Originally scheduled to be launched in May 2020, HDB’s first batch of Assisted Living Flats in Bukit Batok have been pushed to February 2021’s Build to Order (BTO) exercise. They will be launched alongside other HDB BTO units in Bukit Batok, Kallang/Whampoa, Tengah, and Toa Payoh (Bidadari).
So what is this new type of flat? We know that these were designed for elderly, but how do Assisted Living Flats differ from the current 2-room Flexi flats fitted with accessibility features such as a grab bar, ramps, large bathroom that can accommodate a wheelchair and even an alarm system? How much do the residents need to pay?
Continue reading to find out what they are and who should apply.
What are HDB Assisted Living Flats?
The key difference between HDB Assisted Living Flats and other “senior” flats (aka 2-room Flexi) is that the former comes with a mandatory service package. Subscription begins from $22,000 for a 15-year lease (can be extended).
Mandatory service package (from $22,000) includes
24h emergency monitoring and response service
Basic health checks
Accessibility features such as grab bars and a large wheelchair-accessible bathroom with slip-resistant flooring
(Optional upgrade) housekeeping, laundry, meal delivery and shared caregiving
The basic service package for HDB Assisted Living Flats includes 24-hour emergency monitoring and response service (2-room Flexi flats are also fitted with an alarm system one can activate), basic health checks, simple home fixes and activities at the communal spaces within the development.
If residents wish to, they can upgrade the service package to include housekeeping, laundry, meal delivery and shared caregiving.
Other key features include:
Sliding partition that separates the living room and bedroom
Similar to 2-room Flexi flats, the flats (slightly smaller, at 32 sqm versus the 2-room Flexi sizes at 45 sqm and 36 sqm) come with accessibility features such as grab bars and a large wheelchair-accessible bathroom with slip-resistant flooring. Likewise, it’s in move-in-ready condition — for the HDB Assisted Living Flats, residents have a built-in wardrobe, cabinets and furnished kitchen, not to mention flooring and a sliding partition that separates the living room and bedroom.
When it comes to communal spaces, the HDB Assisted Living development has a furnished communal space on each floor. This is designed so that residents can chillax together, either sharing meals (after COVID-19, of course) or participating in group activities. There’ll also be a community manager on site to organise community activities and help link the seniors to care services if needed.
Who Can Apply for HDB Assisted Living Flats?
Here is another major difference between HDB Assisted Living Flats and the 2-room Flexi flats.
Like the name suggests, the Assisted Living Flats have a specific target audience — our seniors. So while we commonly term the 2-room Flexi flats as “senior flats”, those can actually be purchased by singles.
Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that to be eligible to purchase the HDB Assisted Living Flats, one must be aged 65 and above. The individual can then choose a lease that ranges from 15 to 35 years (these come with the service package too), as long as the lease covers the applicant and their spouse (if any) until they are at least 95 years old.
Of course, similar criteria that apply to buying a typical BTO flat also apply. For example, the applicant must be a Singapore Citizen.
HDB Assisted Living Flats Eligibility Criteria
65 years and above
Income ceiling of $14,000/month
Cannot have previously bought a Studio Apartment or short-lease 2-room Flexi flat
Lease: 15 to 35 years (in increments of 5 years)
Lease must cover the applicant and their spouse (if any) until they are at least 95 years old
Comes with mandatory service package, duration must match lease period
Priority given to seniors with care needs
HDB Assisted Living Flats in February 2021 BTO Launch
Called the Community Care Apartments, the pilot of HDB’s Assisted Living Flats will be launched at Bukit Batok West Avenue 9, along with other February 2021 BTO launches. There will be 160 units, and prices start from an estimated $40,000 for a 15-year lease, up to $65,000 for a 35-year lease.
This doesn’t include the service package, so with that added on, prices realistically start from $62,000 for a 15-year lease, and up to $124,000 for a 35-year lease. This doesn’t include other costs such as stamp duties, legal fees and etc, or about 2% of the flat price.
