When the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced changes to the home-school distance (HSD) rule in early September 2021, there’s a general assumption that parent-hopefuls would scramble to secure apartments near their favoured schools. If you fall into this category, you might want to do some extra research first.
The general idea is this, by living within 1km of the primary school of their choice, parents stand a higher chance of confirming a spot for their LOs (little ones in parent-speak). This is true when their registration phase (eg. Phase 2C) gets oversubscribed, which then triggers a ballot, where priority is based on the child’s nationality and home-school distance (<1km, 1-2km or >2km).
This is why, for some particularly favoured schools, some parents are willing to pay premium prices for a home within the <1km or 1-2km zones, be it an HDB resale, condo or landed unit.
So what has changed since the September announcement?
Starting from the 2022 Primary 1 Registration Exercise, home-school distance will be calculated based on the School Land Boundary (SLB), or the borders of the school, rather than from the centre of the school.
For the 2022 exercise, MOE has made some exceptions for Cedar Primary, Maris Stella High School (primary section) and Marymount Convent School.
If you’re a parent who’s already staying between the old 1km and new 1km zone of a particular primary school (let’s call that the expanded zone ring), hurray for you. Even as a homeowner, there’s a possibility that your home value may appreciate if the primary school in question is say, extremely popular. You can refer to The Asian Parent, sgschooling and schlah on balloting history and popularity (a debatable topic these days).
Anyway, if you’re a parent living within the old 1km zone, you may think that the new HSD calculation method makes no difference – since you’re already in the zone, right? You might want to rethink that.
This is because the expanded zone ring does exactly what we mean – it potentially expands the number of households within the <1km zone. If there are more households jostling for a spot in say, Phase 2C, it could mean more competition for that particular school.
Not only that, the expanded zone ring doesn’t account for the type of properties within the ring. It could encompass large developments with 3-, 4- and 5-room apartments – prime homes for families with primary-school-going kids. This could mean even more competition – especially if the exercise happens in a year for say, dragon-babies (don’t worry, that’s only happening in 2030).
This is one of many reasons why MOE is doubling entries for each primary school from a minimum 20 to 40 spots for Phase 2C by the next exercise. It is also combining Phases 2A(1) and 2A(2) – entry by alumni, staff, advisory or management committee, MOE kindergarten or sibling association to the school – which means more focus on school-distance if that heads into a ballot.
So if you’re a parent looking to buy a house (HDB, condo or landed) near a particular school – just because the property is now within the 1km zone (when previously it wasn’t), consider this: it’s still not a guarantee that your child’s probability of getting a spot is automatically higher.
You’ll need to understand who else could be moving into and living around the expanded zone ring and whether your chances may be higher or lower as you can only pick one school for the registration exercise.
Nan Hua Primary (Clementi)
Using publicly accessible maps from Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) OneMap and School Query Service, we’re able to plot both the new <1km (red) and 1-2km (blue) zones around a particular school. Here, we’ve plotted the zones around Nan Hua Primary School in Clementi.
We’ve drawn the original <1km zone (the solid black circle) and identified properties within this expanded zone ring (properties between the old and new <1km zones) and some within the 1-2km zone. Here’s what we found:
Upcoming properties like Whistler Grand (est. TOP 2022) and Parc Clematis (est. TOP 2023) will add 2,184 units within the school’s old <1km zone anyway. While not all are family-sized apartments (and not every home has a primary-school-going child), it’s almost certain that registrations for Nan Hua (as well as nearby schools like Qifa, Clementi and Pei Tong Primary) will increase once families settle into these new properties.
New entrants to the <1km zone include The Parc Condo (659 units), Monterey Park (280) and Parc Riviera (752). Twin VEW, a new condo with 520 units, is now proudly within the <1km zone as well. Based on the old rule, we suspect some properties (like Parc Riviera or Monterey Park) may have had some blocks within the 1km zone and some outside of it.
With the new HSD calculation, it seems that these entire developments are now within the new <1km zone.
This isn’t the case for residents of Clementi Park freehold condo and Sunset Way Residence HDB apartments to the northeast region of the school.
