Divorce, ill health are some reasons

Ms Renemarlina and her two children went from living in a three-room flat to staying in her parents' rental flat after she got divorced. She is currently looking for a job and intends to buy a Housing Board flat once she can afford one.
Ms Renemarlina and her two children went from living in a three-room flat to staying in her parents' rental flat after she got divorced. She is currently looking for a job and intends to buy a Housing Board flat once she can afford one. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Divorce, ill health are some reasons'. Print Edition | Subscribe