1 Room Flat

Look at the above floor plan…and you may ask where is the the Living Room (or Hall)? Maybe you will ask if this is a Studio Apartment? But when you look closer at the plan, the main door of one unit is directly opposite to the neighbour’s main door. You don’t find these configuration any more in the newer flats.

The Living Room is counted as one room, so it’s called 1 room flat. This is probably the 23 sq.m. type. You can imagined in the past, for those with big family – all of them squeezing into this 1 room flat sleeping on the floor.

See how they look like in real – door to door;

I’m not too sure if the inside of the above photos are still of 1 room flat type as I found these flats at Beach Road;

I remember I used to visit my cousin who was staying at Tronoh Road (off Lavender St.) in such 1 room flat. The narrow passageway was very dark and some were smelly as well. In the past, most of the kids were playing together outside and usually the doors were not closed. I myself had some experiences staying in such 1 room flat at my Auntie’s house at Mattar Road and later a 2 room flat (1 living hall and 1 bedroom)at Aljunied Road then.

Guess the early HDB flats were designed with minimum sizes and costs in mind. Also these were probably built in the 60s period, so they may be rushing for time to complete as many as possible.

Do you know why HDB called those without any bedroom a “1 room flat” and those with 2 bedroom and 1 living hall a “3 room flat”? It’s because like I’ve said earlier, the Living Hall is considered as 1 Bedroom.


34 Responses to “1 Room Flat”

  1. 1 Victor Koo Friday, August 24, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Any room that is bigger than a bathroom, a toilet or a storeroom and is NOT a kitchen is counted as a room by HDB. Hence this type of flat is called a “1-room flat”. It would be kind of funny to call it a “no-room flat”, right?

    Other places in Singapore where this type of flats can be found are at Banda Street (near Chinatown) and Jalan Bukit Merah near the “ABC” market or the old Bukit Merah SAFRA.

  2. 2 Lam Chun See Friday, August 24, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    I used to visit my cousin who stayed in such a flat in Tiong Bahru/Redhill vicinity. I ever visit one of my soldiers (financial hardship case) in the 70’s who lived in the Chin Swee area. Similar type of flat I think.

  3. 3 sgalf Sunday, August 26, 2007 at 1:45 am

    There is one such block just behind Central Green Condo in the Kim Tian Area. (Blk 124 Kim Tian Place). There were many of these flats here but all has been demolished to make way for the newer HDB flats….except for this sole block.

    HDB rents out these flats to the financially disadvantaged group (Household income cannot exceed $1500 per month and many other rules).

    If your marital status is SINGLE, you need to find another eligible SINGLE to jointly apply to HDB to rent a 1 room flat. If you are unable to secure another SINGLE for the application, HDB WILL PAIR you up with a stranger!

    Remember….1 room flat, no private space, and 2 unrelated singles trying to put up with each other’s idiosyncrasies. (Potential trouble just waiting to happen…and may be fatal at times)

  4. 4 laokokok Monday, August 27, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Sad to say that though living conditions have improved over the years, but many many bad social habits have not improve at all! Everyday early morning and late night, my estate is full of rubbish (ppl litter and throw directly from the windows bags of rubbish, ppl just throw the junk mails on the floor when they take their letters, ppl just urinate at the dustbin, ppl just park their bikes at the void deck, footpath, and even park their cars at the void deck, etc….) and inconsiderate social acts…

    There is no improvement from those kampung days and in fact it’s worst. The hardware have improved but not the software. It’s such a shame!

  5. 5 Lois Friday, September 14, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Hi there, I need some photos of 1 room flats for recruitment for a community service proj. Can I use yr photos? Pls drop me an email. Thanks!

  6. 6 laokokok Monday, September 17, 2007 at 11:24 am

    Hi Lois, you may use any of the photos that belong to me. But those that have credits to others, you may check with them. Thanks.

  7. 7 Virginia Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 11:18 am


    I am a single mother with a 6 month old baby and i am currently putting up at my sister’s place ina 1 room flat.
    Would anybody happen to know where i can rent a 1-room flat from at outside rate because the hdb do is unable to help me as i am only 28 yrs of age.

    Please help!!

  8. 8 geraldine Friday, June 13, 2008 at 5:35 pm


    My group of friends and i are working on a short film. We need to a one room flat like the one you have mentioned. do any one of you have any idea or lobang that i may use the unit for a 3 days shoot?

  9. 9 candice Monday, June 16, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    hi geraldine,

    can you provide some details on your film shoot? like which organisation are you from… for what purpose will the film be used for, etc etc…

    i have an aunt who lives in a one-room HDB flat in toa payoh…

  10. 10 geraldine Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Candice,

    Thanks for your reply.

    My friends and I have graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Interactive Media Design .

    We majored in video production, script/screenwriting, video editing and was also trained in 3d animation and multimedia design

    I joined Matrix Vision Pte Ltd after graduation as an assistant producer/director a year ago and currently we are working on an independent film.

    We are intending to shoot in mid July and we are still looking for a one room flat.

    It will be great if your aunt and you could offer your place to help us. If you wish to know more details, feel free to contact me through my email at gerlu.86@gmail.com


  11. 11 Tisu Girl Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    I just wrote about a friend’s experience growing up in a one-room flat (http://myitchyfingers.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/growing-up-in-a-one-room-flat/) and then i found this post….:) There are still some of these left at Chin Swee Road, Henderson and Chinatown area.

    Tisu Girl

  12. 12 Sonu Kr. Singh Friday, November 25, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I m living in one room flat,This is mine.I hv just married.
    There is a problem with me.The problem is when ever any guest will come,How will I manage .So what I can make build in one room flat that I can manage my guesting ?
    Pls help ?

  13. 13 Judith Tan Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 11:28 am


    I am writing about my childhood on my blog and wonder if I could put your blog link in my post? I need to show my readers (mostly from other parts of the world) what time of environment I grew up in. Are you ok with this?



  14. 14 adam72 Friday, September 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I lived for 3 years in a 1.5rm rental flat in Redhill in the late 70s. Why 1.5rm? There is a normal sized room and a ‘1/2’ room that my family used as bedroom. The flat had since been torn down and in its place now are spanking new blocks just across Redhill MRT.

    Now I live in a 1st generation HDB flat nearby at Bt Ho Swee, built after the big fire in 1961, that is 48 yrs old. This flat of mine reminds me of my grandma’s flat at Tg Rhu where I lived for 5 yrs since birth, also about the same age and even the same interior orientation. Such is the link that my marital home now is a place I grew up in…

  15. 15 terrance chu wei kiat Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 3:54 am

    how old then can rent from hdb 1room flat ?

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  21. 21 IZ Mum Monday, April 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

    There are some of these flats near Jalan Besar.. King George’s, Bendemeer.. B.E.S.A.R Project doing house calls to these flats for Vesak day rations distribution to these families.



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  24. 24 kaur Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Hi guys, I grew up in the early 90’s. Those days were my golden memories, lower cost of living, less foreigners. But now is the other way round. Hope Singapore pays more to her citizens. The newly build 1 room flats compared to the older ones are very small like prison in my mind.

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