Uncovering the Best neighbourhoods in Singapore for Expats

Serangoon Road, Singapore - Photo by Jeyakumaran Mayooresan on Unsplash

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Singapore is a diverse city-state with a kaleidoscope of diverse neighbourhoods, each with its own charm and catering to various needs and budgets. In this article, we'll explore some of the best neighbourhoods beyond Orchard Road that offer unique living experiences for expats.

When it comes to expat life in Singapore, Orchard Road often steals the spotlight. This bustling street is famous for its towering skyscrapers, extravagant shopping malls, luxury brands, vibrant nightlife, and central location. It's a magnet for tourists and expatriates alike, offering a taste of the city's glitz and glamour. No doubt, it's the beating heart of Singapore's shopping scene, but for expats looking to settle down, it's not the only – or, let's be honest, the most authentic – option.

Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, and its neighbourhoods reflect this diversity. Beyond the flashy facade of Orchard Road, expats can find pockets of tranquillity, cultural richness, and family-friendly environments. Each neighbourhood whispers a different story, from the trendy buzz of Tiong Bahru to the laid-back vibe of Joo Chiat, home to Peranakan delights. Whether you're a young professional seeking a vibrant social scene or an expat family looking for a peaceful suburb, there's a neighbourhood to suit your preferences.

Comparing Popular Expat Areas in Singapore

When choosing a neighbourhood in Singapore, expats often consider several factors:

Access to Schools and Childcare Facilities

For families with children, access to quality education and childcare is paramount. neighbourhoods like Bukit Timah and Holland Village boast excellent schools and childcare centres, making them popular choices among expat families. Here is our selection of the recommended areas for school choice, starting with the two areas recommended above:

  • Bukit Timah: Established Anglo-Chinese schools and the prestigious Nanyang Girls' High School attract families seeking academic excellence.
  • Holland Village: A mix of local and international schools like Tanglin Trust School cater to diverse needs.
  • West Coast: Established educational institutions like Dover Court International School and Singapore Polytechnic make it a haven for families.
  • Tampines: Growing popularity brings new schools like East Spring Secondary School, offering convenience for families.

Connectivity and Proximity to Public Transportation:

Singapore's efficient public transportation system makes getting around a breeze. Areas like Tanjong Pagar and Tiong Bahru offer easy access to MRT stations and bus stops, ensuring seamless connectivity to the rest of the island. See examples of neighbourhoods with good connectivity:

  • Tanjong Pagar: Well-served by the Circle Line and upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line, making it convenient for both CBD and eastern areas.
  • Tiong Bahru: Located near the upcoming Havelock MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line, with ample bus connections in the meantime.
  • Newton/Novena: Direct MRT access and proximity to the Central Expressway offer unmatched connectivity.
  • Lavender: The NEL and numerous bus routes whisking you around town with ease.
  • Clementi: Well-connected by the East West and Circle Lines, with easy access to Jurong East MRT Station.
  • Serangoon (and District 19 - see below): The NEL and numerous bus routes make getting around a breeze.

Availability and Types of Housing Options:

From sleek condominiums to spacious landed houses, Singapore offers a wide range of housing options to suit every lifestyle and budget. We have listed three distinct categories of housing options available in Singapore.

  • Family Haven: Hougang is family-friendly option with a mix of HDB flats and affordable condominiums, with ample green spaces, while Serangoon Gardens (a leafy neighbourhood) offers spacious bungalows, charming semi-detached houses is ideal for families seeking a quiet suburban feel but with higher prices compared to central areas
  • Urban Chic: Soaring condos in Tanjong Pagar offer city views and proximity to the Central Business District. They are perfect for urban professionals and investors, but be prepared for premium prices and limited outdoor space. Tiong Bahru is another option with a mix of trendy pre-war shophouses (shophouses typically have smaller layouts and shared entrances) and modern boutique apartments. It offers trendy living with historical charm. Little India offers a blend of traditional shophouses and modern condos, often at budget-friendly prices, and enjoy convenient access to the city centre.
  • Luxury Living: Colonial bungalows and waterfront villas in Dempsey Hill offer unparalleled privacy and spacious living, but it comes with high rental and purchase prices. Sentosa Cove provide private waterfront villas and exclusive apartment complexes, catering to those seeking a luxurious retreat.

