Singapore is a tropical island state of 670 square kilometers located at the tip of the Malay peninsular. Despite its limitations in size and natural resources, it is one of the most developed and thriving economies in South East Asia, winning international acclaim for its airport and maritime port infrastructure.


Expats relocating to Singapore can expect to enjoy quality housing, affordable domestic help, a well-developed public transportation network, high standards of education and medical care - all within a peaceful, multi-racial environment.


Accommodation Types




The most common type of accommodation for expats is an apartment or condominium (condo). Apartments and condos are often interchangeable terms here. They refer to private development blocks, both low-rise and high-rise. Condos are usually large-scale developments providing a full range of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, gymnasiums and tennis courts with 24-hour surveillance. Unit sizes range from under 500 square feet (sq ft) for a studio unit to 4000 sq ft and above for a penthouse unit.


Apartments and condos offer a modern, communal lifestyle and security for the family. Expats may enjoy the many facilities, network with fellow expat neighbours and utilize the shuttle bus services or convenience stores located within some developments.


Landed Housing


Landed properties come in the form of terraced houses, semi-detached houses and bungalows (detached houses). They occupy their own plots of land and do not share the grounds with another property. Landed housing is a good option for expats accustomed to spacious living areas in their home countries, who may not like to be “hedged up” in an apartment block. A landed house usually includes a garden, porch and verandah, making it suitable for keeping larger pets and hosting gatherings.


Terraced houses are found in rows with common walls on both sides. The middle (intermediate) units are similar in size and the two corner units typically have larger land and built-in area. Land sizes can range from 1,200 to 3,500 sq ft.


Semi-detached houses share one common wall with another house. A garden or pond may be constructed along one side of the house. Land sizes can range from 2,200 to 5,000 sq ft.


Bungalows are detached houses that sit independently and have no common walls with another property. They are single-storey or multi-storey dwellings, with design, layout, landscaping and features uniquely determined by owners. Among detached homes, Good Class Bungalows (GCB) are the most luxurious and exclusive - occupying 15,070 sq ft of land or more. There are only about 2,400 GCB units in designated areas of Singapore.


Cluster Housing


Cluster housing is a unique hybrid housing form. It comprises uniformly designed landed properties within a gated estate, with a shared compound and recreation facilities. A townhouse is similarly a hybrid housing form, comprising apartments of 2 to 4 storeys and a shared compound. Cluster houses are popular with families with children as they provide spaciousness and communal facilities, whilst retaining the sense of privacy in a landed property.

Popular Neighbourhoods


When choosing a rental home, location plays a very important role in determining its suitability. Convenient access to the workplace or to an international school is a main deciding factor for many expats. The availability of public amenities and ease of transportation also enhance the attractiveness of a particular location.


The most prime residential location in Singapore is the Orchard Road (D09) vicinity. A bustling shopping belt flanked by trendy malls, posh hotels and luxury apartments forms the heart of this district. A favourite hangout of locals and foreigners alike, there are options aplenty to satisfy any shopping, entertainment or gastronomic desires.

The River Valley (D09) area is perennially popular due to its excellent location near both Orchard Road and the Central Business District. Extending south towards the Singapore River, one can find modern high-rise condos with panoramic city views, as well as cosy riverside apartments. Restaurants and bars along Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay offer the perfect setting to unwind at the end of the day. Japanese expats will be attracted to the many Japanese themed malls and shops in River Valley area.

Bukit Timah and Holland Road (D10) covers a large residential area in the central-west of Singapore. They are favoured for their tranquil, respectable neighborhoods and the abundance of nature and greenery. The presence of several international schools and social clubs also appeals greatly to expat families. Specialty shops and produce can be found at Greenwood Avenue and the popular Holland Village. There are many spacious landed homes tucked away discreetly from the main roads of Bukit Timah and Holland Road, including designated “Good Class Bungalows”. Owning a car is advisable for those staying in landed enclaves.


For those who prefer to be near the beaches and coastal parks, the East Coast (D15-16) will be a delightful sanctuary. Apartments lining the coast offer great sea views and sea breezes. There are plenty of outdoor, water sports and recreational facilities at East Coast Park and the Kallang river basin. Activities such as bowling, cycling, windsurfing, canoeing, roller-blading and sailboarding can be enjoyed. East Coast Park is also renowned for its many seafood restaurants. Further inland, the Geylang and Joo Chiat areas offer a mouth-watering array of local and foreign cuisine, as well as shops selling offbeat merchandise.


