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.
But the couples said their views could change later on, when they have children and need support, or when their parents grow older and need help.
"If our parents have health problems, or if they become immobile, that would be a compelling reason to move in with them," said Mr Hong Kah Hui, 26, a law undergraduate.
Some participants said they would consider getting a 3Gen flat if it has a dual-key concept, with separate entrances.
"We prefer for it to be just the two of us, but a dual-key would be a good balance between privacy and convenience," said corporate communications executive Nicole Tan, 23.
Launched last September, the 3Gen flats have four bedrooms and three bathrooms. But at 115 sq m, they are just 5 sq m bigger than a five-room unit. There have been 960 applications for 368 3Gen flats, or 2.6 applications per unit, from September last year to May - slightly below the average Build-To-Order (BTO) application rate of three last year.
At last Saturday's session in the National Library, the couples - aged 22 to 34 - also discussed the feasibility of additional housing perks for those wishing to live with or near their parents, mooted by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a blog post last month.
The ideas included giving "absolute priority" to those who apply for BTO flats in the same HDB estate as their parents, and larger housing grants for first-timers buying resale flats with or in the same estate as their parents.
Also present at the discussion was Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan, who stressed that housing policies must cater for changing needs over one's lifetime.
While housing policies will still encourage couples to live with one's parents and have children, he said, an appropriate balance needs to be struck when it comes to increasing incentives and giving more priority to these groups.
An ongoing online MND survey showed that as of last Wednesday, most support housing perks for those who wish to live with or close to their parents.
But while 72 per cent of the 949 young Singaporeans polled prefer to live close to their parents after marriage, 76 per cent of them plan to set up their own homes.
The next conversation will be held on Saturday for married couples, and the third on June 19 for senior citizens.
Promoting multi-generational living
THREE-GENERATION (3Gen) flats were first launched during a Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise last September, to encourage multiple generations to live under one roof.
The flat type comes with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. At 115 sq m, it is about 5 sq m larger than a five-room unit.
Applicants need to comprise at least a married or courting couple and their parents, or a divorced or widowed person with child and their parents.
Rooms cannot be sublet during the five-year minimum occupation period. Such flats can be resold in the open market, but only to other eligible multi-generational families.
There was 100 per cent take-up for the first project in Yishun, which offered 84 of such flats.
There have been 960 applications for the 368 3Gen flats offered across the five BTO exercises from September to last month.
YEO SAM JO
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