Although it’s not the largest destination, choosing an area or suburb in bustling Singapore can nonetheless be a daunting task, and the best neighbourhood for one expat may not be another's cup of tea.
An expat's decision on where to live will largely depend on their lifestyle priorities, family situation, the location of their workplace and personal preferences.
The city-state is divided into 28 districts which can be grouped into five main areas: Central, East, North, North-East and West. Here's an overview of some of the best areas to live as an expat.
The central area is situated, perhaps somewhat misleadingly, towards the south of the island. This large area includes the main business district as well as several popular residential areas, such as Bukit Timah and Bukit Merah. The area provides easy access to such amenities as shopping, entertainment and restaurants.
Housing is predominantly found in high-rise condos and apartments – often fully furnished and serviced – that tend to come with shared amenities, such as pools and gyms. Pricing varies from reasonable to extremely upmarket, leaning more towards the latter as this is generally considered to be the most expensive area in Singapore.
Families will have plenty of choice when it comes to international schools in this area. Options include ISS International School, Swiss School in Singapore, Tanglin Trust School, and UWC South East Asia.
Although the Central Region affords a cosmopolitan lifestyle and great access to almost everything, it's significantly more costly than accommodation found outside the hub, and high noise levels from traffic and ongoing construction work can also have an impact on quality of life.
Although the north is considered to be "far" from the city, in truth it's only about 15 miles (25km) and is easily accessible car, MRT or bus. One can actually see Malaysia from the Woodlands district and there is a causeway bridge that connects the two countries. The area is lush with greenery and features golf courses, plant nurseries and reservoirs.
Areas such as Woodgrove, Woodlands and Sembawang are home to many American expat families due to the presence of the Singapore American School. GEMS World Academy is also nearby.
The lush greenery of the area with its estate-type living conditions is usually what attracts expats of a certain inclination, but those keen on a night out should be aware that the North Region is a fair distance from the city and that it offers little in the way of nightlife.
The eastern area of the island includes the districts of Bedok, Pasir Ris, Tampines and Changi.
The Changi International Airport is situated here, and its neighbourhoods are blessed with character that marries old and new. The area has a diverse population, but many residents work in airline-related industries. There is excellent access to amenities, restaurants, schools and shops.
The Global Indian International School Singapore has two campuses in this area of the island. Stamford American International School is also close by.
Residents of the East Region enjoy a coastal lifestyle, with beach facilities and many parks. Condominiums are larger and less expensive than in the city, and retain a sense of community. And while there may not be an abundance of bars, there are a number of excellent eateries in the area to make up for it.
The western area includes Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi and Jurong. The neighbourhoods in this greater space vary widely but are generally densely populated and have excellent amenities.
Choa Chu Kang offers lots of outdoor activities with a number of parks as well as recreational- and sports venues. On the other hand, Jurong consists of large industrial- and residential areas and a golf course.
Expats in this area are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to international schools. Options include Canadian International School, Chatsworth International School, German European International School Singapore, Integrated International School, Nexus International School Singapore, and One World International School.
Rentals in the West Region are more affordable and it's a great area for families, with properties that include gardens, although the commute to the Central Region might be a bit long for some expats.
Expats looking to settle in Singapore's northeast area are often attracted to Serangoon, which is home to the French School of Singapore.
Terrace homes, semi-detached houses and bungalows can all be found here, and there are also plenty of places to shop and dine out, as well as plenty of outdoor spaces.
The area has some good housing estates in the area, and there are lots of good places to eat out, but expats may find that rental prices can be rather expensive.
►See Transport and Driving in Singapore for more on getting around
►Key Location is a great site for researching condos and building your personal shortlist
Are you an expat living in Singapore?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Singapore. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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