From Rental to HDB: Part 2

This is a Part 2 of Zuraidah’s story, click here if you missed Part 1.

Planning for our own home

Once we decided together as a family that we wanted to own our own home, we did a lot of homework:

  • To calculate the maximum amount our home could cost if we only wanted to use CPF for monthly loan repayments (without topping up cash)
  • To calculate how much CPF we needed for the down payment and loan
  • To find a job with CPF contribution (as my husband found work as a cleaner which gave him employer CPF contribution)
  • Checking regularly with HDB on BTO locations to apply for which were within our budget
  • What grants we were eligible for

But how can I own my own HDB when I was not working?

When my youngest daughter was four years old, we had a family conversation about me returning to work.

My children and husband were supportive, and the CDC allowed us three extra months of financial assistance until I was stable enough in my job to stop the assistance. With Beyond’s help, I enrolled in a parenting workshop to regain my confidence and computer classes to upgrade my digital skills. Beyond also found subsidised childcare places for my two youngest children while we applied for KidSTART.

Graphic: KidSTART is a pilot programme for low-income and vulnerable young children, to enable them to have a good start in life. (Source: MSF)

With my children’s education settled, I could have peace of mind to look for a job. I saw an advertisement from an eldercare centre looking for a cleaner, and called the manager to apply.

He was very kind, and after speaking to me, he said I should try applying for the position to run programmes for the elderly. “Just because you might not have the qualifications now doesn’t mean you cannot learn and be qualified for this role. I’m sure you can learn,” he said.

That was how I secured my current job in an eldercare centre, taking in a steady income with employer CPF contributions (as well as Workfare). 

How we paid for our flat with our CPF

In 2013, we successfully applied for a 3-room BTO flat in Sengkang which cost $189,000.

My husband then utilised his first-timer grant of $25,000 and we used some of our CPF to fulfil the down-payment. We also appealed to HDB to add the $20,000 resale levy to the total cost, this meant we could then use CPF to make the monthly repayments.

Graphic: In September 2019, HDB announced the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant which gives more help to families who want to own their own HDB. (Source: Seedly/HDB)

For the HDB loan, I had enough CPF in my bank account (saved up over the years since I worked as a teenager) to shave off a large amount of our loan.

This meant that my husband and I only had to fork out $350 collectively every month to pay off our 20-year housing loan, and our CPF earnings based on our permanent jobs could cover this $350 without having to fork out extra cash.

I was so amazed I could save up so much over the years in CPF, so I always tell my children to get a job with CPF employer contributions.

Paying for a HDB we own vs rental housing

In the past, my husband and I paid $450 a month for our rental flat based on our gross salaries. There were times that we were not able to afford the rent and had to contact Social Service Offices for help. Thankfully after they spoke to HDB, HDB allowed us to pay the outstanding rental bill in instalments. This incident also made me want to own my own HDB.

Graphic: Benefits of owning your HDB vs renting one (Source:

Looking at the math, paying $350 a month in loans to own our own HDB is indeed much better than paying $450 for a rental flat.

After learning how to plan and buy my own HDB, I’ve also helped my sister plan and apply for her HDB.

This is #myHDBstory We renovated our home simply, with brown cabinets for kitchen and I decorated my TV console with flowers.

Photo: My favourite place in my HDB flat is in the living room. We have a view of the river nearby and I like to rest here after work. (Source: Mdm Zuraidah)

I like to spend time with my family at home, and am grateful I can talk to my children about topics such as purchasing a HDB flat.

I want to share my journey so more people can learn how to own their HDB, to have a space they can call their own.

Author’s footnote: After she moved out of her rental flat in Lengkok Bahru to Sengkang, Mdm Zuraidah still returns to Lengkok Bahru regularly to volunteer with Beyond Social Services.

Special thanks to Mdm Zuraidah and Beyond Social Services for the interview and for sharing her #myHDBstory.

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