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 Guide for Expatriates

-     Singapore Housing Type  for expatriates
-     Procedure for Rent / Lease  for expatriates
-     Foreign Ownership of Landed Properties  for expatriates
-     Expatrites Guide FAQ  for expatriates

 Singapore Housing Type 

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A) Housing and Development Board (HDB)
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is a common feature of Singapore real estate listings in Singapore with more than 80% of Singaporeans living in public housing. Purchases of HDB flats are restricted to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. For the HDB flat classification system, please note that the living room is counted as 1 room. Please refer to the HDB Website for more information.
- 2 Rm (2 room HDB Flat). 1 bedroom with a built-in area of about 45 sq m or 485 sq ft.
- 3 Rm (3 room HDB Flat). 2 bedrooms with a built-in area of about 70 sq m or 754 sq ft.
- 4 Rm (4 room HDB Flat). 3 bedrooms with a built-in area of about 90 sq m or 969 sq ft.
- 5 Rm (5 room HDB Flat). 3 bedrooms with a built-in area of about 110 sq m or 1,184 sq ft.
- EA (Executive Apartment). 3/4 bedrooms with built-in area of about 150 sqm or 1,615 sqft.
- EM (Executive Mansionette). Same as Executive apartment, except it has two levels.
- 6 Rm (6 room HDB Flat). Jumbo flat joint by two 3 room flats.
B) Condominium / Private Apartment
Private apartments and condominiums come in various sizes from as small as 500 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft. The units in private residential projects range from studio, 1, 2, 3 and 4-bedroom units to penthouses. Residents, both Singaporeans and foreigners, share a common compound and facilities such as clubhouses, playgrounds, gymnasiums, swimming pools, tennis courts and BBQ pits. Most condominiums also come with 24-hour security surveillance and intercom systems.
C) Landed Property
Conventional landed property on Singapore real estate listings refer to houses which come with private garden compounds and/or garages. Please note that the Singapore Government has imposed restrictions on foreign ownership of private residential property in Singapore. Please refer to the Singapore Land Authority website for more information.
- Bungalow. Free standing house with no shared wall with others except the fence.
- Semi Detached. A pair of houses, two houses joint side by side.
- Inter Terrace (Intermediate Terrace House). A row of houses joint side by side.
- Corner Terrace (Corner Terrace House). The last house of the row of houses.
D) Others
- Colonial House, Bungalow : Houses built in the pre-war British colonial times.
- Conservation House, Shop House : Houses or Shop Houses that are marked for conservation.
- Black and White House : Houses built in the pre-war British colonial times, usually with white external walls with wood support painted in black.
- Heritage House : House constructed with a touch of Asian heritage and culture, Balinese concept and loved by expatriates.

 Procedure for Rent / Lease 

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1) Select an agent
Optional, but recommended. A professional agent will not only help you to find the right property, but also ensure you get the right location & price, ensure all small details are covered prior to renting, guide you through the documentation process and taking & handing over of property.
2) Location & Price
Deciding on the right location is very important and it will determine the convenience for you and your family. Price - Budgeting yourself will also evaluate the size areas of the apartments or houses that are suitable for you.
3) Documentation
After you have decided to rent your ideal property and you will need to prepare the following:
  - Photocopied passport
  - Photocopied employment pass
  - One month's rental for the good faith deposit
Your agent will then prepare the necessary documents for you such as the Letter of Intent and Tenancy Agreement.
4) Letter of intent
The Letter of Intent, LOI for short, is a letter proposing your intention to lease the property. It will also state your requirements to the landlord. You should take note of the following:
a. Diplomatic Clause
This clause is to safe-guard you in the event that your employment is ceased or you are transferred to another country such that you can terminate the lease after 12 months by giving 2 months notice. Thereafter, the security deposit will be refunded to you. Please note that most landlords will only include the diplomatic clause if the lease is more than a year.
b. Good faith Deposit
This is the booking deposit; usually the amount is one month's rent. After the landlord signed the Letter of Intent and accept this deposit, he cannot rent the property to other party. This deposit will become part of the security deposit or advance rental after the Tenancy Agreement is signed.
c. Security Deposit
The amount of the security deposit is usually stated in the Letter or Intent. The standard practice in Singapore is usually one month's rent for every year of lease. It will only be payable upon signing of the Tenancy Agreement. When the lease term ends, the deposit will be refunded without interest. However, the landlord reserves the right to deduct from the deposit all costs and expenses arising from the tenant for breaching any of the covenants stated in the Tenancy Agreement.
d. Term of Lease
In Singapore, the standard lease period is more than 1 year, with or without an option to renew the lease. The lease renewal is usually for another 1 to 2 years. For the lease renewal option, the landlord would normally require that you give 2 or 3 months' advance notice of your intention to renew. Most landlords will not accept leases that are less than 1 year.
e. Your Requirements
Ensure that all your requirements and requests are clearly stated in the Letter of Intent. For example, such as requesting a new sofa, new bed or new washing machine etc. After the landlord had signed the Letter of Intent, he is bound by the Letter to provide you the requests.
5) Tenancy Agreement
After the Letter of intent is duly signed, the landlord’s agent will prepare the Tenancy Agreement. Any legal fees incurred for the drawing up of the agreement is usually borne by the tenant. However, if the landlord's agreement is acceptable, there will usually not be any legal fees involved. You will need to prepare the rest of the security deposit and advance rental upon signing of the Tenancy Agreement.

   - For 1 year lease - 1 month's deposit and 1 month's advance rental.
   - For 2 years lease - 2 month's deposit and 1 month's advance rental.
6) Taking Over the Property
The landlord will prepare an Inventory List on or before the day of handing over. Check the items listed in the inventory. Check all electrical appliances, air-con, lightings, water heater etc. If there is anything unsatisfactory, do not panic; note it down on the inventory. Even brand new houses have defects, therefore be understanding and allow the landlord to rectify it within a reasonable period.

 Expatriates Guide FAQ 

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How do I open a bank account in Singapore?
To open an account in Singapore, you will need copies of your passport, employer's letter, and a statement from a bank in your home country. Singapore has extensive facilities of automated teller machines (ATMs) and a cashless payment system called NETS for your paying convenience.
Who is eligible to apply for an Employment Pass?
Any foreigner may apply for an Employment Pass to be employed or to do business in Singapore if he/ she fulfils the eligibility criteria. For details please click to see the Singapore Ministry of Manpower website or the Contact Singapore website.
What must I do if my spouse or child is relocating to Singapore with me?
An Employment Pass holder may apply Dependant's Passes for his / her spouse, unmarried or legally adopted children under 21 years of age.
Who are required to apply for a Professional Visit Pass?
For details, please click to see the ICA Website for a list of foreigners who are required to apply for Professional Visit Passes.
I am a professional / specialist. Which Singapore agency should I write to if I wish to seek employment in Singapore?
For details, please click to see the Contact Singapore website. You may also get in touch with the Contact Singapore Centres overseas or surf the EDB website.
What is Central Provident Fund (CPF)?
Over the years, CPF has been used to accelerate natioinal growth. To meet the population's needs in housing, healthcare, family protection and investment, several innovative schemes were introduced over the last five decades. For details, please click to see the CPF website.
Do foreigners need to contribute to the CPF?
Foreigners will only need to contribute to the CPF after having assumed permanent resident status. For details, please click to see the CPF website.
Also Visit These Links Back To Top
Singapore Property - Private / Condo
Singapore HDB
Singapore Commercial Properties

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