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   Before going
Singapore: housing

Finding an appartment for less than S$10/m2 (FRF37/m2) is still possible. Four groups of housing exists in Sinapore.

The HDBs (managed by the Housing Development Board) which are the equivalent of social housing in blocks of appartments, but much cleaner. 80% of the population lives there. No swimming pool, no tennis court, no squach of sauna, but a cheap price compared to condos. If foreigners can't rent them directly from the State, they can turn to individuals who bought one before. But generaly, expatrriates are rarely choosing to live in HDB. A question of standing I think. Count about S$1,000 maximum for a 3-4 bedroom flat.

The condominiums(also called condos) are superior flats in private residedences. Like the HDB, you can find them everywhere, in the center like in the rest of the island. They generaly have a swimming pool, tennis courts, squash, sauna, fitness room, and indians garding the entrrance, (just to say that there is some security). The pricec vary from S$1,500 for a 3-4 rooms in the suburb to S$10,000 and even more for a luxuous appartment in the cecenter near Orchard, on Nassim Road or Nathan Road.

Individual houses : Rarer and then more expensive than the other housings, they are generally very large insided (a few hundreds m2 on 3 levels) bu the gardens are usually very small, if ther is one. And don't hope to get a swimmin gpool or a tennis court if you don't really pay the price. Prices are from S$2,000 if far from the center (even less if you it's really in the middle of nowhere like Choa Chu Kang or Punggol) Up to S$15,000 and more if it's colonial houses located in areas like Nassim Road, Nathan Road or Adams Road. Note: the greener the surroundings (especially around Adams Road whewre the houses are wonderful) the likelier your chances to find yourself in front of a Cobra or something close. Don't forget that Singapore is almost on the equator line! It's just concrete in the middle of the jungle.

Flat hotels;: Expensies (S$5,000 minimum) but completely furnisheed, it's like at the hotel. Very good for someone coming for only a few months or even a few weeks in Sinagpore. There is the one of Orchard Park Suites, just behind the Isetan commercial center of Orchard Road ; it's very central and very well deserved!

Where to find offers:

get the excellent Singapore Street Directory before all (in all the libraries for around S$15), then read the classifieds every day in the Straits Times. It's the only way to proceed, it's then the best one. You will find private as well as real estates agency's notices. To find rooms to let offers, trry also the ambassies of each represented countrties. The PEE (Poste d’Expansion Economique Tel : +65 339 9710) has a list of this type of classifieds. Go there slowly, they are bored of being taken for a real estate agnecy…
A small condos which makes you feel good, not expensive and not far from the center (east Singapore), the Tat Hong Mansions, near the kembangan MRT station (in the east). To visit, send a SMS to our friend Roy ANG at +65 9209 2411.

Real estate agencies :

Singapore is a paradise for those who want to rent a flat. You say what you are looking for to your agent and he will call you one hour later with a such a huhge program of visits that you better get ready! But the difference is that, here, it's your agent who will come to take you in his air conditionned car (sometimes even with a driver), to let you visit everything and get you back to your place once it's finished.
A recommandation : Miss Ann LEONG (+65 9638 3869). It's a very efficient professional, very honest and she speaks a little bit of french (she worked in Luxembourg).

are there commissions to pay?

Again a cool thing, , you don't have to pay commissions when you rent an appartment or a house. It's the landlord who is paying!

Are there charges?

A few days after signing the paperworks of the rent, you will have to pay a the famous stamp duty, equivalent to 10% of the first month rent. Ther eare no way not to avaoid it.

How much deposit?

One month of rent + 2 month in advance, which is 3 months of rent to pay if front. It's the norm.

Are there any tricks?

The diplomatic clause. It's usually agreed by the landlord to let you got out of the rent contract (usually signed for 2 years) after only 1 year and with 2 month advance statement, which gives 14 months during which you will be in the place. In case you ahve to quit Singapore for all types of causespour tout un tas de raisons (no newal of your wokring permit, end of your working contract, in the rent agreement, add everything you can to the list). But once again, everything can be negotiated: what the landlordswant at all price is that cash get in! So, ,instead of (12+2)/24 month, try to get (6+2)/24 month for example. If the housing market get down, stop the contract by providing any proof from your company and find another place at a better price. If the market get up again, get the advantage of 24 months of swimming pool/ tennis at a low price. Trust me, it really works!
Another trick: don't hesitate to require a hot water washing machine, they are usally of the japanese kind in Singapore, that is to say, cold water. Your white shirts will be happier!
And finally, Prefer the buildings of the years 70-80 to the newer ones. In fact, even if the flats will be less fonctional than those recently build, they will be larger. The cause is that, in those years, the ground price was very cheap, real estate promotors had extraodinary returns on investments and were building as fast as they could. Nowaday, this has changeed and every square meter counts.

How to negotiate?

Some condos are almost empty and if you know that one company is the owner and miss some cash (get infos about his if the group is on the market), don't hesitate to say your conditions. Show that you are interested (but not too much) for the flat, make an much lower offer than the requested price and very important, say that your offer is only valid for 24h because you have other flats in mins. This will put pressure on them and you may get a decision in your favor.

Can I have housekeepers?

For about S$50 per half-day, you can get the services of a part time maid. One to two hald-days per week will be enough for a 3-4 rooms flat and 3 or 4 people. If you would like to have a full time maid (she will be either philippino or indonesian and she will live with you all the time), count on S$300 for her salary and S$300 of taxes to pay to the government, which gives about S$600 , for everything. But be careful, this type of contract is under very precise conditions that you better know in advance.

How to furnish my appartment?

For saving money, go to the commercial centers for locals (lire the Ang Mo Kio or the one of Bedok for example). Avoid the Takashimaya and other Daimaru. On the furnitures sided, Ikea (near Alexandra Road in the west) or even Carrefour (near the City Hall in the center, at Suntec City). Mustafa on Serangoon Road is also an intersting address (

Phone : Singapore Telecom. You don't need a working permit to open a phone line. ST is the only authorized international operator at this time. The minute to France will cost you from 1,6 to 1,2 sgd depending on the time of the day.

Estimation of the living cost of the available articles in loocal supermarkets. (Coldstorage , Tops , NTUC  ) or at the local Ali Baba place, Mustafa shopping centre



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