Types of Residential Houses in Singapore
Land is a scarce commodity in Singapore. Due to this, residential properties are mainly in the form of highrise apartments or condominiums. Landed properties are a luxury as they are very expensive. On average, 80% of Singaporeans live in flats which are built and managed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) while the rest live in private apartments, condominiums and landed properties.
The population continues to grow as the influx of foreigners increases with the opportunities in Singapore bustling economy. The three main property types here are HDB flats, private apartments and landed properties. Foreigners must clearly understand the differences among these properties, especially because of the ownership restrictions for HDB flats and landed properties. It is absolutely important to know about the property you intend to buy. Before deciding on which property type of property you are purchasing, you need to know the general classification of properties as set by the government.
Private apartments fall under the classification of apartments or condominiums, with the distinction between the two being the development size and also built up sizes. Condominiums are usually packaged with more facilities such as swimming pool, tennis court, gymnasium, squash courts, children’s playground, BBQ areas, enclosed car park and security services. These developments are commonly freehold but there are instances where they are 99-year leasehold or 999-year leasehold.
Condominiums are mainly mid to high-rise buildings that are more luxurious with their full facilities (covered parking, 24-hr security, clubhouse facilities; e.g. swimming pools, tennis/squash court, gym, etc.). Its stylish exterior and attractive facilities make it a popular choice for expatriates. From cozy studio units (1-bedroom or 500sq feet) to spacious penthouses (8000 sq feet), condominium living caters to all and is fast becoming a favourite form of accommodation even among locals. Condominums in private housing estates on average cost to purchase between S$1.2 million to more than S$3 million for condominums. Rentals can range between S$3,000 and go as high as S$18,000 for the more luxurious ones.
While newer and more modern condo’s may cost more and are generally easier to maintain, and older condo’s (above 7 yrs old) tend to be bigger in size with larger pools and gardens. If you enjoy your space, older units will suit you well.
Similar in size to condominiums but lacking in facilities like swimming pools, tennis, squash courts and barbeque pits. However some apartments have upgraded with a small swimming pool and an averagely-equipped gym and security for such forms of accommodation may not be as efficient.
Apartments come in various sizes and designs and may provide you with the same comfort level as a condominium. Keep in mind that these units are relatively more affordable than condominums or houses. Apartments on average cost to purchase between S$600,000 to about S$1.5 million and rentals range between S$2,000 to about S$5,500 per month,depending on the location and size.
As for landed properties, they are classified as terraced houses, semi-detached houses, detached houses, exclusive bungalows and shop houses. These properties can be very expensive depending on the plot size as well as location and are usually tied to the land title. Most are freehold yet some are 99-year leasehold and 999-year leasehold.
Most bungalows (especially the larger ones) in Singapore were built before World War II and are a significant part of Singapore’s heritage. Bungalows are defined as independent dwelling units which can be one, two or three storey’s high. They tend to be located in serene wooded environments away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Expect to pay a higher price for the privacy and luxury that a bungalow will offer. Prices can range from S$1.5 million to S$7 million or even higher in some cases, depending on location and size of land. Prices are relatively high as space is valued and scarce in Singapore. Rentals for such homes, can range from S$4,000 to about S$35,000 per month.
Purchase of such homes are restricted to foreigners unless you are a permanent resident (PR),you would be allowed to purchase a landed property with written permission from the Land Development Unit of Singapore. This is applicable for any landed properties.
For those who prefer more privacy, townhouses’ are an ideal form of living in Singapore. They either form entire estates, or are part of a larger condominium establishment. Combined with facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and other recreational facilities, these landed terrace houses provide occupants with convenience and spacious living. Rentals range between S$6,000 to about S$15,000 per month.
- CLUSTER HOUSES
Cluster housing was introduced in recent years and it is becoming more popular with expatriates who wants to live in a house but do not want to pay hefty rentals. Several detached homes built in a large plot of land with common facilities, such as a swimming pool, playground and security gates. Rentals tend to be slightly cheaper than individual houses and no maintenance cost for your common grounds and facilities. Rentals range from S$8,500 to about S$14,000 per month.
- SEMI-DETACHED & TERRACE
Semi-detached (semi-D) houses are a pair of houses that share one common wall. There are no facilities provided here except for a personal patio, car porch and garden area. Most semi-detached homes offers a spacious living, dining and bedrooms and it comes in two or three storeys.
Terrace units are a row of houses in two or three storey that have common walls with those in the middle known as intermediate terraces, and those at the end known as corner terraces. Corner terraces have larger garden areas and are suitable for more those in need of more open space. Rentals for such homes can range from S$4,000 to S$10,000 per month
- COLONIAL /BLACK & WHITE HOUSES
Remodeled conservation historical townhouses inhabited by British officers when Singapore was part of the British empire. Built as early as 1840 to 1900. It’s ethnic architectural design with high ceilings and wooden beams appeals to many Caucasians, especially to the young and romantic couples and those of whom who would like to experience history and live in unique houses like this. Contemporary designed bathrooms and kitchen has been added for modern day living and convienence.
Affordable rentals and an experience of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to romance history. These unique Singapore conservation houses were lived in by British colonial masters, usually military officers. The wooden floor boards and big balcony off the living room are great attractions.Fully air conditioned bedrooms and living /dining rooms for the comfort of today’s living lifestyle. Bright kitchens with natural daylight from skylights created from tropical sunlight filtering in from the courtyard is greatly appealing to caucasian expatriates.
Some of the conversation homes are in 2 levels and some are in 3 or 4 levels. They range between 2000 sq ft to 6000 sq ft. This includes a courtyard within the house, sometimes with a koi fish pond. It is great for morning breakfast or a romantic alfresco dinner or just sitting out there with your loved one sipping your favourite wines. Some even comes with a sundeck on the second floor with total privacy. You can add a touch with tropical potted plants to create the cosy ambience.
Affordable rent for unique conservation houses are between S$4,000 to S$16,000. Depending on size and location. Emerald Hill is the hottest spot and even the Chinatown areas. A countryside historical ambience of Emeral Hill will be plenty to talk about. Lots of car parking spaces. Ammenties and the shopping belt of Singapore are within a 2-minute walk. Subway stations and Bus stops are at your door step. A 10 minutes drive or a 5 minutes ride by the trains take you to the finicial and central business district.
These houses are only for rent.
HDB flats are the most sought after properties in Singapore as it is comparatively the most affordable. These properties are built and maintained by the Housing and Development Board which is government financed and subsidised and are 99-year leasehold. One of the advantages of HDB estates is that these developments are designed to be self-sufficient communities with basic amenities such as coffee shops, supermarkets, food centres, schools, clinics, shopping malls, playground and parks. Getting around is also convenient as these developments are well served by a host of public transportation systems like the MRT, buses and taxis.
These are slightly bigger than HDB flats but smaller than private condominiums and were created to fulfill the needs of young professionals wanting something better than a HDB flat but cannot afford the costly private condos. For the first 5 years these condominiums cannot be sold at all but is automatically converted into ‘no restrictions’ after 10 years. Between 5 to 10 years they cannot be sold to foreigners. There are certain restrictions on foreign ownership of properties in Singapore so it would be wise to do some research and consult a solicitor before buying. As a foreigner, you may rent a private apartment and landed property by producing documents such as a valid work permit or student pass. Recently, the government had relaxed the foreign ownership restrictions to attract foreign investment and talent in a bid to increase the population and strengthen the economy. Those with Permanent Resident status or Citizenship are allowed to purchase HDB flats either through re-sale or directly from the government.