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Jul 13, 2024

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Best Neighborhoods in Singapore For Expat Families to Live In

Best Neighborhoods in Singapore For Expat Families to Live In

If you are considering relocating to the bustling Lion City with your family, finding the perfect community to suit your needs is essential. This article will introduce you to the best neighborhoods in Singapore, highlighting excellent schools and convenient access to daily essentials. Whether you’re seeking a vibrant urban setting or a serene suburban oasis, we’ve got you covered.

Singapore neighborhoods map

Best neighborhoods in Singapore to live for expat families

Central Orchard

Central Orchard neighborhood

If you love a lively neighborhood with numerous malls, cinemas, and restaurants, look no further than the Orchard area. The area is well connected by public transport, offering convenient and efficient travel options for residents and visitors alike.
As vibrant as it is, the neighborhoods in this area still provide a peaceful atmosphere with serene green surroundings for families with small kids. If your child’s education is priority, Orchard also boasts renowned international schools like EtonHouse International that provide a through train K-12 education pathway from playgroup to high school, making it an ideal choice for a well-rounded expat experience. Amidst these conveniences, the prestigious living status elevates housing prices in the Orchard district significantly more than other expat areas in Singapore.
For new expatriate families, this location also provides you with numerous expat communities, such as The American Club, that offer newcomers a chance to connect with people from similar backgrounds and help them seamlessly ease into the new environment. If you are new to the area, don’t hesitate to go around and say hi to your neighbors.


Woodlands neighnorhood

Unlike the bustling Orchard, Woodlands has a slower pace of life. Situated in the northern part of Singapore, Woodlands is filled with greenery, which you can easily tell from the name itself. The 27-hectare Admiralty Park with an abundance of mangroves and hiking trails is definitely a charm for nature lovers. Families in the area can also go for a walk and enjoy the greenery at this modern park that is seamlessly integrated with nature. Woodlands district is one of the most well-liked neighborhoods in Singapore by expatriate families as you can enjoy a mix of local and international residents.

Here, you can find a large community of American expats, whose children go to the Singapore American School nearby. With a large community of families from the US, this is a great neighborhood with lots of social activities, especially during Halloween.

Through careful urban planning and infrastructure investments, Woodlands is evolving into a vibrant and modern community that caters to the needs and aspirations of its residents. Compared to the luxurious Orchard district, family houses in Woodlands are reasonably priced, and they also provide a leafy, suburban feel for those that love a tranquil neighborhood.

In terms of transportation, residents in the area can travel to Central Singapore via the North-South Line (NSL) and the upcoming Thomson-East Coast line (TEL). With the new Thomson-East Coast line, residents can expect a shorter travel time of just 35 minutes from Woodlands South to Orchard, compared to current 50 minutes traveling time by train and bus.

Bukit Timah

Bukit Timah neighborhood

Located in the western area of Singapore, Bukit Timah is the highest area in the whole island. This district is named after the Bukit Timah hill, whose summit is 163.63 meters high. Although covered in greenery like Woodlands, Bukit Timah provides more cycling and hiking trails, and picnic spots that are perfect for outdoor family activities.

Bukit Timah is a preferred destination for families with school-aged kids, thanks to its selection of prestigious schools like Chatsworth International School and Swiss School, providing excellent education for expat children. The area also offers a unique blend of housing options, with both apartments and landed houses, which are surrounded by greenery, creating a “green urban village” atmosphere that seamlessly blends with Bukit Timah’s nature theme.

This charming Singapore neighborhood has captivated the European expatriate community because of its strong European connection, especially to the British, which is reflected in iconic street names such as King’s Road, Queen’s Road, or Duchess Road. For expat families seeking an enchanting and historical haven in Singapore, Bukit Timah is a perfect choice.

Speaking about moving, Bukit Timah offers excellent transportation connectivity, making it convenient for residents to travel to popular areas like Holland Village, Orchard, and the Central Business District (CBD) – all within a mere 10km radius. The neighborhood is well-served by six MRT stations on the Downtown Line and the Circle Line, providing easy access to the city’s major attractions. For those who prefer driving, the central location allows a quick 15-20 minute car journey to the CBD and approximately 40 minutes to reach the Changi area.

Sentosa Cove

Sentosa Cove neighborhood

Sentosa, the stunning island gem off the coast of Singapore, beckons with its captivating beaches and promises to be the ideal haven for expats seeking a luxurious coastal lifestyle. This exclusive destination, dedicated to tourism, also hosts a sought-after neighborhood of exquisite homes, making it the perfect choice for those who yearn for and can afford a lavish living experience in Singapore.

