Millennial Voices

Why Securing A BTO First Makes For A More Meaningful Proposal

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

However, that would probably not work in present day, where couples see proposals and BTO (Build-to-Order) flats as two separate entities. Proposals take elaborate planning (many “spoil market” examples online as reference) and often occur in one evening to put a ring on it, 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 me and my partner. 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 (Housing Development Board) website states a few options for flat types that you both as a couple need to settle on. Before money comes into play, it is imperative that you both take steps towards reaching a consensus about your future living situation.

Perhaps it would make both of you look at your own flats that you currently live in with your parents a little differently, and that might encourage you to create your own preferences for how you would want your own personal home to look like.

These choices, along with many other like whether or not to get a car, will encourage you both to develop a shared vision for a future together that would make the big moment all the more special.


Finding out if your partner has a plan to save financially with their first job or is leaving the saving all up to you (if you’re fine with that arrangement, that is) can be a make it or break it decision for most relationships. Registration fees, downpayments, insurance, and monthly housing loan instalments can be a burden to bear, and you would certainly hope that both of you have worked out a plan to pay them off 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 ongoing for the both of you but you will notice a difference in how you communicate. A walk through IKEA would no longer entail making puns out of the Swedish-named furniture or cracking jokes over Swedish meatballs at the food court, but it would be about looking over furniture price tags and budgeting on what you hope to or plan to afford to fit in your new home together.

The parents that you’ve spent most of adolescence avoiding are the folks you want to have around you more often. You start noticing how sensible they are about their spending and start regretting how you used to talk to them only if you wanted more allowance money when you were younger. Very soon, you’d start to wish that your partner would turn out to be like either one of your parents in the end.


Rarely do people like to flash their financial woes after getting a BTO on social media in comparison to showing off a fairytale proposal that just happened. Immediate family and close friends are most likely the ones who will be there with you at the BTO signing all the way through to when you get your keys to your new flat.

These are the people that will be there on the journey and will ultimately help as well in setting up that magical proposal or wedding in the end. You’d appreciate the people who came to be by your side from either side of the family and that familiarity would certainly make you more comfortable in accepting the dynamics of your extended social circle 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 for the flat to be completed, get married while waiting and figure out pre-BTO living situations after that. 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.

During the waiting time for the flat to be ready, you could be putting your energy into planning the proposal, spending more time with his or her family to know them better and also planning the best date for the wedding. More connections with either side of the family would mean more invites and also more cash coming in to fund your new home in the end.


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.

Both of you agree on the house you want, have had conversations and discussed plans about it. Your family and friends who have been with you on the journey are by your side or may have planned the proposal with you, and you both are well within reach of getting the keys to the flat. In hindsight, you’re way more aware about each other by going through a BTO first before proposing than vice versa. 

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