Expatriate Living

Expatriate Living



When moving to Singapore for the first time, an Expatriate would normallyrent an apartment or a landed house. Expatriates are generally concentrated incertain areas that have a wide variety of condominiums to choose from.Typically you would consider the following factors when looking for aproperty for the first time in Singapore:

  • Budget for rental

  • Type and size of property you want to live in

  • Distance to work and transportation links

  • Proximity to international schools, if you have any children of school going age.

  • Restaurants and entertainment and other free time options in the neighbourhood

  • Distance to the Airport, if you or your partner plan to travel a lot

Let's have a look at the regions in Singapore first and then tackle the main factors in detail.


Regions in Singapore

Singapore is approximately 50km wide and 30km long, and the city centre islocated in the central southern part of the island. The main officearea that is in the city centre is also referred as Central BusinessDistrict (CBD), and the main shopping area is around Orchard road, aswell in the city centre. As most of the entertainment options are alsoconcentrated in the central area, it is not surprising that the mostpopular areas for expatriates to live in are in and around the city centre -but there are other attractive options as well. Singapore is dividedinto 27 districts starting at '1' in the central area as shown below

Map of Singapore Island

District Map of Singapore

Central Area (Districts 01 – 09, 11)

Centralareas offer some of the most luxurious and expensive living inSingapore. Tanglin area and the road towards Holland Village at the endof Orchard Road is probably the most prestigious -and most embassies are located around here as well.Newton (north of Orchard) and River Valley(south of Orchard) are more popular among single professionals and young couples.The Singapore river area (Robertson Quay, Clarke Quay & Boat Quay)has especially been rejuvenated in the recent years and boasts nownumerous restaurants and bars. On the other hand, there are fewcondominiums in the CBD and the activity can be somewhat quiet duringthe evenings as it is mostly offices. Central areas offer very shortdistances to most free time attractions and are also well served bypublic transportation to and from to various parts of the island.

Holland Village and Bukit Timah (Districts 10, 21, also parts of District 05)

Bukit Timaharea has many landed properties, but there are also some condominiumsto choose from. It would be a good choice if you want a landed propertyand/or live in a quieter neighbourhood. It also has many good schoolsand is popular among families. Many well-off Singaporeans also live inthis area. Holland Village is popular hang-out place amongexpatriates living in the area and it has quite a few restaurants andbars, as well as some shopping amenities for daily needs. Bukit Timah Nature Reserveand water reservoir areas are also nearby. They are the biggest greenspaces in Singapore and are very popular for outdoor activities.

East Coast (Districts 14, 15, 16)

The road from CBD towards Changi Airport, know as East Coast,has numerous Condominiums to choose from - some with a very nice seaview. The condominiums tend to be more expensive closer to the citycentre (known as Tanjong Rhu area). Apart from the attractionof living close to the sea, there is also East Coast Park thatstretches along the coast and gives numerous free time options for theoutdoor types. Parkway Parade offers some large scale shopping in the middle of East Coast.

The biggest downside in the east coast is probably the distance to the MRT line. The Eastern MRTline does not go along the coastline, and you would have to take a busto the MRT station, or just use a taxi, if you do not opt for own car.However, a new Circle Line due to be completed by 2010 will add 4 new stops to the West side of the East Coast area.

Other Areas

It is not to say that there are no other options for expatriates. Thereare condominiums and private housing on offer all around the island andyou may also get more for your money than in the most popular areas.Notably Woodlands is popular among American Expatriates, because of theAmerican school and the spacious housing offered there - preferenceamong them being for landed properties.


Budget and Property Prices

Therental prices fluctuate heavily depending on the supply and demand ofthe available units. The rental prices for private properties have inmany places doubled in the last two years, as also happened during the90's property boom. The following table gives you a rough idea what youcan expect with what kind of budget currently:

LocationProperty TypeRental Range
Central (Newton, Holland Village, River Valley, Orchard, Tanglin) 1-bedroom apartment S$3,000 – S$7,000
2-bedroom apartment S$3,500 – S$8,000
3-bedroom apartment S$4,500 – S$10,000
Penthouse / 4+ bedrooms S$6,000 – S$20,000
Terraced House S$6,000 – S$25,000
Bungalow S$15,000 – S$60,000
East Coast & Bukit Timah 1-bedroom apartment S$2,500 – S$4,000
2-bedroom apartment S$3,000 - S$5,000
3-bedroom apartment S$3,500 - S$7,000
Penthouse / 4+ bedrooms S$5,000 - S$15,000
Terraced House S$7,000 – S$10,000
Bungalow S$12,000 – S$40,000
Other Areas 1-bedroom apartment S$2,000 – S$3,000
2-bedroom apartment S$2,500 – S$4,000
3-bedroom apartment S$2,800 – S$5,000
Penthouse / 4+ bedrooms S$3,200 – S$8,000
Terraced House S$5,000 – S$10,000
Bungalow S$8,000 – S$20,000


Property Type – House vs. Apartment

Expatstypically live in either an apartment/condominium or a landed house.This is a matter of preference and budget. Typical condominiums inSingapore have multitude of facilities - e.g. swimming pool, gym,tennis courts, children playground, and BBQ pits. And they are usuallywithin a walled compound with security guards around, althoughSingapore is not a dangerous place at all. Because the plot sizes arerelatively small in Singapore, only the very luxurious landedproperties have pools and other facilities. For somebody moving from acolder climate, you have to also remember that Singapore is in thetropics and there are more small animals (insects, geckos) around thanyou may be used to. These tend to cause more problems in landedproperties, especially close to green areas. But if you have thebudget, there are some very nice bungalows to live in that will giveyou the luxury and privacy that a condominium would not be able to do.



