Housing Market

Mature vs Non-mature Estate – What Does It Mean & What Should You Choose?

13 August 2021 | BY

If you’re getting a HDB flat in Singapore, should you go for a block in a “mature” or “non-mature” estate? We weigh the pros and cons.

tengah tampines estates in singapore

Anyone who has tried their hand at getting a HDB flat in Singapore would be familiar with the terms “mature” and “non-mature” estates. Most of the time, we’d instinctively associate mature estates with neighbourhoods that are older, and non-mature ones with those that are younger. 

In fact, many sites define mature estates as having been around for more than 20 years, and non-mature estates as having been around for less than 20 years. However, HDB has yet to have any official definition on this. The only time estates are categorised is during BTO sales launches and SBF exercises. 

Based on our analysis of the categorisation of estates by HDB, we define them based on:

  • How long HDB has developed it
  • How much has it been developed

Estates that are more developed over the years, such as Tampines, Bishan and Clementi are usually classified as mature, whereas estates that are less developed, such as Yishun, Jurong West and Punggol are classified as non-mature. Here’s how HDB has classified them as of 2020:

which neighbourhoods are mature vs non mature estate According to HDB
Image credit: Liang Shi Nan

Popular beliefs – true or false?

Since HDB does not clearly define the meaning of mature and non-mature estates, we can only do our own research and come to our own conclusions. There are a few popular beliefs that Singaporeans share about mature and non-mature estates – but let’s see if they hold true. 

1. Mature estates have been around for a longer time – false

We’re not sure where the “been around more or less than 20 years” definition came from, but it is largely false. Take Sembawang, Jurong West, Hougang and Yishun for example – these estates have been around for as long as I can remember. Yet, they’re still classified as “non-mature”. 

Even Punggol, for instance, has been around some 200 years ago as a settlement. It is only in recent years that it started rapidly developing as a neighbourhood, with instagrammable bridges, parks, malls, and residential estates.

jalan lengkok sembawangImage credit: TheSmartLocal

We can’t speak for HDB, but the reason why they are classified as such may be because the developments and build-up in these areas are relatively less. On the other hand, mature estates such as Tampines, Clementi and Bishan have started developing as a residential area for a long time, and tend to be more connected, and have more built amenities. 

This definition can only be applied to new developments like Tengah, as it is literally a new development – you can’t even find real pictures of the neighbourhood yet. 

2. Property in mature estates are more expensive – true

In terms of BTO prices, projects launched in mature estates are way more expensive than those in non-mature estates – we’re talking about a $200,000 difference here. For instance, the recent Tengah BTO launch price is about $300,000 for a 4-room flat, whereas the Bishan BTO launch price is about $500,000.

In terms of resale prices, it is slightly more complicated. We’ve seen many million-dollar HDB flats popping up in the resale market – and these flats are all situated in mature estates that are considered prime locations, such as Bishan, Kallang/Whampoa, Queenstown and Tiong Bahru (Central).

SPI for HDB resale in mature and non-mature SRX dataAccording to SRX data, non-mature estate prices are not losing to mature estate prices
Image credit: SRX

However, when we’re looking at the resale market as a whole, property in non-mature estates is in fact higher than mature estates. The reason behind this is most likely due to remaining lease – HDB flats in mature estates have been around for longer, and tend to have shorter remaining lease, which significantly affects the value of the property. 

3. Mature estates have better amenities – mostly true

Mature estates do tend to have better amenities – such as more MRT lines, faster access to town, more hawker centers as well as malls. While non-mature estates tend to have more suburban feels, such as Sembawang and Jurong West, not all of them would lose to mature estates.

JEM shopping mallImage credit: TheSmartLocal

For example, Jurong East has been rapidly developed in recent years, with four big malls near the MRT and a highly accessible Ng Teng Fong hospital. On the other hand, Bukit Timah, a mature estate, isn’t as connected as Jurong East, nor have as many developments. 

However, if you’re comparing Jurong West and Tampines, or Sembawang and Bishan, the mature estates do have better amenities, with more build up in general. That said, non-mature estates are still in the process of developing, and are usually the guinea pigs for new projects like eco-towns. 

4. Mature estates are more central – mostly true

Based on statistics, mature estates do tend to be more central, while non-mature estates tend to be more ulu. In fact, all the central estates fall under “mature”, such as Toa Payoh, Bishan and Queenstown. One exception, however, is Pasir Ris, which is relatively far from town compared to its other mature counterparts.

On the other hand, non-mature estates are mostly far from town, such as Jurong West, Sembawang, Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Panjang. 

Which estate should I stay in?

East: Punggol (non-mature) vs Tampines (mature)

Waterfront living in Punggol vs Singapore’s third largest neighbourhood, Tampines.Waterfront living in Punggol vs Singapore’s third largest neighbourhood, Tampines.
Image credit: @mindycwc, TheSmartLocal

If you want to stay in the east you might be thinking – should I stay in a non-mature estate like Punggol or a mature estate like Tampines? Here’s an analysis for you to consider:

Price: Punggol wins if you are looking for a modest three room flat – this starts at $300,000 while Tampines flats can go up to $500,000 for the same square feet.

Amenities: Tampines wins for amenities – it has got you covered with food options, malls, MRT-lines, polyclinics and parks like Tampines Eco Green for recreational activities.

