Housing in SingaporeSo, what comes to mind when you heard the word housing for general public?
orContrary to popular belief, general public housing in Singapore don’t look like this.
You may be surprised, but Singapore’s public housing looks like this. Surprised that they don’t look too shabby? Well don’t be, Singapore’s Housing & Development Board (HDB) was set up on 1 February 1960, tasked to solve the housing crisis in Singapore then. Today, over 80% of Singapore’s population, live in public housing built by the HDB across 23 towns and 3 estates. However, the prices of public housing in Singapore has risen sharply over the years. A 3-bedroom apartment in Bukit Merah area cost around SGD$370,000 in 2007, but in 2018, the prices has risen to around SGD$660,000 in 2018 in the same area. With Singapore’s government policies to help its citizens gain housing ownership, it is not difficult for majority of Singapore citizen to own their first home. In fact, this success has become a widely recognized case-study for other nations in developing and improving their housing needs. As similar to most countries, there is always the option of buying or renting when moving to Singapore. I will be discussing both these options below, while excluding pricing and financial options as this may be quite subjective.
Buying housing in SingaporeThere are a few ways for someone to buy housing in Singapore. Firstly, let’s look at the options you have if you want to buy housing:
- New Public Housing: At least one Singaporean has to be included in the application
- Resale Public Housing: At least 2 Singapore Permanent Residents who have had the status for at least 3 years.
- Private Housing without land: Anyone can buy, but subjected to current stamp duties (tax).
- Private Housing with land: Only Singapore citizen are allowed to buy land in Singapore.
Renting housing in SingaporeIf you are relocating to Singapore for work, studies or stay, renting could either be a temporary or permanent option for those who don’t have lots of spare cash. Renting is similar to most countries, and the trick is finding out where you can look for find properties for rent. Before you jump straight to finding the your dream apartment for rent, you have to decide where you want to stay first, and I have just the map you need for that!
Where to stay?Firstly, my suggestion is that you should stay close to your main areas of travel. What I mean by that is that if you’re studying or working in Singapore, use that as a starting point. Then, identify the second most frequently traveled area, and draw a somewhat straight line. Ideally, your line should cross one of the above Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations, and simply find your rental property closer the train stations. Unlike where you may be from, public transportation is the most common form of transportation you will use in Singapore, and staying near one of the lines on the map definitely helps you get around. The bottom right of the map shows the Central Business District (CBD) and shopping area of Singapore, so that place could potentially be either your starting point or your second most traveled area. Better yet, if you have a high budget, that could even be the area for your rental property.
Where to find rental properties?After identifying the area you’d like to stay in, the next question that comes to mind is, “Where can I search for properties for rent?”. Thankfully, with the advancement of technology, you can now go online to search for your dream rental property! Here is a couple of recommended websites that you can use.
Types of properties for rentSimilar to what was described above for buying housing in Singapore, you can essentially rent every property type that is available for buying with the main difference being the cost of it. Also, you will have to decide if you want to rent an entire apartment or simply a room in it. Here’s a brief description of the types of properties for rent.
- HDB Housing: This is the public housing in Singapore, and are generally lower in cost, and some may be quite worn-out. It doesn’t come with any facilities like gym, swimming pool, property managers, etc. Some people might feel that its not as fancy as living in condominiums or landed housing, but I find that they may be just as comfortable with a bigger space for the same rent you would pay for “luxury”. The lower rent also means you will be able to get a membership at a premium gym with much better facilities (just some thoughts).
- Condominium: This is the private apartment housing in Singapore, that are slightly higher in cost due to the facilities that usually come with them as described above. Some of them also come with slightly better design than public housing giving them a more premium outlook.
- Landed House: This is the high-end private housing in Singapore, with the highest cost for renting options. While houses are common in many countries, land scarcity in Singapore certainly meant that houses are for the richer population, both buying and renting. Also, most houses don’t come with any facilities, so you don’t really get much bang for your buck when renting houses.
How to go about renting apartmentsYou might already know all about how to go about renting apartments, like viewing photos of the apartment and responding to the posts. So I’m just going to share some tips on how you can get better results finding your ideal rentals.
- You might notice a lack of photos from those websites, and yes, its intentional. Don’t get frustrated though, simply contact the agents/owners of the post and ask for updated photos of the rental.
- Singaporeans use a wide array of messaging apps like Whatsapp, WeChat, Line, etc. So when you’re overseas, simply add their contact number on your phone and contact away!
- Most of the rental apartments will be managed by property agents, and most of the property agents will be managing several properties. So when contacting these agents about a particular property, ask if the have other similar properties, and you might have an unexpected find.
ConclusionThis turned out to be a much lengthier post than I first envisioned it to be. Despite that, there’s still much information that I could not fit into this “short” post. I hope these information is helpful to those looking to move to Singapore on a long-term basis. One tip that I find particularly useful when looking for information, is don’t be afraid to ask. I find that Singaporeans can be quite helpful, when you ask nicely. Also, feel free to reach out to us here if you have questions or simply to provide some feedback to us!
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