Renting in Singapore: A Beginner’s Guide to Renting an Affordable Home in Singapore

One of the main benefits of living alone as a young adult is that you get an early taste of adulting and the valuable life lessons reaped from this newfound independence. Living alone for the first time will force you to manage your finances, and teach you to prioritise your needs and wants.

You might also find interactions that stem from living independently to be rewarding, be it liaising professionally with property agents and landlords, to making friends with new neighbours and roommates from all walks of life.

Another tempting factor of living alone as a millennial is the sense of freedom — you no longer have a curfew or anyone to answer to when it comes to your sleeping and eating habits, for example. But this also means that you must remain disciplined and not succumb to unhealthy lifestyle choices.

If you’re single or unable to get legally married here, it may be difficult to buy your first flat in Singapore, so renting is always a feasible and equally fulfilling alternative.

Getting started is always the hard part: Where can I rent in Singapore? Is it better to get a room or a whole apartment? Can I afford it? If you’ve asked these questions before, we’re here to help get you started!

Renting jargon explained:

The Letter of Intent

Letter of Intent (LOI) is a document, given by the tenant to the landlord, that highlights their genuine plans on renting a property.

It includes all agreements between the tenant and the agent or landlord. (For example, whether you’re allowed visitors and at what timings, whether you can cook, whether you can use common areas with live-in landlords present etc.)

Giving an LOI additionally requires a Good Faith deposit, which, for a 12-month lease, is a sum equal to one month’s rent to seal the deal. Just think of it as a way to “chope” your  home.

The Tenancy Agreement

Tenancy Agreement (TA) is an irrevocable contract between you and the landlord, detailing your personal particulars, the landlord’s particulars, and the tenets of your agreement. These tenets should align with the details agreed upon in your LOI.

A TA also encompasses a security deposit which is essentially your Good Faith deposit, together with your first month’s rental. This sum will be returned to you at the end of your tenancy unless you damage the property or back out totally.

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What You Should Know When Renting a Home in Singapore

Renting your first property as a newbie can be daunting but if you’re serious about moving out, here are a few helpful considerations to note before going on a house hunt:

1. Understand your needs

Why are you renting?

There are many reasons why young adults choose to live on their own, be it for a sense of independence from their families, for convenience, to move in with their partners or just for a change of environment. Being certain about what you hope to get out of the experience will help you in your search.

Type of accommodation 

There are tons of accommodation options available in Singapore, from public housing like HDBs and private housing like condominiums and studio apartments.

Hence, it is essential that you weigh the pros and cons of each type of housing, and pick the one that best matches your preferences and what you hope to gain out of living in that fresh environment.

HDB Flats:

Not only are HDBs generally cheaper, but they also don’t disappoint in providing convenience:

HDBs are generally cheaper but don’t disappoint in the convenience area either: Rubbish disposal is easy with centralised rubbish chutes, and common areas are usually clean. Furthermore, since HDBs are mostly located at heartland locations, you get a good mix of eateries, groceries, and convenience stores at a stone’s throw away.

Unmarried singles above 35 who are in need of financial assistance for renting an HDB flat can turn to the HDB Public Rental Scheme if they are eligible for help.

Private Properties (Condominiums, Bungalows, Terrace Houses):

While much pricier, renting a private property has its fair share of perks.

As the name suggests, you may enjoy greater privacy renting a bungalow or a terrace house. Renting a condominium grants you with a slew of facilities right at your doorstep, such as gyms, pools, and round-the-clock security. So, if you are willing to  pay more for added comfort and privacy, private properties are a suitable option.

When choosing HDBs or private properties, though, you will also be dealt with the choice of renting a whole unit or a single room rental (i.e. you live with other tenants or the landlord in one house). Here’s a quick overview of the estimated average cost it takes to rent either an HDB or a private property:

PROPERTYRENTAL TYPEESTIMATED COST
HDB1-RoomFrom $500/Month
Whole Unit (Assumption: 3-Room Flat Rental)From $500/Month
Condominiums1-RoomFrom $800/Month
Whole Unit (Studio Apartment)From $1,200/Month
Private Property (Bungalows/ Terrace Houses)1-RoomFrom $1,500/Month
Whole UnitFrom $3,500/Month

When renting, you will also have to consider the cost of basic utilities, and whether or not it is included in the rental price. Those renting a whole unit that comes without basic utilities can easily secure gas, water, and electricity for their rentals through a single account on the Singapore Power Services (SP Services) website.

Location 
Perhaps one of the most important factors to think about when moving out is the location of your future home. As a rule of thumb, your new living quarters should be located next to or with public transport at a walkable distance away for ease of commuting.

If you own a car, you may want to look into seasonal parking tickets within your neighbourhood (Here is a list for HDBs).
You should also look out for essential amenities such as supermarkets, malls, restaurants and convenience stores for your day-to-day material needs.

Comfort 

After discussing the location, you may want to research the area around your housing. For example, living right next to an MRT track may cause some noise pollution during MRT operation hours, disrupting your rest or ability to concentrate if you prefer working from home.

Another factor that could potentially affect your comfort in sunny Singapore is air conditioning. For those of us who would rather not languish in the heat, you can get professional air conditioning maintenance and servicing for as low as $18.90.

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2. Prepare a budget plan and stick to it

Before you embark on your solo living mission, draw up a budget plan detailing your predicted monthly expenses (on rental, Internet and utility fees, daily necessities, savings) and your financial capabilities. This will not only help you narrow down viable accommodation choices, but also give you a big picture of how to manage your money responsibly as you study.

