The housing system in Singapore is rather straightforward, but if you are an expatriate coming to live here, trying to navigate the types of housing and their terminology can be quite overwhelming.
In short, there are two main types of residences in Singapore – public housing and private housing.
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HDB Housing Estates
If you are on a smaller budget or prefer to experience life here like the average Singaporean, public housing is the way to go.
Most HDB housing estates are conveniently located around amenities such as train stations, bus stops, shopping centres, coffee shops and supermarkets. In addition, the close proximity between neighbouring units, and the availability of vast common areas (corridors, void decks, playground etc) may also be pull factors for those looking to make local friends here.
There is a wide range of options available under this category – ranging from 3-room flats to executive apartments. For example, Marine Parade is a very popular choice for the family-oriented as well as those who like to have recreation options nearby, while Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Queenstown and Holland Village are popular for their proximity to the city and the amenities within walking distance, which is characteristic of mature estates.
A typical 3-room flat ranges from 54sqm to 90sqm and has either one or two bathrooms. However, as these tend to be more commonly available in more mature estates, you may find yourself living among more aged residents.
As confusing as it may sound, though a 3-room HDB flat means a unit with 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, a 5-room HDB flat does not come with 4 bedrooms and 1 living room. It is simply a bigger version of a 4-room flat with an additional space for a dining room.
Executive apartments and executive maisonettes are the largest units available under the public housing scheme. An executive apartment is typically 141sqm. Its double-storey counterpart, the executive maisonette, is about 145sqm, with three bedrooms upstairs and an additional room or balcony downstairs.
Condominiums / Apartments
These usually come with security guards and facilities such as a swimming pool, function rooms and a gym. Condominiums along the Tanjong Rhu stretch, such as Pebble Bay, Costa Rhu, Water Place and Sanctuary Green One are hugely popular with expats who prefer calm surroundings as they are located near East Coast Park and come with tranquil waterfront views. Sentosa is another popular choice. Home to Universal Studios, you will probably have a resort holiday vibe all year round.
Condominiums located in the CBD area such as The Sail @ Marina Bay, Marina Bay Residences and One Shenton, are popular with expats who prefer to stay near their workplace. However, as these properties are in the heart of the business district, do expect to pay a premium for them. For shopaholics, the area surrounding Orchard Road, also known as District 9, is the right place for you.
Terrace houses, semi-detached houses and bungalows belong in this category. Popular locations include the Bukit Timah and Telok Kurau areas. Serangoon Garden is also a popular area as it is near many famous eateries. These are great for those with children as they usually come with a front porch and generally have much more space. Gardening is also a popular activity for those with green fingers living in a landed property.
As attractive as these vintage charmers may be, they tend to be quite rare as demand is high but supply is low. For Peranakan-style shophouses, you can look around Emerald Hill, which is in the heart of Orchard. Joo Chiat, in the eastern part of Singapore, is another shophouse enclave, with close proximity to many dining options.
Staying in a serviced apartment means that you can literally move in with just your luggage, with no need to worry about furnishings. Not only does it come fully-furnished, you also get a plethora of services such as housekeeping, laundry, concierge and even babysitting!
If you are interested in this option, you can check out LMB Housing Services, Great World Serviced Apartments, Treetops Executive Residences, Lanson Place Winsland Serviced Residences and Fraser Suites.
Furnished or non-furnished?
So, what should you expect in a fully-furnished, partially-furnished or unfurnished apartment?
An unfurnished apartment usually only comes with lighting and probably some curtains.
A partially-furnished apartment refers to the presence of white goods, such as a fridge, washing machine and maybe a dryer.
A fully-furnished apartment means that, besides the white goods, the apartment is furnished with furniture such as a sofa, a dining set, bed(s) (depending on the number of rooms), desks and wardrobes. The exact items will vary from unit to unit, depending on the landlord.
Though rental procedures in Singapore are not too complex, it is still advisable to engage a professional to represent your interests and assist you with the necessary paperwork, so as to make your stay here as comfortable and easy as possible.
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