There’s a new type of HDB flat in town. The new kid on the on the block is called the Community Care Apartment, and the first batch was launched in February 2021 in the Bukit Batok BTO exercise.
Despite being aimed at seniors only, Community Care Apartments were oversubscribed within a day.
So, are Community Care Apartments really such a good deal? Why are they so popular? Let’s find out what this new flat type entails, and how it stacks up against regular flats.
What are HDB Community Care Apartments?
Community Care Apartments are a new type of HDB flat for seniors, launched in conjunction with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of National Development (MND).
The flats aim to be senior-friendly, while also integrating care services that help seniors age independently. They also include common spaces (on every floor, not just the void deck!) for residents to hang out with one another and form a community.
Here’s a video showcasing the “community” aspect of the new flat type.
Who’s eligible for HDB Community Care Apartments?
To qualify for a Community Care Apartment, you, your spouse (if any) and all other applicants must be at least 65 years old at the time of application.
As with all HDB BTOs, there’s a household income ceiling. Your average monthly household income must not exceed $14,000.
You are not eligible if you have previously enjoyed two housing subsidies and have bought a studio apartment or short-term 2-room Flexi flat.
Community Care Apartments must be applied for under the usual HDB eligibility schemes. So, you can apply as a couple, family, single or group of singles. Other HDB eligibility requirements apply, including those on citizenship and not owning other property.
What are Community Care Apartments like?
Community Care Apartments have an internal floor area of 32 square metres (not including an air-con ledge of 2 square metres). Here’s the floor plan:
Community Care Apartments have an open studio layout that integrates the bedroom with the living area and kitchen (separated by a sliding partition). For greater convenience, built-in wardrobes and cabinets also come installed.
The flats’ elder-friendly features include wider wheelchair-friendly main doors, a built-in bench beside the entrance and large wheelchair-accessible bathrooms with slip-resistant flooring and grab bars.
Note that, at 32 square metres, Community Care Apartments are smaller than even 2-room Flexi flats (36 or 45 square metres), where the bedroom is separate.
How much does the flat itself cost?
Community Care Apartment flats are available on leases ranging from 15 to 35 years (in 5-year increments). They must cover the applicant and spouse (if any) until the age of 95 years. Therefore, a 65 year would have to go for a lease of at least 30 years.
Here are the indicative Community Care Apartment prices released by HDB for the Feb 2021 BTO launch in Bukit Batok:
Community Care Apartment price
The flat price must be paid fully using cash and/or CPF savings. So, you won’t be able to take out a home loan for this.
You will also have to pay for the stamp duties, legal fees and so on — basically, all the costs and disbursements you would incur in any other property transaction.
However, when you buy a Community Care Apartment, the price of the flat isn’t the only thing you need to pay for.
You must also pay for what is known as the “Basic Service Package”, which covers the senior-friendly services you enjoy in a Community Care Apartment.
How much does the Basic Service Package cost?
The Basic Service Package includes:
- Care and support services
- Simple home fixes
- Communal activities
- Basic health checks
- 24-hour emergency response
- Key card access to your flat
- Access to wellness and social activities at the activity centre located within the same block
- Access to a community gym at Bukit Batok Care Home
- Priority admission to Bukit Batok Care Home
You can either pay for it fully in cash (together with your flat), or pay for it partially in cash and then pay a monthly fee throughout the lease.
Here are the prices for the Basic Service Package at the Feb 2021 Bukit Batok launch:
Basic Service Package
Full payment upfront
Partial payment upfront + $50 a month throughout the lease
So if you’re opting for a 35-year lease, you’d need to pay $65,000 (for the flat) + $59,000 (full payment for the Basic Service Package) = $124,000.
Alternatively, pay $65,000 (for the flat) + $42,000 = $107,000, then $50 a month subsequently. The monthly fee will be reviewed periodically and may rise; however the government says that any increases will be capped at 5% every 5 years.
What optional services can you pay for?
The Basic Service Package is the cheapest package with no optional services. You can choose to add some optional care services to your existing package. These include:
- Shared caregiving assistance if you need assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ie. moving around, transferring, washing, dressing, eating, toileting) and/or need medical reminders or help running simple errands.
- Social day care
- Meals delivered to your flat
- Home personal care services
- Medical escort and transport services
However, there’s no price list for these and we don’t know if you’d be able to choose your preferred provider.
Are HDB Community Care Apartments worth it?
Community Care Apartments are more expensive than the smallest 2-room flexi flats.
At the Feb 2021 launch, 2-room flexi flats in Bukit Batok were priced at $101,000 onwards for a 99-year lease. Seniors can also opt for shorter leases of 15 to 45 years (in five-year increments), which will cost less.
By comparison, at the Feb 2021 Bukit Batok launch, the indicative price + Basic Service Package for a Community Care Apartment would have cost $62,000 for the shortest 15-year lease, while the longest 35-year lease would have cost $124,000.
So, your main concern is whether the senior-friendly perks at Community Care Apartments are worth the extra money. That would depend on the state of your health and your care and social needs.
For basic care, it might make more financial sense to hire a live-in helper than to shell out the extra money for a Community Care Apartment. However, you’d miss out on the experience of living with other seniors.
Can you sell your Community Care Apartment?
Community Care Apartments come with a huge limitation, namely: they cannot be sold on the open market, nor can they be rented out.
If you change your mind about living in one, you must return the flat to HDB, who will refund you the unused portion of the lease.
But bear in mind that there is a Minimum Occupation Period of 5 years. You can return the flat to HDB before that, but you cannot apply for an HDB flat (new or resale) until the 5 years are up.
So if you’re concerned about leaving behind an inheritance, or want the option of renting out your flat or selling it later on, you may want to go for a regular HDB flat with a 99-year lease instead.
Just bear in mind that if you buy a 2-room Flexi flat, you will be ineligible for Community Care Apartments in the future.
How to maximise your chances of getting a Community Care Apartment?
Since Community Care Apartments are so popular, here are a couple of ways you can maximise your chances of snagging one.
You can choose to jointly ballot with a friend or family member who is also applying for a Community Care Apartment. This means that you will be 2 households submitting one single application, and your single ballot will count as 2.
You do this by submitting just one application form, indicating on the flat application that you are applying for joint balloting, and then providing the registration number of the second household.
If successful, both households will be allocated a flat each, and you get to book your flats together in the same BTO project.
Apply for priority
Seniors with care needs are prioritised in the flat allocation exercise, with some units being set aside especially for them.
So, if at least one applicant in your household requires permanent assistance with ADLs, you stand a better chance, with those suffering from permanent moderate disabilities having greater priority than those with permanent mild disabilities.
To apply for priority, you should indicate this on the online application form and then submit a disability assessment to [email protected] before the flat application period closes.
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