The West Coast (D05) is a good option for expats working in Singapore Science Parks I/II, Biopolis, Fusionopolis, Mapletree Business City and International Business Park. Tertiary institutions such as National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and United World College are also located in the west, as well as the Japanese School. The west coast area is slated to become the Research & Development hub of Singapore.


With the rejuvenation of the Downtown area, the Central Business District (D01-02) has become an increasingly vibrant and popular place to live, work and play. With world class theatres, resorts, museums, boutique hotels, nightspots and a plethora of dining establishments jazzing up the scene, urban lovers will find plenty to delight in. Those seeking a touch of Asian heritage will be charmed by the conservation shophouses in Chinatown. Apartments in the CBD are generally smaller in size and thus more suited for singles and couples.


Sentosa Island (D04) is situated at the southern coast of Singapore and is home to hip and happening attractions such as Resorts World Sentosa, an integrated resort with a casino, hotels, restaurants and Universal Studios theme park.


The eastern side of the island has been developed into an exclusive residential enclave spanning 117 hectares of oceanfront land. Conceptualised by world renowned architects, Sentosa Cove is where you may enjoy all the creature comforts of a modern, marina-oriented lifestyle in the midst of a tropical resort setting.


A selection of landed villas, luxury condos and clustered housing are available. Residents may enjoy majestic views of the South China Sea and even embark on a yacht trip from their private berths. Tee off at 2 championship golf courses and indulge in the facilities of a world-class marina club, ONE°15. Sentosa Cove is the only place in Singapore where foreign purchasers are eligible for land ownership.


Newton (D11) lies in one of the prime districts of Singapore. A central location at the fringe of Orchard Road, proximity to international schools and social clubs, and a good range of quality apartments are the main draws for expats. Quiet landed enclaves can be found near Novena MRT and also off Dunearn Road. Shopping malls, childcare facilities and medical centers are within a short drive.


Tiong Bahru (D03) is fast rising in popularity with expats due to its proximity and accessibility to the Central Business District. The Tiong Bahru conservation area consists of pre-war apartment blocks, Transitional style shophouses and Art Deco style shophouses built in the early 1940s. Modern, family-friendly apartments can be found near the MRT stations of Tiong Bahru and Redhill. Tiong Bahru is also famous for its quality and range of local food, with excellent hawker fare to be found at the Tiong Bahru Market.

Tenancy Guide



Terms of Tenancy:


The standard residential tenancy agreement in Singapore runs for 24 months, usually with an option to renew. The presence of a diplomatic clause for 24-month leases allows the tenant to pre-terminate the tenancy agreement should he/she be relocated from Singapore before lease expiry.


In general, the tenant's obligations encompass the following:

  • To pay rent;
  • To pay management charges, rates and utilities that include telephone, broadband/cable television subscription fee, television licence fees, etc.
  • To be responsible for all minor repairs (capped at a fixed amount) and routine maintenance of the premises. This includes air-conditioning systems and for landed properties this includes the grounds, garden and pool;
  • Not to assign or sub-let;
  • To deliver back possession of the property in its original condition at the end of the lease term;
  • To observe the terms of the Tenancy Agreement



A tenant may lease a unit that is in a fully furnished, partially furnished, or unfurnished state.

Fully furnished
  • Light fittings
  • Air-conditioners
  • Hot-water heaters
  • Washing machine / dryer
  • Refrigerator
  • Cooker hob & hood
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Built-in wardrobes
  • Day & night curtains
  • Living room sofa set
  • Dining set
  • Double bed (master bedroom)
  • Single beds (common bedrooms)
Partially furnished
  • Light fittings
  • Hot-water heaters
  • Washing machine / dryer
  • Refrigerator
  • Cooker hob & hood
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Built-in wardrobes
  • Day & night curtains
  • Light fittings
  • Air-conditioners
  • Hot-water heaters

Fees and Expenses:


In general, besides the monthly rental payment, tenants will incur the following expenses:

  • Stamp duty fee
  • Agent fee (for applicable cases – any commission payable will be advised upfront)
  • Utilities charges for water and electricity and gas supply (monthly)
  • Telephone, cable TV and Internet subscription charges (monthly)
  • Servicing fee for air-conditioners (quarterly)
  • Gardening (landed housing)
  • Pest Control (landed housing)
  • Pool Cleaning (landed housing)