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Where to Live for Expats in Singapore

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: November 2014

Finding the right place to live in Singapore depends on many factors. There are practical considerations such as accommodation prices, standard and cost of living and availability of local amenities. Then there are emotional criteria, such as the desirability of a place – whether what you desire is happiness, safety, friendly locals, entertainment or a quiet life.

Singapore is a small and crowded country. Although public transport is excellent, there are still problems with congestion. This means that commuting distance is still important, and you might want to consider living close to where you work. The country’s booming economy and shortage of land means that accommodation is often expensive and can be exorbitant.

The priciest districts are those in the city centre in the south of the island, such as Riverside, though currently property prices there are falling. Most of the accommodation here is in the form of high-rise apartments. This area is for those who want to live life at a fast pace and be at the centre of things. There are superb amenities and excellent public transport to elsewhere on the island. Drawbacks of living in this area are the noise, especially from building sites, and the lack of green spaces.

Further out, residential areas are cheaper and less noisy with more parkland. There are also  excellent connections to the city centre, though traffic is heavy during rush-hours. There is more variety in types of accommodation, which also includes ‘landed property’, such as town houses and bungalows. (Note that you will need to be a permanent resident before you can buy landed property.) Serangoon is a popular choice with expats as there is an Australian school there. Nearby Ang Mo Kio and Bishan, meanwhile, have has older residential complexes.

The North contains districts such as Woodlands and Sembawang, and is particularly popular with Americans as it contains the Singapore American School. These towns are separate from the conurbation of Singapore City, but they are not isolated as their have their own amenities. Surrounded on most sides by open land or the Johor Strait, the Northern towns are suitable for families who like peace and quiet. Although Singapore city centre is only 12 miles away, commuting there can take a while due to the high traffic levels.

East Singapore has beautiful beaches and is another popular area with expats, though it is somewhat more expensive than other outlying regions. In fact, this area is so popular that many rented properties are booked in advance, which you will need to consider if you are renting. Both high-rise blocks and conventional houses are available. Public transport is not quite as good as in other regions, so you may need to hire a car. This region includes Bedok, Tampines and Changi, which is home to Singapore’s international airport.

The West region is another densely populated area that includes Jurong, Bukit Timah and Tuas. Jurong is the main centre of industry on the island. Most property is affordable in this area and there are many houses with gardens. On the other had, espeically in Jurong, there may be problem with noise pollution.




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