As the nation transitioned into Phase 2 following the circuit breaker, some work from home (WFH) trends began to emerge. Lots of hotels and even Changi’s Jewel started offering ‘work from hotel’ packages to recover from their losses. Such moves were also a relief to workers who needed to get out of their houses, but could not enter their offices.
Attractive as work from hotel packages are, they are not cost-effective in the long run. For a growing number of Singaporeans, the growing emphasis on WFH has been the impetus to move out of their parents’ houses. So if you are looking to get your own space for work and recreation, this means looking to the rental market.
What to Consider When Renting in Singapore – WFH Edition
COVID-19 has had a huge effect on one’s priorities and criteria when looking for a home, even a temporary one on the rental market.
After all, even with the advent of Phase 3, the ‘new normal’ looks here to stay, and the nature of the workplace has changed permanently. According to a study by RGF International Recruitment, 61% of employers in Singapore plan to continue flexible working arrangements even as restrictions ease. Potential renters would need to adapt their homes to suit the changing needs of the current workplace.
1. How much more space do you need?
With flexible work arrangements, employees would need to replicate their office workstation at home. Often, this requires more space. Hence, when shortlisting properties, potential renters should consider how much space they will need to WFH effectively.
If you’re renting an entire apartment, you may need to account for an additional room to use as a home office or study. If you’ve only got the budget for a single room, make sure it’s big enough to accommodate your workstation.
2. What furniture do you need?
Setting up an ideal home workstation also requires the right furniture. You may, at a later stage, consider investing in ergonomic accessories like back rests, laptop stands and etc, but usually, at the very least, you’ll need a desk and a chair to work from.
To save costs, it would help if you pick a rental property that already comes furnished with what you need. If not, not only will you need to make space for the new furniture, but you’ll also need to pay for them out of your own pocket.
Tip: Use PropertyGuru’s search filter to narrow down your choices to partially and/or fully furnished properties for rent!
3. How much noise can you tolerate?
One key aspect of traditional offices is that they are designed to be conducive. Most businesses, for example, have dedicated spaces for discussions, meetings and taking calls.
With the resumption of construction projects following the circuit breaker, however, more people are finding themselves struggling to work effectively while dealing with the sounds of drills, hammering and other forms of noise pollution at home. Having to listen to incessant drilling can definitely drive one up the wall, resulting in reduced productivity and even poor mental health.
When choosing a rental property, do consider if there will be renovation or other construction projects taking place nearby. Other forms of noise pollution can include traffic noise and planes, so if you want a quieter place, look out for rental properties that are further away from highways and/or air bases.
4. Do you need more privacy for work?
It’s not just about online data privacy issues. Most employers will have data protection policies and these should continue to be followed even when WFH. Beyond this, potential renters should consider physical privacy as well.
This is especially so if you are working in a sensitive profession, such as human resources or accounting, which often requires handling sensitive documents or have meetings and conversations that should not be overheard.
If you need to have privacy, renting the entire apartment may be preferable. If this is beyond your budget, you need to consider whether you will have sole occupancy of a room, or if you will be room-sharing. Try to meet your potential housemates beforehand or pick houses that have private corners for more sensitive work.
5. Do you still need convenient public transport access?
The ideal location of your next rental home will depend on your remote working arrangements. For example, if your employer has announced that the company will be WFH and going back to the office will be optional until further notice, then you probably have a wider pool of properties to choose from as accessibility becomes less important.
However, WFH does not necessarily mean staying at home all the time. Some companies may require their employees to report to work on a limited basis, or practise split team arrangements where employees rotate WFH and working from the office.
If that’s the case for you, you may want to rent a place that offers convenient transport options that allow you to get back easily to the office when you need to. Do note, however, that properties within walking distance to MRT stations are generally more expensive.
6. What facilities and amenities do you need?
Since you’ll be staying in pretty often, it’s important to be aware of what facilities and nearby amenities you’d like in your home. Make a list and bring it along for your viewing appointments.
For example, if you don’t cook often you may not need a home equipped with a fancy kitchen, but you’ll want to look for a place with nearby hawker centres and coffee shops so that you have access to affordable food.
Other amenities you may want to consider include the presence of ATMs or banks, a post office, clinics, parks, or whichever best suits your lifestyle. It may not even be work-related: for instance, having a park with a park connector nearby is great for those who enjoy a run or stroll in nature after a long day at home.
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This article was written by Audrey A.. She can’t wait to move into her own place so she can finally get a cat (or two) and an espresso machine to fuel her love for flat whites. For now, she’s saving up and dreaming of her next trip.