Sample Household Survey 2018: The HDB Living Experience
More residents were satisfied with their flat, neighbourhood and estate facilities, with almost all developing a sense of belonging to their towns
Residents’ satisfaction with their flat, neighbourhood and estate facilities remained high, at above 90% in 2018, with commercial facilities such as supermarkets and hawker centres most utilised, the Sample Household Survey (2018) has found. Apart from the majority who were satisfied with neighbourly relations, most residents had developed a sense of belonging to their towns and were proud of being part of the community.
2 HDB conducts the Sample Household Survey (SHS) once every five years to gather feedback and identify emerging trends in public housing. In the latest survey, close to 8,000 households in all HDB towns and estates were interviewed between January and September 2018. The surveys were conducted through face-to-face interviews and online surveys, and covered three main areas: (i) HDB Resident Population and Households; (ii) Social Well-Being of Residents, and (iii) Physical Living Environment.
Majority satisfied with Flat, Neighbourhood and Estate Facilities
(i) More residents satisfied with their flat
3 Flat designs today have evolved to include a wide variety of layouts that afford more generous views, natural ventilation and light while providing greater privacy to residents. Satisfaction levels with flats were high across households living in different flat types and residents of all ages. 93.2% of residents were satisfied with their flat, citing attributes such as design/ layout of the flat. Households who were dissatisfied with their flat had encountered issues such as spalling concrete and ceiling leaks, which occur in older flats. HDB will continue to help flat owners address maintenance issues related to older flats through the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme.
(ii) More residents satisfied with their neighbourhood, as well as accessibility and connectivity in towns
4 Similarly, more residents (95.3%) were satisfied with their neighbourhood, compared to the 92.0% in 2013. They attributed this to convenient location, having friendly neighbours, and a peaceful or quiet environment. Notably, a large majority was satisfied (91.4%) with rejuvenation programmes to continually refresh the overall living environment, such as the HIP, Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, and the Remaking Our Heartland Programme. On the other hand, households who were dissatisfied felt that their neighbours were noisy, inconsiderate or unfriendly.
5 Within the town, residents cited high satisfaction with the ease of movement, in terms of walkability and accessibility to transport nodes and commercial facilities. In addition, the majority (84.1%) was content with the current travelling time to work. Such sentiments underscore the convenience of self-sufficient HDB towns, with facilities provided at the town, neighbourhood and precinct levels to cater to residents’ daily living. A comprehensive transport infrastructure and pedestrian network in HDB towns also facilitate residents’ travel within their towns, as well as to other parts of Singapore.
(ii) More households satisfied with estate facilities
6 A higher proportion of HDB households were satisfied with the provision of estate facilities1, increasing from 96.1% in 2013 to 98.6% in 2018. Almost all households across the different flat types were satisfied with the overall provision of estate facilities in their living environment.
7 Amongst the myriad of estate facilities, residents were most satisfied with shopping/retail facilities, at 97.9%. Commercial facilities such as supermarkets and hawker centres remained the most utilised. However, the usage levels of these facilities had decreased over the past five years, with the exception of supermarkets. In general, the proportion who visited commercial facilities2 at least once a week had decreased, likely due to the increasing trend of online shopping and food delivery services. For precinct facilities, those that were frequently used include covered linkways, drop-off porches and void decks/ community living rooms.
8 Overall, close to seven in 10 residents (68.4%) usually spent their time at commercial facilities such as shopping centres/complexes and eating houses/coffee shops. While some residents patronised the shopping centres/complexes for dining as well as general and grocery shopping, others spent their time at the nearby coffee shops for the variety of food available. The coffee shops also served as a good social setting for residents, especially the elderly, to mingle and bond with their friends and family members over meals. Another 16.5% of them spent their time mostly at recreational or leisure facilities such as parks and gardens, where they could enjoy the nature and greenery while exercising or taking a stroll.
9 About four in 10 HDB residents had made online purchases through websites and mobile applications during the year. Clothing and footwear comprised the most common products bought online. A higher proportion of online shoppers lived in 4-room or bigger flat types. The majority of them were younger (aged 45 years old and below) and likely to be from families with young children. Of those who bought items via online platforms, close to half reported that they had shopped less at HDB shops. A small proportion also said they had never patronised HDB shops. Demand for online shopping has continued to trend upwards, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
10 Notwithstanding the trend towards online shopping, heartland shops continue to play an important role in serving the needs of residents. HDB will continue to support neighbourhood shops in boosting their vibrancy and competitiveness, through schemes such as the Revitalisation of Shops (ROS) scheme to upgrade the common areas of HDB town and neighbourhood centres. Merchants in heartland precincts have also been encouraged to digitalise, to keep up with the online shopping trend, and adopt e-payment.