Housing in Sentosa is undeniably luxurious but comes with a price tag to match, making it an expensive choice for expats. The island offers an array of stunning properties, including mansions, condominiums, bungalows, and villas, showcasing the exquisite housing developments built over the past few decades. With approximately 60% of Sentosa Cove buyers being foreigners, investing in this exclusive enclave could prove to be a wise decision for expatriates seeking a deluxe and picturesque living experience in Singapore.

The island itself is a paradise for beach lovers, boasting picturesque beaches and captivating ocean views that invite leisurely walks and sandcastle-building delights. Alongside the natural beauty, Sentosa offers an abundance of popular recreational opportunities, ensuring there’s something for everyone. From the excitement of Universal Studios Singapore to the wonder of the S.E.A. Aquarium, the thrill of Adventure Cove Waterpark, and the enchantment of Dolphin Island, each attraction promises an unforgettable experience, making Sentosa a truly remarkable destination for cultural enrichment and leisurely enjoyment.

When it comes to transportation, relying on private transport like cars or private hires is the most convenient option. It is a seven minute drive to the closest shopping mall, VivoCity. For those who do not drive, Sentosa Cove is accessible by public transport bus 123 or the Sentosa buses that you can take from the Sentosa Cove Village. Buggies are permitted within Sentosa Cove for residents to get to the nearest eateries and convenience stores.

East Coast

East Coast neighborhood

East Coast is a delightful neighborhood, which is perfect for expat families looking for an enriching and vibrant living experience. This area boasts an array of extensive dining options, medical clinics, and top-rated international schools, making it an ideal choice for families. What sets this area apart is its more affordable rent prices compared to downtown areas, offering an attractive living option. Additionally, residents can enjoy the best of both worlds with easy access to the airport and a wonderful seaside lifestyle, creating an inviting and well-rounded environment for expats to call home.

With a mix of houses and condos catering to various budgets, East Coast provides a perfect blend of comfortable living and convenient amenities. Many residents find the area so enchanting that once they settle here, it becomes challenging to consider moving away. The appeal of the East Coast’s housing lies in its unique blend of affordability, convenience, and a captivating lifestyle that truly makes it a place to call home.

As a matter of fact, East Coast has become one of the highest sought-after expat areas in Singapore, due to its excellent schooling options and family-friendly environment. From primary schools to junior colleges, East Coast offers a perfect array of educational opportunities. International schools like the Canadian International School and Overseas Family School cater to expat families, ensuring a seamless transition and quality education for their kids. This thriving community stands as a preferred destination for those seeking a nurturing environment and top-notch education for their families in Singapore.

Holland Village

Holland Village neighborhood

Holland Village is a captivating oasis, that is perfect for expats who relish a vibrant food scene and desire a neighborhood infused with European influences. Also known as Holland V, this charming enclave enjoys the advantage of being conveniently situated near major train routes, making transportation a breeze. With its high concentration of entertainment and dining outlets, the area exudes a lively atmosphere that captivates visitors and residents alike. Step into this dynamic neighborhood and experience the perfect blend of cultural influences and entertainment that make Holland Village a delightful place to call home.

Housing in the Holland Village is in high demand, making it a sought-after neighborhood for expats. While the area offers a range of private properties, including landed houses and condominium complexes within walking distance to Holland Village MRT, prices tend to be on the higher end of the spectrum. For those with a larger budget, the selection of private properties provides an ideal living experience. However, Holland Village also caters to those seeking more affordable options, with a substantial HDB (public housing) estate located in Holland Close. This mix of housing options ensures that there is something suitable for everyone’s budget in this vibrant and desirable neighborhood.

With several international schools located nearby, it’s no wonder that Holland Village is a famous neighborhood for expatriate families. The healthcare needs of you and your kids are well-catered for, with numerous medical centers and clinics that boast high patient reviews. The area also provides a unique “Bohemian” vibe that adds a charming touch to your daily life, with arts and craft shops, art galleries, and more

Holland Village offers a stress-free and cost-effective transportation experience for expats, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable living experience in Singapore. The neighborhood boasts a stop on the Circle Line of the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system, providing seamless connectivity to the rest of Singapore. With easy access to the MRT, residents can avoid the congested traffic typically found in downtown areas. Additionally, Holland Village is very walkable, and buses are available for shorter distances, reducing the need for a car. It’s worth noting that owning a car in the area can lead to higher living costs, as parking is often expensive and not included in other expenses.

