4 tips for LGBTQ and singles to purchase property in Singapore

For the most of us, securing a property is one of the biggest milestones that we would want to achieve in our lives. It gives us a sense of accomplishment to know that we have a roof over our heads – whether it means owning our own home or just renting one. However, it’s definitely easier said than done.

In Singapore, things seem to be on a brighter side due to the variety of options and schemes that are available to cater everyone, except for those who are unmarried or LGBTQ. If you fall in any of these categories, then things can be quite challenging for you as most housing policies are skewed towards traditional family units and married couple.

In fact, LGBTQ couples and families are not considered a family unit under the Housing Development Board’s (HDB) policies, hence they’re not eligible to apply for bigger Built-to-Order (BTO) flats or obtain any relevant government subsidies. This is just one of the classic examples of how tough it can be for them to get hold of a property.

Despite its sets of challenges, there are certain ways that these groups can keep in mind if they want to secure a home on their own. Having said that, here are four tips that property seekers can follow in order for them to have a seamless and enjoyable home-buying journey.

Look at different government housing schemes and loans that are applicable to you

When it comes to purchasing a property, most of us will have to rely on government housing schemes and loans to help us out. Not all of us have a large amount of disposable income to be thrown to finance our property purchase, especially if you’re a young couple or just started building your savings.

As such, if you’re unmarried and in the hunt to acquire a HDB flat or Executive Condominium (EC), then it’s probably best that you consider availing schemes by HDB like Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (SSCS) and Joint Singles Scheme (JSC). For those who are unaware, the former is meant solely for singles while the latter is for joint ownership for up to two to four single Singaporeans, and applicants can choose to purchase either new or resale flats.

In terms of qualifying for these schemes, it’s important to note that you will need to be at least 35 years old and older, as well as be a first-time buyer to take advantage of the S$20,000 to S$25,000 in grant given by HDB.

Although there are not restrictions on the size of a resale flat, if you’re thinking of getting a new place (BTO), 2-room Flexi units at non-mature estates are your best shot.

Even with the grant, if you’re buying a property, then it’s wise that you have enough savings and a sound financial plan that covers you for months ahead. This is crucial given that you don’t have a partner’s income to fall back on to tide through rainy periods. Here are some methods you can follow so you don’t end up in a financial stress:

  • Have enough fund to sustain yourself, especially in case of emergencies or unexpected loss of job/income.
  • Central Provident Fund (CPF) is also a key factor – understand how much you have in your CPF account and get assessment done for loan eligibility.
  • To calculate your mortgage repayment, you can use PropertyGuru’s Mortgage Repayment Calculator. As a guide, your mortgage payments should not exceed 30 percent of your monthly salary.
  • Try also the PropertyGuru Affordability Calculator to check the maximum property affordability based on the current government regulations and property cooling measures.

Consider private house

In case your minimum age, unit type and policies are hindering you from owning your dream house, condominiums are a great alternative depending on your available funds. However, you should keep in mind that private properties often come with hidden costs like monthly maintenance fees and transportation costs, which might add up if public transportation is not easily accessible.

However, if you think your preferred private property is located in an isolated location now, then lookout for upcoming projects and future government plans for the area so you will have an idea on how the vicinity may be equipped and valued at in the future. Try checking out PropertyGuru’s AreaInsider to scout through different areas in Singapore.

Renting is another option

We understand that purchasing a property can be overwhelming for a lot of people. It’s a long-term commitment that comes with a hefty price tag. This is why renting a place is another option. Another plus point of renting is that you can look for a place that is convenient for you – nearer to public transportation or located in the city.

But, if you rent a home with friends or strangers, most people think that they will need to compromise on their privacy, but they’re wrong. Here are ways you can rent a place without sacrificing your privacy:

  • If you’re single or unmarried, look at which room would work best for you. Although a master bedroom can be slightly pricier, but it offers more privacy as you don’t have to share the bathroom with other tenants.
  • Keep in mind position of your room as it is best to avoid corridor-facing rooms and flats close to the lift. This is to prevent passer-by from seeing what is happening inside the house.
  • If you can stagger financial investments, then you may opt to rent a fully furnished flat with like-minded, similar aged individuals to share costs. Also, avoid buying expensive furniture or appliances when first getting your own space.

Tenancy rights

Be sure to always read through the tenancy agreement and negotiate the terms before the commencement of a rental lease. Always take your time to fully understand the clauses of the lease period, especially the exit clauses in case of termination of contract. Remember there’s no turning back after signing the deal!

