A “good” neighbourhood in Singapore is relatively hard to find. Not because there aren’t any, but because pretty much every neighbourhood is good, unlike some other countries where certain areas are known for high crime rates or being painfully out of the way of everything.
And we’re not going to tell you that yes, the East side is the best side (although we do love it there…), or that you’ve made it in life if you can afford a property along Orchard Road. Because we know there are residents in every part of Singapore that would go to the ends of the earth to champion their neighbourhood.
But when you’re reeeally serious about getting the best home for your lifestyle and life aspirations, consider these 5 factors that determine a good location for your home in Singapore:
We all probably have this one dream estate we’d want to live in. To each their own! But beyond that, also consider where in the neighborhood your property is – this makes a huge difference when travelling around.
All other things being equal, let’s compare a HDB flat that’s a 5 minutes’ walk away from the MRT station versus one that’s a 15 minutes’ walk away, but $10,000 cheaper. Assuming you live here for 5 years i.e. the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) for HDB flats, the extra commute of 10 minutes to and from the MRT station every day would mean you spend about 600 extra hours. 600!
Not to mention, even if you do spend $10,000 more buying that HDB flat closer to the MRT station, chances are that you’ll be able to sell it for a higher price as well. In other words, it’s not money lost!
Distance aside, also consider factors like:
- Is the walk to the MRT station (or your choice of public transportation) sheltered? This makes all the difference, especially when you’re trying to get to work under the sweltering 8am sun.
- If you normally drive, is the property near expressways? Are the roads nearby often congested?
If this is of priority to you, you might want to look at getting a resale HDB flat instead of applying for a BTO flat, since you’ll have many more options dotted all around each neighborhood, rather than being confined to choosing a unit in a particular block.
2. Future plans for the neighborhood
If you’re house-hunting with the intention of finding the neighborhood with the most profit potential, the trick is not to identify the best neighborhood, but the next best neighborhood.
Greater Southern Waterfront
Reading up on the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) master plans is a good place to start. These master plans lay out strategies to guide the development of land and property in specific areas in Singapore. There are, for instance, plans to create the Greater Southern Waterfront near Tanjong Pagar and rejuvenate the Paya Lebar district into a buzzing sub-regional centre.
And not coincidentally, these are also the areas where properties have enjoyed the highest increase in price in the past 3-5 years. And prices are still climbing! The earlier you identify these districts with growth potential, the earlier you can buy, and enjoy the capital appreciation as prices trend upwards with time.
Note that this does take time – from the planning phase to the redevelopment of the area to actually seeing everything come to fruition – so it’s important to take a mid to long-term view for this.
Before you start getting excited at property listings shouting “big 24-hour supermarket at your doorstep!” or “close to prestigious schools!”, think about what amenities would truly improve your quality of life.
Huuuuge supermarket just across the street? Great for grocery runs, but pointless if you get all your groceries delivered to your doorstep anyway.
In fact, some things touted as amenities might actually be a disamenity to you. If you don’t plan on having kids, living near a school doesn’t give you any added benefit. In fact, hearing kids shouting during every recess time? Umm…
Now we get down to the really granular stuff to do with location. There can be 2 houses side by side, but the slightest difference in location, and thus orientation, could mean you either love or hate the space.
What directions are the rooms facing? If they face west, the place will remain relatively warmer well into the night. Not so good if, for example, it’s a room without air-conditioning.
Most people would want rooms to be facing East, so that natural light can enter in the day but evenings are kept cool.
5. Density of the residential zone
The denser your residential zone, the tougher you might find it to sell your home. Even if potential buyers are looking specifically for properties in your area, they’ll have plenty of choices, which means you face more competition as a seller.
This is especially true if you’re one of those BTO hopefuls wanting to sell your HDB flat immediately after reaching your 5-year MOP. If this is your ideal plan, bear in mind that it’s probably also 1263 other homeowners’ ideal plans. And since you’ll all be entering the market at the same time, you might find it extremely hard to sell, or even have to wait a couple of years more for supply to die down before you manage to find a buyer.
No such thing as “the best location”, but there is the best location for you
So there you have it: some considerations to help you find that one home that sits in the perfect location. And this “perfect” location differs according to each person’s lifestyle habits and their needs. Good luck finding yours!