River Valley

River Valley neighborhood

River Valley is Singapore’s vibrant neighborhood nestled at the heart of the city center. This lovely area not only offers easy access to the bustling CBD, but also provides a delightful blend of serene and beautiful natural environments. Residents can immerse themselves in the tranquility of Fort Canning Park and the splendor of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Alongside its lush greenery, River Valley boasts a diverse array of dining and entertainment options, which could satisfy any foodie.

The River Valley district provides a family-friendly and residential ambience with easy access to a variety of Singapore’s dining, shopping and entertainment options. The district’s popularity among expats is further enhanced by the abundance of educational institutions and healthcare facilities, catering to the needs of families with small kids. Living here, your children have plenty of opportunities to play and explore with playgrounds like Jubilee Park at Fort Canning Park, which is a nature-inspired haven where kids can enjoy playing equipment blending harmoniously with the environment.

Housing in River Valley primarily consists of private condominiums, making it a popular choice for those seeking an upscale living in a vibrant locale. The property prices in River Valley are known for their robustness, reflecting the area’s desirability and attractiveness to investors. As sale prices have shown steady growth over the past two years, this positive trend is expected to influence rental prices positively, making River Valley a promising investment for those seeking a thriving real estate market in Singapore.

The area offers a convenient transportation network despite the absence of MRT stations within the neighborhood itself. With numerous bus stops scattered throughout River Valley, residents can easily access nearby MRT stations such as Tiong Bahru and Outram Park. Residents of River Valley also enjoy the ease of commuting, thanks to the well-served bus network and proximity to key MRT stations, making travel around the city a breeze.

Rent or Buy

Should expatriates buy or rent a property in Singapore? This has long been a hot topic among newcomers who wish to relocate to the Lion city. In short, the answer is ‘it depends’.

While you might see it as a vague answer, let us guide you through some of the essential questions that could help you to find the answer for yourself.

Where are you from?

According to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, expatriates wishing to buy houses in Singapore need to pay for Buyer’s Stamp Duty along with Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) tax. The ‘additional’ tax is used as a way for the Singapore government to cool down the overheated property market. Hence, it only affects Singapore Permanent Residents and foreigners, or Singapore Citizens who are buying more than one property.

Do you intend to sell when you leave?

In Singapore, there is no capital gains tax, but property sellers are subject to the Sellers Stamp Duty (SSD) if they sell their property within the first three years of purchase, aiming to discourage house flipping.

Can my children inherit my purchased property in the future?

In Singapore, there is no inheritance tax, making it an appealing option for expatriates considering assets for their children. Purchasing property here instead of renting is common, with many expats choosing to put their properties in trust for future generations. Some foreigners even own a house in Singapore while renting back home, optimizing the legacy they leave for their children, particularly if they face higher inheritance tax or legal fees for property transfer in their home countries.

Based on the list of questions above, you could make a simple comparison table of buying or renting options, and make the decision yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best Neighborhoods in Singapore

Is Singapore a good place to live as an expat?

For expats, relocating to Singapore offers an incredible experience, enriched by its distinctive culture, political stability, and high quality of life. While there are certain limitations on civil liberties due to the government’s stringent regulations, this approach contributes to a safe and secure environment, providing a sense of reassurance for those who make Singapore their home. The combination of unique experiences, stability, and safety creates a truly remarkable living experience that expatriates cherish in this dynamic and diverse city-state.

Where do expats hangout in Singapore?

Expats in Singapore often hang out in various popular areas and establishments that cater to their diverse interests and preferences. Some of the common hangout spots include:

  • Clarke Quay: A vibrant riverside area known for its bustling nightlife, bars, and restaurants, attracting both locals and expats alike.
  • Sentosa: The resort island provides a great escape from the city, featuring beaches, attractions, and entertainment options popular among expat families.
  • Orchard Road: Singapore’s famous shopping street, lined with malls, boutiques, and dining options, making it a popular spot for both locals and expats.
  • Boat Quay: A historical area with riverside bars and restaurants, perfect for after-work gatherings and socializing.

How safe is Singapore?

Singapore, hailed as the safest destination in Asia, offers a worry-free environment for residents and visitors alike. With no risks of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or typhoons, the city-state provides a secure haven. Furthermore, Singapore has a pristine record of no recent terrorist attacks, and political stability prevails, ensuring a peaceful and stable atmosphere for everyone.

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