As registration is based on block number and postal code, some residents may be within the 1km zone (red) while others in the 1-2km zone (blue). Still, it is useful to note that there will be a significant increase in eligible households to the new 1km zone from these neighbourhoods.
For new developments like Clavon condominium (est. TOP 2025) and Clementi Peaks BTO (est. completion 2022), they’re in the 1-2km zone. We think some parents living here may still try for Nan Hua.
Note that for the purpose of this exercise, we’re mentioning mostly condominium developments. It is prudent to use the OneMap SchoolQuery tool to research other property types within these different zones (eg. HDB flats and landed units) to understand your prospects better. Naturally, the more family-sized HDB flat units in the new zone, the higher the potential for P1 applicants in any given year.
If you’re a potential homebuyer, with the objective to move into a home closer to a school, knowing these developments help you in understanding your chances. For example, some residents, which were originally just <1km of primary schools like Qifa or Clementi Primary, may now decide to try Nan Hua with the new proximity.
In the 2021 P1 exercise alone, 141 applied for 21 spots in Nan Hua during Phase 2C.
If you’re not particular, this intense competition could mean a higher probability of entry for other schools in the vicinity.
Nanyang Primary (Bukit Timah)
For Nanyang Primary School in the Bukit Timah neighbourhood, there’re definitely lesser properties added to the expanded zone ring.
For instance, around the western arc of this ring, there are the landed properties along Namly Hill and Bin Tong Park. To the north, there’s the all-girls Raffles Girls’ Primary, which some residents in Watten Hill and Park Vale may register for.
To the southern arc, there are Leedon Residence, Leedon Green (which is estimated to TOP in 2023), Sommerville Park and Villa Delle Rose. All four developments are between the new <1km and 1-2km zones, so it’s highly likely blocks closer to Nanyang will be popular. With Waterfall Gardens, these developments do add additional units to the new <1km zone.
Based on the neighbourhood profile and additions, particularly the lack of other co-ed primary school options in the zone itself, we think there may be some competition during Phase 2C for Nanyang Primary. In the 2021 exercise, 61 applied for 21 vacancies during that phase.
Tao Nan Primary (Marine Parade)
Moving to the East Coast, we looked at properties on the expanded zone ring around Tao Nan Primary. The neighbourhood is interesting, mainly because there are many other primary schools around – such as Tanjong Katong Primary, CHIJ (Katong), Haig Girls’ and Ngee Ann Primary.
Analysing the expanded zone ring, we were immediately drawn to the larger developments to the west.
Condominiums like Silversea, The Seaview, Amber 45 and The Shore Residences now have blocks within the <1km zone while others remain in the 1-2km zone. Combined, they add a mix of their total 1,476 units to both zones.
Moving around the arc, we found that many boutique condos ranging in unit sizes of 16 to 82 (and usually 1- or 2-room apartments) are now within the <1km zone. Let’s not forget the landed homes and shophouses along the fringes of where Joo Chiat, Tembeling, Everitt and Rambai meet Koon Seng Road.
Beyond the Siglap canal to the east, more landed homes in the Dunbar Walk, Greenfield Drive and Keris Drive are now in the new <1km zone.
Based on the neighbourhood profile and additions, we think there’s a fairly good probability for homeowners looking for entry into Tao Nan. In Phase 2C 2021, there were 48 applicants for 23 spots.
St. Hilda’s Primary (Tampines)
Looking at the map above, the neighbourhood around the expanded zone ring for St. Hilda’s Primary is definitely one of the fiercest.
In the southern area alone, we have three major HDB BTO projects. Two of them – Tampines GreenJade and GreenQuartz, with 2,159 units and mostly 3-, 4- and 5-room flats – are already within the old <1km zone. Tampines GreenEmerald has partial blocks within the <1km zone.
Similarly, the Treasure at Tampines condominium (est. TOP in 2023) has some blocks within <1km of St. Hilda’s Primary while others in the 1-2km zone. It’s the same for Tampines Trilliant, Pinevale and Waterview.
