The best places to live in Singapore
Although it’s not the largest destination, choosing an area or suburb in bustling Singapore can nonetheless be a daunting task, and the best neighbourhood for one expat may not be another's cup of tea. An expat's decision on where to live will largely depend on their lifestyle priorities, family situation, the location of their workplace and personal preferences.
The city-state is divided into 28 districts which can be grouped into five main areas: Central, East, North, North-East and West. Here's an overview of some of the best areas to live as an expat.
The central area is situated, perhaps somewhat misleadingly, towards the south of the island. This large area includes the main business district as well as several popular residential areas, such as Bukit Timah and Bukit Merah. It provides easy access to some of Singapore's best spots for shopping, entertainment and eating out.
Housing is predominantly found in high-rise condos and apartments – often fully furnished and serviced – that tend to come with shared amenities, such as pools and gyms. Pricing varies from reasonable to astronomical, leaning more towards the latter as this is generally considered to be the most expensive area in Singapore.
Families will have plenty of choice when it comes to international schools in this area. Options include ISS International School, Swiss School in Singapore, Tanglin Trust School, and UWC South East Asia.
Although the Central Region affords a cosmopolitan lifestyle and great access to almost everything, it's significantly more costly than accommodation found outside the hub, and high noise levels from traffic and ongoing construction work can also have an impact on quality of life.
Although the north is considered to be "far" from the city, in truth it's only about 15 miles (25km) and is easily accessed by car, MRT or bus. Expats will be able to see Malaysia from the Woodlands district in this part of Singapore, and there is a causeway bridge that connects the two countries. The area is lush with greenery and features golf courses, plant nurseries and reservoirs.
Areas such as Woodgrove, Woodlands and Sembawang are home to many American expat families due to the presence of the Singapore American School.
The lush greenery of the area with its estate-type living conditions is usually what attracts expats of a certain inclination, but those keen on a night out should be aware that the North Region is a fair distance from the city and that it offers little in the way of nightlife.
The eastern area of the island includes the districts of Bedok, Pasir Ris, Tampines and Changi.
The Changi International Airport is situated here, and its neighbourhoods are blessed with character that marries old and new. The area has a diverse population, but many residents work in airline-related industries. There is excellent access to amenities, restaurants, schools and shops.
The Global Indian International School Singapore has two campuses in this area of the island, and Stamford American International School is also close by.
Residents of the East Region enjoy a coastal lifestyle, with beach facilities and numerous parks. Condominiums are larger and less expensive than in the city, and retain a sense of community. And while there may not be an abundance of bars, there are a number of excellent eateries in the area to make up for it.
The western area includes Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi and Jurong. The neighbourhoods in this space vary widely but are generally densely populated and have excellent amenities.
Parks and recreational and sports venues are scattered throughout Choa Chu Kang, offering its residents a range of outdoor activities. Jurong, on the other hand, consists of large industrial and residential areas, and a golf course.
Expats in this area are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to international schools. Options include Canadian International School, Chatsworth International School, German European International School Singapore, Integrated International School, Nexus International School Singapore, and One World International School.
Rentals in the West Region tend to be reasonably affordable and it's a great area for families, with properties that include gardens. That said, the commute to the Central Region might be rather long for some expats.
Expats looking to settle in Singapore's northeast area are often attracted to Serangoon, which is home to the French School of Singapore.
Terrace homes, semi-detached houses and bungalows can all be found here, and there are also plenty of spots to shop and dine out, as well as an abundance of green spaces.
There are some good housing estates in the area, and a plethora of eating out options, but expats may find that rental prices can be rather expensive.
►See Transport and Driving in Singapore for more on getting around
Image credits: Skyline from Bay East Garden by Chensiyuan, sourced from Wiki Commons. Jurong Gardens by paVan, sourced from Flickr. Serangoon Road by Akuppa John Wigham, sourced from Flickr.
"The East Coast is a great option for families. More central areas such as Orchard, Newton offer great options. Also, a good area is in the CBD such as Tanjong Pagar or Outram." Scott, a South African expat, shares his experience of life in Singapore in his interview.
Are you an expat living in Singapore?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Singapore. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.