Singapore is a popular destination for students from around the world looking to pursue higher studies. Not only do we have a stellar reputation for academic excellence, but we also have a multicultural and diverse society, with a high standard and quality of living. With these factors taken into account, Singapore presents an attractive opportunity for exchange students to have a rewarding and unique university experience.
Finding the right place to stay can be a daunting task for foreign university students in Singapore, as more often than not, they are going on exchange alone without their parents. With so many factors to take into account, it is important to assess all options thoroughly to ensure that accommodation is settled in a smooth and stress-free manner. .
This guide offers an overview of the different types of housing available to international students, and how to navigate the complex property market in Singapore. In addition, this article will also cover the best locations to find accommodation based on their affordability and proximity to universities, facilities, and additional amenities.
What are the different types of housing available for university students?
Renting for foreign students in Singapore is common practice, and there are some key factors students must take into consideration when looking for a temporary place to call home. These include the budget, location, roommates, and type of accommodation. Another essential factor to consider is the rental process in Singapore, which we have previously written about.
Once you have an understanding of the process of renting a place to stay in Singapore, you can go over all the options available to you.
HDB Room Rental
HDB flats are government-subsidised public housing flats that can be rented by international students.. These flats are a very common type of housing for international students due to their affordability and availability, since they make up around 75% of Singapore’s housing stock.
Students can choose to rent out an entire flat, or a single room, or they can get together with a group of students and share the flat along with the basic amenities that are provided such as a kitchen, toilet, washing machine, television, air conditioning, internet, bathroom, etc. The monthly rent for HDB flats ranges from $800 for common rooms to $4,800 for an entire flat. The price range also depends on factors like the size, condition, and location of the flat. As such, students can lower costs by splitting the rent evenly if they choose to share the flat with a group of other students. Additionally, students should expect to spend an extra S$100 to S$200 every month on utilities such as electricity, water, and in some cases, Wi-Fi, if it is not included with the amenities.
While HDB flats are a great option for students, living in one does come with a few draws. Firstly, sharing a flat certainly can help lower costs, however, it can be a challenge to share a place with roommates who have different lifestyles and routines. Second, tenants of HDB flats are responsible for the general maintenance and upkeep of their place and this can be challenging for full-time students who have a packed schedule. Finally, students may have to deal with limited facilities as compared to staying on-campus or in a private condominium, along with certain restrictions HDB owners may have for their tenants such as cooking, smoking, etc.
Private Housing: Apartments and Condominiums
Private housing is another popular choice for international students in Singapore because of the privacy and facilities they offer. Speaking of facilities, private housing typically comes with a range of amenities such as 24-hour security, gyms, swimming pools, green spaces, and lounges. As such, this option will generally require a bigger budget..
With this option, students can also opt to live alone or share the place with a group of students to lower the overall cost of living. Depending on the location, a one-bedroom apartment or condo in Singapore can be rented for anywhere from S$1,000 to $5,000.
(These are estimated ranges as varying factors such as the location can influence the prices.)
Apart from the monthly rent and higher overall cost of living, one disadvantage students may have to deal with is the distance between the residence and school. This is due to the lack of availability of condos and apartments in proximity to universities, at least when compared to the availability of HDB flats throughout Singapore. Condominiums are also more often than not, not furnished. This can contribute to more expenses for students opting for private housing.
Halls of Residence
Many universities in Singapore offer accommodation that is specifically designed for their students to live on campus. The National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) are some institutions that offer Halls of Residence for students. This is a great option for international students and even local students who want to live closer to their university, experience the vibrant campus life, and be in a supportive environment. The cost of student residences depends on the type and location of the particular housing as the estimated monthly rent for this type of housing can vary. For instance, NTU’s halls range from $265/month for non-air conditioned rooms to $605/month for rooms with air-conditioning and an ensuite toilet. The drawbacks of choosing student residences on campus include the limited availability. Because student housing on campus is competitive, it is advisable to research and apply for a place well in advance to secure a spot.
Homestays and Hostels
Another affordable alternative is homestays and hostels. Homestays are a great option for international students who are interested in an immersive experience of the local culture outside of university as well. With this option, students get to live with a local family and learn about the customs, language and culture outside of their studies. Once again, depending on the location and type, homestays can cost anywhere from S$500 to S$1500 per month. Moreover, homestays can offer a much more personalised experience to students as they can receive guidance and support from their host families. Some homestay providers in Singapore include Host Families Singapore, Homestay.com, and My Homestay.
Hostels, on the other hand, are student lodges with single to four-bedded rooms. Students can opt for a single bedroom or a shared room with two or three roommates with a common bathroom and kitchen. The monthly rent for hostels depends on whether the hostels are budget, mid-range, or high-end. Students can rent a space in a hostel for as low as S$300 to as high as S$1,500 per month. Aside from the affordability of this type of accommodation, a few advantages of hostels are the extra amenities students have that they will not find in other types of housing. Hostels provide their residents with additional services like laundry services, meals, recreational activities and even supervision. Moreover, students get the opportunity to socialise with peers their age in hostels.
It is important to note that these alternatives are better suited for short-term studies such as a semester abroad or a program with a duration of under 6 months in Singapore.
What are some good locations for housing for university students in Singapore?
Students should assess their preferences and needs when choosing a location for housing in Singapore. Taking into consideration factors such as safety, cost, proximity to campus, availability of public transportation, and amenities can help students find a place in a location that can meet their needs and positively impact their time and studies at university.
