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If you are moving to Singapore for work, education, or family reasons you will need to find a home. There are 28 districts in Singapore, so we’ve provided an overview of the most popular districts to live and work. This should help make the house-hunting process a little easier!
Singapore is divided into 28 districts under the old postal district system. Although these postal codes are no longer part of the postal system, property agents and house hunters still use them as a reference.
These districts vary in terms of suitability for professionals, couples, or families, as well as provision of facilities and proximity to amenities.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has divided each district into three "market segments". These segments are: Core Central Region (CCR), Rest of Central Region (RCR) and the Outside Central Region (OCR).
Below is a quick guide of the most popular districts expats are likely to consider when moving to Singapore.
The Marina bay area, famous for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, is perhaps the most exclusive and premium district – an internationally recognized landmark. With ultra-modern designs, and large public green spaces, it is also the location of several events and festivals including CNY fireworks and New Year celebrations and hosts the famous ArtScience Centre. For many, Marina Bay is the ‘face’ of Singapore.
Marina Bay’s population is composed of leading business executives and successful entrepreneurs, as well as some celebrities – with luxurious accommodation to reflect this. The neighbourhood is a consideration for those who have large budgets and want to be at the heart of the city.
Another central district, just south of Chinatown, and popular with high-income professional singles and couples. The Tanjong Pagar district has seen significant redevelopment and has an exciting nightlife – with many places to eat and drink, alongside quirky independent shops inside the traditional 18th century shophouses. However, there aren’t big name brand stores or shopping malls close by and no supermarkets. Instead, you can ‘buy local’ on the wet markets and take the MRT for your other needs. Tanjong Pagar is dominated by condominiums, usually located in premium positions to benefit from sky-line views across the city.
If you’re looking for Singapore’s old-world charm, then Tiong Bahru is a good option. Originally dotted with cemeteries (the name means “new cemetery” in Malay and Hokkien), it is the oldest housing estate in Singapore. You’ll be pleased to know the cemeteries were relocated and the land filled in! The 1920s art-deco houses here are built into an interlocking horse-shoe shape around the community centre and there are a variety of options – from condos to HDB units and lower-rise apartments for those who dislike heights. The area is pretty hip, with small art galleries, vinyl record stores and artisanal coffee shops and bakeries. A large retirement population reside here, seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. Tiong Bahru MRT and several bus lines serve the transport needs and the location is popular with expatriates looking at more affordable options, or a quieter place for the family.
Sentosa is known as the ‘resort island’ in Singapore, as it hosts Resorts World Sentosa, but the name actually translates to ‘peace’ in Malay. The site was a military training facility until redevelopment in the 1970s. Sentosa Cove is the only residential development on the island and has a closely knit community of high-net worth individuals. It also means commuting from the mainland via the tram or using cars is necessary. The accommodation here is of the luxurious variety with sea views and beach access (some people live off their yachts in the marina). It’s also the only place in Singapore where non-Singaporeans are allowed to buy landed property.
Orchard Road is Singapore’s most famous shopping district, named after the nutmeg orchards that used to cover the area in the 19th century. There are still some large trees remaining along the 2.2km stretch of road, providing some shade from the tropical sun as people shop. And how they shop! Orchard Road plays host to a huge, diverse range of labels, from global brands housed in their own modern architecture, to boutiques jostling together in the rabbit-warren of the Far East Plaza. Even the underpasses have become small shopping arcades themselves and provide airconditioned shelter from the rain.
At the same time, the area does present some housing options and the location is well connected, with Orchard, Somerset, and Dhoby Ghaut MRT stations linking you to the Central Business District and the north of Singapore, plus lots of buses. That said, space is at an absolute premium, so the condos in the adjacent roads tower to the sky while some complexes, such as ION Orchard, are integrated retail/residential. This location is for people prepared to spend quite bit extra to live within the hustle and buzz of Singapore’s vibrant and hectic consumer heart. If you want to go for walks or have more of a neighbourhood feel, then Orchard isn’t for you.
Instead, take a look at the adjacent area known as River Valley. This area also has many apartment blocks but at slightly less eye-watering prices and has developed a community of professional couples and families while remaining within walking distance of Orchard, making it very attractive to expats. Robertson Quay area offers a space for the kids to run or walk the dog and the area has many decent shops and kids’ activity venues. Chatsworth International and ISS International Elementary and Middle Schools are also here. The flip side is the area lacks an MRT stop, so walking, buses and taxis link you to the rest of the network.
Holland Village is a strong favourite with expatriates. A neighbourhood feel combined with leafy suburbs and a wide range of desirable amenities make this the perfect recipe. The accommodation here is a mix of landed properties, condos and apartments and also includes some gated communities, with the additional safety these provide for families. Close by are the excellent Botanical Gardens and the shops of Orchard are a short distance away, while coffee shops and art galleries provide culture and refreshment. The green spaces and proximity to schools make this a family favourite location. At the end of the day, the area is popular for Western and European food, or the hawker centre for local favourites, and a variety of evening entertainments. Due to its popularity among expats, some of the accommodation prices are over-inflated. However, with a strong tide of people moving in and out, there is always a range of options. A link to the city is provided by the MRT, while some condos actually offer shuttle services for work and school! There are several expat clubs in the area, including the Hollandse Club, Swiss Club and Tanglin Club.
The East Coast areas have gained significantly in popularity over the last few years. Statistics show that more and more Singaporeans are buying up property in these areas, and there are some good reasons.
The Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) project is building nine stations across the area, opening in stages from 2019 through to 2024. The 43km line will link up with the rest of the MRT network and properties are already being built up in and around these stations. These join the existing residential units that benefit from relative peace and quiet away from the city centre, sea views, river frontages, beach access and a good selection of food and entertainment options. Being further out from the centre, you get more space for your money here and if you enjoy the outdoors, arguably a better quality of life.
East Coast Park, the largest outdoor park in Singapore, is a popular venue for cycling, skating, and water sports, while there are also golf courses and tennis facilities close by. There are two major shopping malls and good access to the Central Business District and Changi Airport.
With the increase in expat popularity, there are now several schools in the area, from preschools to tertiary education. The idea of the kids cycling to school across the park holds huge appeal to many families.
Woodlands is the northernmost region of Singapore and is connected to Malaysia’s Johor Bahru, by the Johor-Singapore Causeway – making Malaysian weekend breaks a viable option. This is another area popular with expats due to schools (the Singapore American School in particular) and access to outdoor living. Designated green areas, preserved woodland and natures reserves offer opportunities for family walks, relaxation and nature watching and attract both the older generation looking for a slower pace, and younger residents looking for affordability. The money does go quite a bit further here and there are many large houses as well as green spaces. Woodlands is somewhat self-contained, having all the comforts and conveniences families require, including malls, supermarkets, Restaurant and entertainment venues. All of this creates a strong neighbourhood feeling. Several wet markets and local fresh fish markets selling at wholesale prices are located here. Not surprisingly, this is one of the fastest developing areas of Singapore.
If you need further recommendations on where to live in Singapore, be sure to contact our team for help.