Discussion: Affordable Retirement community in S’pore

I chanced upon an article about a retirement community called Nalcrest in Florida. It was built for the retirement of poorly-paid  postal workers in the 1960s. It got me reflecting: Can S’pore have an affordable retirement community for ordinary S’poreans (a.k.a. HDB flat dwellers)? I say yes because we have CPF ,  Medisafe and private savings to support a simple, dignified retirement life for the ordinary man in the street.

The idea is feasible if based on three main criteria: The retirement flats have a short lease,  are non- transferrable and open only to HDB flat dwellers.

If you are interested in this topic, do put in your take and/or share your suggestions/ideas. Perhaps we could send a proposal to the Minister for consideration. :)

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.

26 thoughts on “Discussion: Affordable Retirement community in S’pore

  1. Hi Jassmine

    We already have affordable retirement flats in Singapore with 30-year lease and open to HDB owners: They are called “studio apartments”.

    What other facilities and features of the US Nalcrest retirement community are we able to adopt? And can we have any new ideas on this issue to present?

  2. Never heard of Nalcrest, Florida, so checked it from the wikipedia. Not much details found.

    I agreed with what Kenneth said, The ordinary retirement people as mentioned in the post can get whatever they want easily and affordable in Singapore. We have CCs, meeting groups (such as our SHC), different eateries, different entertainments. different activities, etc, etc to make their life vibrant and dignity.

    I always consider the retirement people in Singapore is quite ??. We already have different kind of community in Singapore, why we still have to create a special community for the HDB dwellers?

  3. Hi all
    Let me start by defining a retirement community…from Wikipedia

    “A retirement community is a housing complex designed for older adults who are generally able to care for themselves, however assistance from home care…is allowed and activities and socialization opportunities are often provided.” Characteristics include age-restricted, partially/fully retired, shared services or amenities.

    First point: retirement community living is a lifestyle choice. Some people are for and some are against it.

    Second point: S’pore must come up with her own model because of land scarcity…if there is strong demand.

    Kenneth #1
    the studio apartments are a blessing in serving the housing needs of the elderly with a small nestegg. There are no services catering to the residents there or shared facilities… hence i think they don’t qualify as a retirement community.

    Andrew #2
    Check other sites besides wikipedia. There are videos of Nascrest

    Hi Rosalind #3
    The link is very useful. For pple with a HDB flat to sell and downgrade to studio apartment, they find the studio units too small. But i know someone who downgraded and bought a studio apartment at Bishan. Now she has more cash and can afford to go for holidays and makan.

    I think many baby boomers who have retired or are retiring are financially stable and hence would prefer retirement flats to be much bigger than 45m2.


  4. Hi Jassmine,

    During my trip to Malacca, I heard from an architect friend of mine, that in Jurong, there 9s a couple of HDB apartments, catering specifically to single seniors. I am unable to verify if this is true.

    If there is such an establishment, then I would assume this would make a good case-study. Any member know about this setup?

    Does anyone know of any member who has moved into a retirement village in Singapore?

    Terence Seah

  5. Hi Terence
    I think HDB is building more studio apartments (SA) as the income gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Govt is worried many ordinary folks do not have enough retirement funds as life gets longer. One solution is to downgrade to an SA.

    Without shared facilities and some practical services, like medical, SA blocks are not considered a retirement village/community. We need to propose for one if we see the benefits or retirement community living.

  6. Hi Jassmine and fellow members,

    Does anyone know if there is any HDB apartments (studio units) specially for retirees in Jurong only? I heard about it but am not able to verify.

    Jassmine, if there is such an establishment, then I would assume this is some kknd of retirement village.

    In fact, this contradicts what I have read in the newspapers much earlier. My understanding is that the government prefers to have retirees live closer to their children, so that the children can take care of them.

    Seeking clairification from members with this observation.

    Add to this, i see the Iskandar land developers are sending out more SMS to Singaporeans to buy property in Johore, as they are freehold, cheaper and an alternative to retirement living in Singapore. Anyone looking at this option, please share your thinking.

    Terence Seah

  7. Hi Terence
    From HDB website i obtained the following info:

    1. Objectives of Studio Apartments – (i) to provide the elderly population with a home catered to their needs.
    (ii)provide an additional housing option for citizens aged 55 years or more to help unlock the housing equity of the larger flats.

    …(ii) was the objective i had in mind …when mentioning downgading to an SA. ( re.#6)

    On 8/3/2013, from the M ‘s speech :

    Half of Studio Apartments (to be)set aside under Studio Apartment Priority Scheme(SAPS)to provide greater assurance of success to elderly aplicants right-sizing to a Studio Apartment(SA)near their current home or near their married children.

    …..i think above refers to new SAs to be built. The existing ones are already fully taken up.

    HDB ‘s Key challenges ( details will be released subsequently):

    Among the key challenges are (i)How do we address affordability concerns …
    (ii)How should public housing respond to an aging population?

    …for (ii) i think retirement community living could be one option.


