I wanted to write a post about where to live in Singapore as an expat as this is a question I see asked so often on expat groups and something which I really struggled with when moving here. Despite Singapore being a small country there are still so many different areas to live in depending what kind of lifestyle you are looking for. We have lived in two very different areas and here is an honest review of how we have found them.
Central Business District (CBD): very common in Singapore for expats
We are definitely paying a premium to live in CBD but this is slightly offset by the fact we can walk to most places including my partner's workplace. Our facilities are amazing and all included in our rent: we have a fully equipped gym, pool, jacuzzis, BBQ pits, tennis courts and various social areas. The best part is the 72nd floor viewing deck complete with jacuzzis - pictured below where I was having a 'La la land - city of stars' moment! This is definitely the kind of building you picture when imagining where you'll live in Singapore as an expat.
It is much greener here than you'd expect in the heart of the city and I would definitely recommend this for singles and couples. Our condo has some nice facilities for children but I think there are better areas for families to consider such as Holland Village, Sentosa and East Coast.
Something we didn't consider when we moved here is construction noise. I would advise you to look into this properly and visit more than once at different times before signing up to any condos in CBD. We have loud demolition noises right next to our apartment every day of the week which can be an issue particularly as I work from home.
Overall I am over the moon with our current apartment and I feel like we are really experiencing the convenient Singapore city life here: by far this is where I would choose to live in Singapore again and again.
Geylang: not your typical place to live in Singapore as an expat
When we first came to Singapore we had an apartment on Sims Avenue on the outskirts of Geylang. This is so different from CBD and gave us a taste of a completely different side of Singapore. The first thing to mention is that Geylang is known as the 'red light' district. Whilst I am sure this is true, we didn't see any evidence of this near us.
I had visions of prostitutes walking around in broad daylight but I didn't see anything like that and felt very safe in this area. It is probably the cheapest part of Singapore to live in, so ideal if you are on a tight budget. We were near Aljunied MRT which meant we could get to the centre in 5/6 stops so it was definitely do-able for work. Generally I would say if you can stay somewhere on the green MRT line you are well placed to get around the city.
Living in Geylang also has the advantage of being closer to the airport than CBD, so if you will be travelling frequently this could really make a difference.
Despite being fairly close to the city centre, I did find it a pain going out to meet friends as you will find most people want to meet in CBD after work. I also struggled with the lack of nice cafes and pubs for a quick brunch or drink nearby.
All things considered, it was a great experience living in this area but it is not an easy place to settle in compared to others. It probably wouldn't be ranked highly on every guide on where to live in Singapore as an expat but I also wouldn't entirely overlook it if you are on a tight budget, and I know expats who happily live in this area.
Other areas to consider living in Singapore as an expat
For those who are relocating here alone or in a couple, I would recommend checking out the following areas:
CBD - expensive but very central and amazing condo facilities, less spacious apartments for your money than other areas
Holland Village - many UK expats, feels like a London suburb
Tiong Bahru - close to city but quiet, trendy cafes and walk up apartments
Chinatown - central, cultural, watch out for street noise (view properties on an evening)
East Coast - worth it if you work in the eastern area of Singapore, relaxed, family vibe, cheaper
Farrer Park - close to Little India and has some affordable condos
Robertson Quay - large condo buildings, close to nightlife and CBD
Near Lavender / Bugis - this is a nice area but not as many housing options, if you can get near Haji Lane this is ideal for weekend drinks and brunches as well as being close to the centre of the city
Singapore is so diverse there really is an area for everyone!
The best way to find a rental property here is using an agent as it is not that easy to find properties and arrange viewings yourself. I would recommend the website Property Guru as well as joining expat groups on Facebook such as 'The Only Way is... Singapore' as there are often people advertising lease takeovers and spare rooms in apartments on there.
I hope this has helped those of you deciding where to live in Singapore as an expat, I wish I could stay longer and try out some more areas of this amazing place!