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The expat’s guide to where to live in Singapore

Luxury modern condominium
Luxury modern condominium

(Pssst….. head here for a huge, brand new guide to where to live!)

When it comes to the most popular areas for expatriates to live in Singapore, this is what our Expat Living reader surveys tell us:

  • The most popular areas are Orchard, Tanglin, Holland Village, Novena, Bukit Timah and the East Coast.
  • Increasing numbers of expats are choosing to live on the East Coast and in Serangoon, where there is more value for money.
  • The Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway has also made areas like Pasir Ris and the East Coast more accessible.
  • Pasir Panjang and West Coast are up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

That said, each area has its unique attractions, and your experience of 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. And remember to get our advice on leasing a property in Singapore before you sign on the dotted line.



Orchard Road

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 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 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 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
  • An MRT Circle Line


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:


Robertson Quay and Mohammed Sultan Road

Robertson Quay and Mohammed Sultan Road
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

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve's vistor's centre!
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve’s vistor’s centre!


Just beyond Central Bukit Timah lies Upper Bukit Timah, which is served by excellent bus routes and is 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



Sentosa Island has 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:


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
  • Proximity to schools such as 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 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 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 Interchange
  • Easy access via the CTE to other parts of the island
  • Renowned local eating establishments



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 has miles of sandy, palm-fringed recreational facilities, a 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.



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 offers chartered flights and flying lessons.

Watch our quick videos on various neighbourhoods

For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.