According to a recent survey involving almost 13,000 expats, Singapore ranked as the ninth best place to live and work. We lag behind Taiwan (in fourth place), but are well ahead of longtime rival Hong Kong in 39th place. This survey, called “Expat Insider”, is organised every year by Munich-based expat network InterNations.
Meanwhile, a separate cost of living survey for expats conducted by consultancy firm ECA International placed Hong Kong second worldwide. This, compared to Singapore, which was 24th on the list.
But then there’s also the more high-profile cost of living survey for expats published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. For the fourth year running, the 2017 report placed Singapore in the top spot.
Whether first or 24th, we zoom in on five affordable two-bedroom condos that expats can consider if they’re relocating to Singapore or are downsizing from their current homes. We narrowed down our list to the neighbourhoods that are popular among expats. Each has its own distinct character and attributes, and are beloved for those very reasons.
District 9 is home to some of the city’s swankiest addresses. Best for those who enjoy shopping and dining out, this centrally-located neighbourhood has all the amenities you could want. From malls, restaurants and cinemas to schools, parks and hospitals, the locale is hard to beat.
1) The MKZ
Close enough to the action but far from the madding crowd is new-build The MKZ (TOP: June 2017). The development has just 42 units, of which half are two-bedders. There isn’t much in the way of facilities — just a swimming pool, BBQ area and gym. But with Orchard Road and Little India a stone’s throw away, surely there are enough distractions to keep everyone occupied. Nearby schools include St. Margaret’s Primary and Chatsworth International. Little India is the closest MRT station. Rental listings on EdgeProp.sg show two-bedders going for less than $2,500 per month.
While there are many decentralised commercial districts around the island, chances are that most expats will be stationed to work in the CBD. To save time commuting from the suburbs, it makes sense to consider a central location. With so many amenities (supermarkets, eateries, gyms, bars and pubs) now available in the CBD — including recent openings like Tanjong Pagar Centre and OUE Downtown — it has never been easier to live and work in the city.
Naturally, with greater convenience comes a higher cost. But expats need just look slightly further afield to be rewarded. At new (TOP: June 2017) developments like Spottiswoode Suites, a two-bedroom unit can be had for as little as just under $3,000 per month. This is according to the latest listings on EdgeProp.sg. The property, which has 175 units, is within walking distance of Outram MRT and the upcoming Cantonment MRT. The ISS International School is nearby, as are scores of eateries, fitness centres and nightlife options. These are clustered around Duxton Hill, Tanjong Pagar Road and Keong Saik Road.
For true-blue suburbanites who prefer a less frenzied lifestyle and wide, open spaces, Woodlands is the way to go. Urban conveniences can still be had at Causeway Point. This far from the city, the lower cost of living is an attractive feature in itself. Across the causeway, food, groceries, haircuts and massages can be had on the cheap in Johor Bahru.
A relatively new (TOP: 2014) and sprawling development in Woodlands, Parc Rosewood has 689 units and a myriad of facilities. These include a 50m lap pool, hydrotherapy jet pool, yoga pavilion, meditation pavilion, jogging track and tennis court. The property is close to Woodlands MRT, Causeway Point and public parks like Admiralty Park and Woodlands Waterfront Park. The Singapore American School is practically at its doorstep as well. Two-bedroom units here can be leased for under $2,000.
Famous for its laid-back lifestyle, heritage trails and foodie delights, the East Coast area is extremely popular with expats. The multitude of recreational facilities found at East Coast Park – cycling, canoeing, bowling, inline-skating etc — are a big draw. As are the historic Straits Chinese shophouses in Katong and Joo Chiat, many of which house cafes and restaurants.
Questa @ Dunman is nestled between the foodie enclaves of Joo Chiat Road and Tanjong Katong Road. A relative newcomer to the East Coast neighbourhood (TOP: 2014), the 122-unit development has a swimming pool and gym. Close by is the Canadian International School, while Tanjong Katong Secondary is just across the road. Dakota and Paya Lebar MRT stations are a short distance away. For just under $3,000 (https://goo.gl/k2h7FX) a month, you can rent a relatively spacious (>800 sq. ft.) two-bedder.
Expat enclaves don’t get more exclusive than Sentosa Cove, home to some of the poshest properties in Singapore. Foreign nationals flock here for that Miami-meets-the Mediterranean lifestyle. Think white-sand beaches, chic seaside restaurants, a yachting culture and millionaire mansions. With stunning views that overlook the South China Sea or the city skyline, it’s easy to let one’s cares melt away at the end of the day. Rents here, though higher than in the other areas we’ve profiled, are still affordable compared to similar locations, say, in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen district.
The massive, 228-unit The Residences at W is the residential component of the W Singapore — Sentosa Cove hotel. Residents are privy to facilities such as infinity lap pools and a Club Lounge. But it’s access to the hotel’s concierge services — from housekeeping to laundry and dry-cleaning — that’s a big draw. Besides the numerous eateries in the W, there are several dining options in Quayside Isle, the development’s commercial component.
There are no schools on Sentosa. But nearby attractions such as VivoCity and Universal Studios Singapore ought to keep the whole family entertained over the weekend. Listings on EdgeProp.sg show spacious (>1,200 sq. ft.) two-bedders going for about $6,000 per month. (This compares to 900 sq.ft. two-bedders in Marinella, Hong Kong, that lease for around HK$55,000 a month, or S$9,500).
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