Finding a place to call home is one of the most exciting and challenging tasks when moving to a new country. I am in the process of moving to Singapore and spent the entire weekend looking for a new apartment. I had only a few criteria to guide the search: I wanted a two bedroom apartment with a relatively easy commute to the CBD, which was clean and modern(ish) within a budget of $3,000 per month. Fortunately, rents in Singapore have come down by 20-30% in the past few years due to redundancies in the finance, oil & gas sectors as well as an increase in new condominiums being built and flats becoming available. This is great news for me after moving to Singapore.
I viewed more than 15 different properties, which I narrowed down to four possible options. Here are the highlights of my house search when moving to Singapore.
This was the first place I viewed and I was impressed by the abundance of greenery and beautiful facilities. Tanglin Gardens is located in a leafy neighbourhood that is a short walk to the botanical gardens. As it is an older building, the grounds are huge and include a large swimming pool, tennis and squash courts and outdoor BBQ area. The closest MRT station is Redhill, which is about a 15 minute walk and there is also a bus stop on the main road. The average commute to the CBD is 45 minutes.
The apartment I viewed had two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was fairly spacious however the bathrooms and kitchen were very old fashioned. The master bedroom had a great balcony that could fit a small table and chairs, however it was looking onto the main road.
I liked the grounds of Tanglin Gardens but the older plumbing and long commute were big considerations.
Well into my search I viewed a condominium at City Square Residence in Farrer Park. The place had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, however the size was less than 900 square feet and it had little storage room. Both bedrooms had built in wardrobes that were relatively shallow and there were no balconies, although lots of windows with pleasant views of the pool and skyline. The kitchen was an unusual design that was closed in by a wall with only a peek-a-boo window into the living room. However the facilities here were fantastic. There is a huge vibrant pool surrounded by deck chairs as well as water fountains, tennis court, mini golf course and modern gym.
The location of City Square Residence is perfect, particularly for someone who is just moving to Singapore and is still finding their way around. Although it is approximately a 30 minute commute to the CBD, the Farrer Park MRT station is right opposite the condominium. There is also a big shopping centre that has a Din Tai Fung restaurant, good food court, a big Watson’s pharmacy and plenty of other shops. The area is buzzing with eateries and places to drink and shop.
After lunch, I visited a unique shop house in Bugis. Shophouses are terraced, narrow buildings unique to Asia and mostly built before WW2. The place I viewed was a loft with rooms over two floors. The two bedrooms and bathrooms were located upstairs. Downstairs, there was a reception combined living room on one side of the staircase, and a dining room with kitchen and laundry on the other side. The kitchen was charming with its bar-like counter top but some of the appliances needed replacing. The place was built during colonial times and whilst it was definitely old-fashioned it had a certain charm about it.
The disadvantage of the shophouse is that there are no facilities and you need rely on public pools and gyms for your exercise. However Bugis is an excellent location with access to many public facilities. It is the equivalent of living near Oxford Circus in London or Town Hall in Sydney and you are spoilt for choice with options to dine, drink and shop. I particularly like Bugis Junction Shopping Centre, which has a large Watson’s pharmacy as well as Cold Storage grocery store. Transport is good and it is a 15 minute commute to the CBD.
The very last place I visited was a pleasant surprise on Mackenzie Road in Little India. In terms of space and layout, this was probably the best design. It was just over 900 square feet and was designed in a way that felt spacious and had lots of natural light. The living and dining room were combined. The kitchen was semi-open and although on the small side, very clean with a modern gas cooker and new appliances. The master bedroom was comfortable and had a lavish ensuite bathroom. The facilities include a small swimming pool and a gym.
The location had its pros and cons. On the positive side, transport links are excellent as it is right outside the Little India MRT. It is a 20 minute commute to the CBD and easy access to most parts of Singapore due to having both the Downtown and North East train lines. There are also plenty of places to eat and good Indian restaurants. The Tekka Hawker Centre is right next door and it is one of the most well-known wet markets in Singapore and has a good range of Indian and Asian hawker food. On the other side of the condominium there is Elizabeth Park if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. On the negative side, Little Indian is a buzz of activity on weekends and many workers choose to spend their time hanging out, eating and drinking here. It can be stressful navigating through all the crowds and negotiating the shop stalls selling various goods along the main Serangoon Road.
Leases are usually for two years (unless you want to pay higher rent), so when moving to Singapore it is even more critical that you find the place you like and will be happy in. It can be very difficult not to mention expensive to break your lease. There are many great options that I have visited this weekend, it will be difficult to choose the one that I will live in or maybe I will keep searching. Please case your vote using the dialogue box below to let me know where you would live if you were moving to Singapore!