City Vue @Henderson, completed in 2019, is one of Singapore's newest HDB developments.
Photographer: Jonathan Chiang/Scintt via Getty Images
In the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” the main characters move between opulent mansions and colonial-era hotels in Singapore. But the reality is the vast majority of families live in modestly-sized apartments built by the government—concentrated, high-rise housing estates that elsewhere in the world might, to some, conjure images of low-income urban blight. Yet here, the concrete suburbs are well-maintained by the state and their basic, functional flats are lovingly renovated by the owners, often with the help of professional interior designers using the finest materials.
How then did a nation with the world’s highest concentration of millionaires and one of the most expensive housing markets in Asia—luxury penthouses sell for as much as S$74 million ($54 million)—become able to offer every newlywed young couple a home they can afford?