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Finding accommodation in Singapore for expats

Where’s Best to Live in Singapore: Your Guide

Deciding where to live in Singapore is an important consideration for an expat moving to Singapore. Though Singapore as a whole is a very safe place to live, different area offer very different experiences and suit expats with different circumstances. If you’re new to Singapore, or haven’t arrived yet, we’d suggest reading our introduction to renting in Singapore.

Choosing where to live in Singapore

Price is a prime consideration, as accommodation in Singapore is some of the most expensive in the world to live in. Though, if you’re coming from expat hubs like Hong Kong, London or New York you will find accommodation in Singapore decidedly good value for what you get. Other important factors were safety, character, location and entertainment.

Short term accommodation and serviced apartments that offer similar services and amenities come at a higher cost and with more flexibility. A comfortable studio apartment located reasonably centrally will cost $5,000-6,000 per month from the likes of Move and Stay. Charges can be arranged weekly also, often at added cost. If you are looking for short-term accommodation visit our specialist guide.

accommodation in singapore where to live in singapore

Choosing the right area to live in Singapore is important

Prices in Singapore range hugely depending on standard and location of the development. The price for a 2-bed condominium close to Orchard Road will cost around S$6000 (€3730, US$4730) but by going a little further out to the likes of Holland Village will bring that cost down closer to S$3500 per month for the same, and down again to S$2500 if you’re willing to consider HDB Flats. You can also find value by picking older condominiums. By ‘old’ they mean 10+ years old so don’t worry!

Using a flatshare site like EasyRoomMate can save you significant amount time and money when looking for your first home in Singapore. This is also a great way to make new friends when moving to Singapore.

When looking at your salary, remember you will probably be paying a lot less tax than at home (check out our tax section for more). Also, nowhere on the island is too isolated: the MRT and bus network means getting to the centre is never difficult, wherever you are.

Below we give a synopsis of some of the more popular areas to live in Singapore for expats and foreign professionals.

Greater Luxury Areas

(2-bed Condominium for $5,000 – $6,000 per month)

Dunearn Road/Newton
A Scottish name by origin, Dunearn was named after Dunearn House, the former Oldham Hall Boarding School situated on the road. Much of Dunearn Road is flanked by high-rise, high-standard condominiums which offer a more tranquil location than the others.

Dunearn Road runs North-west to South-east and is approx. 8km long, ending at Newton Circus. Newton offers proximity to the famous Orchard Road as well as numerous amenities in itself. Again, high-rise is well in force here but slightly older and in places cheaper than on Dunearn Road.

This is a great area to live in Singapore for families as there is plenty of green space around with the likes of Bukit Timah nearby. Also, there are a number of reputable international schools within reach from here.

Robertson Quay/River Valley
Running along the Singapore River, Robertson Quay offers proximity to active areas like Clarke/Boat Quay while holding onto a relaxed atmosphere: a compromise that has made this area very popular among expats. Within the area there are also a convenient selection of shops, bars and cafes.

The River Valley community predominantly sits between Robertson Quay and Orchard Road meaning that shopping and socialising options are plentiful. If you manage to obtain a flat on the tenth floor or above, you are almost sure to have a fantastic view of the Singapore skyline.

Greater Value Areas (2-bed Condominium for $3,500+; 2-bed HDB Flat for $2,500+)

Amber Road/Marine Parade
Amber Road used to be home to single-storey bungalows of wealthy Chinese businessmen and a fishing village but nowadays it’s dominated by HDB flats and private high-rise condominiums. This district is desirable for many reasons. First of all, you have the chance of finding a great seaview. Then, the amenities available are great with a Shopping Mall, park and the historic Chinese Swimming Club with its numerous facilities including gym, badminton courts and a bowling alley. Getting central is simple as well with MRT, bus and taxi services being plentiful. Marina Bay is only five minutes away by bus and ten minutes away by bus. Also, the spectacular East Coast Parkway is only minutes’ walk away.

Holland Village/Buona Vista
Holland Village is one of the most popular spots to live for young Singaporeans and Expats. It comes across as a small town with low-rise shophouses lining the main street, but don’t be fooled: you are only a 15-minute MRT ride away from downtown Singapore.

Once the sun goes down, a large selection of alfresco bars, restaurants and a hawker centre offer great fun to those looking for it. Surrounding Holland Village are dozens of HDB flats and Condos, offering many different levels of price, according one’s budget.

Tiong Bahru
If you want to be on the fringes of central Singapore and not pay extortionate rent then Tiong Bahru is your best bet. Here you’ll find fresh new cafes and specialty shops that’ll suit those who are tired of of the droves of Starbucks and H&M. Art Deco post-war HDB flats compliment this and many have been given uber-modern interior facelifts.

