It’s no secret that Singapore’s rental market is booming. We’ve been seeing a huge increase in people looking to leave the nest and move out on their own, who have to compete with an influx of experienced tenants looking for new places to rent.
Amidst fierce competition and soaring rental prices, these 8 Singaporeans let us in on their top tips when it comes to renting alone so that you can come out on top.
Do your budgeting
Money management and financial decision-making are huge parts of a rental journey. With Singapore’s rental prices hitting an all-time high, it’s imperative to understand how to make smart money choices – especially when you’re bearing the full rental cost instead of splitting it with someone else.
Image credit: @farmgirlslead, @hollywheeler23
“While the rule of thumb used to be ‘make sure your rent costs no more than 30% of your salary’, I personally don’t view that as a feasible rental budget anymore. Realistically, considering the current condition of Singapore’s rental market, 30% is an underestimation.
It’s definitely financially taxing, but I ultimately decided that I’d rather pay for my peace and space by renting solo, rather than renting with friends and having to juggle different needs and expectations. Of course, this makes keeping my finances in order all the more important.
When budgeting, I’d recommend starting by reviewing your monthly essential expenses – such as insurances and phone bills – and deducting the sum from your total monthly salary. After setting aside some savings and accounting for recreational activities and miscellaneous expenses, the amount you’re left with will give you a good indicator of how much you can spend on rent.”
“After renting a private apartment for 2 years, my top piece of advice would be to be accountable and stick to your budget. Be clear of what trade-offs you’re willing to make; properties located near transport hubs are usually noisier, but a quieter neighbourhood may mean longer distances to supermarkets and other amenities.
It’s also important to remember to factor in additional costs such as utilities, internet, and even cleaning expenses. These unseen costs can add up to quite a fair amount, so definitely include them when doing your budgeting and calculating your expenditure.”
Proper budgeting may be the first step to getting your finances in order, but smart spending is another crucial aspect of managing your money. It’s not always enough to cut down on expenses – finding good deals and taking advantage of credit card rewards are other ways to stretch your dollar further.
Image credit: @creffectivepaper
“With landlords increasing their rental prices, it’s not always possible to stick to a 30% income rental budget for the long term. If your income hasn’t increased in proportion to your rental prices, it’s inevitable for finances to be tight – and you’re going to have to implement some lifestyle changes if you’re serious about renting long term.
Saving money is more than reigning in your consumerism habits – it also includes being smart with your spending. Forking out money for 2 years’ worth of rent has taught me not to underestimate the power of good deals, cashback benefits, and searching for cheaper product alternatives.
A key money hack I’ve discovered recently is using my credit card to pay for rent. Services such as CardUp, ipaymy and Citi PayAll help turn your monthly rental expense into something you can claim external deals and points with. Using my Citibank credit card for my rental fees has been a game changer – I really wish I started this sooner.”
Hariz Maloy, 29
Know the T&Cs
Each rental contract is different, from nuances pertaining to maintenance and cleaning fees, to agreements about utility costs, internet bills, and even pet-related matters. While it’s tedious to pore through pages of terms and conditions, it’s something you’ll thank yourself for in the long run.
Image credit: @abitheauthor
“Read your tenancy contract properly. It may seem like a waste of time and a lot of effort, but it’s really important to know what things you’re agreeing to. Renting comes with a lot of unforeseen circumstances and challenges, so knowing the terms and conditions of your rental agreement will help you understand when and how to exercise your rights as a tenant.
Besides keeping track of your legal rights, being on good terms with your agent or landlord really helps the entire rental and moving process go by a lot smoother.”
Charmaine Low, 28
“Be sure of what expenses you, as a tenant, are responsible for, and what expenses your landlord has agreed to cover under the rental. Make sure to account for things like maintenance and repairs.
If the market conditions are ripe, you can try negotiating some of the terms and conditions with your landlord. On the other hand, in a competitive rental market, don’t hesitate to quickly close deals on rental properties that fit your needs before they become unavailable.”
Image credit: @ricejasminee
“After a horrible experience renting a room in a Sengkang HDB flat, I decided to move into a rental studio apartment by myself. But an important thing to note about studio apartments is that landlords usually rent them out half-furnished, which means that you’ll need to be prepared to spend money on furnishing the place.
My utilities and internet bills – which come up to $140 a month – weren’t covered by my landlord, so I had to factor in those costs separately. Another reason why it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of your lease is because different rental agreements may require you to put down different deposit amounts – in my case, I had to fork out 2 months’ worth of rent for my deposit.
I made the decision to sign for a 2-year lease, which admittedly maxed out my rental budget but was the right decision for myself. It does get lonely living alone sometimes, which is why I’m grateful that I can have my 2 cats living with me. Being able to look forward to their furry faces at the end of each day is much better than coming home to an empty house.”