Besides that, ensure that you’re protected and compensated sufficiently in case of unexpected lease termination by the owner.However, if you’re buying private property with friends, do keep in mind whether it’s joint tenancy or tenancy in common which determines survivorship rights and other terms.

There you have it – four tips for the LGBTQs and singles to take the big step of securing a property in Singapore. Happy hunting and good luck!

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Chinese government invites foreign media to Xinjiang to paint a positive image of its Muslim Uighur’s ‘re-education’ camps, but it backfired

In April this year, the Information Office of the State Council of China invited eight overseas media outlets, including BBC and Singapore’s Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, to visit two of China’s vocational skills education and training centres in Xinjiang.

This is done in an attempt to paint a positive image of Xinjiang’s Muslim Uighurs after human rights organisations and some Western media have previously criticised the Chinese government for suppressing and monitoring them. In fact, the United Nations has said that there are millions of Muslims in the country who are being held in “re-education camps”.

As such, the Chinese government wanted to change the world’s perspective of these “schools” and organised a media trip to show the current status of these “re-education camps”. They call it the “Educational Skills Training Centre” (ESTC), which means that these centres “transform” students’ ideas and “get rid of their extremist thoughts” through education, by providing trainings to solve low-level knowledge and employment problems.

The ESTC focuses on young people because the potential for violence in them is higher compared to seniors. Besides that, they are also more likely to accept “thoughts” than older people.

Following the visit, Chinese-newspaper Lianhe-Zaobao published an article on 23 April stating that all the officials and trainees answered questions raised by the reporters to them.

Training centre called to “extend the extreme”

During an interview with the Uighur president of the training centre, he mentioned that the purpose of ESTC is to allow students to learn Chinese and study law, in order to stop them from following extremist beliefs.

When asked on prosecuting student to violate religious belief activities, the principal said that no students were forced to eat pork or drink.

Besides visiting the school, foreign media were also taken to the Xinjiang International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Urumqi to visit the terrorism case exhibition. The exhibition presented each case with a set of oversized images and a short description of text. Some of the images include gory pictures of corpse and headless body, with only a short text of basic information such as the date, place, the number of casualties, and all the perpetrators are called “terrorists”.

In order to avoid inciting hatred between the people, the exhibition is generally not open to the public.

On 18 March, the State Council Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China issued a “White Paper on Anti-terrorism, De-extremism and Human Rights Protections in Xinjiang”.

The White Paper said:

Since 2014, Xinjiang has destroyed 1,588 riot groups, arrested 12,995 treacherous personnel, seized 2,052 explosive devices, investigated 4,858 illegal religious activities, involved 30,064 people, and collected 345,229 illegal religious propaganda materials.

BBC’s “unannounced visits” revealed the darker side of the training centre

Based on a video uploaded by BBC, Chinese leaders told its reporter John Sudworth that the teaching and training centres are schools, and not prisons. In an urge to find out the truth, Mr Sudworth took an “unannounced visit” to other forbidden areas in Xinjiang, which raised more questions.

In its video, it is revealed that thousands of Uighur Muslims are brought into these teaching and training centre and the Chinese government hopes to prove to the outside world that these individuals are students and not detainees, and they are “voluntarily accepting anti-extremism education”.

Some interviewees told that they were previously influenced by extremism and terrorism. However, they were discovered by the village police who persuaded them into the school to “transform their own thoughts.”

In the school, students are taught Chinese and other religious-related laws, replacing their own faith and cultural teachings. Besides that, they are also forced to wear uniforms, live in a dormitory of at least 10 people with shared toilets.

Mahemuti, who is the person-in-charge at the Hotan County Education Training Centre, said that people must comply with the regulations in the centre and they can only leave when they’re allowed to.

When asked if this place is considered a prison since students have to obey the rules and not allowed to leave when they want to, Mr Mahemuti stressed that the school is indeed a training centre and questioned, “If he is in prison, can the students learn to draw?”

However, BBC reporter found that some graffiti in the school wrote “I am broken”, but it was not included in their video to protect the identity of the student.

Unauthorised places are not allowed to shoot

Based on original satellite images of the vicinity, many parts of western Xinjiang had tight security with fences, barbed wire and watchtowers, but Mr Sudworth told that nothing was visible in the school, indicating that they were all removed right before the media trip started.

However, when the BBC reporter went to unauthorised areas to shoot, he saw equipment for installing safety nets and suspected watchtowers inside the school, before being told to leave the premise.

Rakhima Senbay, who was a former detainee at the Chinese education camp, said that she was sent there for more than a year just because she installed WhatsApp in her mobile phone.

