At present, housing in Singapore is relatively easy to find, and options favored by expatriates range from contemporary high-rise condos to historic conservation shop houses and colonial bungalows. As Singapore has a very high population density, high-rise developments are extensively used to house its population. While most locals – nearly 90% – live in huge blocks of government-managed Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, expatriates usually choose to live in privately-owned properties including apartments and landed houses.
Due to the lack of space, however, landed properties are scarce and expensive, especially as one gets closer to Orchard Road and the central business district (CBD). Thus, high-rise living is generally the norm nearer the city center, and those interested in landed properties mostly look to the residential neighborhoods located a bit farther away from hustle and bustle. Still, no location is very far from the action on this tiny islan d.
As Singapore seems to embody the “newer is better” attitude when it comes to housing, new developments are easily found, and older buildings are regularly remodeled. Still, those with an appreciation for the past may be able to snag one of the handful of historic homes available for rental or purchase with sufficient research and luck in timing.
Housing is undoubtedly quite expensive, so expatriates who arrive in Singapore without company-sponsored housing packages will find affordable housing (of the size and style they are likely used to) more challenging to obtain. Nevertheless, access to the more affordable housing in the suburbs is readily available by way of outstanding public transportation systems. Unfortunately housing prices here are continually on the rise and the mass development and investment in the country means that this trend will probably not change in the near future. The continual development present in the city means that it can also be very difficult to find an apartment or condo that is not close to construction work.
Expatriate homes are generally outfitted with all of the amenities and fixtures commonly found in Western homes, including Western toilets and showers and common large appliances like refrigerators, washers, and air conditioners. Dishwashers, however, are very rare. The majority of condos have swimming pools, tennis courts, BBQ facilities, maintenance and security. Properties that were built (or planned) between 1998 and 2009, also have bomb shelters. These were constructed in order to fulfill the legal requirements of the Civil Defence Shelter Act, but the majority of Singaporeans use them for storage or as a bedroom for their domestic help.