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Expat Neighborhoods in Singapore

Although Singapore is a fairly tiny nation, expats in search of the right neighborhood still have an abundance of options. The InterNations guide to neighborhoods in Singapore introduces the city’s districts and most popular residential areas to help you with your property search.
Free-standing houses are the privilege of Singapore’s wealthier residents.
  • When choosing the area of Singapore in which you’d like to live, make sure that you set your priorities straight.
  • Singapore has no official geographical subdivisions but keeping the former postal districts in mind during your property search can be a big help.
  • There are a few areas in Singapore that expats prefer due to the nearby international schools and the easy commute, but the majority of districts provide easy access to the public transport network.

Criteria for the Housing Search

Expats relocating to Singapore normally choose their new home according to several factors.

First of all, transport connections and the daily commute to work are essential features for the active population. Not all expatriates living in Singapore own a car. Therefore MRT train stations and good bus services are very important, even more so than expressways or the international airport. Expat families also need to have childcare facilities or suitable schools nearby.

As mentioned before, Singapore is a fairly small island nation with a territory of just 716 km². It is a completely urbanized city-state, where nobody lives in a rural area anymore. Nearly everyone has easy access to all amenities of everyday life, such as shops, medical facilities, and transportation. Nonetheless, some districts and neighborhoods are more popular – and thus more expensive – than others. This guide provides you with a brief overview of residential areas for expats in Singapore.

The Postal Districts of Singapore

Due to Singapore’s small size, it doesn’t have much in the way of political or geographical subdivisions, like the US states or the French regions and départements. For administrative purposes, e.g. urban planning or local government, Singapore is normally divided into five regions, whose names and boundaries may vary slightly.

However, when you go looking for accommodation in Singapore, it helps to keep the island’s old 28 postal districts in mind. They are no longer used for sending mail, but they still figure on many property search maps. Each district includes various housing estates, neighborhoods, or satellite towns.

  • Central Singapore includes districts 1-8, i.e. the Marina, the Central Business District, Central South, South Keppel, South West, City Hall, Beach Road, and Little India. These are the city’s most expensive areas, with high-class condominiums for those who can afford them.
  • Districts 9-11, as well as 21 (Central West), are located to the north of Central Singapore, while 12-14 adjoin the central areas to the northeast. They are still close enough to the CBD, as well as Singapore’s prime shopping and entertainment facilities, to include luxurious residential estates as well.
  • The divisions called East Coast (districts 15 and 16) and Far East (17, 18) are home to plenty of expatriates, too. The proximity to the seaside makes them particularly attractive. Moreover, Changi International Airport is based on this side of the island.
  • North East and Central North form the heartlands of Singapore (districts 19 and 20) while all other postal code areas (22—28) cover the outlying westernnorthwestern, northeastern, and eastern suburbs. However, suburban neighborhoods can also be of interest to expat residents. For instance, Woodlands, a northern suburb in district 25, houses the Singapore American School.

Popular Expat Residential Areas

As just mentioned, Woodlands (district 25) is a fairly typical expat neighborhood. Not only does it feature the American School, but it’s also close to the Malaysian border. Plenty of residents thus go shopping where prices are cheap. The area is a model development with lots of green spaces, medical clinics, and links to the transportation network. On the downside, the commute to the Central Business District can take up to an hour.

Bukit Timah (district 10) and Newton (district 11) are popular among expatriates as well. International schools that cater to the Canadian, Dutch, German, and French communities are within reach, and the residential areas boast other amenities as well. There are several country clubs, a delicious food court, and a beautiful nature reserve. However, both neighborhoods are anything but cheap, and Bukit Timah is somewhat lacking in transport connections.

Shopping addicts and fashionistas should settle somewhere in district 9, with the famous Orchard Road. Unsurprisingly, housing in Singapore’s commercial heart is quite expensive. But if you can afford it, you might want to take a look at Cairnhill and Mount Elizabeth. The River Valley estate is also situated in the same district. Its pretty private properties offer charming homes for the rich. The latter probably don’t mind the lack of MRT stations. After all, they can afford hailing one of the many taxis cruising the wealthy neighborhood.

Family-Friendly Neighborhoods

Expat families on a budget may prefer moving to one of the estates that are popular among locals with children. These are mainly located in the outlying districts, in areas with mixed residential, commercial, and industrial use. They do not have many nightlife venues or luxury stores, but they often feature various smallish malls, transport nodes, and local schools.

Neighborhoods like that include Choa Chu Kang (district 23), Yishun (27), Pasir Ris (18), and Jurong West (22). Jurong also boasts several tourist attractions, for instance, the Singapore Zoo, the Jurong Bird Park, and the Singapore Science Centre. This could be another point in favor for expats relocating with kids.

Planned Areas for Local Residents

Singapore’s heartlands and eastern coast harbor several popular planned areas, too. They are often self-sufficient communities or unpretentious satellite towns. Due to urban planning, they have good connections to the public transport network, as well as shopping and entertainment facilities for local residents.

Bedok in district 16, Hougang (19), Bishan (20), or Simei (18) are among this kind of neighborhoods. Expats should note, though, that Simei has few schools, although it is close to several major hospitals.


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Donald Moore

"I moved to Singapore to build up my own business. In fact, it was easier than expected. With InterNations I quickly got in touch with the lively expat community here."

Barbara Sciera

"Settling as an expat woman in a different culture is always hard. But with InterNations I got to know many other expat spouses that helped me."

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