Renting in 2023? Here’s how to save on rental rates

With a combination of various factors such as cooling measures, construction delays and sky-high property prices, rental rates have surged over the past three years

Drawing from personal experience of renting for more than a decade, here are 5 ways you can save on rental. 

1. Live outside of the central area

If you have the choice of working from home and don’t need to commute to work daily, renting outside of the Core Central Region (CCR) will be lighter on your wallet. The closer you get to the prime districts, the higher the rent. Here are the various districts located in each of the regions. 

Singapore Regions Districts
Core Central Region (CCR) 9, 10 and 11, and parts of 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7
Rest of Central Region (RCR) 3, 8 and 12, and parts of 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 14, 15 and 20
Outside Central Region (OCR) 16 to 19, 21 to 28, and parts of 5, 13, 14, 15 and 20

Renting apartments in the Outside Central Region (OCR) is the most affordable, followed by the Rest of Central Region (RCR). 

ccr, rcr, ocr rental rates from 2013 to 2023
Rental rates of 2-bedroom condos in the three different regions in the past 10 years.

Here’s the average rent and volume from 1 Jan to 20 Mar 2023:  

Location Average price psf Average price Volume
CCR S$6.07 S$5,866 967
RCR S$5.42 S$4,477 1,390
OCR S$4.52 S$3,733 1,613

It’s not just the rental that comes with a higher price tag in the central region. You’ll find that essential amenities such as restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stalls and entertainment options are also more expensive. 

2-bedroom condos for rent


2. Rent an HDB flat instead of a condo

When people think about renting in Singapore, they usually think about renting a condo. However, going the HDB route will definitely save you more money.

For example, the monthly rental of a 3-room HDB flat in District 19 (Hougang/Punggol/Sengkang) can range from S$1,200 to S$4,000. In contrast, a 2-bedroom condo in the same district will cost anywhere from S$3,400 to S$5,700. That’s a difference of more than a thousand dollars every month. 

Here are the 2022 Q4 rental statistics from HDB.

Town 2-room 3-room 4-room 5-room Executive
Ang Mo Kio * S$2,300 S$2,900 S$3,150 *
Bedok * S$2,300 S$2,800 S$3,000 *
Bishan S$2,600 S$3,200 S$3,550 *
Bukit Batok * S$2,200 S$2,650 S$3,200 *
Bukit Merah S$2,200 S$2,600 S$3,500 S$3,800
Bukit Panjang * S$2,700 S$2,850 S$3,000 S$3,250
Bukit Timah * * * *
Central * S$2,800 S$3,850 *
Choa Chu Kang * S$2,800 S$2,800 S$3,000 S$3,000
Clementi * S$2,500 S$3,200 S$3,400 *
Geylang * S$2,350 S$3,000 * *
Hougang * S$2,300 S$2,750 S$2,700 S$3,000
Jurong East * S$2,500 S$2,900 S$3,100 *
Jurong West * S$2,200 S$2,900 S$3,030 S$3,200
Kallang/ Whampoa * S$2,450 S$3,100 S$3,700 *
Marine Parade S$2,400 S$3,350 *
Pasir Ris * * S$2,700 S$3,000 S$3,300
Punggol S$2,350 S$2,850 S$3,000 S$3,100 *
Queenstown * S$2,730 S$3,600 S$4,200 *
Sembawang * * S$3,000 S$2,870 S$3,000
Sengkang * S$2,550 S$3,000 S$3,100 S$3,000
Serangoon S$2,500 S$3,200 S$2,800 *
Tampines * S$2,500 S$2,800 S$3,200 $3,200
Toa Payoh * S$2,400 S$3,450 S$3,200 *
Woodlands * S$2,200 S$2,650 S$3,100 $2,900
Yishun * S$2,400 S$2,800 S$3,150 *

• (-) Indicates that there are no rental transactions in the quarter
• * Indicates that the median rent is not shown because there are less than 20 rental transactions in the quarter for that particular town and flat type

Source: HDB

When renting a condo, it factors in paying for private facilities such as the gym, pool, BBQ pits, jacuzzis, etc. However, there’s no point paying for what you won’t use, especially if those facilities aren’t central to your lifestyle. Or, if you’re an avid gym-goer but don’t like swimming, it would be cheaper to rent an HDB flat and pay for a separate gym membership instead. 

Will you use enough of the amenities to justify paying a higher price tag?

Another huge perk of renting an HDB flat is that it generally has higher accessibility and connectivity. Compared to some condos, HDB flats have many bus stops and train stations located just a stone’s throw away. 

Amenities such as hawker centres, supermarkets and clinics are also usually within a short walking distance from an HDB flat. You can easily pick up your groceries and other necessities at a lower price.

