Number of HDB households rising but size is down: Survey

While number of HDB households continue to rise, survey finds the sizes of such households are shrinking

The number of Singapore residents living in Housing Board flats has dipped for the first time since 2003, with household sizes shrinking even as the number of HDB households continued to climb.

A total of 3.04 million Singapore residents - or close to eight in 10 Singapore residents - lived in HDB flats in 2018, compared with 3.06 million in 2013.

They made up 1.01 million households, up from 0.91 million five years ago, according to the latest HDB Sample Household Survey, which is conducted once every five years.

The report, which surveyed about 7,800 HDB households in 2018, tackled issues related to public housing, from residents' housing aspirations to their family ties and aspirations.

With fewer extended families living together, the size of household units living in HDB flats shrunk, with an average of 3.1 people in each household in 2018, down from 3.4 in 2013 and 2008.

This could also be from more residents upgrading to private property, said Ms Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Tie's senior vice-president of research and analytics.

The proportion of single households has grown to 11.9 per cent, up from 8.4 per cent in 2013. This was from a relaxation in HDB's rules that allowed eligible singles to buy Build-To-Order flats in non-mature estates from 2013, as well as Singapore's ageing population, HDB said.

The findings showed that living in proximity facilitated family interaction, caregiving and the provision of support, added HDB.

About four in five of younger married residents aged 54 and below who lived in close proximity to their parents visited their parents, or vice versa, at least once a week. In comparison, about three in five of those in the same group who lived elsewhere in Singapore did so.

HDB will continue to support extended families who wish to live with or near one another, the spokesman said. The Government will also be launching a series of conversations for people to share views on marriage and parenthood, and whether these have changed following Covid-19, so that policies can better support families.

A growing proportion of younger married couples are now choosing to live near their parents, either in close proximity or in a nearby estate. About 45 per cent of those aged 54 and below chose to do so in 2018, up from about 43 per cent in 2013.

The findings show housing policies have to evolve to cater to changing lifestyle and social aspirations, said observers.

For instance, the trend towards smaller household sizes and single households indicates that more younger couples and singles have a desire for personal space and privacy, said OrangeTee & Tie's Ms Sun.

The HDB population is also greying, with about one in six residents aged 65 and above, up from one in 13 in 2003. The median age of the HDB resident population has increased from 34 in 2003 to 42 in 2018.

About 86 per cent of elderly households said they want to continue living in their flat, citing reasons such as comfort and a sense of attachment. This figure is up from about 80 per cent in 2013.