Life in rental flats

Life in rental flats
WAY OF LIFE: Miss Zurina, 22 (foreground, in red) sitting on the sofa bed which she sleeps on at night.

SINGAPORE - When the family of six first moved into their two-room rental flat three years ago, the children complained.

"Not comfortable, nowhere to put our clothes. No privacy," Madam Zarinah Hassan, 49, said of their grouses.

They had been living in a three-room Yishun flat of their own for about 10 years, but eventually couldn't keep up with loan payments.

So they returned the flat to HDB and got their Ang Mo Kio rental unit in six months.

"Coming here, we didn't bring anything except clothes. Furniture like cupboards, chairs, tables - we gave to friends or threw away. It was sad to have to get rid of them, there was just no space," said the retired factory worker, whose husband does odd jobs.

Her two sons and two daughters, who are between 19 and 25 years old, sleep in the living room while she and her husband take the bedroom.

"It's quiet here, the neighbours are mostly working," she said.

When The New Paper visited on Monday evening, the only noise was that of her daughter, Miss Zurina, 22, and her friends, playing a dance game on their Wii console set up in one corner of the living room.

Madam Zarinah watched television in another corner of the room, sitting on a sofa which folds out as a bed for her children at night.

Miss Zurina said she was all right with the environment and the lack of sleeping space. But it was not easy to make do with only one toilet.

It was harder at the start, when all the siblings were studying and working, the Republic Polytechnic student said.

"We'd all go out about the same time, seven or eight in the morning. The night before, we'd have to plan who to go first. Sometimes we'd end up late."

Madam Zarinah, who is Singaporean, said she had applied for a built-to-order flat in Punggol last year. But when she was called up for selection, she and her Singaporean permanent resident husband realised they couldn't get a loan.

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