Saunders 1865 | Moving to Singapore City

Moving to Singapore City

Are you moving to Singapore City? Located on a small island at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, the city-state of Singapore is one of South East Asia’s most powerful economic hubs. Originally founded as a trading post for the East India Company, Singapore remained an English colony until 1963 and has been independent only since 1965.

Singapore is the fourth largest financial centre in the world, and one of the five busiest ports. It boasts the third highest per capita income in the world but there is a high degree of income inequality. However, it ranks highly in terms of education and healthcare and is also a major South East Asian tourist destination.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Singapore City report includes info on:

• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city

Putting Singapore City on the Map

Consisting of one main island with an area of 277 square miles and more than 60 smaller islands, Singapore is a crowded place for its five million plus population. Land reclamation projects have increased its size by some 50 square miles since the 1960s, and further reclamation will add another 40 square miles by 2030. However, it is mainly urbanised and little of the original vegetation remains, though 10 per cent of the land is set aside for parks and nature reserves. The climate is tropical with no distinctive seasons and rainfall is high throughout the year.

There is a wide variety of transport on the island:

  • Due to its small size and high population density, running a private car in Singapore is discouraged by the application of duties of 1.5 times the value of the car and a requirement for a massively expensive certificate of entitlement.
  • As a result, congestion and pollution have fallen dramatically.
  • To make up for this, there is plenty of public transport in the form of trains, buses and taxis.
  • Taxi fares are relatively cheap compared with other Asian countries.
  • Bus and rail fares are also cheap and the transport is clean and air-conditioned.
  • Singapore is a major hub for both sea and air trade
  • The Port of Singapore is the second busiest in the world, handling 423 million tons of goods a year in 23 million containers.
  • Singapore Changi Airport is just one of eight airports in the country, and it is frequently rated as the best airport in the world.
  • Changi hosts 100 airlines with connections to 300 cities.
The Areas

With space at a premium, rents are generally high in Singapore and the majority of properties available are apartments. Private houses and bungalows are few and far between and command the highest rents. Most apartments in Singapore are public housing, known as HDB flats. These are generally privately owned but the Housing Development Board has strict rules regarding their rental. As a result, the majority of expats live in private condominiums which have good ranges of facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and tennis courts.

Rents vary depending upon the location of the property, its age and the level of facilities it offers. The most expensive areas are Orchard Road, Bukit Timah and Tanglin. Neighbourhoods outside the city centre can be considerably cheaper—the East Coast and Serangoon are popular with expats for this very reason.

Orchard Road

Orchard Road is Singapore’s main shopping boulevard, swarming with people enjoying its shops, shopping centres and restaurants, but the areas that lie on either side are characterised by quiet and leafy streets. You’ll be at the heart of things here, with excellent public transport, and conveniently close to the American Club and the Tanglin Club.


A smart residential area that is the chosen location of several embassies. The property here is a mix of condominiums and individual houses, and Tanglin offers an eclectic selection of shops, restaurants and the stunning Botanic Gardens.

Novena/Newton Circus

Well-located and well-served by public transport, these two districts offer low level housing and high-rise living. There are plenty of shops and restaurants, and a hawker centre with a particularly good reputation for seafood.

Holland Village

Popular with expats for its Bohemian atmosphere, Holland Village is another central area with easy access to the Botanic Gardens and Orchard Road.

Central Bukit Timah

This residential district that borders on a nature reserve is popular for its international schools, expat clubs and easy access to Orchard Road. There are also large family houses on quiet leafy streets—popular but expensive.

Robertson Quay and Mohammed Sultan Road

Professional singles and young couples pick these two areas because they’re and offer easy access to the riverfront nightlife.


This small island of Singapore Island’s southern tip has some of the most expensive real estate in the country—seafront houses with golf course access.

Upper Bukit Timah

Close to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, you stand a better chance of finding a semi-detached house here. It’s also well located for the Canadian International School.

Faber Park

Facing Sentosa from the mainland, Faber Park is a popular expat suburb, with good shopping and a number of parks.

Pasir Panjang

This flourishing coastal neighbourhood is convenient for a number of international schools.


