Should I Buy A Ground Floor HDB Flat? Residents Reveal The True Pros & Cons Of Living In One

14 July 2023 | BY

From lack of privacy to a more affordable housing option, here are the benefits and disadvantages of living in a ground floor HDB flat.

Should I Buy A Ground Floor HDB Flat?

On the topic of home valuation, it’s common knowledge that breezy high-floor units command a premium for their panoramic views, but what about the homes on the other end of the spectrum? We’re talking ground floor HDB flats.

From kaypoh passersby peeking into your home to pests creeping in, most can guess the kind of problems that ground-floor HDB homeowners face, but we speak to homeowners to find out the reality of what living on the first floor is like.

Pros of living in a ground floor HDB flat

HDB ground unit - benefits of living on the first floorImage credit: Google Maps

Surely living on the ground floor has a bunch of perks – most importantly you will never need to engage in awkward elevator small talk. But all jokes aside, there are some significant advantages to living on the ground.

Convenience – Never needing to climb the stairs

We’ve all experienced the frustration of leaving home only to realise we’ve forgotten something important. And while making a U-turn to pick up that item is an easy fix, waiting for an elevator can cost you several precious minutes. This is something ground-floor homeowners can’t relate to.

HDB ground unit - convenienceImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Google Maps

Living on the first floor means you can bypass the dreaded elevator wait and never fret about climbing stairs during a lift breakdown or in the unfortunate event of a fire.

Having your doorstep on the first floor spares you the dreaded wait for the lift and you’ll never need to worry about climbing flights of stairs whenever there’s a lift breakdown. The convenience is just one of the many perks enjoyed by ground-floor residents, allowing them to save valuable time in their daily routines.

“I never need to worry about my elderly parents climbing up the stairs when the lift is under maintenance.”

Chong, 50

More affordable units – Cheaper than higher floors 

HDB ground unit - more affordable unitsImage credit: Property Guru

Typically, higher-floor units command higher prices due to their unobstructed views and distance from noise pollution. Each floor in a building carries a distinct price difference, and this difference multiplies as you go up in levels. 

“When we were looking at housing options, it was considerably cheaper compared to others in the same neighbourhood but located on the higher floors.”

Adi, 37

Ground floor units are cheaper compared to units on higher floors.

HDB ground unit - cheaper compared to higher unitsImage credit: Property Guru

While ground-floor units may not offer the same resale value as higher floors, they can still be a wise investment, especially if you envision your family growing and thriving in that particular home.

Larger outdoor area – Free gardening and laundry space

Ground-floor living comes with a bonus: free access to a spacious corridor that extends your living space. Though SCDF and the town council recommend against using the area due to fire safety reasons, numerous residents still see this as a major advantage. Some homeowners use the extra space and the abundance of sunlight to their advantage by creating their own little outdoor gardens or sunning larger loads of laundry.

“The best part about bring on the ground is the fact that we have all that extra space for our ever-growing plant collection. We no longer have to struggle with rotating our plants to be placed near the window for adequate sunlight because all we have to do is bring them outside to sun them for awhile.  Our neighbours have told us how much they appreciate all the green along the corridor!’

Jacintha, 36

Better ventilation – Windows can be kept open when it rains

HDB ground unit - better ventilationImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Singapore For Less

One common challenge faced by residents of HDB flats in Singapore is the need to constantly monitor the weather and close windows when rain showers arrive unexpectedly. This task can become particularly cumbersome, but ground-floor residents have it better on rainy days. Ground floor units often boast a 1-2m extension, serving as both a shelter for the corridor area and a clever solution for keeping windows open without rain splashing in. Unlike higher-floor units that turn into saunas when windows are shut, ground-floor residents enjoy cross ventilation and extra shade during the golden hours.

“Sometimes when it rains, we don’t even close the windows as we have an extra sheltered extension and we can also enjoy the strong winds during those times.”

Adi, 37

Higher ceilings – Slightly more than average 2.6m height

After speaking to some of the ground-floor residents, we have also discovered that they do enjoy the perks of slightly higher ceilings. While these ceilings cannot be compared to those of loft HDB flats, but they still offer a commendable benefit given the price. It is important to note that the higher ceilings in these units are primarily a result of the structural layout of the HDB flat’s base.

“My friends have commented that the house has higher ceilings compared to their mid-level units.”

