Now that the Singapore property market isn’t looking like the goldmine it once was, more and more young people are turning to renting. Sure, those Singaporeans whose sole reason for being is “security” will scoff and say it’s a dumb thing to do.
Still, other than the fact that some analysts have said that if this property slump continues renting might actually be more financially prudent than buying, there are a few other compelling reasons other than marriage that Singaporeans move out of their parents’ home. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, this is for you.
Why would you want to move out?
As much as the government would like you to think that family life is all happy-happy-joy-joy, not everyone enjoys living under the same roof as their parents. I’ve lived alone, with roommates, with a partner and with my parents, and to me the last option was the least enjoyable of all (the fact that I had to commute a long way to get to work probably had something to do with it).
Sure, you need to do your own laundry and plan your own meals, but that can be fulfilling in itself. Again, different strokes for different folks, there are people who are perfectly satisfied living at home. But don’t knock others for not feeling the same way.
There are a lot of Singaporeans who pay a high “parent tax” when they continue living at home after entering the workforce. If you’re giving your parents $1,000 a month, you could always reduce the parent tax and then move out if that’s financially viable for all parties involved.
And then there are people who are forced to move out because they don’t get along with their family or actually get driven out of the house because of their parents’ conservatism or inability to accept an alternative lifestyle. Singapore is still pretty darn conservative, so these things can do do happen.
Finally, if your family lives in Punggol and you work in Tuas, all the free food in the world cannot make up for spending 4 hours commuting each day. Either get a job closer to your area or move into a cheap room, because that much time and energy squeezing on public transport will drive you nuts in the long run.
Which areas are popular?
Now, everyone knows only people on fat expat packages can afford to live in super central areas like Orchard and River Valley. But there are some areas that are fairly central, yet still affordable (in Singpaore terms). Of course, you can’t expect to get Choa Chu Kang- or Woodlands-type prices here, but it’s still nice to be in an area that’s not only close to the city centre but also within reach of dining and entertainment venues. Plus when you miss the last bus you don’t have to worry about paying $50 to take a cab home.
Obviously, HDB units are the cheapest option. But some young people renting a single room choose to go with condo units, as HDB units tend to be occupied by the landlords’ family, which could detract from the experience. If the landlord is in the flat they may enforce strict rules forbidding cooking or having visitors over.
- Chinatown – If you can get an HDB unit in the Chinatown area don’t let it go as the location is fantastic for those who work in the CBD, and it’s also near most of Singapore’s main entertainment districts
- Tiong Bahru – It’s getting harder and harder to get an HDB unit here, as hipsters are flooding in en masse. Very central area and close to all the hipster cafes, plus you’re very near the Outram and Robertson Quay areas. Prices are still relatively affordable.
- Geylang – Geylang is filled with relatively affordable condos and HDB units and is fairly close to the city centre. Plus there’s lots of good food in the area.
- East Coast/Bayshore – super popular with expats, it’s a good option for condo renters if you don’t mind a slightly longer commute to the city centre. Good choice for those who work at Changi Business Park. You’ll be very near East Coast Park and Siglap.
- West Coast – Popular with academics and science and tech workers who commute to NUS or Biopolis. A bit far from the CBD, but at least you can hang out at Holland Village.
- Farrer Park/Little India – The condos in the area are very popular amongst expats and foreign students, and you can get to Bugis, Bras Basah and the CBD quite quickly. Plus Little India is an interesting place to live and you can shop at Mustafa every day.
Once you move out of your parents’ home, you’ll realise that rent isn’t the only expense you’ll have to start paying on your own. Here are some other things to consider:
- Utilities – If utilities aren’t included in the rent, you’ll need to factor in the cost in addition. If you have the whole unit to yourself, you might also need to pay a deposit to SP Services.
- Wifi – If you have housemates who’ve already been there for a while, unless they were born in the middle ages they’ll have an existing wifi connection, which you can then pay your share of.
- Groceries – The biggest change you’ll have to get used to is settling all your own meals. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your parents’ eating habits. Welcome to the world of comparing prices at supermarkets!
- Agents’ fees – To avoid paying agents’ fees, always confirm that the agent is the Landlord’s agent, because agents who are appointed by the landlord are not allowed to charge you a fee as a renter.