Foreigner’s Guide to Renting in Singapore

Moving to live in a new place is very exciting, particularly because of all the new things, places, and people you get to meet and experience.  But it could also be stressful and scary, especially if you barely know the place you are now going to reside in.

Foreign professionals, who travel from their home country all the way to Singapore, know this feeling pretty well.  Just imagine that they have to leave their comfort zones—their homes and family—in order to work on foreign soil.

Besides the typical HDBs for rent in Singapore, foreign workers have other numerous rental options for their stay in the country.

Thankfully, there are a few guidelines for them to follow that will help them rent a property in Singapore.  Here are some of them now:


Look for a reliable realtor

A reliable realtor is the first thing you should look for, when it comes to renting out a property in Singapore.  They would be the one responsible for assisting you throughout the whole process.

Thanks to their own Singaporean knowledge, you can rest easy in knowing that they are well informed of where is the best place for you to be residing in.  Just remember to be honest about your budget and what you want your property to include (e.g. a good view, private facilities, high floor, etc.).

On the other hand, if you prefer to Do-It-Yourself, an application such as Ohmyhome will help you sort out the different properties that best suits your needs and allow you to talk directly to the owners or landlords.

Consider the price and location


Consider the price and location

The next thing you must do is to consider the price and location of the properties you will be looking into.  Most professionals, who have moved to Singapore, prefer to live near their workplaces for convenience.  They also make sure they rent properties nearby MRT stations, bus stops, shopping centres, hawkers, and grocery stores so they can easily access different facilities whenever they need to.

Some of the popular neighbourhoods are listed below:

  • Pasir Ris and Tampines – The HDB units here are much more spacious in comparison to most neighbourhoods. It also gives their residents easy access to the city and to the coast.  There are numerous activities in the local parks and coastlines that will keep anyone’s weekend occupied.
  • Yishun and Sembawang – It’s true that these areas in the north are further from the city, it doesn’t mean that they are less accessible. These neighbourhoods offer their residents good coverage for public transport.  It is also much easier to cross the border to Malaysia for a quick weekend getaway.
  • Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok – Both these neighbourhoods are located on the west side of Singapore. Both these areas offer residents spacious areas, parks and other facilities.  Ultimately it is a good neighbourhood for families and those that enjoy outdoor activities.

However, keep in mind that the value of properties that are near business establishments and facilities may be a lot higher than those that are not.  Depending on the neighbourhood or the size of the HDB, the price for rent will definitely vary. Some can be as low as $1,500 which are the smaller units and can be found in areas further from the CBD while others cost up to $3,000 or more if they’re the usual 4-room flat or they’re in the city fringe locations.

Proper documentation

After you have chosen the location and the right unit, you will need to prepare the following items to proceed with the documentation:

  • A photocopy of your passport
  • A photocopy of your employment pass or In-Principle Approval letter if the card is not yet available
  • One month’s rental for the booking deposit (good faith deposit)

Once done, you can move on to the Letter of Intent.

  • Letter of Intent

Letter of Intent (LOI) is basically a letter addressed to the landlord.  It is where you’ll state your intentions to enter a tenancy agreement with them.  Sending this letter will serve as a lead up to signing up the official and legal binding Tenancy Agreement (TA).

Furthermore, sending this to the landlord means that they would have to stop advertising the lease to someone else, meaning you can stop other would-be tenants to look into the property.

Take note of the following important items in the LOI:

  • Booking Deposit – This is also known as a “good faith deposit.” This will ensure that your landlord stop looking for other tenants to rent their property. Later on, this deposit will become part of your advance rental for the first month or security deposit right after you signed the TA.
  • Security Deposit – The standard deposit for a one-year lease is one month’s rent. When the term ends, you can get a refund without interest but the landlord has a right to deduct costs incurred from you breaching any of the covenants in the tenancy agreement.  Do note that the security deposit cannot be used to offset the last month rent should you choose not to renew the lease.
  • Term of Lease – Usually, the rental period in Singapore is 1 or 2 years. Just make sure to state how long you plan to reside in the property. When the time comes for you to renew it, be sure to inform your landlord 2-3 months prior to your end date.
  • Requests and Requirements – Your LOI is the perfect opportunity for you to mention all your requests and requirements prior to renting the property. This would include requesting for new appliances as well as replacing old furniture, like the sofa and the bed.  Once the landlord signed your LOI, they will be bound to follow all the requests you mentioned in the letter.

There is also an optional clause that could be included by the landlord.  This clause can only be added if the lease is for at least 2 years.

  • Diplomatic Clause – This clause will enable you to terminate the tenancy agreement after 12 months by providing the landlord 2-month notice, in case of unwanted circumstances, such as unemployment or you being moved to another country by your company.

After preparing all these documents, the next step is for you and your landlord to enter the TA. This agreement will be drafted and prepared by your landlord or landlord’s agent.  But before you finalize everything by signing the agreement, ensure to check every detail mentioned in the TA. You will also need to pay the stamp duty within 14 days from the date of the TA. The stamp duty is a property tax paid by a tenant if they rent an entire property or part of a residential property.  This is also payable again if you decide to renew or extend your lease in the future.

After this, the next step is for you to do an inspection along with the landlord or agent to make sure everything is good condition.  If everything checks out, you can now apply for utilities to be switched on or in the case when there is a previous occupier, request for change of ownership/utilities account transfer.  But just to be sure, check with the agent or the landlord. Once all these is done, you can now start the process of moving in.


Finding the perfect place in Singapore is not an easy task, especially if you’re new to the environment.  You will need the right tools and knowledge for you to make the right decision.  Hopefully this will help you prepare for the big move you’re about to make.