Retirement living: Looking to studio apartments for seniors for inspiration

  • Today i visited a block of studio apartments for seniors near Toa Payoh Central and was glad to see how PLEASANT the environment is. The common areas are SPACIOUS and CLEAN. The common corridors outside the individual units are WIDE and UNCLUTTERED. The units are small bed-sitters, bright with windows on one wall. In the bathroom is an emergency alert cord.
  • The two lifts are BIG and stop at EVERY floor. On the third level are two cozy GARDENS.  Seats are PLENTIFUL and INVITING!
  • Nearby are other blocks of flats, shops, a hawker centre, a market….
  • Could HDB adapt this concept of studio apartment living for seniors with smaller nest-eggs to cater to seniors with bigger nest-eggs by building bigger studio apartments and providing more facilities? But however HDB modifies/adapts, it must keep to the 30-year lease and the non- marketability of the studio apartments for the ‘richer’ seniors. These two conditions will keep out the sharks and the profit-driven entrepreneurs.

N.B. Comments no. 1 -5  are pre-post comments.

This entry was posted in Retirement issues by Jassmine Teo. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jassmine Teo

I came to know about the SHC from eNN (Seng Kang). My interests are varied. I write on the forum regularly to improve my writing. In my autumn years, my priority is voluntary service. Hope to meet like-minded people and help initiate a programme/project for the disabled like the hearing impaired.

19 thoughts on “Retirement living: Looking to studio apartments for seniors for inspiration

  1. Hi James
    Referring to your comments on the Iskandar and shoe-box size housing, my thoughts are it’s not safe investing in that country. Looking at studio flats in S’pore – i think they can be our answer (the S’pore model) to affordable retirement living for the lower income earners.

  2. Children should be close and near to their parents. Don’t send the elderly far away from home. Retirement ‘village’ should be in S’pore, which we call home. As for the studio apartments, suggest more open and common halls for the elderly folks to mingle, socialise, share their memories and participate in activities. This will help them to maintain a healthy body and mind.

  3. What do we envisage for a retiremnet home. There are few considerations we have to address.
    1) Affordability
    There are a few locations which are relatively affordable. We can consider towns/cities of northern parts of Thailand, newly developed towns of China. The homes can be procured by long term lease or even purchase.
    2) Life style changes
    The purpose of living in retirement homes is to get respite from the daily routine and to have a change of scenery, environment, weather and the opportunity to meet other people.
    3) Health enhancement.
    Depending on the programmes for eating habits, meaningful occupations, the sojourn may prove very beneficial for health.
    4) Length of stay
    Two to six weeks.

  4. It i snot likely that one can get any support from the S’pore Govt. The govt policy has always been pro family- encouraging children to stay with or near their parents. They even fund elderly friend accessories to homes that need them. In addition, a lot of finance has been given to CC & RC to promote elderly activities, open senior citizen corner. Others such as Touchstone, Tsao Foundation and HPB have funding to pursue this agenda. The only thing that the govt cannot manage is cost.
    So anyone who thinks of retiring overseas would likely be looking either at cost or a change of environment/lifestyle.

  5. This topic on retirement homes seem to be a regular and popular one among members. But somehow the discussion seem to focus on retiring outside Singapore. I wonder why members are not keen to explore the feasibility to retire right here in Singapore which can be affordable and practical. Besides, it may not be a good idea to be so far away from our love ones at our age, in a not so familiar land and culture.

    Lately, there has been some focus on HDB studio apartments as a retirement home. It cost abt $80K for a 30 year lease, which works out to about $250 a mth which is like rental. Tt is convenient to food centres, mrt, hospitals, etc.

    Spore can then be a base from where we can make trips to other countries for short or medium stay for a change and maybe to cut down expenses.

  6. Hi Henry #5
    At this post, the thread will focus on the feasibility of building (by HDB) retirement communities in S’pore for seniors with some means and looking for quality living in retirement.

    There’s so much emotional attachment to our homeland even though it’s just a little red dot always bashed by big neighbouring cats.

