Singapore is a good place to start learning Asia. It’s clean, it’s safe, it’s warm, but there’s air conditioning everywhere in the hundreds of shopping malls and in public transport. The apartments come with all the modern facilities that can easily save you the pleasures of Turkish toilets.
Singapore has one of the most beautiful cultural diversities across Asia. An amalgam of Indian, Malaysians, Filipinos, Europeans, Americans, Australians and Singaporeans of all backgrounds in a culture broth and consumption. Here, unlike many places in Asia no one stops to stare at the colour of your skin or your physical appearance. There are so many people of all colours from pure white to black coal and even so, it’s difficult to stand out. The only people who will stare at you are the other whites wondering what you are doing here.
If you are looking for a job, see our article on job search in Singapore. When you are thinking to come live in Singapore, the cost of living is comparable to the Western world in regards to food and transportation. Much of your budget will be consumed by the cost of housing, cost of renting or buying a vehicle if you want to drive and education if you have children.
For my part I first lived with my girlfriend’s uncle. We paid a small sum of $ 500 Singapore Dollars a month for a room and were there for almost a year. Until then everything was fine. My budget allowed me a life without worry and even save quite a sum of money in bank without budgeting myself tight. But over time, it was essential to have our own private home after getting married especially if you are of a Westerner origin. My first idea was to buy an apartment. Investing for the future instead of paying rental of more than $ 2,000 for a basic apartment.
We made an attempt to buy an apartment, but the never ending housing inflating bubble put a hold on our project. Let me explain; the three-bedroom apartments cost more than $ 300 000 Singapore dollars. Singaporean couples have access to some government property subvention. The problem is that while my wife is a Singaporean, I’m not. So we can only buy resale public flats and private condominiums which are more expensive. When the two buyers are Singaporeans, they get a grant and they can use a part of their CPF or retire pension to finance a part. We sought with the local real estate agencies, but the demand is so high that all the apartments for sale add an overstatement Assessment « (COV) which often exceed $ 25 000. With the « Cash Over Valuation, » the 10 % cash deposit and the purchase tax (Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) of 3 % for the residents and 10% for foreigners, we need about $ 80 000 Singapore Dollars or 50 000 USD. Unfortunately, a bit too much for us and even if we try to buy a smaller and less expensive apartment, the surcharge assessment does not reduce by a lot and the cash needed is still above the threshold of $ 50 000.
We changed our plans and we decided to rent while waiting to save more money and hoping that the housing bubble bursts.
Another sad fact, the price of rent is high too. You will not find anything under $ 2000 per month unfurnished. Forget the cottage with a nice garden. 85% of Singaporeans live in apartments built by the government HDB (Housing Development Board). They are nice clean buildings that come in several sizes and configurations. They often have a car park, a small park, playground for children and some basic services located in the centre or around a square group of buildings.
It’s hard to understand the apartment’s rental system and even renting a room is complicated in Singapore. When you are abroad, you must look seriously and intensely to find a nice gem. The rental market explodes and moves at breakneck speed.
You will need to decide on a location, the best place will vary depending on your needs and your budget. It’s well to clarify your requirements before beginning research. Do you have any children? You will need a school, where is your place of work, what is the budget you have, what is the maximum you can pay. Then you can concentrate your efforts on the best location and type of apartment that suits you best. If you are the lucky one who holds a position that provides a budget of over $ 5000 for your home expense you will have no problem finding something suitable. With $5000 a month you can have a flat from 1300 to 1500 square feet or less with a pool and tennis courts almost everywhere in the country. For the other mortals who are looking for something cheaper, you can find something acceptable between $1800 – $3000 depending on which corner of the city. Many expats decide to share the costs of renting an apartment and pay a more reasonable price- something around 1000 a month.
Rent is usually paid one month in advance with a security deposit of 2-3 months. You will have guessed that it’s a nice amount of money for someone who just arrived in a new country. Most of the flats (apartments) are equipped with air conditioning, stove, refrigerator, washing machine, a bed and curtains.
Here, forget the ads in newspapers and on community bulletin boards. Everyone uses the real estate agents and their agency, it’s almost impossible to rent anything even a room without signing a legal contract with multiple pages. Everyone prefers to secure his rear.
I will provide you links to sites that can help you in your research at the end of my article, there are plenty of rooms between $600 and $1400, some standard rooms in a public HDB to the large bedroom in a condominium with access to tennis courts and swimming pools.
Neighbourhoods greatly influence the price of housing. The neighbourhoods near downtown, parks or the beach are quickly up the bill. Do not worry too much with the location, the country is an island of 647.8 km² so there are not many places where public transportation does not serve well. Stay away from the central if you want to save.
Orchard Road, the most expensive of all, near the centre of the major axes, « shopping malls » and major attractions, a busy place and a bit noisy.$ 5000 to $9000
Bukit Timah & River Valley, the part of Singapore greener traditional homes with nice parks and the Botanical Garden. Many foreigners like to go jogging or walk their dogs in this fantastic garden. $3500 and more.
West Coast and East Coast are huge beach parks artificially create with fine sand with a good sea breeze a lot of activities for the whole family: swimming, cycling track, have a picnic with BBQ pits, location camping and even swimming. $1800 and more
Holland Village is a popular area for young Singaporeans and expatriates who enjoy its trendy restaurants, taverns surrounding its ancient trees. $3500 and more.
Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Woodlands, Yishun, Choa Chu Kang are places suitable for nice family living with plenty of amenities. Good places to live among the locals and adapt more easily to the culture in the city lion. $1800 – $3200
The types of housing that can be found in Singapore.
The apartments are located in residential areas well organized with schools, supermarkets, clinics, restaurants, sports and leisure facilities.
Here in Singapore, public housing does not mean poverty or life of hunger subsidized by the state like many countries. They are generally cheaper than in the private sector. It is the vast majority of homes in the population. Few people have a few million to buy a simple bungalow that we can have for fraction of the price in America. These public housings are not ghettos. The environment is very clean. There are no security guards, but since most crimes are severely punished here and the crime rate is not something to worry about. You can rent a unit for between $ 1500 and $3000 SGD per month.
These are apartments with several amenities including a gym, swimming pool, tennis courts and community spaces. I am lucky to have a condo in Dairy Farm estates one of the few parts of Singapore where you can have a green landscape with huge trees. Now the new condos are more in concrete with a rooftop pool and couple of trees and flower in the front of the building.
This is an option for many people. Many foreigners choose this arrangement because of the soaring rents and prefer to avoid this harsh reality by sharing the costs. This is the only option I advise to single individuals who settle in Singapore. Here are the websites to find a room or an apartment:
I hope this has been helpful. Good luck with your search.