She noted that she had to wear an ankle for a week in the camp, was beaten several times and once was struck with an electric baton.

When asked on how she felt when she saw the Chinese government showing the world of how happy Muslim students are studying and dancing in the school, she said that they’re warned before the visit and told, “If any of you speak out, you will go to a worse place than this”.

Pre-crime suppression

Zhang Zhisheng, the deputy director of Xinjiang Foreign Affairs Office, told BBC that some people show the capability of killing someone even before committing a murder. “Should we wait for them to commit the crime? Or should we prevent it from happening?”

On the other hand, Xu Guixiang from the Xinjiang Propaganda Department, noted that the school is there to take pre-criminals and “return them to normal society as a law-abiding citizen”.

Buayxiam Obliz, the head of the Moyu County Education Training Centre, said that the school is here to change the religious extremist characteristic of a student so they will be able to secure employment later on in life.

The BBC reporter then said, “We will call that brainwashing”, however Ms Obliz responded, “We’re not completely changing their thoughts. We only remove the extremist elements.”

Evidence of destruction of mosques found

On 7 May, the Chinese Foreign Ministry severely refuted reports on the destruction of large-scare mosques. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yan Shuang said that Xinjiang is an open area, and hopes that the relevant media will not spread gossip or hearsay.

However, when Mr Sudworth looked closely at the gate of one of the mosques, Etikar Mosque, he witnessed a shocking discovery. This is because the satellite image taken of the mosque in the end of 2017 showed that the gate was still there, but in reality it’s no longer there now. Besides that, a traditional Uighur community nearby was also destroyed.

 

The BBC reporter also noted that the two main reasons why the communities are being destroyed is because of political stability and economic development.

“There is no doubt that the original community here is poor, but destroying them, oppressing the beliefs of the people who have lived here, forcing thousands of people to receive re-education, people worry that the entire history and culture are being erased”.

Although BBC took a bold move to showcase the darker side of Xinjiang and its “re-education” camps, but other invited foreign media outlets, including Lianhe Zaobao, took a less harsher route despite trying to “uncover the mystery of the Xinjiang Education and Training Centre”.

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It’s Time to Buy Enbridge (TSX:ENB)

pipe metal texture inside

Enbridge (TSX:ENB)(NYSE:ENB) has come down, and it’s time for income investors to start building their positions. This dividend giant has retreated once again with declining oil prices and general market malaise creating a buying opportunity for long-term investors. This cash flow-rich company should be a core holding for Canadian investors. In this article, you will see that now is the time to start adding this company to your dividend portfolio.

Enbridge provides capital returns

Let’s face it; you are not going to buy Enbridge for massive, exciting capital gains. This is a mature company that should not be compared to the high-flying capital gain rock stars that you might see in the tech sector. It is a boring, stable company, but at this stage in the investing game, boring is good.

That is not to say that it does not provide capital gains. In fact, long-term investors have been generously rewarded for holding Enbridge over the years. If you had bought Enbridge back in the early 90s and held the stock for the past 30 years or so, you would have experienced capital gains of over 1,000%. Even with the consolidation happening in recent years, this would have been a fantastic nest egg for your retirement.

Enbridge diversifies your portfolio

This company is huge, with a market capitalization that is almost $100 billion. Enbridge’s size is due to the fact that the company has grown substantially over the years, with multiple businesses under the organization’s umbrella. While it is known as an oil and gas pipeline to many investors, the average Canadian is most likely familiar with its commercial and residential utility business. This regulated aspect of its business provides stability to its earnings and clear visibility for dividend growth and capital expenditures.

Enbridge is also geographically diversified. It has businesses that extend all over Canada and the United States and has renewable wind turbine businesses in Europe. These businesses help to diversify its revenue stream and stabilize its earnings.

The dividend is fantastic

Enbridge is one of Canada’s best dividend-growth stories. This is the main reason that many people invest in this company. With the very real possibility that rates may fall once again in the near future, Canadian investors need to prepare their portfolios to get income from stocks instead of traditionally safe bonds and GICs.

Unfortunately, many of Canada’s utility and telecom companies have risen significantly over the past few months in anticipation of a falling rate trend. This leaves Enbridge as one of the few companies that provide a great dividend for income investors.

Enbridge’s current yield as of this writing sits at around 6.5%, about three times the yield on a five-year GIC. That yield has grown by about 10% each year over the past couple of years and is set to grow by around 5% in the near future.

Earlier, I mentioned the incredible capital appreciation Enbridge has experienced over the decades. Well, that does not even include the dividends it has provided over those same years. Just think, even if the stock goes nowhere and the dividend stays the same, reinvesting the dividends at 6.5% will allow you to recoup all your capital in just over 10 years! That’s pretty impressive.