Tan, 42

Cons of ground-floor living

HDB ground unit - hassles of living on the first floorImage credit: PropNex

Alas, every good thing has its Achilles’ heel and sadly living on the ground floor has its own challenges. But, who knows maybe even these disadvantages wouldn’t scare you off from envisioning yourself living in a ground-floor unit in future.

Lack of privacy – Kaypoh people peeking through windows

HDB ground unit - lack of privacyImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Reddit

You don’t have to be a global superstar like Jennie from BLACKPINK to draw curious gazes into your home. It may simply be a common Singaporean trait to indulge in kaypoh behaviour and involuntarily peek through open doors and windows but many ground-floor homeowners have expressed their unease with constant onlookers peering in through their windows as they go by.

To regain their privacy, most of these homeowners resort to keeping the doors, windows or curtains shut, countering the constant scrutiny from passersby.

“Personally I dislike it when people look through our windows which is why I need to keep my bedroom window blinds down most of the time.”

Ty, 26

Pests – Prepare to chase out more than just cockroaches

HDB ground unit - pest controlImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Vanguard Pest Management Pte Ltd

While lizards may be a common pest in HDB homes, the ground-floor residents have seen far worse. Living on the first floor means that your home is a prime refuge for all sorts of insects when it’s time for fumigation. Even if you keep your home spotless, in a ground floor unit, one should brace themselves to encounter all sorts of creepy crawlies from spiders and roaches to even millipedes and wasps.

“Bishan park is located right opposite my unit and when they were doing up the park, many caterpillars, frogs and other critters could be found in my home for a few weeks.”

Tan, 42

“After the first few fumigation sessions around our block, we’ve learnt our lesson and blocked off all of our home openings since the last cockroach infestation.”

Rui, 45

Noise pollution – Quiet moments are rare

HDB ground unit - noise pollution nearbyImage for illustration only.
Image credit: TGH photography and travel portal/blog

Early morning uwu uwu bird calls are irritating and annoying enough, but ground-floor dwellers deal with all sorts of noise throughout the day and night. HDB ground-floor units are often in close proximity to playgrounds, preschools, and carparks; meaning there’s constant traffic right outside your home all day long.

Ground-floor living brings endless commotions, from passerby gossip to the hum of lawn services and occasional cat fights at night. Despite the less-than-desirable sounds, long-time residents have grown accustomed to and even appreciate the ceaseless white noise. It adds to the communal ambience and sense of belonging that comes with living on the ground floor.

“The usual noise comes from car alarms or when children are playing and chasing each other along the corridor, sometimes it is distracting during work-from-home arrangements.”

Tan, 42

“The worst was probably during the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and the construction was so close to our unit that we temporarily stayed over at a relative’s place to escape the drilling sounds.”

Chong, 50

Unwanted smells – Stock up on air fresheners and scented candles

HDB ground unit - unwanted smellsImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Google Maps, @razvan_ghilic

Most of us keep a good distance from communal rubbish disposal areas around our neighbourhood to avoid the putrid stench anchoring itself inside our nostrils, but some ground-floor owners are at the mercy of wafting smells that might arise from drains and rubbish disposal centres and chutes on the first floor.

To mitigate this issue, one homeowner Ronn shares that his family has invested in air purifiers and humidifiers to promote a cleaner and healthier home environment for the well-being of their loved ones.

“When the rubbish truck comes by to empty the disposal area, the odour does travel to our unit, but after lighting the scented candle, the scent is gone within a short time.”

Ronn, 34

Lower resale value – Smaller pool of interested buyers

We’ve already talked about how lower units often don’t command as high of a price as their high-floor counterparts for obvious reasons. While there is demand for lower-floor units, the number of potential buyers interested in them is relatively smaller. Thus, it’s essential to manage your expectations when selling your flat.

What is the reality of living in a ground-floor HDB flat?

In conclusion, the decision to embrace ground-floor living comes down to personal preferences. While dealing with public scrutiny and adjusting to the communal atmosphere may not be for everyone, it is important not to overlook the potential of ground-floor units in the housing market.

Despite the challenges, these homes offer unique advantages such as convenient access, extended living spaces, and potential cost savings. Whether you are seeking a sense of community or looking for untapped opportunities, exploring the hidden gems of ground-floor living might just lead you to a home that exceeds your expectations.

For more insights on living in Singapore: 

Cover image adapted from: Carousell, Flickr, Flickr

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