5 Bad Things Of Living In An HDB

Its up to you, move to the “cheap” HDB and get real up close to the local way of living, or stay in your “Condo Bubble” and enjoy the expat life style. Last week I wrote about the “5 Best Things Of Staying In An HDB”. However, not everything is wonderful taking the step up from your secured private apartment to the HDB staircases.

1. Dirty Floor And Halls

Where I had a daily cleaning service that took care of the corridors, swimming pools etc in my old condo, here I have to mark the date of the monthly cleaning red in my calendar, reminding me to put all my shoes inside when the hallways simply get flooded with water, leaving it doing the cleaning by its own.

Somehow the super-clean Singapore you find in every Mall or street… has not really arrived yet in the inside of the HDB world. Dirty floors, old newspapers, garbage lying on the floor is not unusual. Maybe because the trash bins are already full at 7AM in the morning.

2. No Security Guards / Measurements

No need for any extra keys, security guards or discussions about the pool closing times, there are no security guards, barriers or doors in HDB buildings. Everybody can walk in, walk around, look around, and steal your shoes. And don’t believe in the good of people.
I did. After two days of moving my first pair of sneakers was gone.

So get used to the double layered doors and locks and bring your (good) shoes with you inside. No one has touched my Flip Flops yet though. Great Success.

3. No Facilities / Pools / Gym

Although there is something you could take for a (poor) playground on one of the so called “decks” the nice option to dump yourself into a (more or less) refreshing pool at hot days like these.. wont exist anymore once you moved to an HDB.
(Read: The 5 best Places To Go Swimming In Singapore)
And besides the plastic gym-like utilities that are always taken by the elder part of the HDB community there is no such thing as a “gym” in sight.
(Read: 5 Secrets To never getting Cheated At Singapore Gyms Again)
You pay less, you get less.

4. Noise

Line dancing at night or Sunday mornings, weird parties under huge pavilion tents on the decks, your neighbors son birthday party with ten little kids or the guy living above you playing Rockband, full volume, on his Wii. Yeah.

Sometimes I have the feeling that the walls as build in HDBs are thinner and less noise dimming then the ones in my old apartment. I guess its because they are old(er) and new and better material has evolved during the times.
Get yourself “Oropax” from the convenient stores, and sleep like a baby, no problem.

5. You Are The Outsider

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‘)); ?> Just to summarize before coming to the last point, all the above things can but must not necessarily hit you, and having lived in other big cities, in fact, its even more then normal and having the option to move into a luxury condo wont be there in New York or Tokyo, despite you have a lot of bling bling in your account.
(Read: The West And Asia – Racism And Sauerkraut)

So for me, the positive aspects as described in my last post (Read: 5 Good Things Of Living In An HDB) definitely overwhelm the negative ones. However “Being Starred At” is probably the most annoying one.

Living in another country is the first step into being the “Alien”, but one get used to it. Moving into an HDB block as a Caucasian who goes to work every day, dressed up in suit and tie, cramped in the elevator with aunties and uncles living there since ages, well, its definitely the next level and comes with the mentioned feature of “being starred at”. Get used to it!



donna lipowitz

“weird parties under huge pavilion tents”
are generally Chinese funerals


I know the feeling. I work as freelancer and currently have a client in an office block near Lavender Street. I am the only ang mo there and people continue to stare at me in the hallways, elevator. It’d kind of funny but certainly makes you feel like the odd one out.


I do not agree to Point #1. Well you cannot compare between HDB and Condo. As you pay much less for a HDB any way. But by all means it is clean(again the definition varies!).

I live in HDB and it really gives you what you want. There is nothing bad about not having an Gym or Swimming pool, as any way most of the people do not use them in their lifetime! ..Imagine if everybody in Singapore would like to go to a Swimming pool on weekend!

Keep writing.



I think its just a general thing that for the most locals, its unusual to see an Ang Moh “break” into their heal HDB world…


angry angmo seems to have a problem with being stared at.

westerners are so common in singapore, why would anyone want to stare at you just because you’re a westerner, as your posts so imply ?

maybe you really have a hamster on your forehead, your zipper is down, or you’re ugly. Maybe the ‘auntie’ who was staring at you thought ‘gosh i have so many ang mo friends, but this is the ugliest ang mo ive seen ! no, he’s the ugliest human ive seen !’


haha, belle, I enjoy your comments, thanks for finally bringing some local anger into everything… so far almost everybody agreed with me.. great!

And maybe start a blog yourself… http://www.uglyangmohs.com…and write about all ugly westerners you see… i would definitely read it!


If more of em moved into HDB flats, I reckon the weird looks would dissapate in no time. You just have to be one of the pioneers. :-)



Irony, much?

Try looking in the mirror one of these days, yah? Oh wait, they kept shattering. :)


I lived next to a daycare back in California and the noise of 50+ children there does not compare to the 5+ kids playing near my HDB block. THEY ARE LOUD HERE! Plus, my neighbors seem to think it’s OK to let a baby/toddler cry for 45 minutes with the windows open at 2AM at night. Not cry actually…wailing in distress. Maybe I’m too sensitive to these things, but Child Protective Services would have been called a long time ago in suspicion of abuse/neglect.

Oswald Chong

Eph, obviously you never had kids before…. they’re hard to control you know. Sometimes, babies cried because they’re sick, and mom/dad just don’t know what to do.


@eph: to have kid/baby is never easy. It doesn’t mean if the child/baby cries …. the abuse occurred. sometimes when they feel discomfort (esp. babies and toddlers), even after you carry them around for hours, they still cry. Try to have your own kids and you will know how hard it is to be parents.

@Oswald: I believe you are parents, too :-)


1) Dirty floors and halls. As locals i dun like it either… but alot of old generations still living in HDB. Depends on the area too, say tanjong pagar area will have more young couple, newer flats will have new generations etc. It is much much cleaner now compare to the old days.

2 + 3) Security + facilities: for me, since i move into toa payoh, no missing shoes, though i do not like leaving my shoes outside, keep nicely in my shoe cabinet. I can’t afford paying $300 per mth for facilities, security guards so well, so thank god my area is quite good. But can always go jurong safra, sembawang swimming complex, big splash…

4) Noise : depends on ur luck haha. Having good neighbours is impt. (pray)

5) Feel like an outsider? : actually i feel its my caucasian neighbor that feel conscious. I have eurasian, BBC frens, caucasian associates. Im frenly! im willing to chat! But they seems quite afraid to make eye contact or smile… mmm… Dun feel like an outsider lah, we chinese very frenly :D all the uncles aunties very nice!

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