On housing

In Singapore, there is the life cycle of a typical Singapore

Grow up. Go to school. Graduate. Get a Job. Find a partner. Secure BTO. Get married. Move into BTO. Have kids. Start a family. Grow old. Die.

OK, it sounds simplistic and there may be some variations here and there but overall, for the majority of Singaporeans, (like me) the expectations of how one would like his or her life in Singapore looks someone like the one above.

I had a serious discussion about money and getting a flat with a couple of friends and colleagues. And one of the questions that struck me was: Why aren’t you looking for a partner to settle down so that you can get a BTO and move into your new house with said partner earlier, rather than waiting till you are 35 and single before you can secure your own HDB apartment?

I could have easily said something in the lines of: “Oh, I studied so hard during my days in University, so I don’t really have time to find a partner, and then when I am out working, I am so focused on work till I am exhausted anything else, and now, I am working AND studying at the same time so therefore, social life is non-existent. Thus, up to this point, I have been hustling and bustling but not giving time or thought to find a partner, go out on dates, settle down and make BTO plans.

However, I have come a realisation that the reason I typically to anyone who asked that question was kinda superficial. I believe that something happened during my childhood that causes me to upend the traditional “Singaporean lifecycle”.

I believe that the reason why I devote so little time in finding a suitable partner to settle down stems from the fact that I believe that not securing a home to call my own is a sign of instability. Some may argue that the process of getting a BTO with your partner is a natural parallel process that goes hand in hand with settling down with your partner. A successful marriage is usually accompanied by a successful acquisition of a home to settle down. But for me, that is not the case. I feel that if I don’t secure my own home, I feel like I am not there yet. I feel like I am doing an injustice to my partner who wishes for stability and security in a partnership. In buying a home and rightfully owning it I can then rest on the fact that I have settled down and I am ready to share that home with someone I will treasure for the rest of my life. That way of thinking is related to my upbringing when I was young.

You see, I fondly remembered growing up that my parents didn’t own a home back then for several years till I turned 3. I remembered staying at my relative’s house and perhaps for a short while, my grandma’s house (I wasn’t too sure, I was too young) bouncing between these two homes. At my relative’s house, they had 3 children of their own and I remembered living in a fairly chaotic household. Growing up like that, sensing that lack of security and comfort of a home that my parents did not have to call it their own perhaps altered my perception and belief in what is truly stable in a person’s life. Owning a home is a sign of stability. Without it, I feel unwarranted to find a partner.

Perhaps that childhood memory I had was the reason why I was very incessant about owning my own home first, before finding a partner, even though I could’ve gotten a home sooner, rather than wait till I am 35 years old before I can buy an HDB from the resale market. It is just some law that the Singapore government made when it comes to owning public housing for Singles. I don’t resent the law, the family is important and forms the social nuclear unit in Singapore, and I understand where they are coming from. So I just have to be patient. 4 more years before I am finally eligible. Till then, I have plenty of time to plan and save for my dream home.

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