Cost-Effective Housing Guide for OFWs

If you’re new or planning to relocate for work in Singapore, you know that finding the right place to call home is as crucial as the job itself, especially for OFWs. Navigating the bustling city-state’s housing market can be daunting, with its high living costs and diverse range of options.

With this in mind, our goal is to help our hardworking OFWs find a comfortable yet affordable living space in Singapore. From exploring the ins and outs of HDB flats to uncovering hidden gems in less centralized locations, we’ve got you covered. Let’s embark on this journey together to find your ideal, cost-effective housing in Singapore, where comfort meets affordability, making your overseas experience both rewarding and enjoyable.

housing guide singapore

Singapore’s housing landscape is as diverse as its culture, offering a range of options from luxurious condos to more budget-friendly HDB flats. For OFWs, understanding this landscape is key to finding a home that’s not just affordable but also comfortable and convenient.

Types of Housing Available

  • HDB Flats: These government-subsidized apartments are the most common and affordable housing option in Singapore. They range from studio units to larger apartments, suitable for families.
    • Studio/1-Bedroom Units: SGD 1,500 – 2,500PHP 60,000 – 100,000 per month.
    • Larger Apartments (3-4 Bedrooms): SGD 2,500 – 4,000PHP 100,000 – 160,000 per month.

Important: The Non-Citizen Quota for renting HDB flats in Singapore is a crucial factor for OFWs to consider. This quota, set by the Housing & Development Board, caps the percentage of non-citizens allowed to rent in HDB estates—8% per neighborhood and 11% per block—to maintain a balanced ethnic mix and prevent foreigner enclaves.

  • OFWs, categorized as non-citizens, must check this quota on the HDB website before committing to a rental, as reaching the limit in a desired area means they cannot rent there.
  • While this doesn’t affect current leases, it may influence lease renewals and overall availability of HDB flats in popular areas.
  • This system underscores the importance of timely and informed decision-making in the housing search for OFWs in Singapore.
  • Private Condominiums: While generally more expensive, they offer amenities like security, swimming pools, and gyms. Sharing a condo can make this option more affordable.
    • 1-Bedroom Units: SGD 2,500 – 4,000PHP 100,000 – 160,000 per month.
    • Larger Units (2-3 Bedrooms): SGD 3,500 – 7,000+PHP 140,000 – 280,000+ per month.
  • Landed Property: These include bungalows and terraces but are typically the most expensive housing type in Singapore.
    • Terrace Houses: Starting from SGD 4,500PHP 180,000 per month.
    • Bungalows: SGD 10,000+ ≈ PHP 400,000+ per month.

Location Matters

  • Central Areas: Locations like Orchard, Marina Bay, and Raffles Place are central but pricier.
    • Modest apartments start from SGD 3,000PHP 120,000 per month and upwards.
  • Suburban Options: Consider areas like Woodlands, Punggol, or Tampines for more budget-friendly options, with good connectivity to the city center.
    • HDB flats: SGD 1,5002,500PHP 60,000 – 100,000 per month.
    • Private condos: Starting around SGD 2,000PHP 80,000 per month.

Cost Considerations

The cost of housing varies widely based on location, size, and amenities. OFWs need to balance their budget with their needs for space, convenience, and access to work and community.

Evaluating Location vs. Cost

How does the location impact the cost?

Consider if living closer to the city center, which is pricier, is necessary or if a more affordable suburban area would suffice.

What are the commuting costs?

Factor in transportation expenses from more affordable areas to your workplace.

Understanding Size and Space Requirements

What size of accommodation do you need?

Assess if a smaller HDB flat would be adequate or if a larger space is required for family or sharing with roommates.

How does size influence the price?

Generally, the larger the space, the higher the cost. Determine the optimal balance between space and affordability.

Amenities and Their Impact on Cost

What amenities are essential, and which are nice to have?

Amenities like gyms, pools, or security services add to the cost. Decide which amenities are must-haves based on your lifestyle and budget.

Are there cheaper alternatives to amenities?

For example, a nearby public gym could offset the need for a condo with a gym, thus reducing overall costs.

Budgeting for Utilities and Additional Fees

Have you factored in utilities?

Electricity, water, and internet bills can add significantly to your monthly expenses.

Are there any hidden costs?

Understanding all potential costs upfront, such as maintenance fees or deposits, is crucial.

Long-term Financial Planning

How does the rent fit into your long-term financial goals?

Balancing current housing needs with savings and remittances is essential for financial stability.

Is there room in your budget for rent increases or unexpected expenses?

Always have a buffer in your budget for unforeseen circumstances.

Understanding Lease Terms

  • It’s crucial to understand lease agreements, deposits, and any additional fees. Typically, leases in Singapore are for a minimum of one (1) year.