Notably, many of the condominium developments along Tampines Street 86 (eastern side), such as Q Bay Residences, The Tapestry, The Alps Residences and the upcoming Parc Central Residences (est. TOP 2024), are now within the 1km zone (if they previously weren’t). Combined, they add about 2,817 units to the zone.
Based on our record, The Santorini (597 units), which sits along the same stretch, is already within the old 1km zone.
Judging by the neighbourhood profile and additions, it’s expected that St. Hilda’s Primary will probably see greater competition with next year’s rule change. In the 2021 P1 registration exercise for St. Hilda’s, there were 118 applicants for 20 places during Phase 2C.
CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ Primary (Ang Mo Kio)
Moving north, let’s look at the expanded zone ring around CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ (SNGS) primary in Ang Mo Kio.
Being an all-girls school, it’s possible that some parents with only daughters may see living here as an opportunity for higher entry probabilities (compared to say, a popular co-ed school).
Within the old <1km zone, boutique condo Lattice One and the upcoming Kebun Baru Edge BTO (est. TOP 2025) will add about 420 units. While Lattice One has 21 3-room apartments, it is Kebun Baru Edge’s 380 4- and 5-rooms-only profile that may see a surge in P1 admissions when parents finally settle in after 2025.
If we look at the expanded zone ring in the south, the Thomson Grand, Bishan Park and The Gardens At Bishan condos are now fully within the <1km zone. Combined, they add 1,437 units. A majority of their units are 2- and 3-room apartments, with some 4-rooms, so it’s quite an addition of family-sized apartments to the boundary.
The eastern region of the arc shows HDB blocks between the <1km and 1-2km zones, particularly where Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 meets Ang Mo Kio Street 12. The split can also be seen across neighbourhoods like Yio Chu Kang Ville. Parents living here, especially the ones with boys and girls, may send their kids to Ang Mo Kio Primary, since it’s closer and is a co-ed school.
Yio Chu Kang Vista, a BTO (TOP: 2014) with studio and 3-room flats, is also now within the <1km zone. Like the upcoming Yio Chu Kang Beacon BTO, which TOPs in 2023, we think most parents living in this neighbourhood may choose Mayflower or Anderson Primary instead of SNGS.
Residents living in condos like Meadows@Peirce (479 units), Poets Villa (40 cluster homes), The Calrose (421) and some in Far Horizon Garden (270), Thomson Grove (116) and Raintree Valley (26 landed homes) are now within <1km of CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’. If there are parents there with primary-one-ready daughters, it’s highly likely they’ll now try for SNGS.
Note that there are now several land parcels near the Lentor MRT station (near Thomson Grove) up for tender (residential). Lentor Hills Road (Parcel A) (est. 595 units) is confirmed but farther, potentially placing it within the 1-2km zone of SNGS instead.
Lentor Hills Road (Parcel B) (est. 265 units), is smaller and currently reserved (ie. not up for tender yet), but seems likely to be <1km of the all-girls school based on the new MOE rule.
With its neighbourhood profile, we think there’s fair competition for CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ Primary from 2022, considering it’s a popular all-girls school in a neighbourhood comprising of landed homes, HDB flats and new condo additions. Even if there’s competition, it’ll most likely be tapered by the presence of co-ed schools like Anderson, Mayflower and Ang Mo Kio Primary.
In 2021’s primary one Phase 2C exercise, there were 61 applicants for 20 spots at CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ Primary.
While it’s still too early to accurately correlate or extrapolate Primary 1 registration demand for a particular school with property density based on the new calculation method, we should be able to see the effect of this new rule by the next 2022 exercise.
Furthermore, we may be able to measure value changes of properties within the expanded zone rings of popular schools over time, using the September 2021 announcement as a catalyst. At the very least, you can now track incremental resale demand on your apartment thanks to its newfound proximity to a particular primary school.
If there’s a school and its neighbourhood properties you would like us to similarly review, let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook post.
If you found this article helpful, check out our 13 new launch condos within 1km of popular schools and Top tips for getting your child into popular primary schools.
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