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6 Mar 2023
SOURCE: CPF Board
Finding suitable housing that fits your needs and preferences can be a trying experience without any proper research. While it may not be true for everyone, those reaching retirement and who are single (divorced, widowed or have never been married) might have a tough time finding an ideal home. This is especially so if you are planning to stay on your own and have to manage the cost of maintenance and upkeep by yourself.
From financing your home to accessibility, it is important to consider all aspects of your future living situation. Here are some of the key housing considerations and tips to help make the most out of your golden years.
Planning your housing options when you’re aged 55 and above is slightly different as compared to those aged below 55, especially if you still intend to use your CPF savings for your next home purchase.
When you sell your home, you will have to refund the principal amount (P) of CPF savings you had used previously as well as the accrued (accumulated) interest (I) to your CPF accounts. Also, if you have used your property to make up your retirement sum, you would need to refund the amount pledged. This is because your CPF savings are primarily meant for your retirement.
When you reach age 55, any refunds you make will be used to top up your Retirement Account (RA) - up to your applicable Full Retirement Sum (FRS).
One way to stay ahead and stretch your dollar is by taking stock of the grants available. Here are a few that are applicable for singles 55 and above:
1) Silver Housing Bonus
The Silver Housing Bonus (SHB) is a cash bonus incentive of up to $30,000 that is given to individuals aged 55 and above who move to a 3-room or smaller HDB flat.
To qualify for the SHB, an individual is required to top up his/her flat’s sale proceeds* into their CPF RA and join CPF LIFE. The amount to top up depends on the proceeds, but is capped at $60,000 per household^.
If the top-up is less than $60,000, individuals will receive a pro-rated cash bonus based on a 1:2 ratio ($1 cash bonus for every $2 top-up made).
There are several eligibility criteria such as meeting the minimum occupation period for HDB flat owners and for private homeowners to have an annual value of $13,000 or less for their property. Visit the Silver Housing Bonus page on the HDB website for more details.
* Proceeds = Selling price of the current property minus the sum of any outstanding loan on the current property, the purchase price of the next flat, and resale levy payable.
^ Further capped by the prevailing Full Retirement Sum (FRS).
2) Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles)
The Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles) provides up to $40,000 in assistance for first-time applicants purchasing a flat alone or with a non-resident spouse. First-time applicants buying a flat with another eligible single can also combine the grants and utilise a total of up to $80,000 for the purchase.
The grant amount is determined by the applicant’s monthly income and employment status. The full eligibility criteria can be found on the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (Singles) page on the HDB website.
Besides having extra cash in your pocket, right-sizing your property also provides you with other non-financial benefits.
For starters, the smaller space means that it’s much easier to upkeep your home. With a 2-room flat taking less time and effort to clean, you’ll be able to spend more time pursuing your hobbies and interests too.
Access to commonly used amenities such as community care facilities and day care centres are also made much easier. This is because most of such facilities are located near 2-room flexi flats or community care apartments to make it much easier for residents.
Lastly, right-sizing your apartment would also mean that you’ll be living along other like-minded individuals to form a strong community amongst neighbours. Not only does this improve your mental health and well-being, it also allows more room for social interaction and companionship.
Community Care Apartments and short-lease 2-room Flexi Flats are built specially for senior residents. For more information on these options, check out our article on the three main types of housing options for your retirement years!
Alternatively, you may be considering the option of staying in your current home. Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to stay aware of the schemes that may benefit you.
Lease Buyback Scheme
The Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) allows you to monetise a portion of your flat’s remaining lease by selling it back to HDB while retaining the right to continue living in your flat for the rest of your life.
For single owners, the sales proceeds will first be used to top up your RA up to the FRS. This increases the quantum of your lifelong monthly payouts under CPF LIFE.
The remaining sale proceeds can then be withdrawn in cash, with a cash bonus of up to $30,000 being available for eligible individuals. Visit the Lease Buyback Scheme page on the HDB website for the full eligibility conditions.
With so many things to consider about solo living in your retirement years, it’s important to take stock on your needs and how you see yourself using your apartment in the future.
A strong neighbourhood resident committee is often quite underrated, but it’s always great to be living around with people who care about your well-being!
For more housing-related resources, check out our guide on planning your housing journey.
Information accurate as of date of publication.