Where should you live in Singapore?
Deciding where to live in Singapore can be a bit overwhelming when you first arrive. According to polls, the most popular places for expatriates to settle are Orchard, Tanglin, Bukit Timah, Katong and Holland Village. Increasingly, many expatriates are choosing Serangoon and the East Coast to get better value for money – but Pasir Panjang and the West Coast are good choices too!
Confused? Each area of Singapore has its own unique character, so take it slowly and investigate neighbourhoods one at a time. If you still need advice after reading this, we’ll be happy to help!
CITY & CBD
Raffles Place & Marina Bay
Slap bang in the middle of the CBD, Raffles Place and Marina Bay offer high-rise living, with an unrivalled commute to the office – you can just walk! High-rise living rules supreme here, and units come at a premium – in terms of both space and cost. However, if you have the cash and want a super-central location, with a quick commute, access to nightlife and eating spots, it’s difficult to beat it. You’ll enjoy:
- Minimal commute to work
- A great central location, with brilliant public transport links across the island
- No shortage of places to eat and drink, including Singapore’s oldest hawker centre, Lau Pau Sat
Tanjong Pagar & Chinatown
Just south of the CBD, Tanjong Pagar is a food lover’s paradise, complete with a central location. Charming historic shophouses line the streets, with the tall glass towers of Raffles Place providing a backdrop. You’ll find loads of wonderful eating and drinking enclaves at the ever popular areas around Duxton Hill and Tras Street. You’ll enjoy:
- Fantastic easting and drinking options
- Great access into the CBD
- Independent boutique shopping
- Living amongst Singapore’s heritage, with shophouses galore and temples in Chinatown
- The amazing displays of decorations and lights, come Chinese New Year
Check out our comprehensive guide to Tanjong Pagar.
Robertson Quay & River Valley
This is the buzzy area where singles and couples who want to enjoy a vibrant nightlife and social scene choose to settle. Mohammed Sultan Road boasts the bustling UE square complex and Robertson Quay is the place to look for luxury condominiums overlooking the river. You’ll enjoy:
- Food and drink options to keep you entertained for months
- Great retail options
- A convenient, central location
Check out our in-depth guide to River Valley.
Orchard road is bustling and busy – you’ll find everything you need in the area – and if you prefer a quieter neighbourhood, you need only venture a short distance from the scene of all the activity to find a more peaceful abode. Orchard is a good place for those who don’t mind paying a relatively high rental in exchange for convenience and a central location. Plus points for Orchard include:
- Access to all the shops you could possibly need, with loads of malls to choose from
- Plenty of recreational facilities including cinemas, restaurants, and spas
- Proximity to the American Club or the international Tanglin Club for relaxation and socialising
- Excellent links into the CBD by MRT, and across the island via the CTE (Central Island Expressway)
Check out our comprehensive Orchard neighbourhood guide.
Tanglin is a great choice, and eternally popular. The condominiums are low-rise, and for those who prefer a spacious house with a garden, there are magnificent properties available. Looking for a trendy high-rise condo? You’ll find these on River Valley Road. Advantages of Tanglin include:
- Luxurious housing options
- Artsy shopping and galleries in Tanglin Village
- Close to the magnificent Botanic Gardens and some excellent restaurants situated at Dempsey
Holland Village also has a fun, bohemian atmosphere, and it’s a paradise for shoppers who love the quirky and independent. There’s an array of great food and drink options, regardless of whether you want to head out for the evening, or entertain at home. Residents of Holland Village enjoy:
- Links across the island via the Circle Line
- Bargain local cuisine at the bustling hawker centre
- A plethora of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars.
- All the benefits of nearby Orchard Road and convenient weekend outings to the botanical gardens
Find out more in our Holland Village guide.
Newton & Novena
Newtown and Novena are also prime locations and is priced accordingly. However, if your budget allows you, you’ll find the selection of houses and condos excellent, and you’ll enjoy its great amenities and convenience. The advantages of living in this area include:
- All the benefits of Orchard (which is close by), including great links into the CBD by public transport
- High-end, luxury housing and condos.
- Fresh seafood from Newton Circus Hawker Centre
- A wonderful selection of shops in Novena Square (particularly if you are sporty) and United Square
Central Bukit Timah
This area draws wealthy residents who are looking for the best of the best in luxury housing and condos. High-ranking business professionals and government ministers choose this area, which is one of the most upmarket in Singapore. If you’re looking for a high-status address that’s ideal for families with kids, this will be your area of choice. Reasons for choosing Bukit Timah include:
- Close to several international schools.
- Relaxation and socialising at the Hollandse Club, the British Club and horse riding at the Bukit Timah Saddle Club.
- Beautiful, green neighbourhoods.
- Several excellent restaurants and Delicatessens stocking European products.
