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 Global Residences. Charges can be arranged weekly also, often at added cost. If you are looking for short-term accommodation visit our specialist guide.
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)
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.
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.