Given its positioning, Tiong Bahru is home to some of the best-value rents in Singapore, and is only two or three away from Raffles Quay- the epicenter of the city. I say two or three as TB contains two MRT stations: Outram Park and Tiong Bahru.

10 Responses to Where’s Best to Live in Singapore: Your Guide

  1. robyne.chambers May 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I have heard you cannot get accomodation in Singapore without an employment pass. Is that the case for all accomodation? Also how much of a deposit is required straight up?

    • Burk September 9, 2012 at 4:27 am #

      Most owners (or any kind of property) will not rent out to people who do not have work permits/passes or at least a long term visa, as they do not want to get into potential trouble with immigration offenders. For a year long lease, 1 month advance & security deposit (equivalent to another month’s rent) is the norm. 2 months rent as security deposit is normal for 2 year lease.

    • JJ September 10, 2012 at 3:56 am #

      A residential lease will have to be 6 months and above. And you will need visas such as work passes or student passes. If you are on other passes and are looking for shorter stays, you can check out hotels, backpackers’ hotels (lighter on the purse) or service apartments for longer stays.

      A one year residential lease will often require 1 month’s deposit and 1 month’s advance payment.

      So if you are moving to Singapore, do contact me as I can help you get accommodation. You can check out my website for various methods to get in touch with me.


      • rahman October 24, 2012 at 2:16 am #

        i am MR.Rahman.i will move to Singapore on last week of november.
        i need a location to rent around serengoon, little india, butik timah,
        with cooking facility.range 500-1200sgd
        can u guide me

  2. ConnieF November 14, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    In my opinion, these ‘guidelines’ are seriously under market. Having recently spent almost 2 months looking for a flat within our budget, while paying $1800/month for a single room with shared bath and kitchen while we looked, you need to increase these amounts by at least $500/per month to be in line with current prices as of mid-2012. Think you can find a 2 Bedroom flat in Holland Village for $3500? Lots of luck, you’ll need it!

    • catherine December 7, 2012 at 3:59 am #

      I have to utterly disagree with you connie. I am living in a beautiful, spacious flat with a 50m pool, gym, tennis court and more in Toa Payoh – three stops from Orchard!! piece of advice… LOOK AROUND! easyroomate is great…

    • Gordie August 16, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

      Rahman, for that price you will be looking for a shared situation. Lower end rentals in Singapore have an annoying ‘no cooking’ situation. .It is very common in rental adds expecting us to fork out a lot for the monthly rental and then no cooking allowed. . You will be looking for an old HDB flat for the price and a room at that. Singapore is extremely difficult for expats who dont come with the big salary or housing package. The other problem is when you walk in to look at these places, once they establish you are a foreigner, the price seems to go up. The Rental agents get a lot for nothing too. Once you choose a place, they need a fee which is usually 50% of the month’s rent. All they do is open a door to show you around. I found my 2 years in Singapore on an ordinary salary to be more expensive than living and renting in Sydney and at least in Sydney you dont need to use a rental agent and you can cook!

  3. Tara presents February 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Great guide. I would say you can get better value flats, try to negotiate (it’s also fun!)

  4. proshanta Kumar Mallick August 8, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    I want an abroad job in any sector( Teaching /Marketing/ Administration/NGO/Hotel/ Shopping Mall Etc).
    I’m. Proshanta Kumar. Mallick. A Bangladeshi male I am highly educated. Now I am working in a college in my country. my country is a developing country. I want to come to any country abroad if anyone help me as his / her friend or more. I have no religious , racial or any kind of restriction.
    I’ve completed masters degree in four disciplines , such as-
    (1) M. Sc in clinical Psychology, (2) M. A. in English literature, (3) M. Ed. in Educational Administration, and (4)M. A . in Music . Now I’m a college Teacher. I teach there science, English and Music .
    I’ve an own kindergarten school. I’m the Principal of that Institution .I want to be an abroad English , Science or Music Teacher or any other kind of jobs in private sector in any country , If anyone invite me , I will be ever& ever grateful to him/ her/them.
    Proshanta, Bangladesh
    My E- Mail: [email protected]

  5. Ms. Robinson-Choo October 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Due to changing family needs, I am moving to a bungalow.

    I have a sublet for a serviced private condo in Marine Parade / Amber area for S$7800 for 3-4 Bedroom condo.

    Separately, S$1800 (Master bedroom with air-conditioning, naturally windy, unblocked romantic and tranquil seaview
    of the ocean), S$800 common room (no seaview). Parquet flooring, spacious, airy, very hygienic. Serene, quiet and peaceful.

    Let me know. I prefer Europeans or Americans who are not destructive and are gentle tenants as I put a hefty 3 month security deposit that I want to get back.

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