    Your last statement is a win-win situation – it’s always a joy to return home after an enjoyable stint overseas. 🙂

  7. Hi Jassmine and everyone with an interest in their retirement homes,

    This is not a survey; but the question which I shall pose has been in my mind for along time. From time to time, when I discuss retirement homes with seniors, I am told that it is difficult for two persons to sleep in the same one room. Even couples, the husband and the wife want to sleep in a room of their own. Of course, I cannot verify this. I was told to bear this in mind when calculating the number of rooms for retirees.

    It seems that retirees can be grouchy and very sensitive to where they put things in the room> It would be nice to hear from members with retirees in their homes.

    Terence Seah

  8. Hi Terence #7
    If retirees want to have luxuries including separate bedrooms in a retirement village/community, they must be prepared to pay for this type of housing.

    Studio apartments are mostly bed-sitters ie. one room for both sleeping and living in. Nice curtains can be used for partitioning/privacy…
    Couples who don’t want to share a double bed can opt for single beds – placed at different corners in the room. LOL! If you keep your barang2 to the minimum and aircon the studio unit – it’s really cozy!

    We have to be realistic in our expectations…

  9. Back to my question again, and I am looking to hear your observation. Is it true that older people insist on sleeping alone in their own room, rather than share with another person, even their spouse.

    I have not have done enough observation, so cannot tell. I think this is important, when it comes to studio units.

    Terence Seah

  10. Hi Henry #5,
    Yes, this is part of the current discussion under alternative lifestyle project. People staying in Singapore, and going out to the neighbouring countries for 2week to 1 month at a time.
    See Alternative Lifestyle post, which I am currently initiating the study.


  11. Hi Terence #9

    i’m not very sure how to answer your question. i think if there is not enough rooms in the house/apartment, an elderly person (is s/he an educated retiree?)cannot insist on having her/his own room.

    If there is a spare room and an elderly couple is not the loving type, or for some other reasons, they may be happy to have separate bedrooms.

    Bigger studio units may have one/two bedrooms in which case they won’t be bed-sitter type anymore. At present, HDB studio apt for seniors is about $80k/each with a lease of 30years. This type of studio unit is either 35sq. m or the bigger unit of 45 sq. m.

    If the studio unit is, say, 70sq. m big, then the expected price would be around $160k (with 30 yrs lease)..

    After ‘downgrading’ to a studio unit in a retirement community, a retiree can use his spare cash to travel the world 🙂

  12. I was going to say that studio apartment living is not what I would compare to retirement living overseas. But it looks like there can be redeeming features if such a scheme or project can be launched in Singapore catering to more informed and active seniors.

    At present, there are studio apartments but these are 30-year leases specifically built by HDB for retirees. They tend to be grouped together in a block with single and two-roomed units selling from about S$80,000 to S$120,000.

    While these can cater to a majority especially down-graders and physically less active seniors, there should be another category for those who are more active and able to afford better facilities.

    I will not expect the government to cater to such a segment but private developers may wish to address this need in the coming years when the senior population hits 600K to a million! Maybe the shoe-box units now sold to younger aspirants to private property could be converted to retirement “villages” when the property market collapses.

    Well, this may be another topic: but what I would like to highlight is that value of properties in Singapore are heading sky high… and I can see more people cashing out of their homes whether HDB or private and downgrading to private condos and smaller HDB units. These people if they are seniors would be ideal candidates for local retirement villages. Any takers among our developers?

  13. Kenneth #12 and Jassmine,

    I tend to agree with you that moving into smaller apartments or studios would be the accepted solution for Singaporean seniors, considering Singapore is home. Downgrade is going to happen.

    How these studio apartments can be networked into a retirement village is interesting. One couple may be on the 17th floor and another on the 7 floor. The block could have a common meeting area eg a lounge and TV room on the 23rd floor. A nurse or doctor may come around each morning before lunch.

    If the old folks can cook themselves, this would be great, if now, they can gather together on the 17th floor, dining area for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Rosalind would be the Chef for week 20.

    We can also have Sam Huat on the 12th floor to come and fix the lights or the plumbing, if any thing fails to work. He can charge $30 per trip, excluding parts. Then, we can also have KC Lau, on the 1st floor, to come and install a network of wirless spots, to be shared among the residents of the entire block. I am sure he can come and fix any IT problems for $30, again excluding parts. Perhaps, KC can also link all the units with security cameras, so that if any senior needs help, they can sound the alarm.

