The republic of Singapore or “The Lion City” as it is sometimes called is a city-state full of tradition, great food, and interesting locales. What amuses and fascinates many tourists is how their housing structure works when compared to other cities. Due to their decently large population and space requirments, the government has made huge steps to ensure that there is a place for everyone to live in. From HDB flats, executive condominiums to privately owned condominium, each type of property reflects how Singaporeans reside in Singapore. In particular their public housing initiative is quite interesting to say the least.
In Singapore, almost 85% of the population reside in public housing. While this has a negative connotation in the United States and other places due to government management, Singapore’s public housing are almost completely owned by its residents. These affordable apartments are located in large self contained towns called housing estates that are also home to markets, sports and activity centers, clinics, and even grocery stores. These are commonly referred to as HBDs since they are managed by the Housing and Development Board.
HBDs are extremely well kept as they are owned by the residents and built by a reputable development board. While most of these apartments look the same, there are variances in how many rooms each one has, ranging from three to five rooms. The living room counts as one of the listed rooms while some of the bigger layouts have an extra room that can be used as a study.
The newest addition to the public housing would be the executive condominium. Since their introduction in 1999, executive condominiums have been gaining popularity among homebuyers, and it is not difficult to see why. Most notably, their affordable prices yet comparable features and design as opposed to private condominiums are what make executive condominiums the better option.
Executive condominiums are the largest possible type of housing provided by the HBD and come in at a nice 1600 square feet. The major benefit of this type of housing for a resident of Singapore comes down to the additional dining and living room space as well as three bedrooms. However, there is a catch; as of 2015, the buyer’s household income must not exceed a total of $14,000 to qualify. Besides, if it is bought directly from a developer, there is a required occupancy of at least 5 years in which the condo cannot be rented or sold during this period.
Privately Owned Property
Singapore does not have an abundance of land for real estate so most of the privately owned property comes in the form of high rises and bungalows. The high-rise condominiums and apartments are basically more attractive looking version of the HBD apartments. Unlike the HBD and executive condominium, these privately owned ones are not nestled within the micro-towns and are instead given host to different recreational and luxury services such as tennis courts and huge gardens within the property.
Homes and bungalows on the other hand showcase brilliant designs with some situated on a beautiful waterfront. There are different types of housing available: terrace houses, shop houses, bungalow houses, and town houses. While some are self explanatory, reaching the ability to purchase a house on your own plot of land in Singapore is a sure sign of wealth.
Of particular interest, shop houses are probably one of the more common occurrences that will lend some familiarity to what is seen in America or other countries. These are basically a hybrid property that typically would have a shop on the ground floor and housing on the top. In recent days, most of these have been completely remodelled into just business space and homes.
Terrace Homes on the other hand, are typically built in a row and joined with other similar sized houses. If you think about how US townhouses are built, then you have a general idea of the way Singaporeans live in these. Typically, these are two stories, with a small courtyard, and fence leading into the property but still offers privacy by their solid construction.
No longer confined to the HBD’s standards, a good example of a Singapore “Grade A Bungalow” would have to be for the rich and the famous. This would be something you’d watch a star show off on TV as their vacation home as each one features a full 1400 square meters of land flush with swimming pools, basketball courts, large gardens, and for a few extremely well off, a movie theatre. These are of course rich individuals that live on the island; however anyone that is able to afford the price of a privately owned house is well within their means to begin to consider one of these.
But what about renting?
If you are looking to simply rent one of these properties, either public or private, there are a few things that foreigners have to abide by before looking into real estate within Singapore. Specifically, you have to remember that the government and HBD do not want their properties rented out as they are meant to serve as homes for Singaporeans. However, that doesn’t mean that renting is entirely unavailable.
While the HBD themselves may be remiss to offer a renting option, many HBD owners who have been fortunate enough to move into a privately owned property may be more than willing to allow you to use their former space. Typically, the price range goes as much as $1200 to $1800 for the HDB apartments ranging from the three-room apartment to the executive condominium.
If you are looking to rent a private property however, there are even more requirements that should be considered. It is possible for foreigners to rent just about any type of privately owned living quarters, but the price spike on these is extremely high. Specifically, if you’re looking to grab a luxury condominium in one of the high rises, you can expect to pay $8000 a month. That’s a pretty steep jump from the HBD offerings. For a fully furnished bungalow house on the other hand, you could spend as much as $30,000 that is a down payment in the states. Not to mention, landlords will typically want three months rent up front. -Ouch!-
In many ways, housing in Singapore is similar to worldwide options but as public housing are sought after rather than scorned; they have effectively raised a lot of Singaporean’s living status to a higher level.