If you are a foreigner already looking to immigrate to Singapore, and are currently looking for a good piece of rental property, here are some guidelines for you so that you can find the best, and exclusive rental properties in Singapore!
Difference between leasehold and freehold properties in Singapore
Firstly, if you are an immigrant from a Western country, you may want to know that Singapore has two kinds of properties – public and private housing. Within private housing, there are also two kinds of real estate – 99 years leasehold and freehold.
Public housing refers to the 99 years leasehold flats developed by Housing and Development Board, known in short as HDB, which is owned by the government. There is no such thing as a freehold HDB flat. Even though HDBs are only available for purchase by citizens at a cheaper price, and open market value for Singapore permanent residents, foreigners can rent them. Rentals are not affected by the purchase clause.
Private housing refers to any other type of residential property in Singapore. Within private properties, there are 99 years leasehold, 999 years leasehold and freehold ones. Everyone is allowed to purchase non landed private properties in SG as long as you can afford it. Landed property purchases are subject to approvals for foreigners.
For the purpose of our discussion, if you are looking to rent a unit in SG, the leasehold should not be a concern at all. However, keep in mind that some unethical house owners may try to jack up the prices for rental rates, and even citing because it is a more prestigious freehold property. Do not buy into that lie, because you are here to rent, not purchase it. When it comes to SG rentals, a different set of rules apply compared to purchasing.
Convenience can be a huge factor in determining your decision and rental rates as well
Unless you get to have a company car, which most companies no longer provide, you will either need to get your own car while you are in Singapore, take the cab, or take the bus and MRT train to travel to your work place while you are in the city.
However, not many foreigners opt for getting a car, as even a second hand Toyota can cost around $30000 to $60000, which is ridiculously expensive. Much more for a European brand.
If you intend to take the cab everywhere, then this probably matters less, but since many foreigners prefer taking the cab for urgent matters, but use the public transportation in Singapore for all other intra city travel, finding a suitable rental property near the MRT station, or with easy access to it is ideal. For instance, one popular such condo which is next to an MRT which is reasonably priced is Urban Vista which is located right next to Tanah Merah MRT. You can read a good Urban Vista condo review here, as it is a popular condo at Tanah Merah next to an MRT station which makes it especially convenient among expats and migrants to Singapore.
While buses are found everywhere in Singapore as well and is efficient in that it reaches every part of the country, it is actually pretty inconvenient, as they take big loops around the city with congested traffic, and you will also usually need to change buses multiple times before being able to reach most destinations. That is a turn off for most people, so permanent residents in Singapore usually prefer the easier way out – taking the MRT train, which is usually a much faster form of public transportation in Singapore.
Therefore, be prepared to pay more for units nearer to MRT stations. Condos, HDB or landed real estate rentals far from any kind of MRT stations should be rented at much cheaper rates, or you are overpaying severely.