How to find, select and rent a house or flat in Singapore
Where to live? This is one of the major problems expatriates initially face when moving to Singapore. To best evaluate your circumstances, we have listed below some factors, amongst other more personal issues, which expatriates relocating to Singapore need to take into consideration.
Decision criteria for selecting a home for rent in Singapore
1. International Schools in Singapore
|Kindergarten / Junior School / High School|
|Shuttle buses provided (especially for after school activities?)|
|see also ‘Education’|
|Your working hours – flexible or not?|
|see ‘Public Transport’|
|Will you have a car|
|Will your spouse/children need access to a car during the day?|
|Will you be using public transport (air-conditioned buses, MRT or taxis)?|
|What are your working hours?|
|see ‘Car and Driving’|
|Local stores for milk, snacks, emergency food stuffs|
|Stores focused on imported foodstuffs or foreign foodstuffs made locally|
|Wet Markets for fresh local products|
|see also ‘Shopping’|
|Yes, of course you may not know them yet, but even if you don’t know anyone here, find out where your future work colleagues live ? If you have friends here already you may wish to live close to them – but not next door|
|To generalize: families live close to international schools and singles/ couples live in the city or close to stations on the excellent Underground (MRT) lines.|
|see also ‘Expat Views’|
|Either within the shared facilities of a condominium or easily accessible parks|
|Is there a golf club/international club within a short walking distance of ride by car?|
|If you play golf, tennis, go sailing, horse-riding or other sports – where are these facilities and will their accessibility, or lack of, affect your choice of location?|
|see also ‘Leisure’|
|Singapore is well equipped with a number of private and governmental hospitals in close distance of almost every corner of the country. Even if a family member has a medical condition your choice need not depend on proximity of a clinic with 24/7 emergency service available.|
|see also ‘Health’|
|How often do you eat out (you will eat out far more in Singapore than you ever did at home)?|
|Is this an important consideration for you to live in walking distance to Singapore’s nightlife or don’t you mind getting into a taxi for a short drive home.|
|see also ‘Entertainment’|
|How often do you need to travel?|
|Do you want to live close to Changi airport ?|
|Is a longer trip time to the airport a consideration?|
|see also ‘Public Transport’|
The tiny size of the country dictates the shape of the city and its buildings. Homes are built high up into the sky rather than sprawl out in large sized plots of tropical gardens as it was custom in the colonial era. But Singapore still offers a large selection of different types of homes depending on your budget!
What are Landed Homes?
Landed property is – opposed to high rise property – a building with its own “land” and does not share the ground with other parties in the building. Some either have their own facilities or share them with other landed property.
Semi-Detached Town Houses
These houses are joined and have one common wall with the neighbor. Most semi-detached are 2 store homes and they are popular with families with smaller children who need a small place to play outside.
Shop houses are traditional houses either restored or in need of renovation. They were originally purpose built for shop owners who used to live above their shop. These homes feature a very small but long floor area and a built-up area of about 3 -4 levels. Fitting your furniture may be difficult, unless you plan to buy furniture in Singapore on purpose.
The houses were traditionally designed for natural ventilation and have high ceilings. Conversions with fully fitted air condition units have been successful, but the units need to be powerful and produce high electricity bills.
The layout of restored houses is very unconventional, meaning the bedroom may be in front as well as in the back of the house and the bathroom on another floor. Lot’s of healthy climbing the stairs will keep you fit!
Not recommended for families with small children or elerly family memebers visiting often. When you view shop houses watch out for signs of leakage as they tend to be prone to this. Maintenance cost of shop houses can be high.
Terraced houses have common walls with both neighbors unless they sit at the corner. Terrace houses do not have a garden (unless at the corner).
Detached homes do not share any wall and are either bungalows with single. Double or three stories or old colonial single or two story houses with white walls and black woodwork often are referred to as Black and Whites.
These houses try to keep their old structure and often come without air conditioning. You will enjoy all pros and cons of a tropical life as in the good old days. Many have huge gardens and extra small houses for servants (servant’s quarters).
As a tenant you are responsible for repairs and maintenance and need to sign the lease under the existing conditions, which may be quite an adventure.
Note: Black & White Homes/Colonial Houses are rented out by the government and can be viewed online at the web site below.
Cluster Homes (detached)
Cluster homes are detached houses that share various facilities (garden, pool, etc.) with a few other landed homes. Cluster homes are hard to get as they are all recently built and occupied by the owners.
What are High Rise Buildings
There are many high rise buildings with apartments for rent in Singapore. They are often referred to as Condominium. High rise buildings with share of facilities are often marketed as homes with “full condo facilities”. They feature either some or all of the following available shared facilities:
Types of Apartments in Singapore
Penthouses come in all shapes and sizes and many have their own pools, Jacuzzis, private terraces or tropical roof top gardens. Topping most of the high buildings in Singapore they feature breathtaking panorama views over the coast or city. Some are even offered with a live-in maid.
Rentals vary from S$ 10,000 to S$ 30,000 a month. Watch out for older penthouses which may not be fitted with heat-resisting roofs. Temperatures in the rooms below may soar during the day just like your electricity bill which is triggered by the air-condition! Often large window panes may have the same effect.
