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Apartments Too Expensive For Singles?

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dyoo
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Apartments Too Expensive For Singles?

Postby dyoo » Tue, 08 Jul 2014 7:30 pm

I'm originally from California, who relocated to Tokyo, Japan in 2011. I'm single, and I live by myself in Tokyo. I was able to rent a studio for $2,000 SGD per month in Tokyo. The apartment is right next to the station within the JR circle (if some of you know what I'm talking about, that's pretty much the center of Tokyo), so it's at a premium cost in Japan. Now, I have to relocate to Singapore, but it seems like I can't find a studio or 1 bedroom apartment in the same range. It's way too expensive. I am not talking about renting a room and sharing a common space, which I'm seeing a lot of. Am I searching incorrectly? I used a real estate agent when I was in Tokyo to find my apartment. Will I have to do the same here? My office in Singapore is in Science Park II. Any help would be appreciated.

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Postby GSM8 » Tue, 08 Jul 2014 8:08 pm

Many people in Singapore (at least newcomers) seem to use a renters agent. I didn't when I moved here in January, and instead used one of the online websites which works out okay if one spends time to research price trends, localities etc. There are two types of properties HDB and condo (google the difference if not clear).

Note though, that photos and descriptions can be misleading at times so one might have to do a lot of walk-by's or drive-by's especially if not familiar with various localities/districts in Singapore, their accessibility etc, probably more than one would have to do with an agent. After seeing 30 odd places from outside and 6-7 from inside (basically most of 4 weekends), I negotiated a condo thats turning out to be quite convenient. But I did this because my relocation did not have an explicit reimbursement for agent. If your agent fee is reimbursed, you may as well use an agent, and this forum seems to have a few links to suggested real estate agents.

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Postby merichan » Tue, 08 Jul 2014 9:05 pm

one bedroom apartment are scarce in Singapore, it's not the norm, so when you find one the premium makes it quite often more expensive than a 2 bedroom as silly as it may seem.

You should however be able to find a 2 bedroom still in your price range if you look at accommodations in the area close to where you'll be working.

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Postby zzm9980 » Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:43 am

If your company doesn't pay for the agent, avoid one. They will tell you their commission is based on your rent (which incentivizes them to find you an expensive place) and "that's the rules". They're lying, there are no rules. Either way, it's usually better to find the place yourself.

You'll see lots of property postings. If there are no interior photos of the unit the ad is most likely a scam. It will be posted by an agent who will only then find you the unit if you agree to their fee.

And you're completely right, it is possibly to get something in central Tokyo (or HK, or most other cities) for significantly less than even the outskirts of Singapore. The reason is the lack of rental supply and variety available in Singapore. You should look for "3 room" HDBs. These are two bed-rooms, and the smallest and cheapest commonly available unit for rental. You may be able to find some studio condos for a little over $2000 in some areas, but they're not common.

On the bright side, Singapore's MRT is a fraction of the price of Tokyo's subway/JR lines. So if you live farther out you won't go broke taking the train.

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Postby JR8 » Wed, 09 Jul 2014 9:40 am

S$2k/US$1600pm in rent in Tokyo. Considering you’re in perhaps the most expensive city on earth, that sounds like quite the deal you’ve got there! By way of comparison I rented a studio there 20 years ago, and it was US$2500pm. It was pretty central, but tiny, and 20 years is some while!

I wouldn’t say the Yamanote/Circle Line defines ‘Central Tokyo’ or ‘pretty much the centre’. For example of you live in say Roppongi, then Ueno (half-way across the area of the Circle Line) is ‘the boonies’. Akin to living in Singapore D9/10/11 and calling Jurong West ‘pretty much the centre’, it’s all relative.

As others mention above, there is something of an anachronism here in SG. The government actively promotes marriage, children, multi-person/generation homes. There are very few studio units (and 1-beds are scarce) to cater for those who do not bend to government policy and breed. However where there are small units, they are likely pitched at foreigners who are here temporarily, and want to be central. The net result is that such units tend to be very central, and in far higher end blocks than average. So if you’re searching on just studio/1-beds you’ll be seeing the result of that double-whammy.

