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Singapore - Housing Typology

House or Apartment

Choosing an apartment could be a good idea for the following reasons:
  • Cost - Houses are usually more expensive.
  • Size - Apartments can be quite large with up to five bedrooms. Some older apartments are very spacious. What’s included: Apartments usually come with air-conditioning, refrigerator, stove and oven, curtains and blinds. Houses will not always have these included.
  • Amenities: Apartments are usually in condominium-like complexes with swimming pool, gym and barbecue areas. Some have a children’s playground, games room and tennis court.
  • Environment: High-rise apartments offer city and sea views, cool breezes (save on the electricity bills for air-conditioning) and an absence of wild-life. In a house you may share your space with geckos, lizards, spiders, mosquitoes, cockroaches, snakes, squirrels and even monkeys.
  • Neighbours: Houses have more privacy, but when you are a newcomer, apartment-living may make it easier to meet people and make new friends.

Flat – an apartment or condominium.

  • HDB Flat – 80% of the Singapore population lives in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats. In the past this was all low-cost rental accommodation provided by the government. Now 90% of these flats are privately owned. Some HDB housing blocks have been turned into private condominiums with the addition of security services, swimming pool and gym. These flats will have been renovated and many are quite spacious. They make a good option if your rental budget is low.
  • Condo - Private condominiums and apartments, where residents share the common compound and facilities.  Most condominiums come with good-quality bathroom, kitchen and laundry fittings and built-in wardrobes in the bedrooms. Floors are usually marble (terrazzo) or wood. Most developments have 24-hour security surveillance and basement car parking.  Recreational facilities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool, squash and tennis court, gymnasium, and children's playground are set in attractive tropical landscaping.
    Apartments can range from studio and one bedroom units to the more common two, three and four bedroom units and penthouses. Their size range is from as small as 600 square feet to as large as 4,000 square feet.
  • High-rise Condo - as above with usually three or more high-rise buildings in one complex.
  • Low-rise Condo – usually no more than four storeys high with about 20 or so apartments. They have fewer recreational facilities but more privacy.

Landed – This is the Singapore term for any property that has a garden.
Types of ‘landed’ property include:

  • Bungalow - a one or two storeys, free-standing house
  • Semi-detached - A pair of houses, which share one common wall.
  • Terrace House - part of a row of joined houses. These may be three storeys, quite large and have a rooftop garden.
  • Shophouse or Conservation House - A traditional old-style, terrace house where the ground floor was once used as a shop.
  • Black and White – a bungalow built in the early 20th century for British colonial officials and traders. Most of these properties are now owned by the government and many are rented by expatriates. These are two storey building with verandas and rattan blinds. Usually the downstairs living area is not air-conditioned but has ceiling fans. The upstairs bedrooms are air-conditioned. Kitchens and bathrooms may not be all that modern. They often have a separate maid’s quarters and very large grounds. Rents vary depending on how much they have been modernised.
  • Strata Landed Property - all of the above ‘landed’ properties have some private garden. In Strata ‘landed’ property, bungalows, cluster houses and townhouses share a common compound and facilities.
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