With rental prices soaring across the board, it is now more expensive than ever to rent a home. To those who value their independence, the rental spike means that protecting their privacy comes at a serious cost.
Those who aren’t quite comfortable with the ≤70% increase in rental prices can lighten the burden by renting a room instead of an entire apartment, but is it worth it? We spoke to 29-year-old Dewi to find out what it’s really like to rent a room in today’s market.
Renting a room in an HDB flat
Dewi lives in a 4-bedroom HDB flat in Outram Park with 2 other housemates. Together, they occupy the master bedroom and 2 common rooms, and have communal access to a kitchen and living room.
For illustration only.
In total, they pay just about $3,000 a month – well, they used to. Since the rental hikes, the rent has gone up to $3,200. For her share of the home, Dewi pays $1,000 a month. When asked if she considered renting an entire apartment alone or going for private housing, Dewi shared that she had explored both options but ultimately found them unjustifiably expensive.
Plus points of renting a room in Singapore
Forking out quadruple diggies for a room may seem like a lot, but for Dewi, it affords her unparalleled convenience. Living just a 5-minute walk from Outram Park MRT station and 10 minutes from Tanjong Pagar MRT means that getting around town is no issue.
Image adapted from: Google Maps
Popular areas such as Keong Saik, Duxton, and Tanjong Pagar Road are well within reach on foot. This proximity saves her quite a bit on cab rides since she no long has to suffer peak hour fare hikes in order to get to popular haunts after work. Simple amenities such as supermarkets and F&B establishments are also within walking distance.
The apartment is close to famous food spots such as Tong Ah Eating House.
Image credit: @yoshi.sg_yama.ms
Another underrated plus point is the flexibility that comes with renting. Unlike home-buying, where you’d need to service a long-term mortgage and commit to a place, renting requires much less commitment. If you ever decide that the home is not for you, you can simply leave.
More importantly, Dewi shares, renting a room grants her the freedom of living on her own. For those with complicated family situations, the significance of this independence cannot be understated. Being able to have her own space has been one of the biggest investments she’s made for her mental health and personal growth.
Pain points of renting a room with Singapore
Of course, there are 2 sides to a coin. Dewi concedes that while there are many things to love about renting, there are some pain points.
The most significant one is the financial burden that comes with living on your own. No matter how much she tries to reframe her rental expenditure as an investment, she admits that it feels like she’s “wasting” money sometimes.
For illustration only.
Image credit: @authorsinstyle
To make up for the money spent on rent, she doesn’t shop as much, makes her own meals, doesn’t go out for drinks as often, and travels less. Having to cut down on expenses may be a no-go for some, but to Dewi, the sacrifice is worth it. In exchange for tightening her purse strings, she gets to have a space she can call home – one that she doesn’t feel the need to escape from.
Unexpected costs associated with renting
One may assume that when it comes to renting, the only cost you need to worry about is the rent. But Dewi shares that in addition to the rent, there are many other living expenses that quickly add up.
For illustration only.
Image credit: @uchify.sg
The cost of furnishing and decor, miscellaneous repairs, aircon servicing, and monthly utility bills are all unavoidable costs. The last, in particular, is especially painful. “It almost feels like you’re being charged per minute for just breathing”, she laments.
In addition, basic necessities including groceries and personal hygiene products are also expenses that people tend to forget about when assessing the financial feasibility of renting.
Living on your own also costs a lot of time – time spent cooking, cleaning, doing chores, grocery shopping, and fixing things around the house. Hiring someone to take care of these responsibilities is an option, but it’s an otherwise avoidable expense.
Advice for prospective renters
To prospective renters, Dewi’s best advice is to get your finances in order and save up at least 3-6 months worth of living expenses. She says that making this mistake was not fun as she was forced to live in constant survival mode for a few years when she first moved out.
Image credit: The Smart Local
When looking for a room, it’s helpful to set a budget and stick to it. For Dewi, she only looked at places $1,500 and under. Her other main considerations included location, nearby amenities, number of housemates, and house rules. This last one is especially important – you don’t want to find yourself living with a nightmare landlord.
Lastly, Dewi shares that it’s important to be discerning about who you choose to live with. After all, they will be your chosen family for the next few years or so.
Paying $3,000 for a rental HDB in Singapore
Dewi’s current lease ends in April 2024. When asked about her future plans, she says that she plans to remain in her current home until the lease is up. After that, she’s not exactly sure. Dewi adds that if she doesn’t get married, she plans to purchase a home of her own when she turns 35.
Until then, she’s happy where she is. And speaking to her, we can certainly see why.
Read more of our rental stories: