You Need a Property Agent first
Unfortunately you wont be able to go on the market yourself and start negotiating, in Singapore almost all rental / buying agreements are handled by an agent representing each side.
My tip to get a “good” agent is to simply ask your friends or colleagues, sooner or later they will have gone through the exact same process and most of them have obviously found a good place, so get the contacts from them!
Set a Budget
First of all, collar your friendly neighborhood realtor or property dealer and get him to make out a list of all the available houses, condominiums, apartments, colonial houses, townhouses and other shacks which come within your budget.
And budget is reaaally important here. As usual you tell them 2000 S$, and they come with places starting at 2300 S$, so tell them a bit lower and you will just be in that range you are actually looking for.
He is then going to set up appointments, and collect you from your abode to go inspect those desirable estates.
- You might also want to look at the properties advertised in the newspapers to get an idea.
Make your Decision
Once you have made your choice, leave it to the Realtor to negotiate the best deal for you. If you manage to sniff out a desirable property yourself, get your property dealer to schedule an appointment when you can see it.
The good thing about Singapore realtors is that they need to be paid a commission after the deal is done. This commission is going to be paid by the landlord, as well as the future tenant (Usually a fee of 1 month if the rent is below 2000 S$ / month and a fee of 2 month rent if it is above).
Get A Furnished Place
When I moved to Singapore I thought its a nice option to setup a very personal place, buy new furnitures and so on. DO NOT make that mistake. If you have not planned to stay here at least 5 years or longer try to get a furnished place, otherwise you will have the same problem as me, once moving out.. what to do with all the stuff?
Close to MRT
Yes this is a must, although the bus system is really good in Singapore, latest after a couple of month you will realize how much time you safe in your daily commuting if you can simply walk to and from the MRT station.
Shops / Food Nearby
Again, you might not consider this as essential to your choice but you will realize how convenient it is if you can just go downstairs on a Sunday morning to fetch the newspaper and some eggs or go for a quick and easy dinner when coming home late from work. Even a simple 7-11 can already make a big difference.
Inside your Place
Check the following points, before you go, signing that lease.
- • Which state of decrepitude are the air conditioners in?
This is important since your contract will most likely have a clause that says you are responsible for the aircons
- • Is the kitchen completely medieval or has it been upgraded to fit 21st-century requirements?
And does your landlord allow cooking! If you come over something that says “light cooking” forget it, what it means is using the fridge for drinks and if you are lucky cutting salad from time to time.
- • Will one need to wash the clothes in the sea or is there a washing machine, easily accessible?
Try to get a washing machine / dryer combination
- • Does the water pressure reach to floor number 28, or will you have to lug up pail of water up the stairs like any Victorian skivvy? That reminds one, is there an elevator?
- • Is the noise decibels rating in the area below 10 dB and what is the pollution emission standard in terms of visibility?
- • What are the available Facilities? Do not under estimate this point, having a gym included can save you easily 1000 S$ in membership fees for one in the city, and the option of having a pool you can dip in when its too hot outside, priceless!
After all the checks are done, be shameless and ask for upgrades of TV, old furnitures, painting etc.
Signing the Contract
Now comes the rental contract. You would need immediate access to your passport, employment pass, and a 1 or 2 months deposit (depending on your landlord) to prove that your intentions are sincere and honorable.
You would also need to pay a tax and stamp duty before leasing property in Singapore. A lease normally is taken out for a period of 2 years, however during times of property turmoil (as it is right now) it is common practice to offer 1 year contracts, to give the landlord the option to raise your rental once it expires (or you to ask for decrease in the lucky case the market goes down).
Look for the escape and diplomatic clause, which means that if you are liable to be posted to Timbuktu at the drop of your bowler, you can get out of the lease.
Enjoy your search for a suitable house in Singapore!