Millennial Voices

Forget The Ring – Applying For A BTO Together Is The New-Age Proposal In S’pore

We might be familiar with the old school Singaporean way of “proposing” during our parents’ time. Your dad mentions that he had worked a couple of years and saved up before asking mum out for dinner and then popping the question, “Want to get a flat together?”

However, that would probably not work in present day, where couples see proposals and Build-to-Order (BTO) flats as two separate entities. Proposals take elaborate planning and often occur in one romantic evening where the guy puts a ring on it (her), while BTOs take about 4 to 5 years of waiting and saving before it is completed.

Although being proposed to by surprise might be what every girl (including myself) wants, marriage is still a lifelong commitment between my partner and me. And if getting our BTO is one (of many) obstacles that we are willing to work through together, then that would most likely eliminate the hesitation in my voice when it is time to say “I Do”.

Encouraging communication

The HDB website states a few options for flat types that both of you need to settle on as a couple. Before money comes into play, it is imperative that both of you take steps towards reaching a consensus about your future living situation.

Perhaps it would make your partner and you look at your own flats that you live in with your parents a little differently, and that might encourage you to consider your own preferences on how you would want your own home to look like in the future.

These choices, along with many others like whether or not to get a car, will encourage both of you to develop a shared vision together, making the big moment all the more special.


Finding out if your partner has a plan to save diligently or is leaving all the saving to you can be a make it or break it decision for most relationships. Registration fees, down-payments, insurance, and monthly housing loan instalments can be a huge burden to bear, and you would certainly want to tie the knot with someone who have worked out a plan to pay off these financial commitments equally.

It might also be a good wake-up call for either of you if saving a large sum of money for purchasing property has never been a part of your to-do list until now.

Downloading apps to track your spending or saving and setting up collective financial targets under a joint bank account would be the ultimate relationship goal for the both of you to get over any impulsive spending habits as a couple.


Going on dates will still be an ongoing activity for the both of you but you will notice a difference in how you communicate. A walk through IKEA will no longer only entail making puns out of the Swedish-named furniture or cracking jokes over Swedish meatballs at the food court, it will also be about looking over furniture price tags and budgeting on what to fit in your new home together.

The parents that you’ve spent most of your adolescence avoiding are the folks you want to have around more often now. You will start noticing how wise they are in their spending habits and decision-making, and you will begin to regret only talking to them when you wanted more allowance money back then. Very soon, you will wish that your partner or you will turn out to be like either one of your parents.


In comparison to showing off a fairytale proposal, people rarely like to flash their financial woes on social media after getting a BTO. Immediate family and close friends are most likely the ones who will be there with you at the BTO signing and when you get your keys to your new flat.

These are the people that will be there throughout the journey. They will also be the ones who will help in setting up that magical proposal or wedding in the end. You’ll start to see and appreciate the people who stuck your side and helped you through the tough decisions. It’ll help you mature and make you more comfortable in the dynamics of your extended social circles in the future.


A BTO takes about 4 to 5 years to be completed. It will be a pain to wait that long after you’ve proposed or been proposed to. It can be tricky to also have to figure out the living arrangements after getting married and before the house comes. You’d definitely want to have your personal space with your other half in the shortest amount of time possible and getting the BTO application done and out of the way would reduce some of that stress.

While you wait for the flat, you could put your energy into planning the proposal, spending more time with his or her family to know them better, and also narrowing down to the most auspicious date for the wedding. More connections with either side of the family would mean more invites and could also mean more cash coming in to fund your new home in the end. At the very least, you still get more blessings – which you will appreciate.


In hindsight, you’re way more aware about each other by going through a BTO first before proposing than vice versa.

Yes it is not a complete surprise, but after working a year or two since securing the BTO, this public “I Do” would encompass all of the points above and create the most meaningful and worthwhile proposal possible. Because by then, you would have nailed down all the hard decisions and drawn up your ideal future map.

Both of you would have agreed on the house you want, have had mature conversations, and discussed your plans to achieve it together. Your family and friends who have been with you on the journey will be by your side, and by the time he popped the question, you both will be well within reach of getting the keys to the flat. 

Also read, These 15 Married Couples’ Wedding Hashtags Are 1000X Better Than Yours.

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