Properties for rent in District 19 (Hougang, Punggol, Sengkang)


3. Rent a larger place and get a roommate 

If you’re looking at renting a condo, go for a larger place, like a 2-bedroom apartment, instead of shoebox units.

Taking the average rental price of S$5,26 psf in 2023 (up till 20 March), a shoebox unit of 500 sq ft comes up to S$2,630. The rental of a 750 sq ft 2-bedder will be $3,945. Split this two ways with your roommate, and you’ll be paying $1,973. That’s a difference of S$657 every month!

Here’s a more detailed rental rundown of all the districts in Singapore, based on the average rents this year (up till 20 March). Note that the rent will vary depending on other factors, such as whether the apartment is furnished or unfurnished. 

District 1-bedder rent (S$ psf) in 2023 2-bedder rent (S$ psf) in 2023 1-bedder (500 sq ft) rent in 2023 2-bedder (750 sq ft) rent in 2023 2-bedder with roommate
1 7.59 6.86 S$3,795 S$5,145 S$2,573
2 7.93 6.9 S$3,965 S$5,175 S$2,588
3 7.74 6.5 S$3,870 S$4,875 S$2,438
4 7.25 5.8 S$3,625 S$4,350 S$2,175
5 6.53 4.84 S$3,265 S$3,630 S$1,815
7 6.67 5.69 S$3,335 S$4,268 S$2,134
8 6.53 5.15 S$3,265 S$3,863 S$1,931
9 7.33 6.24 S$3,665 S$4,680 S$2,340
10 6.96 5.42 S$3,480 S$4,065 S$2,033
11 6.21 5.52 S$3,105 S$4,140 S$2,070
12 6.3 5.14 S$3,150 S$3,855 S$1,928
13 6.35 5.42 S$3,175 S$4,065 S$2,033
14 6.4 5.68 S$3,200 S$4,260 S$2,130
15 6.05 4.86 S$3,025 S$3,645 S$1,823
16 5.59 4.5 S$2,795 S$3,375 S$1,688
17 5.37 3.63 S$2,685 S$2,723 S$1,361
18 5.95 4.32 S$2,975 S$3,240 S$1,620
19 5.91 4.69 S$2,955 S$3,518 S$1,759
20 6.46 5.54 S$3,230 S$4,155 S$2,078
21 6.19 4.05 S$3,095 S$3,038 S$1,519
22 6.83 5.52 S$3,415 S$4,140 S$2,070
23 5.39 4.1 S$2,695 S$3,075 S$1,538
25 4.99 4.53 S$2,495 S$3,398 S$1,699
27 5.6 4.12 S$2,800 S$3,090 S$1,545
28 5.65 4.73 S$2,825 S$3,548 S$1,774
  • (-) Indicates that there are fewer than 20 transactions during the period for the particular district and unit size 

From the above table, you’ll notice that the price per square foot for 2-bedroom apartments is also lower than those of 1-bedroom units. This makes it even more economical to share a 2-bedder with a roommate. 

4. Sign a longer lease

With rental rates climbing (albeit at a slower pace these days), it’s in your best interest to secure a longer lease with your landlord. Ask your landlord if they would be willing to lower the rent if you can give an upfront deposit of two or three months. 

Locking in an extended lease period means enjoying a fixed rental price. You dodge the hassle of having to either look for a new apartment every year or having to re-negotiate with your landlord annually. 

Many unexpected costs come with switching apartments, such as taking time to look for a suitable place within your budget, making sure your lease doesn’t overlap with the new apartment, as well as the time and financial costs of packing and moving into an unfamiliar place. 

5. Consider your needs when it comes to furnishing

Usually, fully-furnished apartments tend to fetch a slightly higher rental yield. However, consider what you need and the length of your lease term before jumping the gun on a unit.

If you’re leasing for the short term, it makes more sense to rent a fully-furnished place. Having an apartment that comes with all the furniture and appliances saves you time and money sourcing for furniture that you’ll probably have to sell in a few months. 

Are we moving… again?

When I rented my apartment for two years, I went for an unfurnished unit, so I could have the freedom to purchase furniture that would suit my needs. After my lease ended, my landlord agreed to buy the furniture from me at a discount. 

Doing so saved me the headache of figuring out what to do with all the furniture I had accumulated over the two years and storage and moving costs that I would have incurred if I had chosen to take my furniture along with me.

[Additional reporting by Virginia Tanggono]

Are you a looking to rent in the near future? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, check out Ask these 10 questions when renting in Singapore and Letter of intent: What is it all about, and what does it entail? 

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