If you’re itching to know the prices of the optional services that seniors can add on to their service package, here goes:
(before Government subsidies)
Shared caregiving service
Social Day Care
$50 per day
$20 per hour
Meal services (delivered to home)
$5 – $7 per meal
Home Personal Care (HPC)*
$20 – $31 per hour
$20 – $40 per load
Medical Escort & Transport (MET)*
$50 – $90 per hour
* A means-tested subsidy, based on household income, of up to 80% is available. Source: HDB
For the service package, seniors have the option to choose partial upfront payment plus about $50 a month throughout the flat lease, which kind of lowers the upfront costs. Good thing is that the payment can be made with their Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies instead of only cash (but they can choose cash).
Related article: Should You Use CPF to Pay Off Your Home Loan?
Silver Housing Subsidies and More
They may also be eligible for government subsidies such as the Silver Housing Bonus. This is a cash bonus (up to $30,000) that seniors can receive when they sell their existing flat and use the proceeds to top-up their CPF Retirement Account. Just keep in mind that if you have a private property, have a high monthly income or have previously maxed out your housing subsidies, you might need to pay an additional amount on top of the flat price, up to $30,000.
It’s pretty obvious by now that the HDB Assisted Living Flats cannot be resold or rented out. If the senior no longer needs the flat for whatever reason (maybe they struck 4D and bought a mansion overseas), they can return the flat to HDB and will be refunded the value of the remaining lease of the flat.
And it’s no coincidence that the Community Care Apartments is located super close to the Bukit Batok Care Home. Residents of the HDB Assisted Living Flats there will be prioritised for admission if needed. Otherwise, Bukit Batok Polyclinic is also nearby.
The development at Bukit Batok will also have other standard shared amenities, such as a precinct pavilion, strolling path, hawker centre, activity centre, community garden and fitness station.
Joint Balloting for HDB Assisted Living Flats?
What’s really interesting is that HDB allows a joint ballot with a friend or family member who is also applying for a Community Care Apartment. If both of you successfully ballot for a flat (individually), you can book your flats together. This is to provide mutual care and support.
Here are the steps:
Applicants agree to pair up their flat applications.
The first household submits the online flat application as per normal.
Then, the second household will indicate in their flat application that they are applying for joint balloting, and provide the registration number of the first household.
The Community Care Apartments are slated for completion in 2024.
Conclusion: Who Should Apply for HDB Assisted Living Flats?
To be honest, on paper, this sounds like a possible plan for when we reach age 65. Anyway, we will only know the feasibility once this pilot of 160 Assisted Living Flats in Bukit Batok is built up in 2024.
Though, of course, not all seniors want to “gotong royong” with their neighbours. They might prefer just keeping to themselves and enjoying peace and quiet. In a way, this new type of flats provides the option to them, and having a community manager go around to take care of their needs, plus additional services (if able to afford) really make this like a full-service apartment that’s perfect for retirement.
Prices look slightly cheaper than a 2-room Flexi flat, after adding on the mandatory service package. We can only wait and see if this is the actual price point, since we’re not sure if the affordable prices are due to Bukit Batok being in the west. Who knows, Assisted Living Flats in a more central area or mature estate might cost much more! That said, it’s definitely cheaper than staying in a nursing home.
In any case, given the slim choice of location (currently only Bukit Batok, and they’ll need to wait till 2024), seniors might want to opt for 2-room Flexi flats in the same estate as their children and grandchildren. Those who don’t or under-utilise the service package might also lose out in terms of money paid.
At age 65, it’s likely that not all seniors will be able to afford these HDB Assisted Living Flats with their CPF monies (can’t apply for a home loan either). Even if they could afford the upfront cash payment due to HDB flat proceeds etc, they may possibly be cash-strapped after doing so.
However, with everything provided for — even meals and housekeeping if you can afford it — it’s definitely a good component of a sit-back-and-relax retirement plan.
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she's learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she's not writing, she's usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.