Finding the Right Fit

  • Online platforms, real estate agents, and networking within the OFW community can be invaluable in finding the right housing. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from fellow OFWs who have navigated this journey.

Online Platforms and Listings

  • Key Websites: Explore PropertyGuru,, and iProperty for a wide range of rental options. These platforms offer detailed search filters (like location, price, and room type) to tailor your search.
  • Updated Listings: Regularly check these sites as new listings are added daily.
  • Budget-Friendly Choices: Set your budget parameters to find options that align with your financial plan.

Social Media Groups

fb groups

  • Active Communities: Join Facebook groups like “Filipinos in Singapore” or “OFW in Singapore”. These groups are active communities where members share real-time listings and tips. A word of caution, though, do not take everything seriously posted in such groups. While these groups can be valuable sources of information, it’s essential to use your judgment and verify the information you come across, as not everything shared may be accurate or up-to-date. This is to prioritize your safety, as well.
  • Peer Advice: Benefit from the experiences and recommendations of fellow OFWs who have been through similar searches.
  • Local Insights: Get updates on local events, job opportunities, and other relevant information for OFWs in Singapore.

HDB Flats

  • Affordable Living: HDB flats are significantly more budget-friendly than private condos, offering a range of sizes and locations.
  • Understanding Policies: Familiarize yourself with eligibility criteria and application processes for renting HDB flats as an OFW.
  • Community Environment: HDB estates often have a strong sense of community and provide essential amenities like markets, food courts, and clinics.

Room Sharing

  • Cost Reduction: Sharing a room is a practical way to cut down on expenses. It’s common among OFWs in Singapore.
  • Finding Roommates: Look for potential roommates in social media groups, community boards, or through word-of-mouth within the OFW community.
  • Considerations: When choosing a roommate, consider factors like work schedules, lifestyle habits, and personal preferences to ensure a compatible living arrangement.

Network with Fellow OFWs

  • Personal Experiences: Leverage the experiences of others who have already found housing in Singapore.
  • Networking Events: Attend community gatherings or OFW meetups to connect with others who can offer advice or share leads on available housing.
  • Building Connections: Strong relationships within the OFW community can provide support in various aspects beyond housing, including cultural adaptation and professional networking.

Video: Renting in Singapore (HDB Flat Unit) | WinJohn Vlogs

Join us as we explore the world of finding a home away from home in Singapore! Being an OFW, finding a place to stay in a foreign country is an essential part of the journey. But how do we navigate through the process of searching for a rented house or room here in Singapore?

In this video, we’ll dive into the current situation and challenges of finding accommodation in Singapore. With the rising prices and high rental rates, is it difficult to secure a place? We’ll discuss the various factors that come into play and share some tips and tricks to make your search easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the average rent for housing in Singapore for OFWs?

The average rent varies widely depending on the area and type of accommodation. HDB flats can range from SGD 500 to SGD 2,500 per month, while private condos can start from SGD 2,000 upwards.

2. Are OFWs allowed to rent HDB flats in Singapore?

Yes, OFWs can rent HDB flats, but they must comply with certain criteria set by the Housing & Development Board, like the Non-Citizen Quota for renting out flats.

3. How can OFWs find roommates for sharing accommodation?

Roommates can be found through online platforms, social media groups, community notice boards, and through networking within the OFW community.

4. What should OFWs consider when choosing a location for housing in Singapore?

Consider factors like proximity to work, access to public transportation, nearby amenities, cost of living, and the presence of other OFWs or Filipino communities.

5. Can OFWs negotiate the rent and lease terms with landlords?

Yes, rent and lease terms can often be negotiated, especially for longer lease periods. It’s always worth discussing with the landlord or the agent.

6. What are the common lease terms for rental properties in Singapore?

Most rental agreements are for a minimum of one year, with a possible extension. They often require a security deposit, typically equivalent to one month’s rent for every year of the lease.

7. Are there any additional costs OFWs should be aware of when renting in Singapore?

Beyond rent, consider costs like utilities, internet, service charges (for condos), and possibly agent fees if you use a real estate agent.

8. How can OFWs ensure a smooth rental transaction in Singapore?

Always have a written lease agreement, understand all the terms and conditions, keep records of all transactions, and ensure clear communication with the landlord or agent.


In conclusion, as an OFW preparing to move or already working in Singapore, finding the ideal living space is a crucial part of your journey, reflecting both your needs and aspirations. From navigating the nuances of HDB flats to tapping into the supportive network of the OFW community, we’ve delved into the essentials that make house hunting in Singapore less overwhelming. Remember, while the search for a cost-effective home in this vibrant city-state might seem challenging, it’s also an exciting step towards a fulfilling overseas experience.

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