Ready to rent an apartment in Singapore?
Feeling a little overwhelmed by the steps and paperwork required? Hang in there! This handy primer will get you sorted.
Before diving right into the househunting, it’s essential to prepare necessary documents for your trusted realtor. You’ll need a photocopied passport, photocopied employment pass, and at least one month’s rental for the “good-faith deposit”.
You just need one because most property companies share the same database of property listings in Singapore. If you approach many realtors at the same time, they may
show you the same property. It also helps to have a list of “must-haves” and “don’t-cares”.
If you want an open balcony and space of at least 800 square feet, but are not concerned if there’s a swimming pool or an in-condo gym, say so up front. You can often check apartment sizes and specs online via websites before visiting with the realtor, and before you even go see a place, ask about how many of the must-have’s it has.
- Housing & Development Board
HDB (Housing & Development Board) flats are government-built apartments. Some 80 percent of Singaporeans live in HDB housing – and now foreigners and expats can also rent some of the units. One major benefit is having great facilities close by, such as shops playgrounds and medical clinics. You’ll also get to experience Singapore life in a very real way, from enjoying festivals and food, to shopping at bustling local wet markets. Many modern HDB flats are also as gorgeous outside and inside as any private apartment, equipped with modern fitments, and yet be more economical to rent.
- Cluster Houses and Condominiums
Combining privacy and spaciousness of landed properties, cluster houses offer security and facilities such as swimming pools and gyms. Condominiums, on the other hand, offer the same gated community and amenities, but with the enjoyment of living life in high-rise units instead.
- Conservation Homes
Indulge in the rare chance to live in Singapore’s iconic shophouses. You’ll be able to spot these quirky and colourful rows of houses scattered across conservation areas in Singapore. These buildings are preserved by the authorities to maintain its rich architectural style and historical value. To maintain the ambiance and physical character of the districts which most of these buildings are located, strict conservation guidelines have been put in place.
- Black and White Houses
Many of the heritage “black and white” houses and apartments are run by the Singapore government. They’re leased to renters for a set period, say one or two years. You bid to rent them via a closed auction, and there may or may not be an open house that allows you to physically view inside the house. Some just offer photos on the government website, the Singapore Land Authority’s State Property Information Online (SPIO). This site gives details of the bidding process – including what places are coming up for rent. Be aware that these houses or apartments sometimes come completely empty. You may also need to make repairs to them, and install everything from the cooker and washing machine to the water heater and ceiling fans. Despite the extra work costs and labour that you might need to put in, these places are often not substantially cheaper to rent than a modern condo. So ask yourself if you can be bothered buying all that stuff and finding tradespeople to do the work. If you can, you’ll be rewarded with a dwelling that comes with vintage character – and high ceilings!
Have a good idea about the interior of the house before renting. Fully-furnished (F/furn) means the apartment or house comes with all the furniture, white goods (large electrical appliances like the refrigerator and washing machine) and other essential electrical wares or equipment.
Partially-furnished (P/furn) means the apartment only comes with white goods, curtains, lighting and maybe some bigger furniture items like sofas.
If a place is partially-furnished when you view it, you can ask the landlord to fully-furnish it, or ask them to remove furniture you don’t need. All these issues are negotiable, and they can affect your rental amount.
Look around on property websites (such as Property Guru, ST Property, 99.co, Far East Organization or Gumtree) to get an idea of what you can get for your money, then set a monthly rent and stick to it. (Some realtors try to show you places that cost more than your monthly salary.) However, if you love a place that’s a little out of your price range, you can try polite negotiation. For example, if you’re prepared to sign a longer lease, they may also be prepared to lower the monthly rent a little.
By Mizah Salik + Tara Baker, The Finder Issue 299
More on The Finder:
Don’t miss out! Like our Facebook page for event updates and more.