Singapore has one of the most modern and best functioning transportation systemsin the world, and travelling from any point in the island to anotherdoes not take very long in normal conditions. Car ownership can be expensivein Singapore, but on the other hand the roads are good and lesscongested than in many other cities of similar population density.Public transportation is also very good, but tends to be moreconcentrated in areas where the Singaporeans live (close to HDBestates). In any case, unless you really live at the edge of Singapore,your commuting time would rarely exceed one hour.

Your main options for moving around are described below

Mass Rapid Transport (MRT)

MRT,Singapore’s metro/underground system, currently has 3 lines (4th beingbuilt currently). Our map search shows the location of MRT stations inSingapore. We will also give you details of the distance to the closestMRT station for each listing.

Map of Singapore’s MRT links


Singaporealso has extensive bus network that covers much larger area than MRT.You can find bus routes here. It's not possible to show the entire busmap on a single map however you can find details at http://sbs.streetdirectory.com.sg/sbs/sbsindexsn.jsp?map=1


Taxisare generally plentiful and cheap compared to many other countries.This would probably be the transport of choice for most singleprofessionals living close to the city centre. Sometimes it can bedifficult to get one during peak hours, and extra charges apply forcalling one and during peak hours.

Private Cars

Owning a private car is expensive relative to many other countries and is notreally necessary in Singapore. Most people would save money by usingtaxi rather than owning a car. However, owning a car gives you freedomto move around - and popping to Malaysia every now and then to have around of golf might be a big enough reason to get one.

Traffic conditions are generally good in Singapore. But be aware of all the charges that you have to pay when owning a car:

  • Purchase price – Cars are probably one of the most expensive in the world to buy in Singapore due to import duties and Certificate of Entitlement (COE – a permission to own a car for 10 years, after which it has to be renewed).

  • Road tax – depending on the size of the engine, you need to pay road tax every year. This can vary from a few hundred for a small car to thousands for an SUV.

  • Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) – during peak hours you have to pay fees (S$0.50 to a few dollars) to enter through certain roads and areas (mostly in central area). ERP locations can be found at www.lta.gov.sg/motoring_matters/motoring_erp_location_cbd.htm

  • Parking – parking may or may not be offered for free at your office. Especially, in CBD it can be quite expensive. Also, typically you would have to pay for parking in most locations when out in town. Condominiums usually have parking included in the maintenance fee (which is paid by the landlord).

  • Petrol – it may come as a surprise, but petrol is probably the smallest component of you car ownership costs. It is currently around S$1.80 / litre.

You will also need to convert your driver's licenseinto Singaporean once within a year. This is relatively straightforwardprocess, but will require you to sit the basic theory test. The roadtraffic in Singapore is on the left side of the road (as in UK andMalaysia).


International Schools in Singapore

Thereare many international schools in Singapore to cater for the needs ofexpatriates. For most large groups of expatriates, you have a choice ofsending your children to a school which follow your national curriculumand teaching is in your native language. These are the maininternational schools in Singapore – please check their websites formore information.

Australian International School

1 Lorong Chuan, Singapore 556818


Bhavan's Indian International School

11 Mt Sophia Blk E, Singapore 228461


Canadian International School

5 Toh Tuck Road, Singapore 596679


Chatsworth International School

37 Emerald Hill Road, Singapore 229313


Dover Court Preparatory School

301 Dover Road, Singapore 139644


DPS International School

36 Aroozoo Avenue, Singapore 539842


EtonHouse International School

51 Broadrick Road, Singapore 439501


German School

72 Bukit Tinggi Road, Singapore 289760


Hollandse School

65 Bukit Tinggi Road, Singapore 289757


International Community School

514 Kampong Bahru, Singapore 099450


ISS International School

21 Preston Road, Singapore 109355


Japanese Kindergarten

251 West Coast Road, Singapore 127390

Japanese School (Primary)

95 Clementi Road, Singapore 129782 (Clementi Campus)

11 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507657 (Changi Campus)


Japanese School (Secondary)

201 West Coast Road, Singapore 127383


KGS International Pre-School (Japanese)

16 Ramsgate Road, Singapore 437462


Lock Road Kindergarten

10 Lock Road, Singapore 108938

Lycee Francais De Singapour

3000 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, Singapore 569928


Norwegian Supplementary School

c/o Royal Norwegian Embassy, 16 Raffles Quay #44-01 Hong Leong Bldg, S048581Tel:

Overseas Family School

25F Paterson Road, Singapore 238515


Rosemount Kindergarten

25 Ettrick Terrace, Singapore 458588


Rosemount International School

461 Telok Blangah Road, Singapore 109022


Sekolah Indonesia

20A Siglap Road, Singapore 455859

Singapore American School

40 Woodlands Street 41, Singapore 738547


Singapore Korean School

74 Lim Ah Woo Road, Singapore 438134


Swedish Supplementary Education School

c/o Swedish Embassy, 111 Somerset Road #05-01 Singapore Power Building,

Singapore 238164

Swiss School

38 Swiss Club Road, Singapore 288140


Tanglin Trust School

95 Portsdown Road, Singapore 139299


United World College of South East Asia

1207 Dover Road, Singapore 139654


Waseda Shibuya Senior High School

57 West Coast Road, Singapore 127366


We have provided some other useful websites for schooling matters:

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Audrey Lim
Senior Director
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