Room Rentals In Singapore – The Local’s Guide [2021]

5 mins

Renting a room in a shareflat is the most economical type of accommodation in Singapore, not to mention a great way to instantly get to know other people living here and perhaps form some new friendships. But before you can find a new home, you need to know what you’re looking for.

Contents

1. Who is room rental in Singapore suitable for?

2. How to choose a room to rent in Singapore

3. For those on a higher budget

4. OK, so how do I find these rooms for rent in Singapore?

5. Living with your landlord—should you do it?

6. Signing a lease and moving in

7. Where to stay?

8. Conclusion

Room Rentals In Singapore - The Local’s Guide [2021]
Photo by Shashi Ch on Unsplash

When looking at listings for room rentals in Singapore, you’re going to come across two terms on almost every ad–“master room” and “common room”.

The term “master room” refers to the master bedroom in a house or apartment. It is typically the biggest room in the property and comes with an en-suite bathroom.

All other bedrooms are labelled “common rooms”. They are smaller in size, cheaper to rent than the master room and typically do not come with en-suite bathrooms unless otherwise stated.

On average, rooms for rent in Singapore tend to measure about 10 to 30m² and rents can range from about $500 to $2,000 a month. If you need a bit more space or would rather enjoy the privacy of living alone, you can instead opt for a studio or one-bedroom apartment, but you’ll likely have to budget for higher rent as well.

Who is room rental in Singapore suitable for?

two women and dog in a room rental singapore
Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

Room rentals are an increasingly popular choice for young, single people in Singapore. Young Singaporeans may turn to room rentals when moving out of their parents’ home for the first time, seeing it as the most affordable way to live independently.

Room rentals are also a popular option for a great many people coming to live in Singapore from other countries, whether as international students or for work. Young, single and ready to mingle, this group enjoys the affordability as well as the community that comes from living with others. For those who work and play in the CBD, a shareflat is also the most affordable way to live in a central location.

Couples may also opt for room rentals if they can find a space that is big enough to accommodate them. For instance, master rooms can be ideal for couples, offering a degree of privacy while still enabling them to enjoy the community and cost savings of a shareflat.

Shareflats can also be an option for groups of friends who wish to move in together, enabling them to split the rent for one apartment between them.

How to choose a room to rent in Singapore

blocks of rooms for rent in singapore
Photo by Andrew Haha Lee on Unsplash

When picking the type of shareflat you wish to live in, the two main choices available to you are HDB flats and condos.

HDB flats are a type of government housing that most Singaporean households live in. Rooms in HDB flats tend to be the cheapest available rental options. Such flats do not come with security or condo facilities like swimming pools, but can be just as spacious as standard condos at a lower price point. Unlike other types of property, which you can rent for as little as three months, HDB flats must be rented for a minimum of six months.

Condos are private apartment projects with 24-hour security and common areas or facilities like swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts and gardens.

Another option is to rent a room in one of Singapore’s iconic heritage shophouses. This option is ideal if you’re looking for a unique home with character, and prefer having the privacy of an en-suite bathroom. You can rent stylish, fully-furnished studios in boutique shophouses through Figment.

Now that you have an idea of what’s available, you’re ready to check out what’s on the market. When comparing rooms for rent in Singapore, pay attention to these factors, which will influence your rent:

– Proximity and connectivity to the city centre – Despite Singapore’s small size, location has an outsized influence on rent, as well as your wellbeing. Pick a property in the city centre or city fringe located near an MRT station, and you could be looking at a 15 minute commute to work. Pick one in a far-flung suburb nowhere near an MRT station, and you could be commuting for more than an hour each way. Rents reflect that, so expect to pay more for properties located close to the city centre and/or a short walking distance from an MRT station.

– Age of the property – All other factors being equal, older properties tend to be cheaper to rent than brand spanking new ones. That said, older apartments are often more spacious than those in newer condo projects, and that might be reflected in the rent.

– Availability of recreational facilities – New condos can look like amusement parks these days thanks to their recreational facilities. It’s not uncommon for a condo development to have multiple swimming pools, a gym and tennis courts at the very least. Some throw out all the stops with features like sky gardens, tea pavilions and infinity pools. You might end up paying more to live in an apartment offering access to such facilities.

– Quality of fixtures – A newly-renovated apartment that’s been kitted out with high quality, luxurious fixtures and brand new appliances will likely cost more to rent than one that’s decked out in IKEA.