The downside

No investment is perfect, and Enbridge is no exception. The company has a mountain of debt that makes its balance sheet relatively brittle. The good news is that Enbridge is committed to debt reduction through asset sales and debt repayment, so it is actively reducing its leverage. This debt-reduction strategy combined with its steady cash flow should make this a fairly safe investment over the years.

You might be missing out on one of the biggest opportunities in Canadian investing history…

Marijuana was legalized across Canada on October 17th, and a little-known Canadian company just unlocked what some experts think could be the key to profiting off the coming marijuana boom.

Besides making key partnerships with Facebook and Amazon, they’ve just made a game-changing deal with the Ontario government.

One grassroots Canadian company has already begun introducing this technology to the market – which is why legendary Canadian investor Iain Butler thinks they have a leg up on Amazon in this once-in-a-generation tech race.

This is the company we think you should strongly consider having in your portfolio if you want to position yourself wisely for the coming marijuana boom.

Learn More About This TSX Stock Now

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Fool contributor Kris Knutson owns shares of ENBRIDGE INC. The Motley Fool owns shares of Enbridge. Enbridge is a recommendation of Stock Advisor Canada.

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Salehoo Wholesale Directory Review

Dropshipping is one of the most popular and profitable ways of generating an income online. Since Facebook ads became popular, many marketers are making 10k and up a month just from dropshipping. However, to become a successful marketer in this niche, you need to cross a HUGE hurdle – finding a trustworthy and reliable group…

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Adopt a painting at the first solo exhibition of 83-year old Singaporean painter Johnny Wong at Coda Culture

83-year old Johnny Wong has loved art and has been painting since a young age. Wong has had a long career working as a primary school teacher. Most young people would not have heard of the schools he has taught in — for example, primary schools in Pulau Tekong, Telok Paku or Telok Kurau.

In that sense, Wong may be considered an ‘outsider artist’ to some in the art world. However, he has never given up and always remains passionate and hardworking. He paints whenever he can, shares his passion with others and seeks feedback from other artists.

After retiring five years ago Wong was finally able to devote time in lifelong passion. In recent years, Wong has started making abstract painting on recycled advertising foamboards from his neighbourhood. He paints on recycled surfaces because he wants to do his bit for the environment. His subject matter is broad – from abstract to nature, figuration, the sambar deer sightings in Lornie Road and even the Trump-Kim Summit.

Wong will be having his first ever exhibition at the cutting edge contemporary gallery, Coda Culture.

Why is a contemporary art collective (Post-Museum) and contemporary gallery (Coda Culture) showcasing Johnny Wong?

“We first met Wong at the Singapore Really Really Free Market (SRRFM) when he was conducting free painting workshop for the public. Slowly, we learnt about his passion for art, life and more. Art gives Wong that sparkle and happiness to his life. You will see this on his face when he talks about art,” said the gallery and art collective in a statement.

One day, Wong reached out to them with the idea of ‘gifting’ his paintings at the Singapore Really Really Free Market as his frustrated wife wanted to throw them away. So Wong sent an SOS for his paintings. He was worried about their future and wanted to give them a home. Fortunately, he found a friend who allowed him to continue painting and store these paintings at his house.

From there, Post-Museum and Coda Culture saw Wong’s passion and perseverance for art that put most ‘professional’ or young artists to shame and that moved them.

Wong’s art has an intergenerational dimension which the groups wanted to showcase to remind people that art is more than a commercial commodity. Instead, it is something which can give life and meaning to many.

For Wong, being ‘sacked’ / ‘retired’ was a ‘blessing’ in disguise! He says, “Painting is a joy and it calms him down, you forget your worries & it brings satisfaction and joy in creating a picture”. Through his exhibition, Wong would like to show other senior citizens not to be passive in their retirement. Pick up something of their interest and go totally into it!

Adopt a painting

Wong will be showcasing his latest paintings, and all the works are up for adoption for sincere art lovers. The artist urges all potential adopters/collectors to remember that Wong’s art is not about money but passion – for art, environment and the vision for a better world.

Here are the guideline for adopting his works:

  • For each work adopted, the collector will contribute $30 or above.
  • A collector cannot collect all the works but always leave some for art lovers.
  • The money raised will go into supporting the good work of Coda Culture.

Exhibition details

Date: 22nd – 25th June 2019

Time: 12 pm to 8 pm weekends. 5 pm to 8 pm weekdays

Address:  #05-05, Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Rd, Singapore 199588

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