Every time a new resident moves into Kampung Admiralty, Mr Heng Gee Choo would rush out to greet them.
The 64-year-old, who is one of the first to move in to his studio apartment at Singapore's first "retirement kampung", said: "This is actually better than a kampung. The people who live here are our age, and have more time on their hands, and it's easier to communicate with them. When new neighbours move in, I quickly go over to say hello. We hope to organise more events such as gatherings and having tea together."
Located next to the Admiralty MRT station, Kampung Admiralty is self-contained. The two HDB blocks house the two-level Admiralty Medical Centre - managed by the Alexandra Health System - a hawker centre, rooftop vegetable and community gardens, and an active-ageing hub. The hub is co-located with a childcare centre and both will be ready in February.
"We've already found a place for our granddaughter at the childcare centre," said Mr Heng.
The couple look after their granddaughter on weekdays while her parents are at work.
As of this month, about 20 households have moved in, out of 30 which have received their keys. All of the 104 flats at Kampung Admiralty were snapped up after they were first offered in the July 2014 Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise.
For the past two weeks, Mr Heng and his wife have busied themselves with furnishing their new home, caring for their 20-month-old granddaughter, and getting to know their neighbours.
Mr Heng, the semi-retired owner of a renovation company, said he and his wife decided to downsize from a four-room flat in Marsiling for the sake of convenience and practicality. The couple can also visit the active-ageing hub which will offer programmes for well and healthy seniors. It will also offer daycare and rehabilitation services for those with greater needs, and help homebound elderly residents at their homes.
People from the active-ageing hub can help seniors with groceries, household chores or personal hygiene if necessary. Residents can also activate an emergency alert system in their studio apartments to call them for help.
The complex is the first of 10 similar Housing Board build-to-order projects with childcare and elderly centres housed in the same area.
Flats designed to be elderly friendly
The Kampung Admiralty complex has two Housing Board residential blocks - 676A and 676B - which extend from the fourth to 11th floors.
These contain 104 studio apartments and two-room flexi flats, of either 36 sq m or 45 sq m.
The studio apartments, which form the vast majority of the units, cost between $91,000 and $115,000 for a 30-year lease.
The units - all of which have already been sold - each come with a living room cum kitchen area, as well as a bathroom and a bedroom.
The flats are fitted with elderly-friendly features to help seniors aged 55 years and above lead independent and active lives.
These include hand railings, a retractable clothes drying rack which can be used with less effort, induction hobs that minimise the risk of fires, and resilient (vinyl) strip flooring which is slip-and moisture-resistant.
The units all have window grilles, built-in bedroom wardrobes and kitchen cabinets.
About 60 per cent of those who bought a flat at Kampung Admiralty were residents of Woodlands or nearby towns, such as Sembawang and Yishun.
More than 40 per cent of the flats were booked under the Studio Apartment Priority Scheme and Senior Priority Scheme.
These schemes give priority to elderly residents who wish to age in place in a familiar environment or live near their married children or parents.
Toh Wen Li
On a visit last week, the place was abuzz with activity. Old folk, students and young families lounged around in the ground floor plaza - which boasts a range of retailers such as Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Mr Bean, Starbucks, Mos Burger and Japanese confectionery Chateraise. More eateries and a supermarket will open in the coming months.
Retired shipping manager Wang Qing Hui, 70, hopes to socialise with other seniors. He moved in with his wife on Saturday.
"One thing that's really horrible is to be suffering from boredom... It's not about having material things, but finding people you can relate to."
Mr Wang will have Mr Heng and Grab driver Ahmad Mohammad Said, 66, waiting to greet him.
Mr Ahmad was the first resident. He moved in to his 45 sq m studio apartment on the eighth floor with his wife, caterer Norhati Nordin, 63, in August.
The grandfather of eight, who grew up in a kampung, said: "I go around, and walk around the floors to see if there are any other residents. I like to make friends. We usually sit in the lobby and chit-chat with neighbours."