Five years ago, Mr Ma Kwok Choi and his wife Madam Chiu Yuk Ying applied for a three-room Housing Board (HDB) flat in Tampines to spend more time with their grandchildren.
"Our grandchildren come over at least two or three times a week and our home is livelier with them around. With the parks and facilities in the area, we now spend more time together on leisure activities as an extended family," said the 66-year-old factory manager.
"I find that this is the most comfortable home we have had over the years," he added.
Priority housing schemes and grants for families
HDB offers a range of schemes to encourage families to live closer together for mutual care and support.
The Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS), for instance, helps married children and their parents to live with or within a 4km radius of each other by improving either applicant's chances of securing a new flat.
Up to 30 per cent of Built-to-Order (BTO) flats and those offered through Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises are set aside for first-time applicants applying for the MCPS. HDB further reserves up to 15 per cent of BTO flats and up to 3 per cent of SBF units for second-time applicants like Mr Ma and his wife.
"We applied for the MCPS in 2015 and got the flat on our second try under the priority scheme," said Mr Ma.
Other schemes that new flat buyers can tap include the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) and Senior Priority Scheme (SPS).
The MGPS helps married children and parents get new flats in the same BTO project, while the SPS gives priority to elderly flat buyers who wish to buy a two-room flexi flat near their married child. Multi-generational families that wish to live together can also apply for a larger 3Gen flat.
HDB also provides support for resale flat buyers who wish to live near their family. Singaporeans who buy a resale flat to live with or near to their parents or children can receive a Proximity Housing Grant of up to $30,000.
In the past four years, about 4,500 families and singles have bought a resale flat with the grant to live with or near their parents or children.
Benefits of living close to family
The benefits of living near family go beyond grants and priority schemes; it strengthens familial support, which is especially crucial for working parents.
"Our kids get to spend quality time with their grandparents now that we live close together," said Mr Ma's son-in-law Tommy Tan.
"My mother helps by picking up the kids from school and sending them for extra-curricular classes, like tuition, while we're working. This frees up time during the weekend, and we can use that time for our family," added his wife Amy Ma.
The arrangement that both families share is more than a matter of convenience. From grandparents to grandchildren, everyone is quick to agree that it brings the family closer together.
It's a two-way street, said Mr Ma. Living near his daughter gives him and his wife greater peace of mind, knowing that she can be there for them if they fall ill.
"My daughter's house is just walking distance from ours so we can easily go there and they can come over. We like our independence but are also grateful that we can depend on them if an emergency arises."