It used to be non-negotiable that Singaporeans stayed in the family home until marriage, but these days more and more people are starting to strike out on their own. Why is this happening? Isn’t Singapore getting expensive enough? We investigate.
The lure of a place to call one’s own
Gone are the days when everyone would be married by 25. With the average age of first marriage steadily climbing and a burgeoning number of singles living it up in their late twenties and thirties, more young and not-so-young Singaporeans dream of getting their own place.
Unfortunately, with sky high private property prices and HDB’s restrictive rules that only allow singles to qualify for HDB flats at age 35 and older, purchasing property is often out of the question for young Singaporeans.
In addition, recently-married couples who have successfully balloted for BTO flats but still have to wait years before their property is built are often loath to continue living with their parents.
The solution is to rent. Here are some things you must know before taking the plunge.
Where to rent
Where and what kind of property you end up renting will depend on, what else? Your budget. There are rental properties all over Singapore. If you’re lazy you can get an agent to help you sift through the properties. But an easier and free way is to get on forums like the Singapore Expats Forum where there’s a steady stream of rental properties on offer.
The absolute cheapest way to move out is to rent a room in an HDB flat. A room in a far-flung location like Yishun can cost as low as $500. However, if you’re moving out in order to enjoy singlehood, this isn’t an ideal option as you might end up with a long commute to work every day, plus you won’t exactly be partying with your roommates, as most HDB room rentals will have you living with your landlords, usually a family.
On the other hand, a room in a condo in a fairly central area like Little India or Kallang will set you back at least $1,000 to $1,400.
If you’re moving out on your own and don’t want to share, another option is to rent a shoebox or studio apartment. Expect to pay about $2,500 and above. Renting a studio in city areas like Orchard will cost at least $4,000.
An entire 5-room HDB flat costs about $2,500 and above to rent, while renting an entire condo will set you back at least $3,000 in suburban destinations like Clementi and can go up to $6,000 and beyond on prime land.
To be honest, renting in Singapore is a lot less dodgy than in countries like China, and you’re unlikely to be faced with outright scams or evil agents. But still, you’re going to have to sign a tenancy agreement, and you want to make sure you know your rights and don’t get taken advantage of.
Before you sign your rental agreement, make sure you’ve actually read through it, unlike what you usually do for mobile phone and other contracts. Check out some of the key clauses you’ll want to take note of elsewhere on MoneySmart.
Other than the clauses highlighted in the above link, there are some things you’ll want be aware of that reading the contract any number of times is not going to help you with, such as the following:
- Don’t let the tenant exclude himself from liability completely: Although your contract will contain some kind of limitation of liability clause that the landlord will use to try and get out of trouble if anything happens to you or your property, the law might not let him get away that easily if it’s really his fault. This means if anything happens to you or your property, there’s a chance the landlord will be liable, although he’ll vehemently deny it.
- Keeping security deposit after termination of the lease: If you decide to terminate the lease prematurely, the landlord will usually keep the security deposit or part of it. However, if your security deposit is worth two or three months’ worth of rent and the landlord manages to find another tenant to replace you in under a month, you might be able to demand that he refund the balance.
Assessing if the unit is a good one
Only you know best what kind of unit would suit your purposes, but here are some pointers:
- You will generally pay more for a unit close to an MRT station than one in the middle of the jungle, but the premium may be worth the convenience.
- If you don’t think you’ll be using the swimming pool, gym or tennis courts at condos, it might make sense to pay less and get a room in an HDB flat instead.
- To make sure you’re not getting ripped off, check the rent of similar properties in your area.
- Units on higher floors with a better view normally cost more than those on lower floors.
- Pay attention to how much natural light a room receives unless you want to feel like you’re living in a prison cell.
- If you’ll be living with your landlord, find out what the house rules are ahead of time. Some landlords won’t allow you to use the kitchen, while others might not allow smoking or drinking on the premises.
Are you thinking of moving out? Tell us why in the comments!