Those who have never lived in a high-rise apartment before will get used to it quickly. Close by facilities, security and concierge services and very often other services offered within the same building provide a convenient lifestyle.
When offered an apartment you should note that balconies and the space outside your front door are part of the rental area. However, large balconies facing South often cannot be used because of the excruciating temperatures building up in the city. East or North facing balconies are a nice feature in the morning and evening.
These homes are offered on one or two floors (referred to as maisonettes). Those with facilities are referred to as condominiums. Some condos are as high as 66 stores with many units which makes one wonder how the pool will look like on a Sunday. Surprisingly facilities are usually not overcrowded and you may enjoy many quiet laps with hundred pairs of eyes watching you undetected through their windows. Smaller condominiums sometimes offer fewer facilities.
Note: So called ‘Walk up apartments’ do not have an elevator!
Important: In case of a fire in a high-rise building it is safest to move to the nearest staircase and move downwards as soon as possible as they are fire- and smoke-proof. Aerial ladders only reach to the 18th floor or 52 m high and some buildings in Singapore are as high as 66 stores.
There are about 3600 serviced apartments in Singapore offering gyms, outdoor pools, cafes for light meals, business centers and a maid clean up service. Serviced apartments are very popular with foreigners assignments for less than a year.
They have small fully furnished kitchens and usually no full in-house restaurants to cater for your meals. Often there is a breakfast facility. Some feature full kitchens with oven and microwave. Sizes range from about 550 sq. ft (50 sq. m) for a studio to 1,500 sq. ft (135 sq. m) for a three-bedroom unit. Serviced apartments are mainly in district 9 and 10 of Singapore.
Apartments in River Valley Road area are not in walking distance from Orchard Road but may offer a shuttle service.We advise you to bargain especially if you are staying for more than 6 months. Rentals vary greatly as the rates are dependent on location, size, services and facilities provided.
On average you may need a housing allowance of about SGD 5,000 to 6,000 to live in a modern downtown 2-bedroom apartment. The lowest monthly rental for a modest one bedroom serviced apartment is around 2,500 – 3,000 SGD. Students attending the National University or INSEAD may have a look at the Ginza Plaza or Redwood West.
Rents for shared apartments vary between S$ 700 and S$ 1000 per month per person including utilities. To minimize future misunderstandings you may need to agree on:
HDB Flats/SHIFT (Apartments within Housing Developments)
Singapore has changed the conditions under which Singaporean are allowed to rent out their flats or sublet bedrooms to either Permanent Residents or non-citizens with employment passes, work permits or student passes. A whole flat can be only sublet if the owner has written approval of the Housing Development Board. Subletting of bedrooms is only permitted from 3 bedroom flats onwards and the landlord does not need approval from HDB. View the subletting conditions and make yourself familiar with your rights as a subtenant in an HDB flat at the web site below.
Low Cost Housing for foreigners is offered under the name SHIFT (Scheme for Housing for Foreign Talent) by the Jurong Town Corporation. You can either rent a house or an HDB flat with your family or find another foreigner willing to share the place with you. Rents for an executive flat with 3 bedrooms will be below S$ 1000 per month. The respective town councils manage the estates. The apartments come unfurnished. The location is mainly either in the East of the West of Singapore.
Note: If you are a foreign student you need to provide your landlord with a Student Pass, and a Medical Exam Report if you rent longer than 1 months.
Home Search Terms
Get to know the ” rental jargon” used in classifieds and information provided by property agents in Singapore.
House or Condominium
If you want to live in a condominium with many others or like to live alone in a house depends very much on your lifestyle and family circumstances. Generally houses are built on small plots with small gardens and are often close to high-rise buildings taking away the view and the light. Three-storied houses have smaller floor areas than two-storied houses and you may have problems to fit large furniture into your living and dining rooms.
Condominiums have the advantage of being serviced and of offering such nice facilities as a gym, a pool or a tennis court. Many expatriates like having 24 hours security especially when they are traveling a lot or leaving for their home countries during the summer holidays.
Personal Utility Accounts
|Documents to submit to the utility providers:|
Homes are typically rented out for one to two years with an option to renew clause for extending the lease beyond the contract period. Upon renewal the rent will be based on the current market prices.
‘Diplomatic clauses’ applying after 12 months are widely accepted. Watch out if the landlord refuses to accept the construction clause as this might indicate a construction site planned next to your new home.
Renovation and repair
Repairs should be made before you move in and the landlord remains responsible for maintenance and repairs during the lease. See step 5 on how to control repairs in e-relocation Singapore before you move into your new home.
A security deposit is kept by the landlord as compensation for any claims by the landlord for the event that the tenant breaches the terms of the lease agreement.The usual deposit is 2 months rent refundable on expiry of the lease without interest. The deposit also serves to guarantee that the tenant takes proper care of the premises.
Other Fees on signing the lease
Fees incurring to prepare the lease have to be paid by the tenant plus a stamp duty once the lease has been signed.
|Calculation of Stamp Fee|
Step By Step Rental Guide