For many years, Singapore has been ranked as one of the most expensive cities for expats. One of the main factors is rental prices. Foreigners living in Singapore tend to rent in prime district areas close to their workplace, usually in the Central Business District (CBD).
However, rental prices have skyrocketed in recent months due to Singapore’s Covid-19 easing measures and reopening its borders to the world. This causes an influx of expats coming into the country but supply of accommodation is limited.
Apart from the rental cost, expats may need to furnish their rental units, thus increasing costs. However, they have the option to buy second-hand furniture from other expats who are leaving the country. Just be prepared with some upfront costs.
Monthly household bills such as home insurance, wifi, electricity, gas, and water are usually not included in the rent. Expats need to take note of this and add on to their monthly costs.
We discuss a few ways for expats to manage rental costs in Singapore.
- Move to the Suburbs
One way expats can reduce rental costs is by moving into the suburbs. Unlike other countries, Singapore’s suburbs are just as clean, safe, and beautiful as the city centre. Facilities and amenities like gyms, retail shops, and banks are also abundant in the neighbourhoods. Each suburb in Singapore is designed to be self-sufficient where people can live, work, and play conveniently.
Expats may choose to live amongst locals in an HDB or in a condo. Depending on their personal needs and preferences, expats may choose to rent from 1 room to the whole apartment. The rent is still much more affordable than in the prime districts. Depending on the job location, there might be a longer commute to work. However, the costs of taking public transportation is economical as well. Buses and trains come at short intervals of up to 5 minutes and taxis are available 24/7.
Another benefit is reduced daily lifestyle costs. In general, expats tend to live in a bubble amongst other expats. For example, expats tend to go to expat-centric restaurants, bars, cafes, and supermarkets. While these food establishments cater to their palates, they are expensive due to import costs.
Expats have the option to try local dishes which are much cheaper and shop from local supermarkets like NTUC Fairprice Finest, Sheng Siong, and Giant that are available all over the island. There is no shortage of delicious and authentic food from all ethnic groups in Singapore. Try Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak, and Roti Prata for only SGD3 each!
- Rent in a Co-Living Space
Single expats may choose to rent in a co-living space to reduce costs. Co-living spaces are basically ‘fancier university dorms’. Renting a room comes with common shared spaces like the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Suitable for young professionals who don’t mind having roommates and want to meet new people. Advantages include fully furnished rooms, flexible stay option, housekeeping included, and social activities with other tenants. However, this option may not be suitable for expats with families.
- Sign a Longer Lease
For expats who envision themselves living long-term in Singapore, they may try to negotiate a cheaper price for a longer lease. Landlords would not want to have an empty apartment that doesn’t make them any money and securing a long-term lease would definitely profit them.
As work passes for expats are only valid for a couple of years, this option may be more suitable for expats who have or plan to set up businesses in Singapore. Expats who have Singapore Permanent Residency may also choose this option.
For expats who have long-term aspirations in Singapore, applying for Singapore PR may be a good option. For more information, enquire with immigration experts like Immigration@SG (IASG). Their team is well-trained and has a collective immigration experience of more than 50 years.
Managing rental costs in Singapore
It is a landlord’s market in Singapore and demand have been exceeding supply since June 2022. However, expats don’t have to succumb to the rising costs and let other parts of life be affected. With an open mindset and a few lifestyle changes, expats can still enjoy a quality and meaningful life in Singapore.