Sense of Belonging to Town and Estate
11 Almost all residents had developed a sense of belonging to their towns and estates, including those living in their towns and estates for five years or less. The figure has consistently been on the rise, reaching a high of 99.0% in 2018 (Chart A). Having a sense of belonging is important to the social well-being of the community, as it is often the foundation on which attachment, bonding and pride among residents are built. Residents’ sense of belonging often developed over the years, and those who were older and had lived in their towns and estates for more than 30 years reported a stronger sense of belonging (Chart B).
Chart A: Sense of Belonging by Year
Chart B: Intensity of Sense of Belonging among HDB Households by Length of Residence
‘Note: 0’ means did not have a sense of belonging, and ‘4’ means having a very strong sense of belonging
12 Among residents with fond memories of places within their towns (23.2%), about half of them cited HDB blocks or precinct facilities, as well as the parks/ gardens, as places where they have formed fond memories (Table C).
Table C: Places Where Fond Memories were Formed among Households who had Fond Memories
Stronger Relationships with Neighbours
(i) Satisfaction with neighbourly relations
13 Most residents (96.9%) were satisfied with neighbourly relations, exchanging greetings and engaging in casual conversations. While these are considered less intense forms of interaction, they are equally important in creating connections between diverse networks, as neighbours may be a critical source of help in times of emergency. In addition, a higher proportion of younger residents engaged in social media or chatgroups with their neighbours. About half of the residents also said that they had visited their neighbours and exchanged gifts, while more than one in three had asked their neighbours to help keep watch over their flats.
14 At the same time, the proportion of residents who said that they had faced nuisances from neighbours had dropped in the last five years. 30.0% of households said they faced nuisances in 2018, compared to 48.1% in 2013. The main types of nuisances faced were noise from neighbours, littering and smoking at common areas.
(ii) Facilitating neighbourly interactions through design
15 Neighbourly interactions declined slightly compared with five years ago (Chart D). As for the places where residents interact, more residents interacted with their neighbours within the block, increasing from 75.6% in 2013 to 83.8% in 2018 (Table E). Almost all of them agreed that there were sufficient places for neighbourly interactions. These include community living rooms located on the ground floor of HDB blocks that are equipped with tables and seats, precinct pavilions, and pergolas with seats.
Chart D: Types of Neighbourly Interactions by Year
Table E: Places Where Neighbours Meet for Interaction
(iii) More lending a hand
16 Over the years, the proportion of residents contributing to the community has increased, with 40.2% offering help such as keeping the common areas clean and picking up litter, volunteering, and looking after their neighbours, compared to the 27.1% in 2013 (Chart F). Younger residents aged below 35 years old were more willing to help. On the other hand, participation in organised community activities had declined from 48.6% in 2013 to 39.1% in 2018, which suggests that residents might prefer to contribute their services to the community in their own time.
Chart F: Contribution of Services for Benefit of Community by Year
17 The Sample Household Surveys have facilitated trend analysis over time and enabled HDB to glean insights into residents’ evolving sentiments on their HDB living experience. Besides providing valuable feedback for HDB to enhance the design of flats, neighbourhoods and HDB estates, these findings have shown that the physical living environment has contributed to the building of community ties, and residents’ social well-being.
18 Going forward, HDB will continue to keep pace with residents’ evolving needs, and lifestyles. We are also studying how HDB flat designs can support developments in the future of work, including trends that may have been accelerated by the current pandemic, such as telecommuting. Under the new “Designing for Life” roadmap which was launched last year, HDB will plan and design towns that will contribute to the overall health and well-being of our residents to provide them with a holistic quality living environment at all stages of their lives. This includes developing smart and sustainable homes, starting with the smart-enabled housing precincts in Punggol Northshore and Tengah, to make daily living more convenient and comfortable for residents.
1 Include general retail shopping, educational, market, community, eating establishments, recreational and leisure, precinct, health/medical, sports and transportation.
2 These include wet and dry markets, hawker centres, eating houses/coffee shops, food courts and HDB shops and neighbourhood centres.