This is why you’ll see people having to flat-share here in SG, whereas most other places they wouldn’t have to...

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Postby zzm9980 » Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:38 am

JR8 wrote:S$2k/US$1600pm in rent in Tokyo. Considering you’re in perhaps the most expensive city on earth, that sounds like quite the deal you’ve got there! By way of comparison I rented a studio there 20 years ago, and it was US$2500pm. It was pretty central, but tiny, and 20 years is some while!

I wouldn’t say the Yamanote/Circle Line defines ‘Central Tokyo’ or ‘pretty much the centre’. For example of you live in say Roppongi, then Ueno (half-way across the area of the Circle Line) is ‘the boonies’. Akin to living in Singapore D9/10/11 and calling Jurong West ‘pretty much the centre’, it’s all relative.

As others mention above, there is something of an anachronism here in SG. The government actively promotes marriage, children, multi-person/generation homes. There are very few studio units (and 1-beds are scarce) to cater for those who do not bend to government policy and breed. However where there are small units, they are likely pitched at foreigners who are here temporarily, and want to be central. The net result is that such units tend to be very central, and in far higher end blocks than average. So if you’re searching on just studio/1-beds you’ll be seeing the result of that double-whammy.

This is why you’ll see people having to flat-share here in SG, whereas most other places they wouldn’t have to...


Interestingly, JR Yamanote and MRT Circle line are almost the exact same distances: 34.5 vs 35.7 km. Considering Tokyo is three times the size of Singapore (2000 vs 700 sq/km). given that, i think calling everything within the circle line "central Tokyo" is pretty fair when trying to make a comparison to Singapore.

Anyway, I have a friend paying about that price 5 minutes from Shinjuku station, and another a bit more near Shibuya. If comparably cool areas existed in Singapore, rent would be 5x as much.

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Postby dyoo » Sun, 20 Jul 2014 11:50 pm

GSM8 wrote:Many people in Singapore (at least newcomers) seem to use a renters agent. I didn't when I moved here in January, and instead used one of the online websites which works out okay if one spends time to research price trends, localities etc. There are two types of properties HDB and condo (google the difference if not clear).

Note though, that photos and descriptions can be misleading at times so one might have to do a lot of walk-by's or drive-by's especially if not familiar with various localities/districts in Singapore, their accessibility etc, probably more than one would have to do with an agent. After seeing 30 odd places from outside and 6-7 from inside (basically most of 4 weekends), I negotiated a condo thats turning out to be quite convenient. But I did this because my relocation did not have an explicit reimbursement for agent. If your agent fee is reimbursed, you may as well use an agent, and this forum seems to have a few links to suggested real estate agents.


So where did you end up staying if you don't mind answering? Haha. I'm really interested after all the searching you did. =]

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Postby GSM8 » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 9:27 am

dyoo wrote:So where did you end up staying if you don't mind answering? Haha. I'm really interested after all the searching you did. =]

Close to Paya Lebar MRT. I had moved here from San Jose California, and compared to current Bay Area, rents here actually seemed reasonable.

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Postby the lynx » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:15 am

If budget is your concern, you could look into flat-sharing. It is very common among single expats who do not get their accommodation covered by employers.

If privacy is a huge factor, get a master bedroom with attached bathroom. So you will only share hall, kitchen and etc.

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Postby dyoo » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:24 am

the lynx wrote:If budget is your concern, you could look into flat-sharing. It is very common among single expats who do not get their accommodation covered by employers.

If privacy is a huge factor, get a master bedroom with attached bathroom. So you will only share hall, kitchen and etc.


I thought of flat-sharing, but because I make frequent business trips, I won't be in Singapore that much (maybe 60-70% in Singapore in a year). Sometimes, I'm out traveling for a whole month, so I thought it would be unfair if I had to pay for the utility bills while I'm away. Why should I pay for the AC/electrical bills when I wasn't at home, right?