There are four malls – Tampines Mall, Century Square, Our Tampines Hub and Tampines 1. It’s also well-connected with several MRT stations, such as Tampines (EW/DT line), Tampines East (DT line) and Tampines North (DT line). You’ll also be in close proximity to many schools, such as Temasek Polytechnic, Dunman Secondary School, Tampines Junior College and SUTD.

Punggol, on the other hand, is on the end of the purple line, but has a deluge of recreational areas such as Punggol Waterway Park and Coney Island. Schools in the area include Punggol Secondary School, Punggol Green Primary School, Punggol Cove Primary School and Waterway Primary School. Higher education institutions are less, so it’s more suitable for younger families.

Misc: While Punggol brims of newness and youth, both in its built environment and people staying there, Tampines gives off homely kampong vibes, with many residents having stayed there for decades.

Verdict: Go for Punggol if you prefer tranquility and have a car, or young couple who wanna save some cash. Tampines is suited for family-oriented folk and those who like to be at the heart of activity considering its 3 malls.

West: Tengah vs Clementi

Tengah Forest Town vs ClementiNew car-free Tengah Forest Town vs Clementi, the easternmost part of the West.
Image credit: HDB, TheSmartLocal

Price: As a completely new estate, the price factor definitely helps to draw people in for the Tengah BTO launches. For the most recent launch in February 2021, a 4-room flat in Tengah starts from $298,000. For Clementi, the latest BTO launch was in 2017, and prices for 4-room flats cost an average of $491,000. 

Amenities: In comparison to a town that’s still in the process of developing, Clementi definitely trumps in every aspect. In terms of connectivity, Clementi is the part of the West that is nearest to town. There are also a lot of hawker centers around, as well as cafe haunts at Sunset Way. It’s also near many schools, including Nan Hua Primary and Secondary, Clementi Town Secondary, NUS High School, NUS, SUSS, SIM and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

On the other hand, the development plans for Tengah centers around residential and recreational areas. 

Misc: Apart from great connectivity, Clementi is also home to Clementi Forest that’s rich in biodiversity and West Coast Park with sea views.
Verdict: Go for Tengah if you love nature and you like the idea of living in a sustainable, car-free town. Clementi is suited for those who prefer convenience and be in close proximity to malls.

North/Central: Sembawang vs Bishan

sembawang hot spring vs bishanImage credit: TheSmartLocal (left, right)

Sembawang: Suburban, less densely populated than Bishan

  • Started developing in 1983
  • Used to be a cemetery, then a refuge for Singaporeans during WW2, then acquired for development 
  • Home to elite schools like Catholic High, RGS and RI
  • Amenities: Bishan MRT station, Marymount MRT station, bus interchange, junction 8
  • Bishan-AMK park, Kallang Park connector

Price: The price of a Bishan BTO is at least twice the price of a Sembawang BTO – so if you’re on a tight budget, you can get a 4-room flat in Sembawang for $260,000-$302,000. On the other hand, the most recent Bishan BTO launch has prices ranging from $528,000-$679,000 for a 4-room flat.

Amenities: Food, schools, MRT-lines

If you’re planning to send you children to a prestigious school like Raffles Girls’ School, Raffles Institution or Catholic High School – they’re all in Bishan. On the other hand, Sembawang does not have as many schools, with only a few choices in close proximity, such as Sembawang Primary School and Canberra Primary/Secondary School.

sembawangImage credit: TheSmartLocal

Misc: If you like quiet environments, Sembawang is less densely populated than Bishan. It’s also home to Sembawang Hot Spring Park, near Woodlands Waterfront Park and lots of playgrounds. You’ll also be able to get to JB in a short drive or a few bus stops.

Verdict: Go for Punggol if you prefer tranquility and have a car, or young couple who wanna save some cash. Tampines is suited for family-oriented folk and those who like to be at the heart of activity considering its 3 malls.

Mature vs non-mature estates – how to choose?

While there are many stereotypes attached to mature and non-mature estates, they may not necessarily apply to the specific neighbourhood you’re eyeing. Apart from price and amenities, here are a few other factors to consider:

1. Grants

If you want to live near your parents, you’d qualify for more grants when getting a resale flat, such as the Proximity Housing Grant up to $30,000. More often than not, your parents are already staying in a mature estate, and in that case, staying in a mature estate would qualify you for more grants. 

2. Work commute

It’d help a lot to stay somewhere that’s accessible to your workplace – just think about the money saved on transport and the extra sleep you can clock in! However, if you’re gonna BTO, it’s hard to say where you’d be working at when you eventually collect your keys – but it’s safer to stay somewhere that is easily accessible.

driving a car
Image credit: TheSmartLocal

If you can drive and are planning to get a car, it’d be easier for you to get around so you can consider staying in a non-mature estate that’d help you to save on your monthly mortgage.

3. Future family plans

family in singapore

If you’re planning to have kids, it’ll make sense to stay near schools, medical facilities and recreational areas for family time. 

4. Future URA developments 

URA master planImage credit: URA

Although non-mature estates may have less amenities, they are constantly being upgraded and developed. In a few years time, they may evolve into the kind of neighbourhood that is ideal for your lifestyle. To get a glimpse of the future, take a look at the URA Master Plan.

Since estates are categorised into two categories in an ambiguous way – doing deeper research into the one you’re considering goes a long way. Non-mature estates aren’t always less ideal than mature estates – it’s all about finding the one that suits your lifestyle best. 

Cover image adapted from: HDB, TheSmartLocal

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