Expats, should you rent a HDB or a condo?

By Aaron De Silva / EdgeProp | March 7, 2018 11:30 AM SGT
For most expats, condos are the most popular choice of accommodation.
Increasingly, however, many are venturing into the HDB heartlands to live among the locals.
Probably the most famous example is author/funnyman Neil Humphreys. Originally from the UK, Humphreys lived in Toa Payoh in the 1990s and survived to tell the tale. His experiences – often humorous, sometimes touching – are chronicled in several books, and available on Amazon.
Neil Humphreys' Complete Notes from Singapore (Image Source: Amazon)
But for many Western expats, HDBs do not even register on their radars because of the image of public housing. British national James Foreman, who works for digital agency Essence and lives in an HDB, says that many of his expat friends live in condos but none live in HDBs.
“Coming from the UK, the image of public housing is of often-terrifying, horrible architecture where you’re going to get stabbed by children wearing hoodies. Singapore is not beset with real or imaginary mobs of knife-wielding children, but it probably takes some people time to adjust to this,” he writes on Quora.
Then there is the perception that HDBs are not as well-designed as condos. While this is true to some extent, there are many beautifully appointed HDBs that would put any condo to shame. We found 10 such examples that you can admire here.
Choosing to rent an HDB has many advantages. In general, not only will you be paying less in rent each month, you will also be lowering your cost of living.
For example, while condo maintenance fees generally range between $250 and $400 a month, HDB conservancy fees rarely exceed $200. Tanjong Pagar Town Council – which governs popular central districts such as Tanjong Pagar, Tiong Bahru and Queenstown – levies a maximum of $160 for a 6-room jumbo flat.
When it comes to food, HDB towns – especially mature estates like Bedok, Bukit Merah and Toa Payoh – are amply supplied with ‘coffeeshops’, hawker centres and food courts that sell cheap and tasty local nosh.
For the health-conscious, there are fresh fruit stalls, fruit juice stands and, increasingly, salad bars. If you need your fix of...