Renting a HDB apartment (either a single room or the entire unit) is by far cheaper and gets you closer to the living lifestyle of Singaporeans. Neil Humphreys is a reporter working in Straits Times and I think he stays in Toa Payoh with his wife. He documents, rather humourously, his life in Singapore with two books. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/981232 ... e&n=283155 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/981232 ... e&n=283155
Singapore is safe. Just because there is a security guard does not mean that you are any safer. Most security guards are elderly folks who probably pant after climbing 2 flights of staircase anyway. Some places might be seedier than others, but the onus is on you to check out the places you intend to rent even before putting down the deposit.
I know of a Japanese woman who stays in Tanjong Pagar HDB flat just outside the CBD area.