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 schools (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:
- Easy access to Orchard Road’s retail shops, restaurants, cinemas and more.
- Rents are high, but they’re offset by the prime location, which also has many quiet, leafy pockets.
- The American Club and Tanglin Club are in the neighbourhood.
Tanglin & Jervois Road
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:
- A quiet, tree-lined area west of Orchard, with a mix of landed and low-rise condos, and home to many embassies.
- There’s no MRT just yet, but Napier station is expected to open in late 2022.
- On the doorstep of the Botanic Gardens, with Dempsey Hill nearby for food, furniture and more.
Holland Village, Clementi & Bukit Timah
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 traditional expat heartland, with Holland V offering restaurants, bars and shopping, and Bukit Timah backing onto beautiful jungle.
- Lots of nearby international schools.
- The Circle and Downtown MRT lines provide easy connectivity
Novena & Newton
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:
- Just north of Orchard, with a mix of high-rise condos and houses.
- Eating options in the area include the famous Newton Food Centre.
- Nearby Balestier offers a bit more bang for your buck with property prices.
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.
- Popular area lying between Orchard (north) and the Singapore River (south).
- Large concentration of modern high-rise condos but also conservation houses.
- Good bus links and easy access to the CBD.
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:
- This area includes Bukit Batok and Dairy Farm Road, with lots of lush jungle nearby.
- There are good-value condos and semi-detached houses, some with forest views.
- You’ll also find several decent shopping centres, and some good suburban restaurants.
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.
- Sentosa Island has some of the most exclusive (and expensive) homes in Singapore.
- Residents of Sentosa Cove have access to golf courses and a marina.
- There are beaches, sea breezes, fun touristy activities by the bucketload, with VivoCity and HarbourFront still extremely close.
Faber Park, close to Sentosa on the mainland, has a spacious, suburban feel and a large, friendly expat community. The area’s benefits include:
- A spacious, leafy and sometimes hilly suburban area with a large, friendly expat community.
- Easy access to the AYE/CTE expressways, and two huge malls in VivoCity and HarbourFront.
- Mount Faber offers great views and is where you take the cable car to Sentosa.
Pasir Panjang, Alexandra & Portsdown
Further up the coast, Pasir Panjang boasts the attractive, recently renovated West Coast Park. Advantages of living in this flourishing neighbourhood include:
- Many of the island’s older colonial homes are here.
- It’s convenient for a number of prominent international schools, and a straightforward commute to the CBD.
- For great walks, try Kent Ridge Park and the Southern Ridges, or Labrador Park by the sea.
- This area is in the middle of an exciting makeover, particularly around Jurong Lake.
- Shopping-wise you’ll find J-Cube, JEM and other malls, while several international schools are close by.
- The rest of the island is easily accessed via the AYE and PIE, and two MRT lines.
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:
- Woodlands has big, reasonably priced family houses and a leafy, suburban feel.
- The Singapore American School is located here, and a large American expat community.
- The Singapore Zoo and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve are both close, as is one of the island’s two access points to 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.
- The southern end has the Singapore Polo Club and garden centres; the northern end has Thomson Plaza for food and retail. Further north has lower rents.
- Great area for hikers and joggers, as MacRitchie, Peirce and Seletar Reservoirs are all easily accessible.
- The Thomson-East Coast MRT line has started to open along here.
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:
- Relaxed residential area with condos and spacious family houses, many with gardens.
- Popular with families from the many nearby international schools.
- Lots of food and shopping, including at NEX Mall 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:
- This area runs from Kallang for 18km to Changi Airport and is popular with expats, who love the sea breezes.
- East Coast Park is renowned for cycling, running, eating and entertainment.
- International schools and preschools are nearby, and three expressways provide easy connectivity
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.
- These neighbourhoods are inland from the coast a little, but closer to the CBD.
- They’re a great place for experiencing local Peranakan culture, including in Joo Chiat’s beautiful and colourful shophouses.
- Large malls in the area include Parkway Parade and 112 Katong
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.
- These areas are further north and have more of a village feel.
- Housing options vary from apartments and townhouses to spacious, detached bungalows.
- There are MRTs for accessibility, and Changi Airport is very close.
Changi, Loyang & Pasir Ris
- These areas are as close to the airport as you can get in Singapore.
- They offer easy access to the sea, with sailing clubs and, in certain areas, even a country feel.
- Make the most of the outdoors at Pasir Ris Park, along Changi Boardwalk, or across the water at Pulau Ubin.
Seletar, Yishun & Yio Chu Kang
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.
- This area has good-value houses, some condos and a cluster of colonial homes that you can bid on.
- It’s convenient for several international schools.
- New dining destinations and malls continue to pop up, and there are green spaces galore for walks and bike rides.
If you’re planning on living fairly near your international school, read our huge guide to options. Here’s loads more information on neighbourhoods and living in Singapore in our street talks and readers homes.
How to choose
Make sure you tick the following boxes when working out the best neighbourhood for you.
- What’s the proximity to your place of work?
- What’s the length and style of the commute?
- How are the public transport connections?
- Do you prefer having plenty of restaurants and bars nearby, or nature areas?
- What are the neighbourhood preschools and schools?
- Do you like older buildings for character or newer developments for mod-cons?
- Would you like to be near to a club
- What leisure facilities do you want (pool, gym, tennis court, barbecues?)