Jasmine on Lemon8
Consider floor space, apartment level & food spots
It’s pretty intuitive to take housing type and MRT proximity into consideration when choosing a place to rent. But aside from those 2 factors, it’s also prudent to consider floor space, apartment level, and food spots when searching for your ideal rental home.
Image adapted from: PropertyGuru
“Pictures of property interiors on property websites tend to be taken with a wide-angle lens in order to exaggerate the space and size of the unit. In order to minimise disappointment and help manage your own expectations, I’d highly suggest filtering your rental unit search based on floor space – just remember that balcony space is included in the total floor space too.”
“I’m someone who has late night suppers pretty frequently, so I always make sure to check if there are 24/7 hawker centres or late-night fast food joints near the properties I rent – because who wants to fork out tons of money on food deliveries?
I’d also advise people to take apartment level into consideration. Lower floors can mean cheaper rent, but the compromise is that you’re usually closer to the rubbish chute and pests. From personal experience, I’d recommend renting a unit on or above the 5th floor if you can afford it, just to be safe.”
Jules on Lemon8
Ask for help during the moving process
Just because you’re living by yourself doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. Optimising your moving process is just as important, and it’s not always easy to handle a big move all on your own. Save yourself time and effort by engaging external help – whether it comes in the form of your close friends or trustworthy moving services.
Image credit: CYC Movers
“If my rental prices hadn’t increased by a whopping 36%, I would’ve gladly stuck with my previous rental room. Sadly, the skyrocketing rental fees forced me to find a place with cheaper rent, which of course came with a huge packing and moving process.
I was determined to make this my smoothest move ever, so I did my research and armed myself with practical tips and tricks. One of the smartest decisions I made was to get a team of movers to help me transport my belongings. Gogovan and Lalamove are both affordable services that help transport your furniture and boxes, and Lalamove has a direct door-to-door moving service for an additional fee.
Because I moved into a shophouse and needed help carrying my items up 3 flights of stairs, I actually opted for an individual mover. I ended up spending $110 for transportation and door-to-door moving, which I found pretty reasonable considering I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do everything alone.”
Vanessa on Lemon8
“While I loved the process of moving out by myself and acquiring my own space and time, I also learnt that it’s important to be prepared to ask for help during the moving process. Getting all your things from one place to another isn’t easy at all – you’re either going to need to ask for help, or pay for help.”
Charmaine Low, 28
Take photos of everything
Image credit: @chachachachara
“After my nightmare renting experience with an ex-partner, I decided to solo-rent a tiny shophouse in Katong for a year. My #1 tip would be to take photos of everything. Snap tons of pictures during your viewing, your moving-in process, and your moving-out.
The renting process comes with a ton of terms and conditions, and photos can be used as concrete evidence if you ever encounter disputes between you and your landlord – especially disagreements about who is responsible for what costs. From my experience, I’ve found that having photos from the moving-in and moving-out processes as proof saves a lot of hassle and money.”
Charmaine Low, 28
Learn how to cook & do household chores
This piece of advice isn’t exclusive to people looking to rent alone – it applies to anyone thinking of living alone for the first time. If you haven’t learnt how to use a rice cooker yet, now’s the time to get one and read through its user manual.
Image credit: @audreyishome, @audreyishome
“Moving out as a 23-year-old in order to rent a place closer to where I work was a huge decision. There was definitely a learning curve, but I’ve learnt 2 main things from my experience. Firstly, cooking is an essential life skill, and secondly, neglecting or procrastinating on household chores is never a good idea.
Because I can’t cook, I rely heavily on GrabFood and instant meals to sate my hunger, and it’s definitely not the most financially healthy nor physically healthy option. Not being able to cook has burnt a hole in my wallet, as well as affected my body’s immune system. I’ve learnt that it really pays to learn how to cook, even if it means just picking up basic culinary skills from YouTube.
Another helpful piece of advice I have is to set aside 1 day each week for household chores. I’ve found that the moment you procrastinate on your chores, everything begins piling up and eventually snowballs. No matter how busy your schedule is, it’s important to put aside time to do things such as cleaning and ironing, the latter of which has become a time-consuming struggle for me.”
Laine on Lemon8
Top tips for renting alone in Singapore
Tossing around vague phrases such as “manage your money” and “choose a convenient location” won’t help anyone when it comes to navigating Singapore’s complicated and competitive rental market.
Instead, these 8 Singaporeans gave us insider tips gleaned from their firsthand experiences. They’ve covered everything from budgeting and smart spending to moving in and living solo. Renting alone is a huge step to take, but we hope that our list of top tips will make the entire process less daunting and more smooth-sailing.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
For more tips from fellow Singaporeans:
- 11 Singaporeans tell us about their reno regrets
- 12 Singaporeans let us in on the best smart home gadgets
- 20 Singaporeans give us an honest review of their cooker hobs & hoods
Cover image adapted from: @farmgirlslead, @audreyishome, @hollywheeler23
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