If you’re wondering where to live in Singapore, here’s an overview of the different neighbourhoods and the best places to live for expats. This is based on recommendations and views from other expats on the best places to live in Singapore from both our video and articles online, and in the form of our ‘Street Talk’ feature in each issue of Expat Living magazine. Whether you’re just moving here, or you’re needing to move homes in Singapore because of work or school (or noisy neighbours!), we hope you find this helpful.
According to our Reader Surveys over the years, when it comes to popular neighbourhoods and the places where expats prefer to live in Singapore, these are the changes and trends:
- Orchard (including Ardmore), Tanglin, Holland Village, Bukit Timah and the East Coast are still popular but have seen a drop in the last few years.
- An increasing numbers of expats are choosing to live near Serangoon Gardens, Hougang and Pungol, where there is better value for money, and following the shift of more International Schools to those areas.
- The Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) has also made areas like Pasir Ris and the northern parts of the East Coast more accessible.
- Pasir Panjang, West Coast and Clementi New Town are up-and-coming neighbourhoods.
- Telok Blangah and Harbourfront have dramatically increased in popularity over the last eight years.
- Hillview, Dairy Farm, Bukit Panjang and Choa Chu Kang have seen an increase in their expat population. Could be linked to better MRT access in those areas.
That said, each area has its unique attractions, and your experience of Living in Singapore can vary enormously depending on the type and location of neighbourhood you choose. We guide you through Singapore’s neighbourhoods, so you’re informed before you head out with your agent or look online. And remember to get our advice on leasing a property in Singapore before you sign on the dotted line.
The main reason for living in the Orchard area is its unrivalled access to amenities. Despite the activity of Orchard Road, many of the surrounding neighbourhoods are quiet and leafy. Naturally, rents here are usually much higher. The advantages of living in such a central location include:
- Living at the heart of retail hustle and bustle with Orchard Road’s famous shopping malls on your doorstep
- A huge variety of restaurants, hotels, cinemas, and health and beauty services
- Nearness to the American Club and Tanglin Club
- Excellent public transport links and proximity to the CTE (Central Island Expressway) and CBD (Central Business District)
Tanglin is an older more established area. It’s home to many embassies and is considered one of the best places to live in Singapore. Properties vary from large houses with leafy gardens (including a selection of Black and White houses), to low rise condominiums. Advantages include:
- Quick access to Orchard, central yet quieter and greener than most areas.
- Dempsey Hill (Tanglin Village), offers a mix of indoor and outdoor furniture shops, art galleries, cafés and restaurants.
- The area also includes the Botanic Gardens.
An old expat favourite is Holland Village, which has a rather bohemian atmosphere and a good selection of restaurants and amenities. The Holland Village Shopping Centre is a treasure trove of wonderful knick-knacks, jewellery and fashion. Holland Village benefits include:
- A large hawker centre, a multitude of cafés, health and beauty outlets, bars, and numerous local and Western restaurants
- Nearby Jalan Merah Saga offers more restaurants, shops and little art galleries
- Easy access to the Botanic Gardens and Orchard Road
- Range of prices for condo’s and houses including the affordable black and white houses in Chip Bee Gardens.
- An MRT – Circle Line
Not far from Orchard are Novena and Newton Circus. There are many modern condos here and it’s popular especially with younger expats living in Singapore. The main reasons for living in this area are:
- Good access to the PIE (Pan-Island Expressway)
- Proximity to the MRT and the city
- A good mix of houses and highrise condominiums
- Novena Square and United Square, with their multitude of shops and restaurants, and the Newton Circus Hawker Centre, which is famous for its seafood
Central Bukit Timah
Central Bukit Timah is an established residential area stretching from just beyond Newton Circus to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. It used to be perceived as the best place to live as an expat. With the new MRT’s along Bukit Timah road and a good bus service it’s still worth considering. Benefits of this area include:
- Proximity to Orchard Road, the Botanic Gardens, several international schools, the Hollandse Club, the British Club and the Bukit Timah Saddle Club
- Attractive, leafy neighbourhoods and several European restaurants and delis
- Sixth Avenue’s wonderful family houses with gardens, cluster houses and attractive condominiums
- A number of restaurants and two Cold Storage supermarkets
Robertson Quay and Mohammed Sultan Road
Robertson Quay and Mohammed Sultan Road are popular with singles and young couples who want to be close to the CBD and enjoy the nightlife, restaurants and bars along the Singapore River and make the most of expat life! UE Square is a large residential, retail and commercial complex on Mohammed Sultan, while Robertson Quay boasts several swanky new condominiums with river views.