Cost of Living and Rental/Purchase Prices:

While living in prime areas like Orchard Road can be expensive, there are plenty of affordable alternatives available. neighbourhoods like Jurong East and Woodlands offer lower rental and purchase prices without compromising on amenities or quality of life. You might also consider the pocket-friendly choice of Bedok with affordable housing, and Toa Payoh with bustling markets and local shops keep costs down without sacrificing convenience.

Overall Vibe and Community Atmosphere:

Each neighbourhood in Singapore has its own unique vibe and community atmosphere. Whether you prefer the bustling energy of the city or the laid-back charm of the suburbs, there's a neighbourhood to match your lifestyle preferences.

Joo Chiat paints life with colourful shophouses and temples, where neighbours bond over Peranakan treats and shared traditions. Little India's beat thumps with Bollywood tunes and spicy smells, where steaming biryani brings folks together like clockwork in bustling hawker centres. Tiong Bahru, though, hums with a different tune - young artists clinking coffee mugs in converted shophouses, while quirky boutiques add a splash of colour to the streets. Every corner has its own story, inviting you to join the fun. Maybe it's tending a community garden in Tampines or cheering on the local football team - the possibilities are endless.

Spotlight on Serangoon, District 19

Encompassing areas like Hougang, Sengkang, and Punggol, District 19 emerges as a rising star for expats seeking a slower pace. What sets this district apart is its perfect blend of urban convenience and suburban tranquillity with a leafy neighbourhood while very good connection with public transport. Residents here enjoy a plethora of amenities, from sprawling parks and nature reserves to bustling malls and eateries.

While living costs may vary depending on the specific location and type of property, District 19 offers a blend of modern condos like The Rise and Punggol Oasis, alongside landed houses and shophouses, catering to diverse preferences.

New developments in The Chuan Park

In District 19, amidst areas like Hougang, Sengkang, and Punggol, lies The Chuan Park, a residential development blending urban convenience with suburban tranquillity. Unlike traditional developments, The Chuan Park prioritises quality and minimalist design, offering residents spacious living with minimal upkeep.

Strategically positioned near key hubs like the Marina Bay financial district and one-north business park, The Chuan Park ensures easy access to major roads and expressways such as the PIE, CTE, and Upper Serangoon Road. With the completion of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) and Cross Island Line (CRL) by 2035, connectivity will be further enhanced, making travel seamless for residents.

Unique Characteristics, Amenities, and Attractions

District 19 boasts an array of amenities, including parks, malls, and dining options, making it an ideal choice for families. Educational institutions and childcare facilities abound, with new schools like Punggol Green Primary and the upcoming Montfort Junior School catering to young learners.

Insider Tips and Recommendations

For those looking to explore Serangoon, District 19 and its surrounding areas, here are some insider tips:

  • Take a leisurely stroll along the Punggol Waterway Park and enjoy the scenic views.
  • Sample delicious local fare at the hawker centres in Hougang and Sengkang.
  • Explore the vibrant arts and culture scene at The Punggol Settlement.
  • Embark on a cycling adventure along the scenic Punggol Promenade.

The overall vibe in Serangoon is laid-back and community-centric, making it a popular choice among families and young professionals alike. District 19, with its unique blend of urban convenience and suburban charm, presents an attractive alternative for those seeking a different living experience. With excellent amenities, connectivity, and a vibrant community atmosphere, it's no wonder why more expats are choosing to call this district home.

In conclusion, while Orchard Road may be the go-to destination for many expats, Singapore has so much more to offer.

If you want to know more about the new development in Singapore: The Chuan Park, follow this link.