Expatriates relocating to Singapore should consider these 5 districts

Marina Bay Skyline at Dusk feature for expat rental districts

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.

Except, perhaps, which neighbourhood to live in. Here are PropertyGuru's recommendations:

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

Conservation shophouses along Joo Chiat road.

Conservation shophouses along Joo Chiat road. Source: Flickr, Nicolas Lannuzel

Transport links: Nearest MRT stations are Kembangan and Paya Lebar; express bus links to Orchard and CBD.

Current median condo rental: $3.29 per square foot, per month.

This area is perennially popular with expatriates due to a few key features: Proximity to the beach at East Coast Park; a quaint Peranakan area with gorgeous conservation shophouses in Joo Chiat; and, a plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants where residents can always have their food cravings satisfied. Within the one square kilometer area between Parkway Parade and 112 Katong malls, there are five supermarkets, a cinema, banks, tons of retail and food options, so expatriates who live in the area would never need to venture out to have their needs met. MRT trains are a bus ride away, so expect to cab or take the bus more if you're living here.

2. Downtown (Districts 1 and 2)

Raffles Place is the heart of the business district.

Raffles Place is the heart of the business district. Source: Wikimedia, Ramir Borja

Transport links: Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar, Downtown and Bayfront MRT stations

Current median condo rental: $5.57 per square foot, per month.

The Downtown area, which covers the Central Business Districts, Boat Quay, China Town, Raffles Place and City Hall areas, is a popular place with expats looking for housing in close proximity to their workplaces. Some projects give unparalleled views of the Singapore coastline, while others are located in the midst of nightlife. Expect to pay top dollar for conveniences, such as being within walking distances to the Central Business District, but with that comes the knowledge that you're living in the never-sleeping heart of one of Asia's most vibrant cities.

3. Bukit Timah (part of District 10)

Smaller walk-up apartments are common along Bukit Timah Road.

Smaller walk-up apartments are common along Bukit Timah Road. Source: Wikimedia, Terence Ong

Transport links: Tan Kah Kee, Sixth Avenue, King Albert Park MRT stations (slated to open end 2015), bus services to Orchard Road.

Current median condo rental: $3.79 per square foot, per month.

This sleepy enclave is also popular with expatriates. Nestled amidst the greenery of Bukit Timah hill, it's hard to imagine that the hustle and bustle of the Orchard Road shopping belt is a mere stone's throw away. There are several international schools in the area for expatriates relocating with their families, and new MRT stations opening up at the end of 2015 improve the accessibility of the area tremendously. There are a number of restaurants, bars and cafes in the area, while small malls like Coronation Plaza provide some shopping options. The largest retail outlet is The Grandstand, on the site of former horse racetracks, with a massive Giant Hypermarket, and a number of restaurants.

4. Tiong Bahru (part of District 3)

Tiong Bahru SIT Flat

Older SIT flats found in Tiong Bahru. Source: Flickr, Brian Beggerly

Transport links: Tiong Bahru MRT station

Current median condo rental: $3.92 per square foot, per month.

Tiong Bahru is probably Singapore's most hipster enclave. With some of the only remaining Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats left on the island, this once forgotten area has seen an influx of chic cafes, bars, and eateries. The interesting juxtaposition of local historical elements, a great showcase of Singaporean food at Tiong Bahru food center, and new food concepts and businesses coming out of young chefs and entrepreneurs, makes this location an interesting showcase of modern Singapore. Of course, it helps that Tiong Bahru is only two MRT stops from the CBD at Tanjong Pagar, and a quick bus ride up to Orchard Road, or River Valley.

5. Bishan (District 20)

Macritchie Reservoir is an oasis a short distance from Bishan.

Macritchie Reservoir is an oasis a short distance from Bishan. Source: Wikimedia, edwin11

Transport links: Bishan MRT station

Current median condo rental: $2.97 per square foot, per month.

The only "heartland" area in this list, Bishan is a great area for expatriates who want a green respite. Bishan Park is an urban oasis, while a quick jog or bike ride away is the 12-hectare Macritchie Reservoir Park, a nature reserve with a range of recreational facilities. While considered a suburban district, Bishan is only five stops away via the MRT to Orchard Road. Locally, malls like Junction 8 provide residents a range of dining, shopping and grocery options. Living in an estate like Bishan would be quite different from the other options listed here, and would give expatriates a much better sense of what Singapore's "heartland" is.

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