– Furnishings – Fully-furnished apartments are the most convenient option for those who want to move in with minimal hassle, but cost more to rent than unfurnished apartments. Semi-furnished apartments come with essentials like lights and curtains, but you’ll have to buy most of the furniture on your own. Most shareflats come fully-furnished.

Cheapest / budget / most affordable studio apartments

The good news is that even at the lowest price point, you can get a clean, liveable room in a safe neighbourhood. Here are some of recent finds:

– Common room in Tampines HDB flat (Rent: $350) – Fully-furnished room in an HDB flat in eastern Singapore, located 8 minutes’ walk from Tampines East MRT station.

Common room in Tampines HDB Flat
Image source: Propertyguru.com.sg

– Common room in Paya Lebar private apartment (Rent: $600) – Fully-furnished room in a 1972 apartment block located right above City Plaza shopping mall, three minutes’ walk from Paya Lebar MRT.

common room in paya lebar private apartment
Image source: PropertyGuru.com.sg

– Common room in Geylang HDB flat (Rent: $650) – Fully-furnished room in a 1964 HDB flat located 3 minutes from Mattar MRT and 6 minutes from MacPherson MRT.

Common room in Geylang HDB Flat
Image source: Propertyguru.com.sg

– Common room in Upper Thomson condo (Rent: $990) – Fully-furnished room at Sin Min Plaza, a condo development with facilities such as swimming pools, gym and barbecue pits. Located 3 minutes’ walk from Upper Thomson MRT and 8 minutes’ walk from Marymount MRT. Rent includes utilities, wifi, weekly cleaning and change of bedsheets.

Common room in upper thomson condo
Image source: Propertyguru.com.sg

– Common room at Tanjong Pagar HDB flat (Rent: $1,200) – Located a short walk from CBD, this fully-furnished room is located in the famous Pinnacle@Duxton HDB development, which has a stunning sky garden offering panoramic views of the city. It is located 7 minutes’ walk from Cantonment MRT and 8 minutes’ walk from Outram Park and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations.

Common room at Tanjong Pagar HDB Flat
Image source: Propertyguru.com.sg

– Master room at Eunos condo (Rent: $1,400) – Fully-furnished room at Guillemard Suites, located 7 minutes’ walk from Mountbatten MRT and 9 minutes’ walk from Aljunied MRT. Condo facilities include swimming pool, gym and barbecue pits.

Master room at eunos condo
Image source: Propertyguru.com.sg

For those on a higher budget

Got $1,500 or more to spend on rent? Then you can afford something nicer! Figment offers chic studio suites in heritage shophouses equipped with en-suite bathrooms and kitchenettes. Here’s a sampling of available Figment studios.

– Studio in Joo Chiat shophouse (Rent: $1,950) – Fully-furnished studio in a fresh, contemporary style located in the historic Joo Chiat neighbourhood. Located 25-35 minutes from the CBD by public transport.

Studio in Joo Chiat shophouse
Image source: Figment

– Studio in Somerset shophouse (Rent: $2,720) – Located 7 minutes’ walk from Somerset MRT on historic Emerald Hill in the heart of the Orchard shopping district, this shophouse’s interior design is a dreamy nod to classic cinema.

Studio in Somerset Shophouse
Image source: Figment

OK, so how do I find these rooms for rent in Singapore?

computer on a bed on a rainy day
Photo by Dave Weatherall on Unsplash

Look no further! The following resources just might lead you to your next abode.

– PropertyGuru – This website has a massive database of residential and commercial listings. You can filter your search according to property type, price, area and number of rooms. Many of the listings are placed by agents, and they also have sale listings if you’re looking to buy.

– RentInSingapore.com.sg – This site is dedicated entirely to rentals, so you can really refine you search according to criteria like stay length, your gender and whether the listing is placed by an agent or owner. You can also browse roommate listings if you need to replace a departing roommate or are looking for someone to share a flat with.

– Gumtree.sg – Find anything, from room rentals to furniture for sale on this classifieds ad site. Ads are not always updated, so it’s a good idea to filter search results from least to most recent.

– Ibilik.sg – You’ll find a decent number of listings on this site dedicated to room rentals. One nifty feature is their map widget that lets you check the property’s location.

– Roomgo (formerly EasyRoommate) – Search for available rooms and roommates on this listings site. If you’re on the lookout for a new place, you can opt to be alerted when a room that matches your criteria gets listed.

– Facebook groups – There are numerous Facebook groups dedicated to room rentals, including FindYourRoomInSG and Rooms For Rent (Singapore). Some listings are posted by fellow tenants looking for roommates or someone to take over their lease.