Upper Bukit Timah
Just beyond Central Bukit Timah lies Upper Bukit Timah, which is served by excellent bus routes and is conveniently near the Canadian International School and Dulwich College (Singapore). Because it is located at the edge of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, some properties have jungle views. The main reasons for choosing this area:
- Large selection of condominiums and semi-detached houses
- Several good shopping centres and supermarkets
- Quick access to the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and Central Expressway (CTE)
- Upper Bukit Timah is on the way to the popular Jurong Bird Park
When it comes to living in Singapore, Sentosa Island has some of the most exclusive homes in Singapore – some of which face directly on the sea. Many expats living here feel that it has the best neighbourhood feel, made up of people from all over the world and fairly unique lifestyle. It is sometimes difficult to get a taxi off the island but if you’re working in the financial district it’s very convenient. Residents of Sentosa Cove also have access to a golf course, excellent restaurants and myriad recreational activities. At the gateway to Sentosa is VivoCity, one of Singapore’s largest shopping malls.
Faber Park, close to Sentosa on the mainland, has a spacious, suburban feel and a large, friendly expat community. The area’s benefits include:
- Access to the AYE and PIE motorways
- Proximity to Mount Faber, one of the oldest parks in Singapore, where you can enjoy spectacular views and jump on the cable car to Sentosa
- VivoCity, HarbourFront mall, and the scenic Labrador Park
Further up the coast, Pasir Panjang boasts the attractive, recently renovated West Coast Park. Advantages of living in this flourishing neighbourhood include:
- West Coast Highway, which leads directly to the city
- Sea views from some condominiums
- Good access to the AYE and ECP motorways
- Proximity to schools such as UWC, the Tanglin Trust School and Dover Court
Expats like to live in Woodlands for its big, reasonably priced family houses and close proximity to the Singapore American School. Not surprisingly, there is a large American expat community here , it’s a friendly neighbourhood with community activities especially at Halloween time! The area has:
- A leafy, suburban feel
- Large malls with restaurants and cinemas
- A causeway link to Johor Bahru in Malaysia
Thomson Road starts centrally and runs past the picturesque park at MacRitchie Reservoir, the Singapore Polo Club and some of the best garden centres in Singapore, right up to Yishun and Sembawang. The further north you go, the less you pay for a spacious home, and the area is served well by the Central Expressway.
Not far from Thomson is Braddell, another established residential area with some excellent family houses with gardens. Braddell is ideal for anyone thinking of enrolling their children at the Australian International School or the French School of Singapore.
This is a large and varied residential area, that has increased in popularity as a place to live in Singapore for expats. It offers:
- Spacious condominiums and family houses
- Good links to the public transport network, including the Serangoon MRT station and the Serangoon Bus Interchange
- Easy access via the CTE to other parts of the island
- Renowned local eating establishments
- Easy access for AIS, Stamford American, The French School and Serangoon Gardens.
The area runs from Kallang Basin up to Changi Airport, and has long been popular with expats for its spacious and reasonably priced condominiums. The main advantages of living in this area include:
- East Coast Park, which has miles of sandy, palm-fringed recreational facilities, myriad seafood restaurants and a refreshing sea breeze
- Proximity to Changi Airport
- ECP and PIE motorways, which provide easy access to the city and the airport
Katong and Joo Chiat are favoured by expats who are keen to experience a more local way of life. These colourful neighbourhoods are lined with shophouses, karaoke bars, intriguing shops and excellent local hawker stalls. Further amenities can be found at the Parkway Parade shopping centre and Eastpoint Mall.
Siglap, Bedok, Tampines
These popular East Coast neighbourhoods have a village feel. They offer a huge choice of local and Western restaurants, cafés and bars. The new purpose-built campus of UWCSEA is close by. Housing options vary from apartments and townhouses to spacious, detached bungalows.
Wondering where to live where you can still get a lot of house and garden for your money? The area comprises part of Upper Thomson and includes the Lower Seletar Reservoir. Another attraction is Seletar Airport, previously a British military base, which now offers chartered flights and flying lessons. There’s a good expat neighbourhood at Seletar Air Base as well as restaurants and small malls and shopping centres. There are buses, and the CTE and TPE are convenient expressways if you have a car, while the nearest MRTs are Sengkang and Yio Chu Kang.
Here’s loads more information on neighbourhoods in Singapore