Renting properties in Singapore? Tips for freshly minted NRIs

Hope you find this article as you plan your relocation to beautiful and sunny Singapore. Irrespective of whether you’re an NRI, new to Singapore, or just looking for a better place after the completion of your lease, here are some tips and common pointers to make your house hunt very productive. Having been in this business for more so many years I can safely say that Singapore has its own local language when it comes to property and renting.

Condominiums are what a substantial proportion of the foreign professional population ends up renting. A two-bed condominium in a popular area like Orchard, Newton and so on will cost between S$4,000 and S$5,000 per month.

Blocks of HDB flats in Singapore.
Blocks of HDB flats in Singapore. Photo courtesy: STB Content Hub

Housing Development Board (HDB) flats are government-built flats that cover much of the Singapore cityscape, and 80% of Singaporeans live in one. HDB construction, despite being government built, is one of the finest in the world. I can safely say this is unique to Singapore.

Since it is government, don't think plain: there are some very plush HDB options out there with some flats selling for over SGD1m (€575k) near Chinatown.

Renting a HDB flat in Singapore will greatly reduce your rental costs. It may present the option of living closer to where you work, or where you desire to live. Younger NRIs who can easily access facilities like swimming, tennis can live in HDBs and bring down their living cost.

Also read: No excuses for not working out in country

Landed property refers to any property where the ground on which the property stands is owned by the landlord (not the state). Bungalows are usually a type of landed property, and bungalows here refer to any detached or semi-detached property.

Taking care when finding a place to live in Singapore

When using an agent to find a place to rent in Singapore, be sure to be prudent when it comes to the pricing.

Do not work with multiple agents. You don’t have to. It’s not like Delhi, Mumbai or any other city in India where you work with multiple agents.

In rare cases, agents have been known to use certain arguments to push newcomers to take accommodation in awkward situations and on the wrong side of Singapore. Remember that no matter what the agent says, the house in front of you is NOT the last in Singapore at that price, or in that area.

When it comes to signing contracts, make sure that you understand your commitments and obligations, as well as those from the landlord.

Relocating to a foreign country is never an easy decision. Fortunately for expatriates who come to Singapore to work, our island has been voted the best place to live and work for expatriates around the world. With our political and social stability, economic efficiency and low crime rate, expatriates living here don't have a lot to worry about.

Here are five prime locations you can consider renting in:

1. Marine Parade / Joo Chiat (part of District 15)

2. Downtown (Districts 1 and 2)

3. Bukit Timah (part of District 10)

4. Tiong Bahru (part of District 3)

5. Bishan (District 20)

Tiong Bahru - HDB estates.
Tiong Bahru - HDB estates. Photo courtesy: STB content hub

Four questions for expats to consider before they buy or rent in Singapore

1. What can I buy or rent?

2. Long-term, medium-term or short-term?

3. How much are you willing to pay to buy a property in Singapore?

4. What's the opportunity cost of owning a property?

Your budget guide to renting in Singapore

Budget: $3,000 and below

With the property market yet to recover, it is now a tenant’s market. You will be surprised to find a list of fully furnished 4-room (3 bedrooms and 1 living room) HDB apartments going for as low as $2,000 per month.

These are mainly located in suburban areas such as Punggol, Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands.

Though most of these heartland HDB units are not in new estates and do not come with fancy amenities such as a swimming pool, function rooms or security, their affordable rental easily makes up for it. You can also find smaller units (3-room HDB) that are centrally located in places like Redhill, Ang Mo Kio and Bishan for less than $3,000 per month.

If luck is on your side, you may even get to stay in a 2-storey HDB Executive Maisonette, with that same budget.

If you are hoping to stay in a private estate, but within a budget, you can consider 2-bedroom or 1-bedroom condominiums located in District 19 (Hougang, Punggol and Sengkang areas), District 25 (Admiralty and Woodlands) and District 13 (MacPherson and Potong Pasir).

Budget: $3,000 - $5,000

Besides centrally located 4-room HDB units in the Tiong Bahru and Toa Payoh areas, you can also stay in a 3-bedroom suburban condominium located in District 14 (Paya Lebar, Geylang and Eunos) or District 19 with this budget.

If you have kids and are looking for a bigger space, you might be pleasantly surprised that terrace houses up in the north (District 25 to 28) in estates like Yishun, Sembawang, Mandai, Seletar and Woodlands are available within this rental range as well.

If you prefer to stay near your workplace in the CBD area, the Downtown area - Raffles Place, City Hall and Marina Bay - will be your ideal choice.

However, most units in these locations are likely to exceed your budget. But if you don’t mind staying in a 1-bedroom apartment, then you’re good to go.

Properties in Sentosa Cove.
Properties in Sentosa Cove. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

Budget: $5,000 - $10,000

With this range, you can easily rent a centrally located, 3-bedroom or 4-bedroom condominium in areas such as River Valley, Orchard, Marina Bay and Raffles Place.

Alternatively, you can also satisfy yourself with the highly sought after residential units in Sentosa Cove (i.e. The Residences at W, The Oceanfront, etc), or a 5-bedroom penthouse in a suburban condominium like Treasure Trove (District 19).

Landed properties in Changi, Tampines, Braddell, Macpherson and Potong Pasir are also within this range.

Budget: Above $10,000

Go ahead and indulge yourself with high-end condominiums and luxury serviced apartments such as The Club Residences by Capella Singapore, and St Regis Residences.

Besides centrally located landed properties, good class bungalows located in prime residential areas like District 10 (Bukit Timah, Tanglin and Holland Village), and District 11 (Newton and Novena) are also a good choice for those who value privacy and exclusivity.

Author
Subramanian Veeramani
Subramanian Veeramani – Contributor

Mani Subramanian Veeramani is real estate consultant in Singapore and successful investor as well. He published 700+ articles including guides for property buyers, sellers & investors. Mani is passionate educate his 13,000+ LinkedIn followers giving tips about property deals and market updates. You can reach him on - help@askrealtor.sg

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