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Buying or renting your own place in Singapore? Here's a guide to help you

Buying or renting your own place in Singapore? Here's a guide to help you
PHOTO: Unsplash

So, you want to get a “bachelor pad”, which essentially, is a home for a single man to call his own. (For women, it’s usually referred to as a “bachelorette pad”, but in this article, we’ll use the former for convenience.)

There may be several reasons why you’d want your own place: Maybe you want to experience living alone, which is something you can’t do if you wait till marriage to move out. Or perhaps you’re in your thirties and think it’s about time to leave the nest.  

Whichever it is, this new home is going to be ALL YOURS: You can live wherever YOU want, renovate it however YOU want, and decorate it however YOU want — without input from another person (other than your interior designer or contractor). Here’s our guide to searching for a bachelor pad in Singapore to rent or to buy.

What exactly is a bachelor pad?

There isn’t a specific definition of a bachelor pad, but there are certain stereotypes… Stylish, designed around your own lifestyle, and compact without the need to be family-friendly.

Style and decor is totally up to you (it can be family-friendly if you often have friends with kids over, function as a home yoga studio, or be pet-friendly for your 10 cats), but the size of the home is usually grounded in practicality.

My single friends mostly stay in small homes: Just right for one person, these are both cost-effective and much easier to keep clean and tidy. 

My cousin lives in a 1-bedroom condo unit in Geylang, and another friend recently moved into a studio apartment in Tiong Bahru. Another friend is looking for a resale 2- or 3-room HDB flat in the Holland Village area.

However, one of my single friends recently purchased a 4-room HDB resale unit in Choa Chu Kang, citing reasons such as the preference for the 4-room HDB flat layout. As she enjoys shopping, she can convert a bedroom (or two) into a walk-in wardrobe with ample space for her clothes, bags and accessories.

If you are commitment-phobic or don’t know if you’d enjoy staying alone, why not try renting first? Check out these properties for rent and find out what’s the rental price for 3-, 4- and 5-room HDB flats in Singapore.

Should you buy a bachelor pad or rent first?

As briefly touched on earlier, those unsure about living solo can consider renting first. Other considerations that come into play include budget (mortgage), eligibility, future plans and so on.

Here’s a quick shortlist for your consideration:

Is your bachelor pad for the short-term or for long-term?

Do you hope to get married soon but just want to stay on your own first? If it’s a short-term thing, consider renting, because property is illiquid and requires more effort to buy/sell (unless you have enough money and plan to rent out the bachelor pad after buying your matrimonial home).

How much can you afford?

After sorting through your finances and calculating your mortgage, consider if it makes more financial sense for you to buy or rent. You may also need to turn to renting if your LTV ratio or CPF monies can’t financially support your decision to buy your own place, or if you can’t afford the downpayment

Check out properties for rent on PropertyGuru and use its search filter to easily find the property that suits your budget.

What properties are you eligible for?

For HDB, you can only buy your own home from your 35th birthday as a single. In addition, you may or may not be eligible for HDB grants. It’s more flexible when you purchase private property as you can do so from your 21st birthday, but prices tend to be higher.

While the interest rate for bank home loans is currently low (good), they don’t offer as much flexibility as a HDB loan (hmm) — not a good option for those that may default on payments due to financial issues in the foreseeable future (unstable income, commission-driven, freelancer, project-based).

How much would you need to spend to buy vs rent your own bachelor pad?

Let’s assume that we are looking for a small home to buy/rent, and it can be a HDB flat or a condo unit. Let’s assume there is $200k in our CPF OA, you don’t have a cap on your LTV and your monthly salary is adequate.

If you plan to buy:

  • Estimated price of a 3-room HDB resale flat (HDB resale statistics as of Q2 2020) — about $300k
  • *Estimated price of a shoebox condo unit @ $1,583 psf — about $800k

(*based on the median asking price in our PropertyGuru Singapore Property Market Index report Q3 2020)

Note: Minimum downpayment for your first mortgage is 10 per cent for a HDB loan and 25 per cent if you plan to take a bank loan.

If you plan to rent:

Whether you plan to buy or rent your bachelor pad, always do your research first. Check out listings for properties for sale and properties for rent on PropertyGuru.

How to choose the right property for your bachelor pad

There are no hard and fast rules for choosing the right property for your bachelor (or bachelorette) pad, but here are some of the important considerations that will help you make the best decision.

1. Work out your budget

How much do you have in your CPF Ordinary Account, and how much are you looking at paying for your mortgage each month? It tends to be costlier for singles as you’re basically paying for it on your own (with no spouse to split with), but good news is that you may be eligible for some HDB grants.

Unsure how to start determining your budget?

  1. Check your CPF OA balance
  2. Learn more about financing your new home through PropertyGuru Finance
  3. Find out your loan-to-value ratio, which affects how much you can borrow
  4. Get the help of PropertyGuru’s affordability calculator to assess your affordability, possible monthly mortgage, stamp duty payable and so on
  5. Read up about approval in-principle for your home loan
  6. Check out our other useful guides to buying property

2. Decide on the location

Also related to budget is location. It goes without saying that a property in Orchard is definitely more expensive than a similar unit in Serangoon or Punggol. Trying to spot a trend? We regularly analyse the market in our PropertyGuru Singapore Property Market Index report.

But what if you want to live near family/office and that’s in an expensive area — what then? Or maybe the terms of you leaving the nest comes with conditions like living within XYZ metres of your parents.  Do you still bite the bullet or search for a more affordable home that’s still within an acceptable radius?

If you’re still going with the former, you’ll need to accept that due to the higher psf, you’ll need to settle for a much smaller home to fit your budget, versus a cheaper or larger home in an area with lower psf.

Alternatively, if you were initially eyeing a landed property or condominium, to stay in a more expensive area, you might need to look for HDB flats instead.

3. Consider the layout and floor plan 

In turn, size affects the layout of your home. Typically, in a studio apartment you’d likely only have a kitchenette (okay if you hardly cook or don’t intend to entertain guests with a gastronomic feast), and your bedroom is in the same space as your living room (bye, privacy).

There’s no luxury of space for your walk-in wardrobe (guys have them too, okay), gaming “man cave”, home gym, plant collection or your 1,000 Marvel figurines.

A 2-, 3- or even 4-/5-room affords you more space, and minimalist dwellers could even rent out the extra bedroom to generate a steady passive revenue stream.

If possible, get hold of floor plans and think through what you want to do with your home before you get your bachelor pad. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you need spare room(s) for your hobbies and/or things?
  • How often do you intend to hold gatherings, entertain or host your friends?
  • Do you like to cook and/or bake, and how often do you do it? What kind of kitchen setup do you need?
  • Are there any dream home features that you absolutely need in your bachelor pad? For example, an outdoor balcony for yoga or a barbecue pit, a green feature wall with sufficient sunlight, walk-in-wardrobe, bathtub, open-concept kitchen with bar table, and so on

Even if it’s not important to you right now, you can also think about ways to maximise your limited space, including getting stylish and creative furniture that are multi-functional and/or space-saving.

The same principles apply for just about anyone who is looking for a new home, actually.

This article is brought to you by PropertyGuru.

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