Featured article photo: ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay, Singapore by Zhu Hongzhi (Unsplash License)
In Singapore, HDB stands for the Housing Development Board, but it is commonly used to refer to a public housing unit built by the government that can only be purchased by Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. To qualify for a purchase, there are various requirements to satisfy, including but not limited to age ranges, marital status, and so on.
A photo of HDB blocks in Woodlands, Singapore by John T (Unsplash License)
Since HDB is a public housing unit, it is typically more affordable per square foot in comparison to privately-owned properties such as condominiums and apartments. Singapore HDB flats typically cost between SGD 300–700 psf (per square foot) depending on the area it is located in.
HDB flats are usually congregated in blocks. It is not uncommon to find an HDB housing neighbourhood with blocks of five, ten, or even twenty buildings with hundreds of housing units contained within each. Many HDB complexes have public amenities such as playgrounds, gardens, hawker centres, and they are all freely accessible to anyone, including those who are not residents of the complex.
Condominiums, or “condos” for short, are privately-owned buildings. Unlike HDB flats, they can be purchased by foreign citizens. There are usually fewer eligiblity requirements to purchase condos in Singapore—if you have the financial means, your age range and marital status are practically irrelevant.
A photo of Marina Bay Suites, a condo in Marina Bay, Singapore by Nicolas Lannuzel (CC BY 2.0 License)
Condominiums are more expensive in comparison to HDB flats, ranging from at least around SGD 750–2,000 psf (per square foot). It can be priced even higher if you are looking at new developments in central areas of Singapore.
The design of a condominium is also typically somewhat swankier than that of an HDB flat. Condos usually provide maintained private amenities enjoyable by their residents, such as gyms, swimming pools, gardens, playgrounds, the list goes on.
The word "apartment" is rarely used by Singaporean locals to refer to their HDB units. Flat is more commonly used in that instance.
In Singapore, apartment refers to another type of privately-owned building, and like condominiums, they can be purchased by foreign citizens. Apartments are generally more expensive than HDB flats, but not to the extent of condominium prices unless they are in prominent areas. The main difference between apartments and condos is that apartments typically offer fewer or no amenities.