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Where to live in Singapore: Central Neighbourhoods

Moving to Singapore but not sure which neighborhood to live in: East, West, Central, South, further afield? Deciding where you’d like to in Singapore needs careful consideration, especially when you’ll most likely be locked into your house or apartment for two years. We’ve put together a checklist of the island’s main areas that will help you focus your search and ultimately allow you to make a more informed decision, and if you’ve got a particular road already in mind, check out our Neighborhood Guides for more in depth info and reader favourite spots!

Central Neighborhoods: City Outskirts

Tanglin / Jervois Road

This area is home to many embassies and a mix of landed and mostly low-rise condos. It’s older and established with quiet tree-lined roads. There’s no MRT but bus access is fairly good and it’s close to Orchard Road. If you’re looking for greenery this is a good area, and it’s close to the Botanic Gardens and Dempsey Hill, the latter offering a mix of furniture shops, art galleries, cafés and restaurants in a pretty jungle setting.

Holland / Clementi

A traditional expat favourite, Holland Village has a good selection of restaurants and a multitude of cafés, health and beauty outlets, bars, and numerous local and Western restaurants. It now has its own MRT (Circle line) which makes it evenmore appealing. There’s easy access to the Botanic Gardens and Orchard Road. Further out along Holland Road, including the Sixth Avenue area and Clementi, are some pretty areas with houses priced for all budgets, as well as condominiums. Prices here have dropped slightly as international schools have moved out but it’s very convenient for UWC South East Asia and Tanglin Trust School.

living in singapore, botanic gardens, tanglin road, holland village, bukit timah, braddell, serangoon, lorong chuan, kovan neighbourhood, living in city outskirts,

Bukit Timah

This established residential area stretches from just beyond Newton Circus to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. It’s close to Orchard Road, international schools, the Japanese Association, Hollandse Club and British Club.

Braddell / Serangoon / Lorong Chuan / Kovan

Popular with families from the nearby French and Australian schools, this relaxed residential area offers condominiums and spacious family houses, many with gardens. Serangoon Gardens has a lovely neighbourhood feel with lots of eateries and convenience shopping in a village setting, while NEX Mall has excellent shopping and cinemas – if you can navigate your way through its maze-like floors. Various MRT stations connect the area to all parts of the island and the CTE is the closest expressway.


Thomson Road runs past the horsey action at the Singapore Polo Club, and offers great walks at MacRitchie Reservoir, and some of the best garden centres in Singapore. Further north it becomes Upper Thomson Road, where you’ll find Thomson Plaza, and access to Peirce and Seletar Reservoirs. The further north you go, the less you’ll pay for a spacious home or condo; you’ll generally find many older, larger condos here, as well as medium-range houses. It’s also close to the Singapore Zoo, which is a fantastic regular hangout if you have small children (and preferably a car). Currently, there are good bus routes through the area, but there’s an upcoming MRT line too.

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Tips from our EL panel

“We live near the Botanic Gardens. It’s halfway between my husband’s work at Marina Bay and the Australian International School. It’s also close to Turf City, where our children play sport, and Orchard Road and the city. Lots of our friends live in the same area. We love living near the Gardens, the running track at the University, Tanglin Mall, Cluny Court, Dempsey and most importantly, near our friends.” – Penny

 “We’ve lived in Holland Village for nearly nine years – not just because it’s ‘expat central’, but also as it has great restaurants and supermarkets (with ang moh products fromOz and the UK!). Tanglin Trust School is moments away, and the greenery is brilliant for lazy Sunday afternoon walks. There are also plenty of entertainment outlets in Holland Village, and the Col Bar in Wessex Estate is a gem.” – Alex

 “We live in Bukit Timah, near our son’s school; there’s lots of greenery and it’s nice and quiet, but it’s a bit too far out so it can be hard to get taxis in the mornings.”– Kelly

More info on East Coast living here! Are you more of a city outskirts person? Up for city living? If you’re in the ‘west is best’ camp…including south and southwest – keep reading! (For a more comprehensive take on Singapore neighborhoods, head this way!)

This article first appeared in EL City Guide 2015/2016.