When traveling the world, it’s often comforting to have a little home to return to. Many of us are perfectly fine with living out of a suitcase, getting used to the feeling of hotel slippers and complimentary bars of soap – but others need a place to truly call home, something outside of their hearts and ever-shifting four walls.
If you’re looking for a way to comfortably store your things away while out traveling through Asia, then it’s a good idea to set yourself up with a base of operations – like Singapore. As a foreigner, your options in Singapore are limited – but it’s a beautiful country, and a great place to live, whether you do for a few weeks in a month or permanently.
As recently as a few decades ago, Singapore found itself in a major housing crisis. Significant amounts of its population were stranded, squatting in private and public property and overcrowded slums. It wasn’t a pretty picture, and the country wasn’t doing well economically either. Then, in order to bring some order to the chaos, the government began its very own housing project back in 1960.
Over the next several decades, the country’s Housing and Development Board took care of the nation’s housing needs, housing most of the country in subsidized and state-supervised apartment projects. Each project was designed, conceived and constructed through the agency, and they house as much as 80 percent of Singapore’s resident citizenry. Outside of the HDB’s designated housing, the country also has a thriving renting market in the form of private homes and high-end condominiums, as well as houses. We’ll explore the pros and cons of each, and which you may want to try and rent out as an expat on-the-road.
Singapore’s public housing as per the HDB is a very attractive option if you want to save your coin – as long as you can find yourself a good deal. The HDB was founded entirely for the benefit of the Singaporean people, so the rules surrounding ownership and tenancy in Singapore’s public housing are very much pro-landlord, with a focus on promoting an ethnic environment of mostly local Singaporeans. As such, foreigners can only rent out an HDB if the building’s ethnic quota hasn’t been hit yet.
Mind you that public housing doesn’t come with some of the other benefits that private homes have. For one, there’s less privacy – but also fewer amenities, which you may be used to in a condo environment. Speaking of which…
Condos in Singapore work like pretty much everywhere else – there’s a huge development company that seeks investors and condominium buyers to finance the construction of their building, and in the end, each condo owner owns a percentage share in the costs and risks of the building’s common areas (hallways, elevators, windows, etc.). Every condo has its own board and respective covenants, conditions and restrictions detailing what condo owners can and can’t do – and they have a set number of units available for rent. A good idea to find out what your options are is to simply swing on over to a local directory website like PropertyGuru Singapore, and specifically search for available units for rent.
Renting out a condo is a deal more expensive than your average apartment unit or HDB flat, but it’s a great alternative if you’re the type who needs ready access to a number of amenities when not out on the road, including in-house Laundromats and fitness centers. As a foreigner, you can also buy into a condominium project and use it as a passive investment. If you plan to travel for longer periods at a time, then you may have the option to rent out your condo while you’re away. As far as investment locations go, Global Property Guide notes that Singapore is one of few countries in the surrounding area of Asia where the laws are very much on the landlord’s side, which spells benefits for you as you get to draft and control the contract.
Finally, if you’d like something more spacious and open than a flat of a condo, then you have the option of renting a single-dwelling home or townhouse in Singapore. While the prices here depend wildly on where you are – Singapore’s different districts do command fairly different real estate rental prices – you could easily end up paying less renting a house or townhouse outside of a district’s condo-heavy business centers.
Whatever home you choose as your base of operations while traveling, it’s usually always the same deal when it comes to actually closing the deal – you begin with a directory of your choosing, and then you search by location. Real estate agents in Singapore are well-versed in local laws and in dealing with expats, and you’ll have no problem setting yourself up with a new home in no time.