Incentivising older couples to move out of mature estates to live with or near their married children in non-mature estates could be one way to help families stay closer to one another, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
He cited this as a possibility to free up units in mature estates, so that more newlyweds can buy homes near their parents — allowing closer living between married couples and their parents was one of the Government’s goals set out in the President’s Address.
“If some parents for various reasons are quite prepared to leave their comfortable surroundings in a mature estate to non-mature estates with their children, I think we should try to facilitate and, perhaps, even reward them,” he said.
Mr Khaw was speaking at the fourth and final focus group session his ministry held on Tuesday, to find out the preferences of young and old couples for living close together, as well as possible policy changes to meet the demand.
Although participants of the focus group discussions had reacted coolly to the possibility of building more Three-Generation (3Gen) flats to allow families to live together, Mr Khaw noted that there is still a minority who wish to do so and added that such flats will continue to be rolled out — albeit at smaller numbers.
“Our policy decision to continue to build larger flats, what we call 3Gen flats, for those who want to stay together, I think is a right move. But I think the numbers required will not be huge,” Mr Khaw said. He also added that the Government will site these flats in mature estates, where possible.
Separately, a survey commissioned by the Ministry of National Development (MND) involving more than 2,000 Singaporeans showed that 55 per cent of singles plan to live with their parents after marriage, while 65 per cent of young, unmarried couples who intend to move out after marriage want to live in the same town as their parents or nearer.
The Housing and Development Board Sample Household Survey for last year also showed that while more are living together with or close to their parents in the past decade — the proportion has risen from 31 to 37 per cent — some were still unable to do so. Only 53 per cent of married couples surveyed currently live with, or in the same town as their parents.
Commenting on the survey results in a blog post yesterday, Mr Khaw said it was “heartwarming” to see the survey confirming that “the state of family bonding in Singapore is healthy and strong”. “They affirm that Singaporean families value mutual care and support and want to live near to one another,” he added.
Acknowledging that his ministry could do more to help families live closer together, Mr Khaw said: “MND will study the survey findings in greater detail, and together with the feedback we have received from our housing conversations, to see how best we can help fulfil Singaporeans’ aspirations to live near their extended families for better mutual care and support.”