Singapore plays host to a variety of different housing lingo to describe the different accommodation options. Condominium, apartment, shophouse, walk-up are all pretty self-explanatory, but one which often leaves new arrivals scratching their heads is ‘cluster house’.
What is a cluster house?
A cluster house in Singapore is a bit of a hybrid, combining the privacy and spaciousness of landed properties, with the convenience of condo facilities such as swimming pools and gyms. Cluster houses represent a growing market in Singapore, particularly with families after a bit more space, but without the maintenance hassle.
Cluster developments can include terraced houses, semi-detached, and bungalows, giving real choice to those who choose to live in them. Typically, they have two or three storeys, although we have heard tale of the odd 5 storey place!
What is there to love?
Cluster houses make ideal family homes, as they offer much more space than can usually be found in a condo unit. There is an added advantage in having a ground floor, meaning outside space for the kids to play, as well as quick access to communal facilities, like that oh-so-tempting swimming pool.
Cluster developments can also feel like mini villages, with a real neighbourhood vibe. This is great for parents and children alike, making it easy to make friends quickly. Having your own dedicated house, rather than living in a condo, means you won’t be disturbed by noisy upstairs neighbours.
Whilst the stairs can be a drawback for some, having multiple storeys means that parents can enjoy an adults dinner, whilst the kids sleep or play upstairs.It’s also a great way to keep fit and get those legs ready for Singapore’s eternal shorts weather!
Many cluster houses also offer basement parking, often with space for 2 cars, which is a great advantage for carting home groceries and sleeping children. It also means that the ground floor level is often free of cars and other vehicles, which makes it safer for small children.
Ok, sounds great, what are the drawbacks?
The stairs can be a big issue for some expats. Hefting everything from groceries and laundry up and down the stairs can get tiring. Some of the staircases can be steep and narrow. There are also practical considerations regarding the stairs; the design of some of the staircases can mean fitting stair gates can be difficult. If you have small children and are worried about stairs, it’s worth checking with your agent.
Whilst some people love the multi-level set up, for some it can feel like they are isolated from their families, and they much prefer having everyone on the same level. It certainly makes it easier to check everyone is doing their homework, and not watching TV!
Sometimes the upper storeys can get pretty hot, with the relentless Singapore sun. The design of some cluster houses can mean the airflow throughout the house leaves a bit to be desired. The best thing to do is make sure you check each AC unit in every room, not just the main living areas, to ensure it’s working properly.
What other options do I have?
You can rent a condo or a landed house. Check out our comparison to see which one might suit you best.
If you decide that condo living suits your needs best, there are lots of smaller, low-rise condos, with larger units available across Singapore. Have a look at some of your options here.