  8. My mother just bought a studio apartment in Punggol.. and it’s very nicely done up, complete with cabinets, cooker etc.. and i think there’s going to be a nice foodcourt just downstairs in the process of building up… going forward, if HDB can build more amenities for the old folks, this can match up to a “retirement village” concept. In achieving that, they will have to work closely with other departments like the Social Affairs, Hospitals, Community centres, and come up with creative amenities suitable for the elderly.

    I think these studio apartments have improved alot, compared with say, 10 years ago.. but of course, there’s still room for further improvement.

    It’s up to us now.. let our voices be heard… perhaps write to the MPs?

    Just my 2 cents worth.


    • I guess, in Lydia’s mother example, this is an isolate studio purchase, but the environment is unlike that of a retirement village where there is group living and common amenities.

      I did ask earlier if someone has seen a block of flats specially for retirees but since there was no response, I guess there is none.

      I can only visualise that the only way to live through our retirement is to stay where we are now.

      Cost may be the issue. A village may not have enough elderlies or retirees to pay for a clinic, a food centre, a gym and a swimming pool.

      If we review our living in our oresent HDB flats, what’s the difference with living in a retirement studio. Our door will stll be closed throughout the day, and no one actually knows one another. Die also dont know.

      If it costs us at least $2,000 per month to stay in a retirement home only, would it be better to stay where we are now. Just pay the daily food, utilies and can watch Taiwanese movies day and night.

      SHC members have toyed this topic many times before, and I personally think most of us will opt to stay where we are. And if the idea of a retirement village surfaces, it can only be the work of a gutsy developer or an Iskandar residential developer.

      Terence Seah

  9. Hi Lydia #9
    Thanks for sharing and putting in your 2-ct’s worth. :)

    Hi Terence #10
    I think you need to visit a studio apartment (SA)block bacause i think you haven’t seen one. The SA units occupy the whole block and every resident there is 55 years and above. (age criterion). SA blocks are built near hawker centre/market/shops so the elderly residents in the SA block will not have to travel far to buy foodstuff, etc.

    Yesterday’s (SAT 13/4) ST reported the HDB is going back to basics and will be the price-setter…and stop the tail from wagging the dog. This is good news for the ordinary folk.

    As for a retirement community – many baby boomers are for it. i think the idea may be brought up in the next round of the National Conversation on housing.

  10. Hahaha! Terence

    We are again beating the same doors down… why not I invite you to visit my friend’s Yishun Studio Apartment so that you can have a good idea of what it’s like. You can also visit the Care Centre run by an NGO which they have on the ground floor.

    I think many seniors in SHC would want a more substantive retirement setting with facilities like a swimming pool, garden, club house and community lifestyle; not the downgrade and “try to live out the rest of your life” in a retirement home kind of setting.

    That said, I applaud the government in providing the SAs which do fulfil a need, but there is still much to be done for a “real” retirement community in Singapore.

    • Hi Kenneth, Jassmine,

      As you have pointed out, retirees would like to have a place where there is community living eg with a pool, medical facilities and a club house. But why then does the government not build these retirement villages. If this is a demand, as we see it, then why the private land developers not build retirement communities or villages?

      Or are all these wish lists, but in reality it is nice to have but we will not buy into the idea. I doubt if there is a demand, the private sector will not develop the land and ground for such communities. Afterall, leasehold may only be 30 and not 99 years.

      Terence Seah

  11. Hi Kenneth
    It’ll be nice if we could visit your friend’s studio apartment in Yishun. It is, i believe, the latest SAs to be built and they’ll have features not found in earlier SAs. The price of new SAs has also increased.

    Hi Terence
    Retirement village/community is like a hotel – ranging from no star to 7 stars. A retirement village with a swimming pool, a club house, medical facilities (on site?) will most probably be classified as 5 stars. For the ordinary folks ( esp. the baby boomers), i think a one star retirement village is good enough – i don’t think they’ll want to pay more for luxurious facilities.

    As far as i know, private devlopers are not keen to build a retirement village because of the short lease and they (p. developers) are profit driven, Anyway ordinary folks can’t afford to live in a retirement village built like a condominium. The HDB will have to build the retirement community, just like it builds the SAs so that it’s affordable for the HDB flat dwellers to “right-size” to.

    NB. Retirement village occupants/residents are financially stable ppl. They would outlive their nesteggs.

  12. Sounds like HDB has hit the right type of retirement concept living for retirees. In this case, when I am next in Singapore, and if I have the time, I shall visit one of the new Studio Apartments.

    If these SAs are clustered together, I would, more or less, call it a retirement village in Singapore. Jassmine, you seem to like the SA, and from your feedback, I might be interested, if I do not use Thailand as my consideration for retirement. Let”s go together and have a look, and if Ken is available, we go together too.

    Terence Seah

  13. Hi Terence
    Most ppl i talked to find the SAs too small. i think a two- bedroom unit (aka3-rm flat) would be ideal. More important is to make sure these retirement flats are non-transferrable, so they’ll have no investment value.

