There is a reason most Singaporean adults live with their parents till well into adulthood – the cost of renting a home here is blood vessel-burstingly high.
Sharing an apartment with two or three flatmates is completely normal for anyone who’s single and not on a fat expat package. And there are some renters who even resort to sharing a bedroom with another person just to cut costs.
Here are five tips to help you save a bit of money if you are renting a home in Singapore:
1. Always negotiate the rent each time your contract is up for renewal
It goes without saying that you should negotiate your rent before moving into a new place. But if you intend to renew your contract afterwards, try to re-negotiate the rent to see if your landlord is willing to give you a discount.
Rents in Singapore have been on a downward slide, and what you were paying two years ago may not be market rate anymore. What’s more, if you’ve been a good tenant, your landlord may be willing to lower your rent to retain you. It can’t hurt to ask.
2. Scout around for a new place before your lease expires
As mentioned earlier, rents are on a downward slide. If your landlord refuses to lower your rent, scout around for a new place before your lease expires. There’s always a chance you’ll find a unit in a very similar area at a better price.
For instance, a friend of mine managed to find another unit in a different block at the exact same Simei condo where he was living at $200 less than what he was paying. Moving was a breeze as he simply needed to carry his belongings to the next block.
3. Flatmates can lower more than just your rent
It is perfectly normal to live with flatmates in Singapore due to the short supply (and relatively high price) of studios and 1 bedroom apartments on the market.
Flatmates not only lower the price of your rent, they can also lower other costs such as the Internet bill (if this is not included in your rent) and the cost of hiring a cleaner to come in once a week, which if you live with more than one person can be a lifesaver.
4. Make sure the landlord allows cooking
Believe it or not, some landlords in Singapore do not allow their tenants to cook at home. This usually happens when the landlord is living with you and wants to earn your money without feeling your presence.
This will undoubtedly add to your cost of living as you’ll be forced to eat out every day, and if you rely entirely on cheap hawker food your health could suffer. So always make sure you’re allowed to use the kitchen, as well as other facilities like the washing machine.
5. If you can afford to, rent the entire unit and then sub-let the other rooms
When renting a home, some rental contracts will allow you to sublet an apartment or house to other tenants if you sign on as the main tenant. The risk to you will be higher, as you’re responsible for paying the rent for the entire property whether or not you manage to find tenants. On the other hand, if you manage to find tenants to fill up all the spare rooms, you dramatically lower your own share of the rent.
I’ve visited a few apartments that were being sublet by a main tenant, and they ranged from expats sharing fancy condo units with other expats they’d found on online forums, to Chinese students cramming two fellow students into a room.
Of course, make sure you check the regulations for subletting, as breaking the rules could get you evicted. Don’t erect any partitions, make sure each person has at least 10 square metres of space and don’t let the number of people living in a unit exceed eight.
Do you have any other tips for renters? Share them in the comments!