Updated 9 months ago

Expats interested in moving to Singapore should be well-aware of the fact that the country has a high cost of living, and this is especially true for housing. However, the country offers a wide range of options, from single houses, condos, or flats. Singapore also has an efficient public transport system, so do consider venturing beyond the most sought after locations.

Where to live in Singapore 

Some of the most favoured locations for foreigners include central locations such as Orchard Road and Tanglin. These places buzz with activity and are ideal if you want to be close to shops and an eclectic set of hawker centres, which are eateries offering a wide selection of foods. Flats in these areas tend to be more expensive, as are housing options in Sentosa Cove, which is an exquisite enclave located towards the Eastern part of Sentosa island. More affordable accommodation options can be found in Serangoon Gardens as well as in some areas of Holland Village, which is located in a convenient area with bars, shopping centres and laid-back cafés. Other nice areas to consider include Tiong Bahru, Tanjong Pagar and the Woodlands. As a general rule, prices tend to drop the further away you go from central Singapore.

Types of accommodation in Singapore

A popular option, especially for cash-strapped students, are Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments. Although the original aim of HDB housing was to cater for the poorer strata of the Singaporean population, the quality of housing has increased in recent years and HDBs are definitely worth a visit on your house-hunting trips. There are restrictions, however, on the attribution of HDB apartments and only permanent residents can submit applications. Condominiums are also immensely popular in Singapore, and they generally come equipped with swimming pools, gym facilities and in some cases with tennis courts. Even though apartments are the most popular form of accommodation, Singapore also offers an excellent choice of houses from which to choose from, although these tend to cost significantly more. Among the most popular type of houses are the so-called “Black and Whites”. These are homes built during the colonial era to house British military men and their families. They are characterised by white walls and black trim and are part of Singapore’s historical legacy. They are generally owned by the Singaporean government and are in high demand, especially by expatriates. Most of the Black and Whites come with large gardens, which are a real treasure in land-scarce Singapore.

The paperwork to secure a house 

Lease agreements in Singapore generally last 2-3 years. Some of the leases contain clauses which allow the holders to break the lease more easily should they have to leave Singapore earlier than expected (“diplomatic lease”). This allows the termination notice to be reduced to one or two months, and is an essential component of any lease you sign, especially if you are uncertain about how long you will be in Singapore for. It is also common practice to negotiate prior to signing a lease and you are highly encouraged to include specific amenities or services you feel are missing (e.g. cleaning) and to negotiate down the price you are asked to pay for the housing. There are many real-estate agencies in Singapore and it is advisable to contact a few to get an idea of the going prices. It is also worthwhile to contact private owners, since agencies generally apply a steep service charge. It is highly advisable to visit a few properties prior to making a final choice.

 Useful links:

Easy roomate Singapore www.easyroommate.com.sg
Century21 Singapore www.century21singapore.com
Singapore Free Classifieds www.sgadsonline.com
9 Flats www.9flats.com
Housing & Development Board www.hdb.gov.sg

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