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

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.

Must Read – 6 Things You Wish You Knew Before Entering University

Coming from someone who’s been there and done that, these 6 tips will spare you those ‘how I wish I knew’ moments when you start your University Life! We’ve spared you the culture shock. You’re very welcome.

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1. The rat race doesn’t stop. Be prepared to study.

Graduating from your Polytechnic or Junior College isn’t a get-out-of-jail-card from the books. Be prepared to spend your free time pouring over readings, test banks and notes especially during the oh-so-dreaded Hell Week.

Yes, it’s an official term around campus and yes, it’s very, very appropriate. It hit me the hardest during Week 10 of the semester when I was juggling 3 midterms, 1 project, and 2 presentations. During that time, I spent no less than 10 hours a day at school. Yup, you’ve been warned.

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2. You’ll meet ALL kinds of people.

Part-time Bloggers/ Models. Foreign exchange students from Italy or Tasmania. National athletes. Anyone can be sitting next to you in your first seminar. I realised that so many paths lead to University. It’s pretty cool when you meet someone whose life is just so different from yours.

Be sure to swap life stories and don’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with people from such diverse backgrounds.

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3. You’ll be broke. Like, 99% of the time.

Ugh. What’s new? It makes sense when you think about it. Gone are the days when your dear old Fish ball noodles cost $2.50. Because well, subsidised school canteens don’t exist anymore. You’ll find that you eat out more and more often. Giving in to the temptation of savouring a $10+ meal a few times a week becomes a norm.

My advice: eat the main meals at home and spend your pocket money on treats like Starbucks. It’s much more satisfying that way. You also won’t burn (as large) a hole in your savings account. Alternatively, you can look for a part-time job on job portals like Image Credit: Tumblr Image Credit: Tumblr[/caption]

4. Go. For. Camps.

Yes, I get it. Doing overenthusiastic cheers like 17 times a day isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea but camps are seriously important for University. You make a handful of friends and meet really nice seniors who will tell you which professors to avoid. You’ll also get advice on the best study and hangout spots around campus.

Trust me when I say it’s always nice to see familiar faces around lecture halls, tutorials or seminars.

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5. Universities are huge. Try not to get lost.

Attend the open houses and familiarise yourself with your campus. Ask for directions from seniors or if you’re desperate, friendly aunties or security guards. Better yet, download an online map at least for your first week. Universities are simply gigantic compared to the campuses you’ve been used to.

It’s no fun getting lost when you’ve got a class in 10 minutes at the other end of school.

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6. You’re going to have a great time

This I say for sure, is true. University is when you’re basically handed free reign to live your own life. There are a million student groups to join and your schedule is in your hands. You meet lots of new people and gain lots of new experiences.

I won’t be that cliché writer who tells you that ‘University is going to be the best time of your life’. But I sure as hell will tell you that it’s pretty fun. The highs and the lows in University are part and parcel of life itself, and you’ll realise how time flies by so savor each moment while you still can.

All the best, Freshie!

From your well wishing senior.

If you’ll be in NTU, 12 Peculiar Things Only NTU Students Will Nod Silently In Agreement

Also, read The Comprehensive 2016 Guide To Student Discounts In Singapore!

(Header image credit: