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REAL ESTATE

Are You Mentally Ready to Move to Singapore?

Singapore is in Southeast Asia. Depending on where you’re coming from, it can very well be the other side of the world. Indeed, this part of the globe attracts people from all four corners of the globe.

First-world living standards

It’s easy to see why. Singapore offers first-world living standards. This comes with the territory because the average income in Singapore is comparable to living in California. That’s how much money people on average make in Singapore.

Accordingly, you get first-world amenities. On top of that, Singapore is notoriously clean. Indeed, in the 60s and 70s, Singapore gained notoriety as a “fine city.” That is a play on words.

Fine City

The reason why Singapore looks so “fine” is that if you smoke in public and drop the cigarette butts or throw it away casually without using the appropriate trash receptacles, you get fined.

Indeed, it got so stringent that if you were chewing gum, you could get fined. Why? There’s a tendency for people to leave chewing gum on the concrete or the sidewalk. That makes it much harder to clean up.

Safest Place

It’s paid off. Singapore is not only one of the cleanest cities in the world. It is also one of the safest. It doesn’t take much effort to go on YouTube and look for proof.

Many videos show people leaving out their expensive laptops, as well as mobile gadgets like smartphones and tablets in a public place. Maybe it’s a coffee shop, or some sort of outdoor bar, whatever the case may be.

A lot of people (we’re talking about thousands of people they have today) pass through these areas. What do you think happens?

If you’re living in any other part of the world, chances are somebody else will have themselves a brand-new laptop and mobile devices. That’s pretty much the long and short of it but not so in Singapore. It’s quite shocking.

The person would come back the next day, and his stuff would be right where he left it. It’s as if nothing happened. Alternatively, from time to time, people would take this stuff and give it to the Lost and Found department of that establishment.

Be mentally ready prior to moving to Singapore

Given these factors, it’s no surprise that a lot of people want to live in Singapore. The question is, are you mentally ready to do so?

Maybe you’re being sent by your company to this part of the world. Maybe you work for a multinational corporation with its regional headquarters in Asia, located in the lion’s city of Singapore. On the other hand, perhaps you’re a graduate student looking to put in some academic credits so that you can complete your degree.

The National University of Singapore is one of the highest-rated international universities, at least for this part of the planet. Whatever your reasons may be, please understand that pulling up your roots and living somewhere for several years, is not as easy as you think.

It’s easy to get excited about the prospect because it looks like a fantastic adventure. However, you have to look at the big picture. You have to look at your mental readiness. We’re not just talking about dollars and cents.

I’m sure that if you are reading this article, you probably already have that figured out. Maybe your company’s sending you or perhaps you have enough scholarship or student loan money to take care of your day to day needs.

Instead, I’m talking about something more substantial. I’m talking about your psychology and your mindset. Keep an open mind regarding the following.

Treasure at Tampines Condominium Treasure at Tampines Condominium

Are you ready to truly live on your own?

The exciting thing about moving out of your parents’ place when you go to college in America is the fact that they are only a phone call away. Seriously if you need money or if you need physical comfort and assurance, your folks are only a phone call away.

You just need to pick up that phone and dial in, and you’re good to go. Not so, if you live thousands of miles, if not tens of thousands of miles from the people who love you the most. Are you ready to cut that emotional umbilical cord?

If you are in your 30s or older, you probably wouldn’t have any problems. With this issue, you are entirely independent.

However, if you have just moved out of your parents’ place to go to college and your first job right out of college is an assignment in Singapore, this can be an issue. The key question here is, are you willing to go very far away?

The upside to this is that you learn emotional independence, which is a crucial part of maturing into an adult.

This way, you learn the coping skills that you need so that you become fully independent of your parents, at least on an emotional level and prepares you for financial independence as well.

the M condo club the M condo club

Are you looking to grow culturally?

You’d be surprised as to how many people move halfway around the world and remain 100% culturally virgins. By “virgins,” I’m not talking about sexual virginity. I’m talking about cultural openness.

It really would be a shame for you to move to a very different culture located very far away from you, and not have that culture have some sort of impact on you or at least open your eyes to a different way of looking at the world.

It really would be quite sad. It’s like going to Tokyo on vacation and insisting on eating only at McDonald’s. You could have eaten at McDonald’s right before you left Omaha, Nebraska. You could have done that all day every day at home.

Here you are in Japan, of all places. Shouldn’t you be exploring what Japan has to offer? Shouldn’t you at least check out the ramen houses as well as the different types of sushi and sashimi?

That’s the kind of tragedy that you’re looking at. Unfortunately, a lot of people who go to Singapore for long term stays, they never really venture out of their cultural bubble.

Singapore delivers a tremendous amount of culture because it’s right in the middle of Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is not homogeneous. India influenced some parts and other parts are influenced by China.

Throughout it all, there’s a tremendous amount of local indigenous culture. Filipino culture is also prevalent in Singapore because there are a lot of Filipinos there. The same with Malays of Malaysia.

There are a lot of Indonesian cultures and a lot of Chinese or at least Southern Chinese culture. That’s a lot of learning to explore, with its matching sights and sounds and eccentricities.

You have to understand that if you want to mature as a person, you have to look at another person’s eyes and not only see the reflection of yourself, but you see that person ultimately.

If you look at it enough times from many different angles, you quickly conclude that while we come in many different packages in terms of skin color, hairstyles, outward culture, deep down inside, we are the same.

It really would be sad if you rob yourself of that opportunity. Keep these two tips above in mind.

Preparing to go to Singapore is one thing if you’re looking at it purely from a logistical perspective but adjusting to make a move culturally and psychologically is another matter entirely. Again, I’m going to ask you the question, are you ready to move to Singapore?

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REAL ESTATE

What are the Different Housing Types in Singapore?

Housing type is whether a unit is government-subsidized or not, as well as the extent of government subsidies. You have to understand that Singapore is operating on two levels.

Public housing scheme and Private property market

On the surface, it’s very tempting to think that Singapore is the hub of freewheeling capitalism in Southeast Asia, if not the whole world. How come?

Singapore ranked as one of the most accessible places to do business. Think about that for a second.

Given the over 200 countries in the world and the thousands upon thousands of cities in the world, Singapore comes out at the top when it comes to doing business. They’re able to do this year after year, and almost decade after decade.

That’s how capitalism friendly and business-friendly Singapore is. Very few jurisdictions on the planet have this great mix of ease of doing business, less government regulation, and low taxes.

Indeed, very few cities or jurisdictions could even come close to what Singapore has reached in terms of growth. It’s no surprise that Singapore is greatly rewarded for it. We’re talking about billions of dollars of private foreign direct investments in this Southeast Asian lion city.

This has created a fantastic job market. It has also propelled Singapore’s living standards to a very high degree. We’re talking about Singapore, the only first-world country in Southeast Asia.

If you come from Manhattan, New York, or Los Angeles, the west side, or any other highly developed part of the world, you would feel right at home. All the First World amenities that you’ve grown accustomed to, you can find in this country. Sounds incredible, right?

It has another side as well, which most people don’t know. Believe it or not, Singapore is heavily subsidized because its public housing accounts for around 80% of all housing units.

When told this exciting fact, a lot of people are flat out confounded because they are just so impressed with what I told you earlier about Singapore.

In their minds, Singapore’s housing subsidies almost sounds like socialism, which is kind of hard to square with Singapore’s freewheeling capitalistic culture. Everything screams capitalism. What’s going on?

It has to do with the fact that the Singapore government has to deal with market realities. If it required everyday rank-and-file Singaporeans to buy their homes in the free market, most people, as much as they would like to, will not be able to.

They just simply don’t have enough money. Since given the tremendous amount of demand for real estate in Singapore, real estate prices are just out of reach for the lots of Singaporean.

This is where the government steps in. They built a lot of well designed, beautiful looking public housing.

Usually, when you hear the term “public housing” and you’re from the United States or even Australia, or Europe, you start thinking of buildings with faded paint or cracking concrete. You think of crime. You think about the wrong side of town, or the people forced to live in these areas. You think of frustrated people. That’s the typical mental image that a lot of people have about public housing.

That’s very different in Singapore. Singapore also has another rule when it comes to public housing. While the government will not hesitate to subsidize a public housing building, it will do so only if the resident is the owner.

In other words, they encourage an ownership mentality. This is the reason why public housing in Singapore doesn’t look like public housing pretty much everywhere else. You don’t see graffiti. You don’t see seemingly bombed-out looking buildings.

People don’t set fire to the buildings because they don’t care. That’s the kind of mentality you get when people are not owners of the property.

Early on, the authorities in Singapore figured out that when people own their unit, although the government heavily subsidizes it, they tend to take better care of it. There is such a thing as the pride of ownership.

This is what’s so awesome about Singapore housing. It kind of defies all the standard rules of real estate markets throughout the rest of the world. With that out of the way, here is the quick breakdown of the housing types in Singapore

Public Housing Scheme

The housing development board (HDB) governs our public housing. The typically offered units are studio units, two to five-bedroom flats. There are also housing types called the three-generation apartments where an extended family could live. The government also subsidizes exclusive flats.

Finally, the government will help you design, build, and sell your unit. It is quite impressive, the array of selections as far as housing goes and it’s all government-subsidized.

Want to know how some best HDB looks like? The Pinnacle@Duxton is a 50-storey residential development in Singapore’s city center, next to the business district. All seven connected towers are collectively the world’s tallest public residential buildings. Pinnacle@Duxton was conferred the 2010 Best Tall Building (Asia and Australasia) award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, as well as the 2011 Urban Land Institute’s Global Awards for Excellence.

Pinnacle @Duxton - HDB in Singapore Pinnacle @Duxton – HDB in Singapore

Private-public housing projects

Increasingly, Singapore has been exploring private-public arrangements. These are usually involved in Executive Condominium.

Executive Condominium, or EC, is a type of public housing in Singapore. First built in 1999, EC is a hybrid of public and private housing. They resemble private condominiums and are enclosed within a gated compound with security, amenities like swimming pools, clubhouses, playgrounds and so forth. EC are built and sold by private developers, but at a price lower than private homes because their land prices are subsidised by the Government. Additionally, buyers can take Central Provident Fund (CPF) grants to pay for an EC bought from a developer. As such, an EC is subject to certain regulations that apply to Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats. Buyers’ monthly household income must not exceed $16,000, in order to qualify for an EC.

So far, it’s been working because there’s been a lot of demand for executive condominium.

Piermont Grand Executive Condominium Piermont Grand Executive Condominium

Fully private properties

For this type, there’s absolutely no government funding, and it’s all free market. The downside to this, of course, is that since it is market-driven, the units are quite expensive.

Guess what? The price is not sinking. It almost always keeps trending upward. That’s how popular Singapore real estate units are.

What are we talking about here? We’re talking about apartments, condominiums as well as landed properties.

If you are thinking of getting a landed property, they are available in bungalow units, cluster units, townhouses, high-class bungalow, sharp house, and terrace or semi-detached buildings.

Penrose Condominium Penrose Condominium

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REAL ESTATE

Condo in Singapore – the complete guide

It’s straightforward to summarize Singapore as basically a condo city or high-rise city. After all, you just need to look at the buildings and get this impression.

The danger here is that if you look at all these residences buildings in a very densely populated area, you might end up with the mindset that once you’ve seen one densely packed, high rise residential building, you have pretty much seen them all.

Indeed, it’s common for a lot of visitors to assume that Singaporeans are just living in generic housing units that aren’t at all that much different from each other. However, there’s a lot more going on than what you can see.

Most Singapore housing units are flats. The condo portion of these city-states is less than 15% of all the housing units. That is less than 15%, at least when you’re counting in terms of the population of Singapore.

Believe it or not, a relative minority of people live in apartments and condominiums, but the vast majority live in government-subsidized flats. That’s kind of a shock to a lot of first-time visitors to Singapore.

This part of the world made quite a reputation for itself as the hub of freewheeling and unhindered capitalism in Southeast Asia, if not the world. It is what it is when you’re looking for condominiums.

It’s easy to think that everybody is living in condominiums in Singapore because of all the high rises. That’s not true. Even within 20 condos themselves, there’s quite a bit of distinction.

Affordability of Condo in Singapore

You just have to look closer and break down the numbers. First of all, we’re going to analyze condos in Singapore by category. The primary categorization method that I use is the same one as what most people use. I am, of course, talking about affordability.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a high-end executive sent by a multinational corporation as part of your multi-year contract in Singapore, or you’re a graduate student from Middle America looking to complete your studies in this part of the world.

Affordability will still be part of the picture. Of course, the more money you have or, the more your company subsidizes you, the less of an issue it is. However, it is still such an important factor that I’ve used it as my primary categorization method.

With that out of the way, there are three categories when it comes to Singapore condos: mass market condos, middle-market condos, and high-end condos. Let’s start with the mass level condos.

Mass market condos

These are the most affordable because they cost you around 900 to 1100 Singapore dollars per square foot. When it comes to amenities, you can get the most basic package.

We’re talking about a gym, security structures like a closed-circuit TV, centralized monitoring, guards and of course, a swimming pool. In other words, these are the low end, basic packages of amenities.

Where would you find mass consumer condos? They’re usually concentrated in the districts of Bishan, Tampines, and Jurong. Examples are Treasure at Tampines, Parc Central Residences, and Dairy Farm Residences.

Condo in Singapore

Mid-market condos

If you have a little bit more money and you have more and more discriminating tastes, you might want to consider mid-market condos. They’re a little bit more expensive than mass market condos.

You get what you pay for by having a lot of higher-end amenities at that and a different environment because working-class people do not surround you. Instead, you get to surround yourself with professionals and young couples who are just starting.

Where can you find these condos? They usually are concentrated in districts like the East Coast, Newton, and Bukit Timah. Some examples are JadeScape, Penrose, One-North Gateway Residences.

High-end condos

If you have a bit more money to spare on purchasing your condo property, and you want the very best amenities (we’re talking about premier class amenities) in terms of size and selection and quality, you need to look at high-end condos.

These usually cost more than 2000 Singapore dollars per square feet. Where are these condo buildings located? The crown jewel of condos is the central district. Just a little bit of a warning, though.

While I did mention that the prices start at Singapore 2000 per square foot, a lot of condo buildings in the central district of Singapore are in such high demand. You’re going to pay way more than 3000 Singapore dollars per square foot.

I’m just letting you know ahead of time, so you don’t get your hopes up. Depending on the budget you have, it is worth it. The central district is an excellent investment. It is also a great place to live in because it is centrally located, and everything is there. Just to name a few, The M, Kopar at Newton, Leedon Green.

Other great places to consider are Marina Bay and Orchard, which is where Orchard Road is. It is one of the most famous streets in Singapore.

Types of  condo

There are these six different types of condos. Let me just quickly describe them for you or correlate this with the main income-based category of condos so you can get a broad understanding of what’s available and what you should go for.

Studio type

These are very small, and they have an open layout. Given the small size, the studio type condos are also the most affordable.

Bedroom

The bedroom condo type is trendy. These can range from one to four bedrooms. They provide quite a bit of privacy because they divide up the floor plan.

Loft

These are bedroom units or specialized units that have elevated bedrooms that you access by stairs. These units tend to have high ceilings.

By level

This is a relatively latest innovation recently introduced to Singapore. The best way to describe them is they are like two-story houses At one story you have some of your bedrooms as well as your kitchen and living room and then the second story is where you have another living room and then some bedrooms.

Penthouse units

These are the most expensive because you get a beautiful view. A lot of these penthouse units have their pool. These are at the very top of the condo, and they can cost you quite a bit more money than other condo units further down the building.

Dual-key units

This looks like a one condo unit, but it has separate entrances. The best analogy to this is it has two flats on one floor. They also can be a combination of different types of condos. One could be a studio, and the other could be a two-bedroom unit.

 

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REAL ESTATE

Key Statistics for People Thinking of Living in Singapore

If you are reading this, chances are you are thinking of relocating to Singapore, at least temporarily.

Probably you’re a graduate student looking to complete your studies in a discipline related to Southeast Asia.

Maybe as a financial services worker, your employer sent you on a short-term assignment to this part of the world. Whatever your situation may be, living in Singapore is a once in a lifetime experience.

Not only do you get to enjoy the fantastic cosmopolitan first-world living standards of the Singapore city proper, but you are within throwing distance, so to speak, of some of the very best attractions in Southeast Asia.

You are going to find yourself in a strategically located part of the world. If you hop on a plane, you’re only a few hours away from Australia, Southeast Asia, and China.

If you are willing to ride on that plane for a few more hours, you’ll find yourself in Japan, Korea, India, and even the Middle East. That’s how strategically located Singapore is. Also, Singapore is one of the cleanest, major cities in the world.

This is quite an accomplishment because Singapore has millions of residents. With that said, before you dive in, it’s probably a good idea to wrap your head around some critical statistics about Singapore living.

As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is the case with relocating to any place in the world, much less Singapore. You don’t want to invest all that time, effort, and money going from where you are to a place you don’t know.

You’re going to be rolling the dice. You don’t know what you’re up against or if you’re going to have a good time there. Most importantly, you don’t have an idea of the cost profile of living there.

By getting some necessary information on what it’s like to live in Singapore, you can at least give yourself some data that you could use to make a truly informed decision. Besides this post, you can always find the latest households statistics here.

 

singapore-guide-hdb-ec-condo

Most of Singapore’s housing is government-subsidized

The funny thing about Singapore is that it operates on two levels. On the surface, and this is the part that most of the world knows, Singapore seems to be the hub of freewheeling capitalism.

In other words, people from all over the world find themselves here to work in the finance industry or some other high-powered industry trying to make their fortunes. The foreign direct investment in Singapore is in the billions on a year to year basis.

Its finance industry is one of the hottest on the planet. People make millions of dollars, indeed.  High net worth people from all over the world take out a second or third home in Singapore precisely because of its low tax rates.

Singapore, at this level, seems to want to attract people who are serious about making money, but the other reality to Singapore is that it is actually government subsidized. The government funds almost 80% of people who live in flats.

The agency is involved in the housing development board, which makes up for the bulk of “native” Singapore residents. Without these government subsidies or price support, Singapore, house-ownership would practically be non-existent.

That’s how expensive the local real estate market is. The good news is if you are Singaporean by birth, or if you are a permanent resident, you can take advantage of this subsidy program.

For the longest time, you can only get one unit and have the government-subsidized it. If you want to sell that and move into another, you’re going to be on your own.

13% of the population of Singapore live in apartments and condominiums

Roughly 13% to 13.9% live in condominiums and apartments, which is mostly the expatriate community and wealthier Singaporeans or upper-middle-class Singaporeans. Most of this property type is not government-subsidized basically.

If you buy a condominium, you’re sending a message to people around you that you have the means and the money to do so. Even better you can get a subsidy from the government if you want to purchase an executive condominium, e.g., Parc Central Residences is one of them to be launched in H2 2020.

Less than 6% live in landed properties

The general concept for real estate properties such as house and lot or land is that you live in a separate residence that doesn’t touch other properties, and you own the land underneath it. It has a title called the freehold domain or freehold title.

Given Singapore’s minimal footprint, it is not a shock that less than 6% of Singapore’s people live in the typical type of real estate holding, which is you own a house and then the land underneath it.

Only 6% of people get to enjoy this. As you can well imagine, the price of such properties is quite high. Well you can have a good reading on the difference between freehold and leasehold properties here.

The Singapore government encourages house-ownership

While Singapore does dabble in socialism by subsidizing 80% of the housing of its people, it does so with an exciting twist. Early on, Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, wanted to foster an ownership mentality among the Singaporean population.

He understood that when people don’t own the property that they’re living in, they tend to let it fall apart. There are many examples of this. You only need to look at the United Kingdom, where there are a lot of council houses and public housing.

He wanted a different model for Singapore, so the focus is more on subsidy, but with house-ownership. It has paid off quite a bit because Singapore is one of the few heavily urbanized areas in the world that doesn’t show signs of matching urban decay.

When you compare Singapore to places like Chicago, where there’s a lot of public housing, the contrast could not be starker. There are lots of housing projects in Chicago that have just completely gone into disrepair.

Some have even been burned out. Not so in Singapore, and you can thank house-ownership for that fact. Keep these essential statistics in mind as you plan to move to Singapore and buy or rent your place.