    I guess this is the beauty of seniors staying in a block. Just got to jump from floor to floor via the lift.

    Better still, once a week, Dolly can take orders, and go to the supermarket in Giant, JB to buy rice, sugar and ovaltine. Again, come back and distribute the goodies to the apartments of known friends. Plus add $2 for the convenience, car park and petrol.

    Once a week, Dan Huang will come to the 23rd floor, lounge area and organise the chess games to stimulate brain activity, or James Koh can come and conduct brain games so that the seniors in the apartment block will be able to delay their dementia.

    And, finally, once a month, we can have the SHC monthly gathering Block 230 from 4pm to 8pm. Frisna, who lives on the 12th floor, will be the EO. Maybe the residents’ children can come and participate too.

    Terence Seah

  14. Hi Terence #13

    Throw in mahjong and badminton and the scenario you painted is almost ideal! We can ‘lobby’ HDB to look into the building of bigger studio apartments (with 40 years lease?) to cater to the ‘richer’ seniors. 🙂

  15. When HDB started building studios about 15 yrs ago at Tampines, it built a single block comprising only studios. It realised that it may give the impression that these are like ‘death’ houses of the past where old folks live out their last days there.

    Nowadays, studios are built in blocks comprising a mix of 3 and 4 room apartments within an exclusive estate. Retiress will feel less depressing to live among the young and old. They may also mix with the younger generation. Blocks which have studios also have senior centres with facilities to encourage socialisation and events for them.

    On the other hand, a retirement village comprise only old folks and can be quite depressing. It may not be a good environment from a mental health point of view.


  16. The first generation of studio apartments drew a lot of negative responses but with the passage of time, those 1st generation buyers (including subsequent buyers)are having the last laugh! The price of the studio apt then was $50K. Now one has to pay $80K.

    However, now studio apartments are becoming more appealing as HDB adds more and better facilities to existing studio apts and new ones because the issues of aging are becoming more critical and baby boomers are now the (new?) elderly!!

    Personally i think whole block of studio apts is better than a block with mixed housing. Policies are easier to implement when there are common interests among the residents. Furthermore, there is the issue of lease. Studio apts for retirement living must not have investment value. Only then can these apts be sold ‘cheaply’.

    With regard to depression – I think ‘new’ old folks are generally better educated and tend to approach end-of-life issues more positively.

  17. The first generation of studio apartment was the granny flat- design to allow children to stay next to parents. I thought this was a good idea, but for whatever reason, it was discontinued, i think.

    The studio apartment of today is basically a solution for those who do not have cash for old age. It is focussed on those who would downgrade and then, with a series of incentives, allow the old people some decent living expenses.

    I suspect that many of our members are not in this category. Many do not really need any downgrade to survive.

    If I reflect on what I would to have when I retire, I would say that I will stay in my home, a 4 or 5 room HDB. I would want the extra space in the house so that my children could visit me at weekends,my grandchildren (?) or for my maid.A studio apartment cannot provide me this.

    I would go for a flat where ready cooked food is available, easy access to MRT, a GP nearby, a park where I can take my evening walks, or a CC where I can join in for karaoke, taiji, dancing etc.

    For variety, I will join Terence to go to Thailand, or go cycling with Conrad or just blog on SilverHair and give my 2 cents worth 🙂


  18. Hehehe!

    James: You have condensed into a nutshell what the majority of middle-income Singaporeans want, at least those already retired and looking forward to another 20 to 30 years of living.

    This is the reality and underscores many of the opinions and comments made on Retirement Living. But I believe that the slow evolution from HDB studio apartments to a community-based retirement “village” concept will take place. It will need someone who is far-sighted and willing to undertake the risk to start such a project, especially within Singapore.

    Meanwhile, let’s keep up with our 2 cents worth of comments.

  19. Hi guys!!

    I just must ask you to go watch this film:

    The Best and Most Exotic Marigold Hotel

    This film is not only entertaining and humourous but also has a message for seniors especially those above 50.

    It has all the ethos and pathos of real-life people looking for life, love and fulfilment in their golden years. It addresses the concerns of older, single and not-so-single individuals as they try to live and adapt in an Indian retirement “paradise”. Do watch it and let me know what you think!

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