Here are 5 housing locations that are optimal for university and polytechnic students:
As it is in proximity to several educational institutions, a popular location for student housing is Buona Vista. This location is home to INSEAD, the Singapore Institute of Technology, and ESSEC Business School. Buona Vista is located near several shopping centres as well as restaurants, cafes, and bars. The Star Vista and Rochester Mall are both a short, 5-minute walk from the Buona Vista MRT Station. Supermarkets like NTUC Fairprice and Cold Storage are also nearby for students to shop. Students also have access to Kent Ridge Park and West Coast Park for outdoor activities like hikes, picnics, and lush greenery.
Condominiums and apartments in the Buona Vista area include Rochester Residences and Vista Park, which are a 5-minute and 8-minute walk from the Buona Vista MRT Station. Moreover, the Buona Vista MRT Station is on the Circle and the East West Lines, and provides very easy access to other parts of Singapore where universities, educational institutions, condos and hostels are situated. Additionally, this station is less than 30 minutes away from the CBD and just 2 stops away from the Clementi MRT Station. Buona Vista also has several bus stops in the area which provide students with easy and convenient access to different parts of Singapore.
This location is popular amongst students from the National University of Singapore and Singapore Polytechnic. Dover is very similar to Buona Vista in terms of amenities and transport because they are both located in the western region of Singapore and are in close proximity to one another. Students living in Dover have access to the same parks, shopping centres, supermarkets along with many similarities in the additional amenities available for them. Moreover, the Dover MRT Station is one stop away from the Buona Vista MRT Station and has several bus stops around the area as well that can help students get to the Central Business District and other university campuses situated in Buona Vista, Clementi, and Woodlands.
Housing for students in Dover includes One North Residences, The Rochester, Kent Ridge Hall, and Dover Cres, Dover Gardens. Moreover, the Dover MRT Station is one stop away from the Buona Vista MRT Station and has several bus stops around the area as well that can help students get to the Central Business District and other university campuses situated in Buona Vista, Clementi, and Woodlands.
For students attending Republic Polytechnic, Woodlands is an amazing location choice as it has a blend of amenities like shopping centres and eateries, along with entertainment options and locations for outdoor activities. This location is in a suburban area in the North region of Singapore and includes shopping centres like Causeway Point and Woodlands Mart, where students can shop for most of their basic necessities and food. Moreover, they also have nearby parks like Woodlands Waterfront Park for quiet study sessions in nature, picnics, and hikes.
There are several student dorms and hostels in the Woodlands area, including the Innova Junior College hostel and the Republic Polytechnic hostels. In addition to that, The Woodleigh Residences and Northwave are two options for private housing available to students. These hostels are in close proximity to the Woodlands Bus Interchange, whereas the condominiums are a short walk from the Woodlands MRT Station.
Clementi is a great location for students looking for housing as it is home to several polytechnics, institutions and universities including the Singapore Institute of Management, the National University of Singapore and Ngee Ann Polytechnic. This makes it an ideal location for students who want to stay off-campus while remaining in close proximity to their schools.
Clementi also has a number of amenities including shopping centres, food marts and supermarkets that cater to students. The Clementi Mall is a popular shopping centre that is connected to the Clementi MRT Station and bus stop, and offers a wide range of options for dining, shopping, entertainment, and an NTUC Fairprice branch for groceries. Aside from these amenities, students also get a taste of the past with the wet markets that sell fresh fruits and vegetables and hawker centres like the Ayer Rajah Food Centre.
This location has a range of affordable housing options with HDB flats, private housing as well as hostels. NUS has several hostels situated in Clementi. These include Eusoff Hall, Sheares Hall and Kent Ridge Hall. The hostels are approximately a 10-minute walk to the Clementi MRT Station and very close to the NUS campus too. HDB flats in Clementi Avenues 1 and 3 are also within a 5 to 10-minute walk to the MRT station. Lastly, the Regent Park is a popular condominium among university students as it is also very close to the MRT station.
Tampines is a good location for students of Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and other educational institutions in close proximity, in the East. Tampines has a variety of HDB flats and private housing options such as condos and apartments. Students have many options to choose from depending on their budgets and unique preferences and lifestyles.
Moreover, this location is also convenient for students as it comes with different amenities such as supermarkets and libraries and a range of dining, retail, and entertainment options in addition to necessities. Students also have access to shopping centres including the Tampines Mall, Century Square and Tampines 1. Furthermore, Tampines is well-connected as the Tampines MRT station is a major interchange station with access to the Downtown Line and East-West Line. This makes Tampines an easy and accessible location for students.
These 5 locations are all in areas with easy or direct access to MRT stations and bus stations, which makes them all very well-connected. As such, students can easily travel between these four locations via public transportation in a short amount of time, with convenient access to universities, polytechnics and other educational institutions in Singapore. Additionally, students have access to a myriad of amenities and important services such as clinics, emergency rooms and healthcare facilities.
Making the Final Choice
To wrap things up, finding the best housing as a university student in Singapore may be a challenging task. However, with an assessment of their needs and preferences, along with a clear idea of their budget, students can start their search for the right accommodation. Taking these factors into consideration, students can choose between hostels, homestays, condominiums and apartments, HDB flats, or student residences on campus. Students can also research some of the popular locations such as Clementi, Buona Vista, Dover and Woodlands when choosing housing.
With careful consideration of the benefits and drawbacks of each of the housing options and locations, university students can find a comfortable home away from home while pursuing their higher studies in Singapore.
If you are a foreign student looking for a temporary home in Singapore, feel free to reach out to us here for any questions and concerns you may have in your search for the perfect accommodation.
Until then, see you in the next one!