Living in Singapore: HDB housing or condos?

Tropica Condominium in East Singapore with a 50 metre pool. Photo courtesy: Nature Landscapes

It’s fair to say that there is no bad housing in Singapore. If you want a good home, go for government build Housing Development Board’s (HDB) homes. If you want a luxurious home, go for private condos. Your choice depends a lot on the stage of career or life you are relocating to Singapore. Both these options are available across locations of the island country.

Rents: HDB vs Condos

The choice between either depends on how much can you spend. For example, HDB homes with two bedrooms command a rent of $2,500 or more. Perhaps the least expensive rentals come around $1,800 to $ 2,000, in areas like Jurong or Pasir Ris. Those who are on an extremely low budget can rent a room for $500-$600 in a home.

Shanel Liew of Propnex with years of experience of working with Indian expats says that the concept of paying guests which are popular in Indian metros exists albeit in a different form. “In Singapore, people provide a room but do not offer breakfast or meals,” informs Liew. Most of such room rentals are at HDB housing.”

Those renting a decent sized apartment can look at HDB homes that cost anywhere between $3,000 to $4,000. If you are going for a three-bedroomed HDB home in a good location, then the rent can be a tad higher.

The rentals for apartments in condos can start from $5,000 and can go as high as $10,000 per month if it is located in District 15 and District 16 close to the East Coast. Some luxe condos can go as high as $30,000 a month. The rent commanded by a condo depends on the location and the facilities offered. (Check table)

Broad Comparison

HDB homes Condos
Government built Private builders
Facilities range from food courts, shopping areas, hawking areas and sporting facilities Facilities range from swimming pools, jacuzzis, basketball courts, golf courses
Rents: $2,000 to 4,000 per month (avg) $6,000-10,000 (Avg rent 30% higher than HDB homes)

What is an HDB house like?

Unlike the government build homes in most parts of the world HDB homes in Singapore boast of very good construction quality. Infact there are a range of HDBs. Some with facilities comparable to the ones found in condos. They are also very well maintained and have all the facilities of a satellite town, like shopping areas, food courts and walking and cycling tracks. HDB homes also provide for a variety. There are four bedroomed HDB homes as well for those who require lots of space, but at a budget.

HDB homes in Singapore are government constructed and heavily subsidized and owned by Singaporean nationals or permanent residents. Yet, they are available for rent for foreigners. Go for a HDB home to experience the ‘global’ side of local Singapore experience. Ruchika Srivastava, Fashion Designer at AMCO living in Pandan Valley, “If you are learning mandarin (Chinese) or bahasa melayu (spoken by the Malay community), want an immersive experience because you are in Singapore for a few years, HDB living is for you. You will end up interacting a lot with Singaporeans and accelerate your education/learning/ experience, whatever you may want to call it.”

Ruchika Srivastava

Singaporean nationals or permanent residents. Yet, they are available for rent for foreigners. Go for a HDB home to experience the ‘global’ side of local Singapore experience. Ruchika Srivastava, Fashion Designer at AMCO living in Pandan Valley, “If you are learning mandarin (Chinese) or bahasa melayu (spoken by the Malay community), want an immersive experience because you are in Singapore for a few years, HDB living is for you. You will end up interacting a lot with Singaporeans and accelerate your education/learning/ experience, whatever you may want to call it.”

What are condos all about?

Condos or privately owned homes are for those who have a bigger wallet. Most mid-level and high-level executives from India from banking, trading, marketing, insurance, consulting, information technology and so on prefer living in condos. They also provide enough bang for the buck as they come with extremely good facilities like swimming pools (some even have private pools), gyms, spas, mini mart and some super duper expensive ones with golf courses and marinas. With surprisingly high security for a safe country like Singapore.

Naturally, they are high priced. On an average, a condo costs 30% more than an HDB home of the same size. Going a step ahead of condos, Singapore also has bungalows with gardens, large number of rooms and come with exotic facilities like jacuzzis, tennis courts and other facilities.

What are condos all about?

Condos or privately owned homes are for those who have a bigger wallet. Most mid-level and high-level executives from India from banking, trading, marketing, insurance, consulting, information technology and so on prefer living in condos. They also provide enough bang for the buck as they come with extremely good facilities like swimming pools (some even have private pools), gyms, spas, mini mart and some super duper expensive ones with golf courses and marinas. With surprisingly high security for a safe country like Singapore.

Sharmas with their son

Naturally, they are high priced. On an average, a condo costs 30% more than an HDB home of the same size. Going a step ahead of condos, Singapore also has bungalows with gardens, large number of rooms and come with exotic facilities like jacuzzis, tennis courts and other facilities.

“We relocated to Singapore 10 years back. Having lived in congested Delhi I wanted to live in an open area. We found an apartment in the East, literally a kilometre away from a golf course, with a river on one side and a running track around the condominium. The much-hyped Singapore Sports Hub with the world’s largest retractable roof is also a stone’s thrown away from where we live.” says Paras Sharma, SVP, GM- SEA and Head of Digital, Asia at Viacom International Media Networks Asia  

“I am glad that my wife and I made the jump and bought an apartment in the condo we had moved into a decade back,” he added.

What’s unique?

Your rent can go down: There is something interesting about the rental market of Singapore. Since the market is small, it goes through ups and downs according to supply and demand. It basically means, the rent of the home you are living in can actually go down. This is unheard of for Indians who are used to landlords who do nothing but inch up the rent every year, irrespective of demand.

Goodbye to chunky deposits: There is yet another breather for Indian who are used to depositing a few months of advance rent with their landlords. Singaporean landlords seek only one month rent as deposit for an annual contract.

Etiquette with agent engagement: Unlike India where people engage multiple agents in Singapore you work with one. Best to follow this to avoid unnecessary embarrassment when your first calls your second agent and does an – have you spoken to someone else to you? ;-) Agents seek half month’s rent as commission.

NRI
Author
Katya Naidu
Katya Naidu – Writer

Katya Naidu has over a decade's experience in journalism. Working with Business Standard, CNBC, Indian Express and as a free lancer. She writes on energy, telecom, healthcare, commodities while exploring new areas, subjects and geographies.

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