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Our writer shares tips on making the most of a small living space IMAGE: UNSPLASH

Living In A 2-Room HDB Flat: How I've Learnt To Maximise Space And Embrace Minimalism

Starting from the second half of the year, singles will be able to apply for 2-room flexi BTO flats in all locations in Singapore and not just non-mature estates. This spells good news for all you single kings and queens out there who are not planning to settle down anytime soon, yet crave your own personal space.

2-room flats these days come in two dimensions, 36 sqm and 44 sqm, which is about half the size of a typical 4-room HDB unit. But is it as tiny and limited as you would assume?

Well, as someone who has experienced living in a 2-room HDB flat rental for the majority of my life, there’s no one better to give you the lowdown.

Growing up in a 2-room rental HDB flat

The phrase “living out of a suitcase” might come across as melodramatic. But that’s how it can feel at times growing up in such cramped quarters.

People always ask me how I dealt with the lack of personal space, especially when I had to share the unit with 2 other brothers. To be honest, it was a struggle.

Technically, there is only one room, so we had to pack two beds into it and one guy had to be the odd one out and take the living room as their resting area.

If you’re a young couple looking for a temporary solution while awaiting your BTO keys or living alone, such units might be sufficient. But anything more than 2 people is definitely a crowd. Due to the lack of privacy, I was barely home as a teenager. I craved the freedom and vastness of the outside world.

My heart goes out to those big families who all have to squeeze themselves into such flats. Whether it’s by choice or unforeseen circumstances, living in a 2-room flat comes with a certain societal prejudice which I have experienced personally myself.

But once I’ve come to terms with the situation, I took it as a challenge upon myself to turn my humble abode into a home that I can be proud of.

Developing space-saving hacks

Given the space constraints, the last thing you need is bulky furniture that takes up too much room. In my house you won’t find many permanent fixtures.

Everything is either foldable (work station), collapsible (laundry rack) or multi-functional (sofa bed). I don’t actually own a closet but instead utilise drawers under my bed to keep my clothes.

You can imagine the countless hours I’ve spent on Pinterest, Stacked Homes, Qanvast and recently TikTok for design inspirations and space-saving tips.

While there are limitations to how much you can renovate a rental flat, you will certainly have more options if you are the homeowner.

For example, you can consider tearing down the walls or replacing swinging doors with sliding ones to open up the space.

Embracing a minimalist lifestyle

I know Marie Kondo is not really a trending topic these days but I can certainly identify with her guiding principle of throwing out things that don’t “bring you joy”.

Living in a 2-room flat had led me to prefer a minimalist lifestyle and practice detachment towards material things. I recall how devastated I was when I had to give away boxes full of my wrestling DVDs when I first moved into the rental flat. Despite their obvious sentimental value, there was simply no place to store it in my home.

It turned out to be one of the most liberating moments of my life and a key turning point in how I approached owning items. These days, I despise clutter. I won’t even think twice about throwing away old clothes or re-gifting books which I haven’t read in ages.

So if you’re hoarder, stay far, far away from me. I don’t need that kind of energy killing my vibe.

Benefits of living in a 2-room flat

People may not realise that managing a smaller living space has its upsides. Top of the list is that the house requires minimal tidying and maintenance.

I’m very sensitive to dust so I make it a point to clean the house regularly. Even then it doesn’t take too much of my day.

There’s also the benefit of affordability. Let’s face it, it’s not as big a financial commitment as other housing options in Singapore. This has allowed me to save money and dedicate my finances to other pursuits.

Is a 2-room flat too small to live in? Ultimately, it depends on how many people are living in it. Singles and couples will find it nice and comfortable, as long as you know how to maximise the space effectively. It all boils down to making the house feel like a home.

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