Where to work, where to learn and where to live are the three points of the ‘golden triangle’ that expats address when arriving in Singapore. We chat with Property Guru‘s Chang Hui Chew for advice on looking for a home in Singapore.
1. Look for properties close to public transport
Singapore has some of the world’s highest prices for cars, and it may not be worth buying one when you first arrive. While Uber, Grab and the various taxi services are convenient, living close to a transportation hub like an MRT station means easier, cheaper access to almost anywhere you need to go.
2. Consider the taxman if you’re thinking of buying
If you’re contemplating buying rather than renting, remember to account for taxes and duties. Foreigners need to pay a 15 percent “additional buyer’s stamp duty”, on top of the three percent for regular stamp duties. Selling the property within five years will also cost you up to another 16 percent in “seller’s stamp duties”.
3. Do your homework before viewing properties
Many property websites, including ours, will indicate price trends for the area in which you’re looking to buy or rent. Check them out and use them as a starting point to negotiate with your landlord or seller. It’s a tenants’ and buyers’ market now, so it’s definitely a good time to be looking for property.
4. Understand what is usually provided when renting a unit
Most condo rentals here come “partially furnished”. This is commonly understood to mean that the kitchen will have cabinets, a refrigerator and a stove with a ventilation hood. Light fixtures, bathroom fixtures and curtains are also part of the deal. A washer and a dryer might not be included, although you can always request them from the landlord. Some tenants request items such as television sets and beds, but these are not generally provided.
5. Negotiate for short tenures and favourable exit clauses
For new arrivals in Singapore who aren’t sure about which area they want to live in, we suggest requesting a shorter lease tenure. Typically, landlords would like to lock your agreement in for two years, but there’s no harm checking to see if options are available. You can also negotiate for a no-penalty notice period if you want to walk out of the lease before it expires.
Five popular expat areas
- Joo Chiat and Marine Parade: Highlights of these neighbourhoods include easy access to the beach at East Coast Park, quaint Peranakan shop houses and a plethora of bars, restaurants and supermarkets.
- Downtown Singapore: Living in the downtown core, one is never far from nightlife, art galleries and museums.
- Bukit Timah: A sleepy enclave close to Orchard Road, Bukit Timah is popular with expats due to the variety of international schools in the area.
- Tiong Bahru: Singapore’s hippest area, it juxtaposes Art Deco flats and eateries with chic bars and cafés.
- Bishan: Only a quick jog or bike ride away from MacRitchie Reservoir Park, this urban oasis is close both to nature and to city convenience.
For more information on searching for a home in Singapore, visit propertyguru.com.sg. You can also check out our bumper guide to neighbourhoods with insider tips, and more about living on the outskirts of the city.
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