Tips for picking the right room for you

Here’s what everyone wishes they knew before committing to their first room rental in Singapore.

Living with your landlord—should you do it?

From the point of view of your personal comfort, living with the landlord is often a bad idea.

Some landlords prefer that the tenant be seen and heard as little as possible, and might also insist on having priority when it comes to kitchen and bathroom use. You might also have to put up with the landlord’s children or pets. In addition, landlords might impose draconian rules like forbidding you from using the kitchen or living room.

Not all landlords are like that, but to be safe, the only reason you might want to live with the landlord is if the rent is dirt cheap.

It’s also worth noting that the law in Singapore is relatively pro-landlord. Landlords can get a court order to evict you if you owe them rent, frequently pay your rent late or damage the property.

Selecting a room

The two biggest factors affecting your decision will be affordability and choice. It’s always best to look at several different properties before making a decision. To make life easier, you can get an agent to do the legwork for you by sourcing for properties that match your criteria. Some agents will even driver you to property viewings.

Signing a lease and moving in

backpack and boxes on the floor
Photo by Ryu Orn on Unsplash

It’s not exactly light reading, but make sure you peruse your rental contract carefully before signing it.

Take care to what is and isn’t included in your rent, including wifi, utilities and cleaning fees. You should take note of all of your and the landlord’s “covenants” or obligations. For instance, are you responsible for maintaining the appliances or paying for repairs in the apartment?

If there are any terms you’re not comfortable with, take the initiative to negotiate or decline to sign if the landlord doesn’t back down.

On the day you move in, take pictures of the flat, particularly of any defects or damage like cracks in tiles. If you want to be extra safe, email the pictures to the landlord. That way, he or she won’t be able to use these defects as an excuse to withhold your deposit when you move out.

Where to stay?

back alley with a view of skyscrapers
Photo by Fleur Kaan on Unsplash

Where you choose to live depends on where you work, play and/or study. Here are your main options:

– CBD (eg. Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar, Marina Bay, Orchard, Bugis, Chinatown) – This is the most expensive option but offers the greatest convenience if you work in the Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar area.

– City fringe (eg. Tiong Bahru, Queenstown, Newton, Novena, Little India, Jalan Besar, Toa Payoh, Bishan, Bukit Timah, Geylang, Kallang, Katong) – Less expensive than the CBD but still easily accessible, many of these neighbourhoods are vibrant attractions in their own right. For instance, Katong is known for its Peranakan architecture and cuisine, while Tiong Bahru is a lifestyle area filled with hip cafes.

– Suburban (eg. Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Jurong, Yishun, Woodlands, Punggol) – Suburban neighbourhoods are more affordable and might also be ideal if you work outside of the city centre. For instance, Jurong East is now a major shopping area filled with big malls, while Pasir Panjang is a convenient choice for those working at the National University of Singapore or the tech parks at One-North.

Beware!

In Singapore, it is legal for the landlord to enter a room that is being rented out. Make sure you negotiate clauses protecting yourself from this intrusion in your contract, such as by obliging the landlord to get your permission in writing before entering. This is especially important if you will be living with the landlord.

You also want to be sure your landlord isn’t violating the rules governing the maximum number of tenants, particularly if tenants are sharing bedrooms. Otherwise, you risk losing your home if the authorities find out. A maximum of six unrelated persons are allowed to live in one private property.

When it comes to renting out HDB flats, the landlord has to jump through many more hoops, including not renting to more than 4 to 6 tenants at a time, depending on the size of the flat, and abiding by the non-citizen quota in the HDB block. The landlord is required to obtain approval from the HDB before being able to legally rent out a room to you, so you can ask to see HDB’s approval notification before you move in.

Conclusion

lady in room looking at art
Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash

There are many factors to consider when renting a room in Singapore, such as what type of property or room you prefer, which area to live in and so on. When browsing properties, you’ll also want to consider factors such as the design of the property and the people you could potentially be living with.

Protecting yourself is key, so ensure that you read your contract thoroughly and ensure that the landlord does not impose any unfair terms. It is also essential to have a basic knowledge of what your landlord is legally allowed to do, as any illegality has the potential to leave you homeless.

On the bright side, actually renting and moving into your room is a quick and easy process thanks to the abundance of online resources.

Would you like to live in a boutique home that captures the imagination? Browse Figment’s selection of heritage shophouses to see which studios are currently available.