- The newly opened Downtown line now offers fast and convenient links into the CBD
This area offers a central location, close to Orchard Road, but as you travel northwards along Thomson road, you’ll find that the rentals get cheaper. It’s a lovely area, no matter which part of it you choose. The Central Expressway or public transport takes you to the less suburban destinations within minutes. Expats choose this area because:
- It’s minutes away from the CBD, but has a suburban feel
- You can enjoy views over the beautiful McRitchie Reservoir Park
- It’s ideal for families with kids
Braddell offers an ideal home for families. Kids attending the Australian International School or the French School of Singapore will have an easy trip to school, and the central location is handy for parents too.
If you’re looking for a peaceful area that’s still centrally located, Serangoon is an excellent choice. It offers:
- Comfortable condos and spacious houses.
- Easy commuting by bus or rail.
- Great road connections to more central locations.
- Plenty of excellent restaurants.
With a reputation for being Singapore’s ‘hipster’ neighbourhood, Tiong Bahru is a small-ish neighbourhood, just south of River Valley. You’ll find no shortage of cool cafes, artisan bakeries and quirky, locally-owned shopping options. You’ll enjoy:
- A laid-back, compact neighbourhood
- The great coffee!
- Spending weekends exploring all the little hidden gems in the area
- Easy links to the CBD and Orchard
Sentosa Island is a hotspot for lovers of luxury and the seaside. You may even be able to grab a condo with a magnificent sea view. Shopping doesn’t present a problem thanks to the VivoCity mall – one of Singapore’s largest, and those who love to relax with a game of golf will enjoy the Sentosa Cove golf course. Sentosa is for you if:
- You don’t mind high rents in order to live in a gorgeous neighbourhood
- You want to do a bit of yachting in your free time
- You don’t mind a slightly longer commute in exchange for sea views and dreamy living
- You love the beach and want to enjoy free and seamless access to the island
Faber Park is situated beside the sea on mainland Singapore, just across the causeway from Sentosa Island. It’s pleasantly spacious and is one of the favourite spots for expats because:
- Accessing the motorways is really easy
- You’re close to Mount Faber Park, and from there, a cable car can carry you to Sentosa
- You can shop to your heart’s content at VivoCity or the Harbour Front Mall
- Walk the Southern Ridges, along Singapore’s West Coast Parks
Upper Bukit Timah
You’ll be really close to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and you might even be lucky enough to secure a view over the forest from your condo or semi-detached house. Commuting is via bus service, but it’s easy to hop onto the expressways for an easy drive to just about anywhere. You’ll love Upper Bukit Timah if:
- You’re a nature-lover who is inspired by forests and wildlife
- You love having a great selection of restaurants on your doorstep
- You don’t mind a longer commute into the CBD
- You want to be off the main drag, but still want convenient shopping
Travel up the coast west from Faber Park, and you’ll find Pasir Panjang, home to the beautiful West Coast Park. It’s popular with expats thanks to the presence of several international schools, such as ISS, Tanglin Trust, and Dover Court. Advantages of living in Pasir Panjang include:
- The West Coast highway, which turns a drive into the city into a quick journey. There are also good MRT links via the Circle Line.
- The possibility of securing a condo with a sea view.
- A wide range of international schools.
If you want a spacious home at a reasonable price, Woodlands is an excellent choice. It’s particularly popular with American expats because of the American school that’s located here. Residents enjoy:
- The feeling of being out of the city, with a suburban neighbourhood vibe
- Convenient shopping at comprehensive malls
- Easy trips to Johor Bahru over the causeway to Malaysia
Seletar, in the Northeast is the neighbourhood where you will find attractive properties at very reasonable prices. The Lower Selatar Reservoir Park offers attractive leisure opportunities, and the area is convenient for families with children attending the American school.
The East coast is a prime spot for those who would like more reasonably priced, yet spacious housing. Increasingly popular with expats, it has plenty to offer. Residents enjoy:
- The natural beauties of East Coast Park with its sandy beaches and sea breezes
- Condominiums with a sea view
- Changi airport is conveniently close by
- Easy access to the shopping amenities of Katong
Katong & Joo Chiat
If you’d like to absorb more of the local culture, you will enjoy these beautiful neighbourhoods, with shophouse lined streets. Your neighbourhood boasts:
- Fascinating shops with a local flavour, plus loads of great local cuisine, particularly along Joo Chiat Rd, Tanjong Katong Rd, and of course the famous Old Airport Road hawker centre
- Great shopping mall options at 112 Katong and Parkway Parade
- Quirky independent cafes and shops
- A relaxed, friendly neighbourhood feel
Siglap, Bedok & Tampines
While you’re considering the East Coast, you should check out these quiet neighbourhoods. East meets West with a huge selection of local and international cuisine and a variety of housing options form condos to bungalows and townhouses is available. Siglap is fast becoming the next ‘up-and-coming’ area, with lots of fantastic coffee options, for those who need their caffeine fix!
Still not sure which area is right for you?
Greyloft.com has a useful neighbourhood guide tool. Simply enter the name of a neighbourhood that sounds attractive to you, add your commute destination, say how many bedrooms you need and specify your budget. You’ll get all the details about available properties, and if you want to take a look, a property broker can show you around and give you in-person advice.
Also published on Medium.