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Postby zzm9980 » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:29 am

GSM8 wrote:
dyoo wrote:So where did you end up staying if you don't mind answering? Haha. I'm really interested after all the searching you did. =]

Close to Paya Lebar MRT. I had moved here from San Jose California, and compared to current Bay Area, rents here actually seemed reasonable.


Tell me about it, I just did it in the opposite direction. :x

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Postby zzm9980 » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:33 am

dyoo wrote:
the lynx wrote:If budget is your concern, you could look into flat-sharing. It is very common among single expats who do not get their accommodation covered by employers.

If privacy is a huge factor, get a master bedroom with attached bathroom. So you will only share hall, kitchen and etc.


I thought of flat-sharing, but because I make frequent business trips, I won't be in Singapore that much (maybe 60-70% in Singapore in a year). Sometimes, I'm out traveling for a whole month, so I thought it would be unfair if I had to pay for the utility bills while I'm away. Why should I pay for the AC/electrical bills when I wasn't at home, right?


Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face...!

So you declined to split rent with someone, because you didn't want to have to pay more than your portion of the utility bills in the instances where you left town? How long have you been here? Uou're integrating really well with the locals :D

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Postby the lynx » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:00 am

dyoo wrote:
the lynx wrote:If budget is your concern, you could look into flat-sharing. It is very common among single expats who do not get their accommodation covered by employers.

If privacy is a huge factor, get a master bedroom with attached bathroom. So you will only share hall, kitchen and etc.


I thought of flat-sharing, but because I make frequent business trips, I won't be in Singapore that much (maybe 60-70% in Singapore in a year). Sometimes, I'm out traveling for a whole month, so I thought it would be unfair if I had to pay for the utility bills while I'm away. Why should I pay for the AC/electrical bills when I wasn't at home, right?


Better than paying for 4x to rent for own apartment for yourself!

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Postby x9200 » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:18 am

dyoo wrote:
the lynx wrote:If budget is your concern, you could look into flat-sharing. It is very common among single expats who do not get their accommodation covered by employers.

If privacy is a huge factor, get a master bedroom with attached bathroom. So you will only share hall, kitchen and etc.


I thought of flat-sharing, but because I make frequent business trips, I won't be in Singapore that much (maybe 60-70% in Singapore in a year). Sometimes, I'm out traveling for a whole month, so I thought it would be unfair if I had to pay for the utility bills while I'm away. Why should I pay for the AC/electrical bills when I wasn't at home, right?

Just keep the aircon on all the time and it will become perfectly fair.

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Postby nakatago » Mon, 21 Jul 2014 2:16 pm

dyoo wrote:
the lynx wrote:If budget is your concern, you could look into flat-sharing. It is very common among single expats who do not get their accommodation covered by employers.

If privacy is a huge factor, get a master bedroom with attached bathroom. So you will only share hall, kitchen and etc.


I thought of flat-sharing, but because I make frequent business trips, I won't be in Singapore that much (maybe 60-70% in Singapore in a year). Sometimes, I'm out traveling for a whole month, so I thought it would be unfair if I had to pay for the utility bills while I'm away. Why should I pay for the AC/electrical bills when I wasn't at home, right?


We had a complicated system where we paid for the number of nights we spend in the flat--electricity and water. We had an even more complicated spreadsheet that computes how much each person would share, taking into account that even if no one's home, the fridge is running (we had times where the whole household would go on a holiday) or if someone had guests over and stuff. It was just a matter of honor system in reporting how many nights one spends. No one felt to needlessly spend electricity/water but no one also felt that they're missing out on AC/shower/laundry usage.

Caveat emptor: we all had to agree on the formulae we used and someone had to implement those formulae in the spreadsheet. We used this for four years and no one complained save some minor adjustments to the algorithms every year.


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