To the very north of Singapore Island, Woodlands is popular with US expats due to the location of the Singapore American School. It’s also handy for the causeway across to Malaysia.

Thomson and Braddell

In the centre of the island, the property is more affordable and Braddell is home to Australian and French international schools.

The East Coast

With easy access to the airport and the expansive East Coast Park, this is another area that’s popular with the expat community.

Who Lives in Singapore City and Why?

The population of Singapore is almost 5.2 million, and of the permanent residents, 74 per cent are of Chinese origin. The rest comprises Malays, Indians and Eurasians, and the country has four official languages—English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Foreign nationals make up 1.46 million of the population, though this figure includes students, domestic workers and foreign dependents of Singaporean citizens.

The reason why there are so many foreign workers and expats in Singapore is that, although it might be tiny, it’s an economic powerhouse:

  • It has the highest trade-to-GDP ratio in the world.
  • It’s the only Asian country with an AAA credit rating from all the major credit rating agencies and it attracts large amounts of foreign investment.
  • There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations from Europe, Japan and the US with offices in Singapore.
  • Some 1,500 Chinese and the same number of Indian companies also have a presence.
  • The country is corruption-free, has a skilled workforce and low tax rates.
  • Transport links and a good infrastructure make it a convenient place to live, work and base a business.
  • With low tax rates and tax exemptions on assets held outside the country, it is something of a tax retreat for the super wealthy. Income tax for non-residents is a flat 15 per cent.
  • Life expectancy is high and the city has a good healthcare system.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks Singapore as having the best quality of life in Asia.
The Best Bits

Living in Singapore has so much to recommend it — it’s an enormous cultural melting pot of nationalities, languages, religions and cuisines, all distinct from one another but living harmoniously together. It’s a cosmopolitan society that values difference and respect — people are hard-working, friendly and courteous.

Some of the highlights include:
• A vibrant restaurant scene — dining out is something of a national pastime.
• It’s truly a shopper’s paradise and browsing the shopping centres along Orchard Road is as popular as sampling new restaurants!
• It’s a convenient base from which to explore Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of South East Asia.
• The city has a buzzing nightlife with a multitude of bars and clubs.
Performing arts thrive in Singapore, and Esplanade Theatres on the Bay hosts the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
• At Kranji Racecourse there are multiple weekly race meets, and Singapore also hosts its own Formula One Grand Prix.
• Attractions such as the Night Safari, the Botanic Gardens, Sentosa Island which has a Universal Studios theme park and sandy beaches, China Town, Little India, the island’s two casino resorts, and the National Museum means that there’s always something to do.

Bringing the kids

Singapore is a clean and safe destination with low crime rates and a good healthcare system — all reasons that make it one of the most popular expat destinations in Asia, particularly for people with families.

When it comes to education, English is the language of instruction in all the public schools which means for English speaking expats they are a viable choice. However, most expats still choose to send their children to one of the many international schools in the city.

  • Although only primary education is compulsory, Singaporean students generally rank among the top five nationalities in the world for maths and science.
  • The island has two universities – the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.
  • The school fees for public schools are $3 per month for primary pupils and $5 per month for secondary
  • There are 39 international schools in Singapore, including American, Australian, English, Canadian, Chinese, Indian, French, German, European, Dutch, Japanese, Swiss and South Korean.
Relocating to Singapore City

For a small country, Singapore has a loud roar! It’s thriving economy and exceptional quality of life attracts a multitude of overseas businesses and there is a large expat community on the island. As an expat you can expect a cosmopolitan lifestyle in one of Asia’s most sophisticated cities. Although single-family dwellings are expensive and hard to come by, there’s a wide choice of new, luxury condos, with excellent facilities — and the choices of location range from the buzz of the CBD to the greener suburbs of the north or beaches and coastline of the south, all within an easy commute of your office.

At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes.

  • Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs?
  • Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements?

We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to Singapore, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.


Family friendly
Good Schools
Great Transport
Natural Beauty
Average Monthly Rent - Singapore City
Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre S$2,629
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre S$1,684
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre S$4,552
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre S$2,796
Contact us for a free initial consultation about your specific situation.
UK +44 20 7590 2700
Saunders 1865