When Ms Renemarlina Osman got divorced, the 35-year-old had to sell the family's three-room flat and move into her parents' one-room rental flat with her two children.
For the past four years, they have shared the space with her parents and a nephew.
"The place is very cramped and my children don't have space to study and play," she said.
She is currently looking for a job and intends to buy a Housing Board flat once she can afford one, perhaps using government grants.
Divorce and health issues are among the reasons that families such as Ms Renemarlina's go from owning a flat to renting one.
Just last year, Mr Safari Mohd Sidek was living in a four-room Pasir Ris flat and earning $7,000 a month in his shipping industry job.
But after he suffered a stroke and got divorced, the 54-year-old went to live in a rented two-room flat with his son and two daughters.
"If I get a job, it has to be one where I sit down. I don't even have the strength to open a jam jar," said Mr Safari, who has been unemployed since the stroke.
He hopes they will be able to buy a flat once his 18-year-old son finishes his National Service and starts work.
Other Malay families, however, decide to start married life in a rental flat and save up to own a home.
For Ms Sabrina Wati, 28, and her husband, owning a home requires a stable job that pays enough.
"Of course I want to upgrade. but I want us to be ready for it first," said Ms Sabrina, a contract worker with Certis Cisco. Her husband does odd jobs with moving firms.
As both their parents live in two-room flats with other family members, the couple decided to move out, but could not afford to buy their own place.
Since 2007, they have lived in a two-room rental flat with their nine-year-old daughter.
"I would like us to be in jobs earning $1,500 each for us to be comfortable buying," said Ms Sabrina.
Mrs Brenda Muhammad, 43, is looking for a flat with more privacy and space. Her family of four has slept in the sole bedroom of their two-room rental flat for eight years.
"The children are getting bigger and they need more space, but I can't afford a flat," she said of her children aged nine and 13. Her husband, the sole breadwinner, makes $60 a day as a cleaner.
She added: "When my children are older, I'll go to work and save up for a flat."