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Singapore neighbourhood finder: Your ultimate guide to the most popular areas for expats

(Pssst…. we’ve been busy getting to know even more neighbourhoods! Head here for a full guide on where to live.)

Key Neighbourhoods

Areas that are popular with expats include Orchard, Tanglin, Holland Village, Novena, Central Bukit Timah and East Coast. Each area has its unique attractions, and your experience of Singapore can vary enormously depending on the type and location of neighbourhood you choose.

Expat Living’s Reader Survey 2009 showed increasing numbers of expats choosing to live in the East Coast and Serangoon areas, where there is more value for money and the expansion of international schools. The building of the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway has also made areas like Pasir Ris and the East Coast more accessible, while Pasir Panjang and West Coast are up-and-coming neighbourhoods.



Orchard Road

The main reason for living in the Orchard area is for unrivalled access to amenities. Despite the activity of Orchard Road, many of the surrounding neighbourhoods are quiet and leafy. Naturally, rents here are higher. The advantages of living in such a central location include:

•   Living at the heart of retail hustle and bustle with Orchard Road’s plethora of shopping malls on your
•   A huge variety of restaurants, hotels, cinemas, and health and beauty services
•   The convenience 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, which includes Jervois Road, is home to many embassies and is considered a prestigious area. Properties vary from large houses with leafy gardens to established, lowrise condominiums. River Valley Road offers highrise condominiums and some charming conservation houses. Advantages include:

•   Quick access to the AYE and CTE
•   Tanglin Village, near the Botanic Gardens, offers a mix of indoor and outdoor furniture shops, art
     galleries, cafés and restaurants.


Holland Village

Another 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
•   The new MRT Circle Line is due for completion in 2011, which will ease access to and from the area



Not far from Orchard are Novena and Newton Circus. 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. 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, as well as several European restaurants and delis
•   Sixth Avenue has some wonderful family houses with gardens, cluster houses, and attractive
•   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. 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 a conveniently near the Canadian International School. Because it is located at the edge of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, some properties have forest 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

We'd all live on Sentosa if we could 


Sentosa Island boasts some of the most exclusive homes in Singapore – some of which are directly on the sea. 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

Faber Park, close to Sentosa on the mainland, has a spacious, suburban feel and a large, friendly expat community. The area’s benefits include:

•   Convenience 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


Pasir Panjang

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
•   Near to schools including UWC, the Tanglin Trust School, Dover Court and ISS





Expats choose Woodlands for its big, reasonably priced family houses and for the Singapore American School. Not surprisingly, there is a large American expat community here. The area boasts:

•   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.





This tranquil residential area offers:

•   Spacious condominiums and family houses
•   Good links to the public transport network, including the Serangoon MRT station and the Serangoon Bus
•   Easy access to the CTE to other parts of the island
•   Renowned local eating establishments



Here is where expats can still get a lot of house and garden for their money. The area comprises part of Upper Thomson and includes the Lower Seletar Reservoir. Seletar is convenient for children attending the American School. Another attraction is Seletar Airport, previously a British military base, which now caters to chartered flights and offers flying lessons.




East Coast

The East Coast 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 boasts 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.



This popular East Coast neighbourhood has a village feel. There is a huge choice of local and Western restaurants, cafés and bars. Housing options vary from apartments and townhouses to spacious, detached bungalows.