If you’re renting a whole unit, remember to consider external utility bills and air conditioning servicing (if applicable) in your budget as well.

Here is a breakdown on the total estimated fees one has to pay when renting a home in Singapore:

Type Of Spending Cost
Good Faith Deposit And Security DepositsOne Month’s Rent (For 1-Year Lease)/Two Month’s Rent (For 2-Year Lease) + First-Month Rental Fees
Agent Fees (If Applicable)For HDBs, You Can Enjoy A Flat Rate Starting From $2888, Excluding GST
FurnishingsSubject To Personal Preferences, Whether You Rent Out A Fully-Furnished Or Half-Furnished Home
External Utility Bills (Gas, Water, Electricity)$40-60 Per Month
External Internet Bills$20-30 Per Month
Air Conditioning BillsWith Ohmyhome, $20-80 Depending On The Number Of Aircon Units And The Type Of Service (Normal Or Chemical Wash)

3. Do your due diligence and start searching

While you should begin scouring the Internet as early as possible to snag the best deals and locations, it is also wise to spend a careful month or longer researching places and calculating your budget.

Self-sourcing vs Hiring a property agent

You may choose to find a rental unit independently or opt for a property agent (find them on real estate websites like Ohmyhome, with Super Agents known for their fast closing speed and high customer satisfaction ratings).

Whatever the case, remember that hiring a property agent entails paying agent commission feesof up to a month’s rent on your end, so you may want to stick to direct self-sourcing if budget is tight.

Otherwise, engaging a property agent eases the rental process as they will guide you every step of the way, from offering you choices based on your personalised needs and preferences to driving you to property viewings and completing paperwork with you.

Comparing rates across the market

Ideally, your rent should not be costing you more than 30 to 40% of your monthly income. This allows you to set aside cash for your emergency funds, savings and investments.

So, comparison across the market and differentiating between your needs and wants in terms of the level of comfort and luxury you can realistically afford is key.

Here’s a general price breakdown of HDB room rentals in various districts of Singapore:

AreaApproximate Cost Per Month 
Central (+Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh)Common Room: $600-$780Master Room: $910-$1170
West Side (Bukit Batok, Jurong, Clementi, Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Panjang)Common Room: $500-690Master Room: $760-1040
East Side (Tampines, Bedok, Pasir Ris, Punggol, Serangoon, Kallang/Whampoa)Common Room: $520-690Master Room: $780-1040
South Side (Queenstown, Bukit Merah)Common Room: $750Master Room: $1120
North Side (Yishun, Woodlands, Sengkang)Common Room: $490-$520Master Room: $730-780

Source: Omh Property Listings 

Next, here’s the average prices of private rentals in various parts of Singapore:

AreaApproximate Cost Per Month 
Orchard (Central)Shared: About $1,500
Solo: $4,000-$7,000
NewtonShared: About $1,300Solo: $4,000-$5,000
Tiong BahruShared: About $800-1,300Solo: $3,000-$5,500
West Side (Bukit Batok, Jurong)Shared: $700-$1,400Solo: $2,500-$3,000
East SideShared: $600-900Solo: $1,000-$2,700
North SideShared: $500-$800Solo: $1,500-$2,000

Source:  Omh Property Listings 

Alternative forms of renting in Singapore: Co-Living Spaces

Though a relatively new concept to many, co-living spaces are especially popular amongst millennials due to their beautifully furnished and #instaworthy homes, and the opportunity to stay and meet new people!

If you have a bigger budget and enjoy sharing a modern apartment with some friends, co-living spaces are something you can consider! If this is something you’d be interested in, here’s a list of co-living spaces around Singapore that you can consider:

  • Hmlet:
    • Offer short-time and long-term stay options
    • Essential services and amenities like Wifi are provided
    • Price range: $1,000 or $10,000 per month
    • Areas: CBD, Bukit Timah, Orchard, Little India and more
  • Commontown:
    • Rooms come fully equipped with bedding, and basic household supplies.
    • Laundry, maintenance and housekeeping services available.
    • Price range: $1,400 or less to $2,600 or more per month
    • Areas: Newton, Tiong Bahru, one-north and more
  • Cove:
    • Fully-furnished rooms or studios in condos, landed properties or apartment blocks with weekly housekeeping and flexible monthly contracts
    • Price range: $1,000 to $3,200 per month
    • Areas: CBD, Tanjong Pagar, Geylang, Tampines and more
  • Dash:
    • Features readily-furnished apartments with housekeeping and maintenance services as well as laundry and kitchen facilities.
    • A community manager is also at your service should you rent a room from Dash.
    • Dash residents also enjoy a slew of dining and lifestyle perks courtesy of the company.
    • Price range: $800 to $2,500+ per month
    • Areas: CBD, Novena, Geylang, Pasir Panjang and more

*When house hunting online, take advantage of the platforms’ filter functions to get straight to your preferred location, budget etc. 

However, living with friends can be a lot of fun. As with all relationships, though, disputes may arise the longer you stay closer together. So, before you co-sign that lease, ensure that you’ve established common ground with your buddies. Come up with reasonable house rules, negotiate how the bills and chores will be split, and be clear on how long each of you will be staying.

Pack up and get excited

After sealing the deal, the only step left is preparing your belongings for the big move. Make a list of necessary items—e.g. clothing, electronics, bathroom supplies and monetary resources—so you can avoid a trip back home.

You may also want to jazz up your living spaces with cute furniture or living accessories to get that cosy, #Insta-worthy home. After all, you are taking the next step in life by choosing to live alone and spend responsibly!

This article was originally published on Planner Bee.

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