House-hunting in Singapore – where are the best areas to live?

According to the expats who have chosen to set up a new life in this Asian Dragon, Singapore is in its prime. The city-state is second in the 2019 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, with high positions for quality of life, income and career progression.
For those moving to Singapore with children, it’s reassuring to know that in the same survey it came first overall for ‘Little Expats’, which is made up of ease of making friends, learning and schooling.
If you’ve made the decision to move to this popular expatriate destination, top of your to-do list is securing suitable accommodation.
Singapore is split up into a number of Districts, and within these you can find some of the best neighbourhoods for professionals, couples and families.
There are a range of factors that might affect your housing options in Singapore. Budget is obviously the number one consideration, but house-hunters should also think about the facilities they would like to have access to, such as a swimming pool or a gym, as well as the distance to work, school and local amenities like the MRT, Singapore’s Metro.
To help you get ahead in your house-hunt, we’ve put together a guide to the most desirable neighbourhoods in Singapore for expatriates.

Holland Village (District 10)

This Bohemian area is one of the most popular neighbourhoods for expatriates to reside in. It offers attractive leafy suburban streets filled with a mixture of larger family homes, condominiums and apartment blocks, with a number of gated communities.
Close to the Botanical Gardens and only minutes away from Orchard Road, with its shops, restaurants and bars, Holland Village benefits from a central location with a community village feel. Many families opt to live here, thanks to its proximity to some of the best schools and open green spaces. There are also a number of art galleries and shops in the area.
In the evenings, Holland Village is popular with both local residents and expatriates as a place to go for an evening meal or night out. It is sometimes called ‘Holland V’ by its young, trendy visitors. It’s a great area with plenty of choice of accommodation to suit your preferred style of living.

Orchard Road (District 9)

District 9 encompasses Orchard Road, the tree-lined boulevard lined with major stores, boutiques and hotels, and the main shopping and entertainment area of Singapore. While it is known as the commercial hub of the city-state, it also offers some prime residential housing options.
Here you will find towering condominium and apartment blocks that offer sky-high luxury living. It doesn’t come cheap for this central floor space, especially in the Core Central Region. In August 2017, a ‘super penthouse’ sold in the Sculptura Ardmore complex in excess of a reported S$60 million – though exact details of the sale were kept private. What is known is that the Sculptura Ardmore is a 36-storey, 34-unit high block, with the penthouse taking up the top two floors and has its own cantilevered private pool.
Other complexes in the area offer the ultimate in city luxury, but at slightly less eye-popping prices from around S$30 million upwards.

Tiong Bahru (District 3)

Tiong Bahru is one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore, and it’s built in a unique way. The houses interlock together in a kind of horse-shoe shape around the community centre. It offers lower-level living, which might appeal if the idea of a towering apartment block doesn’t suit you.
Apartments here are elegant and with a rich heritage, with Art Deco stylings. Many have been extensively but sensitively restored into stunning modern homes. The area in general can feel much calmer and quieter, which can offer a good respite from the busyness of the city centre.
The area has seen a lot of investment and interest. It is home to many modern and trendy cafes and coffee shops, boutiques and eateries. It also has a popular market and good commuter links to the business district. It’s a popular area with expatriate families in particular, especially those with younger children.

Tanjong Pagar (District 2)

This city-centre district is popular with high-income single professionals and couples who want to live at the heart of everything. The area has been hugely redeveloped to meet the demand and there are some incredible buildings with all manner of residential options. It’s also a short commute to the main Central Business District (CBD) on foot.
The condo blocks here usually have a pool and gym facilities and are located in premium positions to benefit from sky-line views across the city.
In the area, you will also find the classic shophouse-style buildings that Singapore is known for. It’s probably the most recognisable style of local architecture, with a narrow face but great depth. Shophouses date back to the 18th century and many were destroyed to make space for newer developments. Not many are available as modern housing options, but they do lend a cultural charm to the area.

Sentosa (District 4)

Sentosa is known as a ‘resort island’ in Singapore, thanks to its Universal Studios theme park (as part of Resorts World Sentosa), golf club, beaches and other attractions. However, for those who want high-end living away from the main city, this is a great residential option. It does mean a commute from the mainland, either by car or by using the tram that connects to the MRT system.
Those who live permanently in the area will benefit from a close-knit community feel, but it can get busy in the main tourist season with many visitors. There are plenty of luxury accommodation options here, with exceptional sea views and a short walk to the nearest beach. There are striking condos available, as well as more substantial waterfront homes.
You would certainly never get bored on this island. It boasts casinos, international shows at the Festive Theatre, restaurants, bars, an indoor skydiving experience and the historic Fort Siloso.

East Coast (Districts 15 and 16)

This popular area, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, offers a selection of apartments with excellent sea- or riverfront views, as well as variety of activities and dining options.
From the green oasis of East Coast Park where you can cycle, rollerblade, canoe and windsurf to your heart’s content, to the excellent facilities at the Laguna Golf Course and East Coast Tennis Centre, there certainly isn’t a lack of fun things to do in this area.
Some of the most popular international schools are located around 45 minutes away by school bus, and some can even be reached by bike commute. As such, this green area is popular with expatriate families looking for a quieter living experience with lots of open space to enjoy. It’s a little further out, which means that you can usually get a lot more space for your money.

Woodlands (District 25)

Popular with American expatriates in particular, due to its close proximity to the Singapore American School, Woodlands is a neighbourhood in the north region of Singapore. It is the main centre for this region, so it has all the key amenities close to hand. It does mean a commute to the Central Business District if this is where you will be working (about 12 miles away), but it is a nice area to bring up a young family.
Here you can find large houses with lots of green space, a wonderful alternative to apartment city-centre living. It is one of the fastest-growing areas of Singapore and has developed well beyond its initial roots as a very rural area, home to numerous rubber plantations and farms.

Marina Bay (District 1)

This is one of the most exclusive and desirable areas to live in Singapore for expatriates right now. It is stunningly designed, attractive and has a huge greenspace right at its heart or public use.
Its well-known as the location of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, which takes place on a street circuit adjacent to Marina Bay. It also hosts a number of special events in the area, including fireworks, New Year celebrations and art shows.
The top development in the area is Marina One, with is available for mixed-use, including residential. It offers up to four-bedroom apartments and penthouse suites, right in the heart of the city. It is connected to four MRT lines to allow for easy commuting around the rest of Singapore. It also has a pool, gym and private dining rooms. Not to mention panoramic views over the sea and the gardens.
If you are considering moving to Singapore, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way. From your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.