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Monday March 3, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday March 3, 2014 MYT 12:11:44 PM
Extended family: Royce (second from right) and his wife Sarah (right) with their children (from left) Annabeth, Christabelle, Oliver and Royce's parents Henry and Jessie at home in Bukit Timah. - The Straits Times / Asia News Network
WHEN their first child was born three weeks premature, financial services director Royce Lee and his wife, Sarah May, felt ill-prepared to care for the infant.
So his parents moved in to help. That was eight years ago. The senior couple stayed on as Lee and his wife had two more children.
There are now eight people living under one roof in the family’s four-bedroom condominium apartment in Bukit Timah: the couple, both 41, Christabelle, eight, Oliver, three, and Annabeth, two, as well as Lee’s father Henry Lee, 73, a retired human resources officer, and mother Jessie Lim, 66, a housewife, and a maid.
Lee said: “Nothing beats having your mother to care for your children, as children are so precious.”
Like the Lees, more couples are choosing to live with their parents to get help with childcare, said Alice Tan, head of research at property consultancy firm Knight Frank Singapore.
The latest data shows a slight increase in the proportion of resident households with six or more people – the largest number listed under household sizes in the Population Trends 2013 report.
Such large households inched upwards from 9.3% of all households in 2002 to 10.6% in 2012. Resident households are those headed by a Singaporean or permanent resident.
This rise comes even as the average household size dipped from 3.55 persons in 2002 to 3.53 in 2012.
Aside from having parents live in to help care for the grandchildren, the red-hot property market in recent years may have contributed to the rise in large households, property analysts say.
Some seniors may have rented out or sold their flats to cash in and moved in with their children, said Nicholas Mak, head of consultancy and research at property consultancy SLP International.
Some seniors used their rental earnings or profits from the sale of their property as retirement income or to help their children upgrade to a bigger home, he said.
For the Lees, three-generational living has worked out well so far – with a lot of give and take.
For example, he worries that his parents are spoiling his children. His father allows the children to eat on the bed and watch television at the same time, while his mother feeds the younger two instead of letting them feed themselves.
But there are advantages in living with the parents, said his wife, the youngest of seven children.
“We can go for date nights once a week and go for holidays without the children as we know there are two trusted people at home,” said Lee, who helps with the accounts in her husband’s business. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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