Tips for Filipinos looking for a place to stay in Singapore

In this post, I’ll talk about resources I use to help me find a place to stay in Singapore. This post is for those who are allowed to rent in Singapore. There are no hotels in this post. Renting a room in Singapore is only for people who carry a work permit or an employment pass.

Since I moved to Singapore in 2012, I’ve relocated a few times through the years. I lived in Yew Tee, Yishun, Bishan, Geylang, and Bukit Merah. Neighborhoods may look the same, but trust me, each one is unique.

Initially, I tried using sites like PinoySG to help me find a place to stay (or share). But I wasn’t getting the type of housemate I would feel comfortable with. By that, I wanted to avoid “funky rules” or “stepping on eggshells”. By the way, this will be your “home away from home” right?

Some houses don’t allow visitors. Other houses will say only light cooking is allowed. You’ll encounter tenants who won’t show you the full PUB or electric bill (a red flag) which means your rent is inclusive of the bill. That’s impossible because utility bills fluctuate. You won’t know if you’re paying more and the tenant is earning off of you.

Ask yourself these questions first

Before starting your hunt for a place, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of housemate are you?
  • What kind of housemates do you want?
  • What’s your budget?

You need to solve these first.

Next, ask yourself if you’re looking to share a room with someone or to rent a whole room. I prefer having my own room because it’s a treat to myself and it’s a safe refuge.

Now as you plan your budget and start looking for a place to stay, you can gauge if the price your paying for the room is fair or suspicious. Most times, it’s pretty fair play in Singapore. But here’s what I’ve discovered:

40-30-30 rule

Many of the units in Singapore are 3-bedroom flats (aka 3+1, the living room is considered an actual room). The arrangement would be a master bedroom which has an ensuite (its own bathroom) and two common rooms. I’ve encountered this a few times but there’s a 40-30-30 percentage arrangement on the unit cost. If a unit is 3,000 SGD the master bedroom will be 1,200 SGD and the two common rooms will be 900 SGD each. Gets?

Should I work with an agent?

Yes and no. Yes, if you can afford it because a good agent will be able to look after your best interests especially if there’s a conflict with the unit owner. An agent will also be able to file all paperwork and make sure you are protected. No, if you’re resourceful (as most Filipinos are) and are able to locate a listing that you’re happy with.

Questions to ask the prospect owner or main tenant

  • How much is the unit cost? – They might not answer, but I’d ask them anyway. I want that transparency.
  • How much is the Public Utility Bill (PUB) each month?
  • How many months security deposit are required?
  • How long is the current contract? – important, what if you’re signing up to move into a place that only has 2 months left in it
  • Who are the owners? – if you’re meeting with the main tenant
  • What are the house rules? – very important to clear in the beginning. Most rules are reasonable, but you might have particulars (e.g. allowing guests to visit, cooking food with bagoong, eating durian)

Things to consider

Virtually all of the places I’ve stayed at in Singapore through the years are within walking distance of an MRT station and grocery store. That’s how convenient it is in Singapore. Even the far-flung areas like Bukit Panjang or Punggol will have your basic needs covered. In case we miss anything, here are other things you can consider:

  • Distance to the bus stop or MRT station – and which MRT line is it? Does it connect to your work place easily?
  • Distance to the grocery stores or town center
  • Parks and park connectors – for your exercise
  • How many people you’ll share the bathroom with – trust me, this might be a problem in the morning
  • Visitors allowed? – some prefer no visitors as to keep the house a “peaceful sanctuary”, others prefer reasonable visitors for obvious social purposes, and in one case a whole church group would meet inside the unit. Check that the visitor or no-visitor arrangement works with you.

My Choice Resource

This leaves me with my choice resource for looking for a place to rent in Singapore.

  • Filipinos in Singapore Room for Rent – I know, the title itself is straightforward. I’ve posted listings here and I’ve discovered places to stay here. You can find a number of rooms and units to rent here.

Tips

  • Don’t let the main tenant or unit owner take advantage of you. Your residence should be a safe space for you. You work so hard to make a living only to live in conditions that give you unnecessary stress. Believe me, there are many rooms and units to rent in Singapore. You don’t have to stay at the same one.
  • Insist on full transparency in electric bills. I don’t like it when a main tenant refuses to show you how much the electric bill is. The costs should always be divided amongst housemates. If you’re moving to a house that is “all-inclusive of bills” this sounds nice, but what if the electric bill is actually smaller than what you’re paying.
  • Engage with an agent. If you can afford it, the advantage of having an agent means you wouldn’t have to deal directly with the owner. If there are disputes, you are paying for an agent that should look after your best interests. An agent will also do the stamping fee (required by HDBs) and they will line up places for you to view according to your interests.

Lastly, once you’ve found a place to stay and have moved in, make an effort to get to know the neighborhood. Hold the lift door open for a neighbor or be open to conversations with neighbors you spot in the void deck. Be kind.

How’s your experience so far in looking for a place to stay?

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