly from HDB, not from the open market.
Many people don’t know that there are 2 types of HDB Rental Flat. The first one is Public Rental Scheme which is meant for lower-income Singapore Citizen households with no housing options or family support.
The second one is Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), which is a temporary housing option for first-timer married couples awaiting completion of the HDB flat they booked. This is the scheme that applies to us as we are awaiting for our BTO flat.
HDB rental flats are not for everyone. Some of these flats are located in very old buildings (some blocks do not have lift at all!), and other flats are in newer buildings but they have smaller sizes than older units (these are in high demand and always get snapped up quickly).
Furthermore, the rental flats come in bare condition. No air-conditioners, no built-in wardrobe or cabinet, and certainly no appliances. Therefore, there’s a lot to be done in the first few months of moving in.
So, why are we downgrading from condo to rental flat?
The first reason is: renting a PPHS flat is much cheaper than renting from open market.
A typical PPHS rental flat costs between S$400 to S$1,400, depending on the location and size of the flat.
Meanwhile, the rental fee from the open market is at least S$2,000 for an entire unit (if you find one that’s below S$2,000, you’re very lucky!).
To us, it’s a no-brainer, we would rather rent a PPHS than a condo/HDB from open market. We would rather deal with some inconveniences and save money along the way.
We used to pay around $2,000 renting a 1-bedder condo since 2020 and that price was the sweet spot for us.
However, the rental market has shot up in late 2022 and we had no choice but to pay $3,000 since the beginning of 2023.
The year of 2023 has been tough on us, financially. Truth be told, we couldn’t save money this year because of the higher rent and cost of living.
But, just because PPHS is cheap and we’re qualified, it doesn’t mean we’ll be guaranteed a PPHS unit when we apply. That couldn’t be further from the truth! The truth is, PPHS has always been oversubscribed since the pandemic.
We’ve been actively applying for PPHS since we got our BTO in 2021. However, we have always failed the ballot. As a result, we’ve been stuck renting a condo while waiting for PPHS.
See, PPHS is Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme. It is meant to support parents, so families with kids get the priority. We don’t have kids yet because our housing arrangement is not stable, so we didn’t dare to start a family. But, without a family, we don’t have priority in the PPHS scheme.
The second reason we’re downgrading to rental flat is because we finally get allocated with a PPHS flat after trying for 2 years!
In the second half of 2023, we got a queue number that was more than the available flat, but because many people in front of us didn’t turn up, we were able to select a PPHS flat when it was our turn.
Now, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We eventually moved to our PPHS rental flat at the end of 2023.
It’s a bittersweet ending, really.
In this article, I’d like to share how I feel downgrading from condo to rental flat, as well as lessons I learned from this setback.
How I feel about this downgrade
1. I feel sad and defeated
Not gonna lie: at first, I felt so sad to leave the somewhat-luxury living in a young condo (less than 5 years old) and move to a pretty rundown apartment that is over 60 years old! My PPHS flat dates back to the 1960s, and it is one of the earliest blocks ever built in Singapore.
I’m going to miss the swimming pool that I could jump into anytime I want, the gym, the tennis court, the lush landscaping, the function hall, the BBQ pit, the privacy, the feeling of having made it in life.
Part of me also felt defeated because I still couldn’t afford a condo living at the age of mid-thirty.
But then, I realized that all these are just shallow illusions. Throughout my 4 years of condo living, I barely hit the swimming pool, gym, and tennis court in my 4th year (2023) because I was so busy working to earn more income to pay for the increased rental.
Why did I want to continue staying in condo if I didn’t even have time to enjoy the facilities? It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s one I needed the most. Condo living is not the best housing option in my current stage of life.
2. I feel relieved
After dealing with sadness and defeat, I now feel relieved that we will be able to resume saving money soon!
This year, I will also be able to increase my investment budget.
And, should anything happen in our lives and one of us need to go on a sabbatical leave, our lives will still be comfortable. We have not reached financial freedom, but it feels like a step towards financial freedom.
With the reduced expenses, we’ll be able to build our portfolio and work on increasing passive income in order to reach the highly coveted financial freedom one day.
3. I feel a tinge of regret
Let’s face it, who doesn’t love to play the game of “what ifs”. I often wonder, what if I bought a resale HDB in 2021 instead of getting a BTO?
Then, I wouldn’t have to suffer through the era of high rental during 2022-2023.
Instead of paying rent to my landlord and see the money vanishes every month, I would be building up my resale HDB equity.
After MOP, I would then be able to apply BTO. It’s still not too late.
Of course, resale HDB comes with a different set of challenges, like renovation, repairs and who knows what.
1. There is no perfect solution
Sometimes, with so much uncertainties, it’s almost impossible to make the perfect decision.
So, we’ve decided that there’s no point looking backward now and beat ourselves up. We will live with what we had decided, and try to make better judgement next time.
2. It’s okay to take a step back for a better future
It’s okay to downgrade your lifestyle if it gives you better freedom. There’s no point trying to live the life that looks great on the outside, but is actually miserable inside.
Next: I will be sharing more details about our PPHS journey. Stay tuned!
If you find this post helpful, feel free to buy me a coffee :)