    What are the important services/facilities that a retirement village (RV) should have to make retirement living safe and gracious? I have this idea of a small, full time staff manning the telephone lines etc for any emergency call the residents in the RV units may make and then sending a person up to the unit to render help. There’ll be a function room for reading/tv/karaoke/ talk etc, a quadrangle for line dancing/ex, a community garden… (so many possibilities to make RV living simple and gracious)
    Near the RV there’ll be hawker centre/market, etc…

    Because of our greying population, i see ‘one-star’ RV as an option for a quality retirement lifestyle for the ordinary HDB folks.

    • Hi Jassmine, and members following on the side,

      Any idea how much is a one room SA? Again, judging from what I read now, sounds like HDB is getting close to your 1 star retirement living.

      personally, I think I will be too lonely staying in a SA. I now having a new wish, and that is to live together with other SHC members. I remembered this was my first wish when i started SHC in 2005. Still I think Singapore is too expensive to retire.

      I was talking with Vincent Khoo last week, and he is telling me he can live in Bangkok alone for $700 a mth, rental and living expense.

      For those who are prepared to be away for 3 mths at a stretch, do join him in Bangkok. I will see you once a month.

      There are no swimming pools, but food, rental, transport are cheap. Plenty of space for retirees.

      Jassmine, Kenneth, good to know the SAs are gaining acceptance.

      Terence Seah

  14. Hi Terence
    There’s going to be a launch of new flats including a block of 280 units of SAs in Hougang, on Buangkok Green (no need to go Bangkok – lol!), next to Hougang Green in May. The price per unit may be $88K or more. I think we can visit this block of SAs at the launch (exact date not given) or after the launch, to see the latest features in SAs.

    At $700 per month, a retiree can also live quite comfortably in S’pore. It all depends on what kind of entertainment you are after.

    Btw not anybody can buy an SA. This kind of housing caters to the elderly from the lower income group, and most of them are ‘right-sizing’ from a bigger flat to an SA.

  15. SAs are meant for lower-income Singaporeans, those who wish to downgrade and stay in small studio-like apartments. They are usually equipped with elder-friendly features, emergency pull cords and a senior help centre run by an NGO on the ground floor. I think they can be suitable for those who want a simple lifestyle. Oh yes, the lease is only 30 years… so unless you are 60 years or older, this could be a problem.

    Jassmine: What you want is a retirement community-style living like what you would find in developed countries like Australia. My cousin in Melbourne has just moved into one which is privately owned: she has a small one-bedroom unit which is freehold and transferable. There are services and home care if you need them. But… you have to be in Oz.

    Which brings me to Terence: We have many times explored the possibility of retiring overseas like in Thailand. And I think it could be attractive enough if we can get a few like-minded SHCs to start looking seriously…

    But here’s the rub… not many Singaporeans will be keen to uproot and spend longer periods away from their beloved homeland. Unless it comes to the crunch when costs and expenses get so expensive that we have no choice… I don’t think this will be anytime soon.

  16. In a highly populated, limited land scenario, adequate housing is always a problem. Retirement village (RV) housing frees existing houses/flats for other people to occupy. Hence S’pore – an aging society – could look at RV as a partial solution to tackling its housing problems

    Hi Kenneth
    Whether it’s a ‘ Banyan Tree’ class of RV or a ‘ Fairprice’ class of RV, having the option of RV housing is always good. :)


  17. My idea of a RV is a place where I will be comfortably housed (dormitory or chalet style) with food & beverage, laundry & housekeeping services included and there will be planned activities to participate in all day. (Think Club Med) :-) .
    With all the above mundane chores all taken care off , what’s left is then to enjoy
    ones’ retirement. Alas, I can only dream on until I can afford a money printing machine.

  18. Hi ConstanceW
    Here’s what Eleanor Roosevelt said about dreaming: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. So enjoy dreaming and one day your RV dream might become a reality. :)

  19. From ST Monday, April 29th news report – it looks like Johore (Iskandar region) will have a Retirement Park (RP) by 2015. It’s high end, targetting the ‘rich’ from S’pore and response has been overwhelming according to the developers.

    Hmm… is this neighbour’s grass really greener?

  20. Is it safe for a retiree to stay in Johore? Esp with all those frightful stories we’ve been hearing, would we still dare to invest in the RP in Iskandar?

    My preference is still retire in Singapore.. i agree we can live by with $700 a month… or even lesser… with simple meals, with only the TV for entertainment, and the occasional outing to afternoon cinema, weekend to church.. evening to parks.. catch up with old frens over a cuppa, visit old folks home… read the bible daily, pray to God, and live till a ripe old age. My mother is 88 years old, and a living testimony of good health, and shalom peace. She’s very happy living alone in the Studio Apartment, which is done up very nicely, like a hotel one-bedroom suite!

    Terence, when you’re next in Singapore, and free, I can organise a trip for you to see the SA in Punggol. By the way, I thought I saw u going up bus No. 97 on Friday evening 6:30pm, @ bus stop opposite 77 Robinson Road. Was that you?

    CHeers, LydiaC.

  21. Hi Lydia,

    Thanks for the offer to show me a SA unit. I love to if I find myself a time slot. Will keep in mind.

    As for bus number 97, I guess we all know it goes to MBS. I was hoping to make some money for my retirement. I think MBS and its surroundings are just beautiful.

    Terence Seah

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