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Housing & Accommodation

Expat Housing in Singapore

Once you have landed a job and applied for a visa and work permit, finding housing in Singapore is next on the to-do list. However, as Singapore has a surface area of 716 km² and a populace of 5.7 million, housing in Singapore is both coveted and costly. Read on for an overview of the property market.

The Housing Market in Singapore

While housing prices have once again started to fall in Singapore, it is still the second most expensive city in Asia to buy property in. the high prices don’t only have an effect on prospective buyers, but also people looking for rental accommodation. In part, the high property prices are due to the influx of foreign residents and the increasing interest of affluent investors. To “cool down” the market and keep housing in Singapore affordable, the government has introduced several measures during the last few years.

The latest effort to put a stop to the emergence of a property bubble took place in early 2013. Now companies and foreign buyers wishing to purchase housing in Singapore must pay higher stamp duties during the transaction. Moreover, Singaporeans buying a second home face an added stamp duty as well.

How these measures will continue to impact the housing market remains to be seen. For the time being, the rise in prices has slowed down somewhat, but, as of 2016, the government still believes it is too soon to lift the property cooling measures. It seems, however, that the high-end market – e.g. for executive condominiums – has not been much affected so far. But for the average expat this kind of accommodation is usually out of reach anyway.

Public Housing

Over 80% of the population live in public housing in Singapore. This sort of accommodation is called HDB. The abbreviation stands for “Housing Development Board”, the government authority in charge of planning estates and satellite towns. Apart from renting a room in a shared apartment, moving into an HDB is the cheapest option for housing in Singapore.

Though government-sponsored housing estates may have a bad reputation in some countries – for example, council housing in the UK – this is not the case in Singapore. HDB hubs are perfectly ordinary neighborhoods. There are frequently shopping and medical facilities in the vicinity, and many planned residential areas are well connected to the public transport network.

Housing Costs

Depending on the location, rental costs for HDBs in Singapore range from 1,800 SGD to 2,600 SGD per month, for an apartment with two or three bedrooms. The more centrally the apartment is located, the more expensive it is. In comparison to the prices for private apartments on the free market, let alone condominiums and landed property, this amount is actually quite reasonable.

A private two bedroom flat will set you back anything between 2,200 SGD and 9,000 SGD in monthly rent. Condominiums with their various on-site facilities start at 3,000 SGD for non-central locations. For obvious reasons, terraced housing in Singapore, free-standing villas, and garden bungalows are at the very top of the local property market.

However, the cheaper HDBs have a major drawback: Public housing estates are very popular. Waiting lists can be long, and temporary residents from overseas are not the preferred kind of tenants. 

Further Information

To find out more about rental costs, utilities, and other budget items, please read our guide on the cost of living in Singapore

In addition to the price, the location is another essential factor when it comes to choosing expat housing in Singapore. We will tell you more about the island’s districts and residential areas in the guide on expatriate neighborhoods.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

InterNations Expat Magazine