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Singapore - where to get an apartment, food being #1 priority?

I have been spending most of my time in Thailand over the last several years, but it seems I will now be working in Singapore half of the time.

The job will mostly be at two sites - right on Buona Vista MRT and Clementi MRT.

I generally like to hang out in Chinatown, Little India, the Arabic district, and the Colonial district and central areas. Not Orchard area, and not really suburbs (unless there were a culinary reason to go).

I mostly eat at Hawker Centers and moderate old-fashioned type restaurants. I love Hong Lim complex hawker centre.

Can any of you guys form Singapore give some recommendation about which area would be ideal to get an apartment for easy access to the most amount of great food?

Being on the green MRT line helps my access to work.

Thanks!

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  1. What's your budget like?

    Apartment rentals in Singapore can range from S$2,000/US$1,600 per month in the suburbs (HDB estates) to S$7,000/US$5,500 (or more) per month near Orchard areas.

    13 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      I am a dentist, so should be making a decent salary (well half a salary, being there half the time). But really just looking for something (relatively) inexpensive for my girl and I. Clean, basic/minimalist, and convenient.

      I had thought about Outram Park - easy access to the west for work and to the centre of the city. I would consider west, but don't have much experience there and not sure if they are culinary and cultural wastelands.

      Thanks for the reply. I thought you might! Ha!

      1. re: chrisdds

        I would look at the Balestier area, where I used to live. On the Whampoa end, you have some decent hawkers and a good wet market, and Balestier Road itself is full of excellent eating options (Boon Tong Kee chicken rice, Cafe de HK, Founders' bak kut teh, Tandoori Corner, even a 24 hour prata joint in Fayidha's!).

        It is also walking distance to Little India, and a short bus trip to Geylang, where more excellent food awaits.

        Transport-wise, the 145 plies Balestier Road with some regularity, and it's a 10-minute ride to Lavender MRT on the green line.

        1. re: chrisdds

          Dorsett Residences @ Outram Park?

          1. re: chrisdds

            On PropertyGuru's search site (http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/condos/) the following districts have green line MRT stations nearby and are convenient for food: D01, D02, D06, D07

            Further west than Outram area will probably be a bit inconvenient for Little India, Arab St (by Singaporean standards that is, where anything more than a 20 min drive is generally considered far).

            Some of the popular rental condos for younger couples:
            Tanjong Pagar area: The Clift is right next to Amoy Hawker Centre & Tg Pagar MRT station. Icon is also nearby. The closer to the CBD, the higher the psf rental though.

            Lavender area (walking distance to Arab St, Little India outskirts, farther fr Chinatown): Citylights, Southbank, both a couple of mins from Lavender MRT station.

            1. re: RipCurl

              Thanks everybody for the replies and ideas.

              Dorset Residences is a place my girl happened to notice when we were walking around. A good location, but I was really unprepared for the cost of accommodation in Singapore. I don't really understand how serviced apartments and quite often regular apartments are more expensive than staying in a hotel every day.

              I have been jumping around different hotels to get a better feel for different areas of the city. I'm currently in Tijong Bahru, which is cool. Although I appreciate the traditional aspects of it more than the trendy aspects of it. The hawker center here is good. There is a great BBQ meat place but they say they are closing (forever) later this month, unfortunately. A bunch of Szechuan restaurants are decent and open late. I normally dislike suburbs, but this one has character, and it is so near the city... even walkable.

              The MRT seems so slow to me. I am wondering about getting something near Buona Vista (where I will be working a lot) or Clementi (where I will be working sometimes) if the rent is lower. How bad or good are these locations for food? At fist glance Buona Vista looks especially bad (for eating)... but I am really inexperienced with the area. It's difficult dragging myself away from the centre of the city.

          2. re: klyeoh

            Kleoh,

            By the way, while I initially said I am more into the hawker centre and hole in the wall type places, my recent walks around Singapore have gotten me excited about some of the finer dining options again.

            It's just that in the past, I always found fine restaurants in Singapore disappointing. Not necessarily bad... but not the mind blowing experiences to be had in places like Paris or Hong Kong or even Toronto, for example. I don't know if I went to the wrong places, or ordered incorrectly... or if the scene is truly changing. Anyway, you always seem to have breadth of knowledge on 'comfortable' places, so I am open to these ideas as well.

            Specifically, do you know this place by a Sicilian chef called Gattopardo on Tras Street? We stopped by for a glass of wine. They have Barolo by the glass! However, I finished the last of that vintage and they are now on to the next year's batch... so not sure how it will compare to the one I had (which seemed overpriced, but I seemed to quickly forget after tasting the wine). Anyway, it was mid day and the kitchen was closed... but I plan to return as the menu looks very interesting... there's some innovation... yet still seems respectful of tradition.

            Cappelini with uni sauce. Charred octopus with olives, sundried tomatoes and celery root. Pasta with sardines, rasin, saffron and wild fennel. Carbonara of course. These were the dishes I have my eye on anyway.

            Finally, are Buona Vista or Clementi as bad as I fear they might be (culinary standpoint)? And what of Tijong Bahru (which seems promising, though not thrilled about the changes coming to it)

            Chris

            1. re: chrisdds

              Lino Sauro was previously executive chef at Domus, one of my fave Italian restaurants in town, before his current Gattopardo stint. Very good, competently turned out dishes.

              BuonaVista has always been a culinary desert, but nearby Holland Village not too bad.

              Clementi has always been seen as a blue-collar working-class neighborhood in Singapore. The hawker food there tend to be more rustic.

              1. re: klyeoh

                At dinner, the clientele at the tables immediately left and right if us was incredibly annoying. I could write a whole story on it. So many dishes being sent back for illegitimate reasons, and such amazingly special needs and requirements... worse than children.

                Our Indian waiter was great. Competent, not intrusive, offered information when I was undecided between two menu selections. I have no idea how he managed to not slap some of the other customers.

                Anyway, capellini with uni was not as wonderful as I imagined, but still prepared well. Charred octopus was special for me... my girl found the glaze to sweet... which I ted to agree, but that is just a matter of personal preference rather than any error in technique (or judgment for that matter). Pasta with sardines, raisin, saffron, fennel has the feel of a peasant dish (like puttanesca)... but the saffron is a bit of a luxury ingredient, and the whole fine preparation and presentation of a rustic dish is a bit strange... but not necessarily unappealing. This dish has some chili and heat to it, which was appealing to her Southeast Asian tastes. I skipped the carbonara (even though it is rare to find a proper one without cream) and had pasta with ox-tail sauce. Again, peasant ingredients which really appealed to my partially (ethnically) Polish roots (remember eating ox-tail soup as a baby)... but again done with a layer of refinement that is in one way confusing... but in another way interesting. The aged ricotta was nice, but could have used two or three times as much of the cheese to really round out the dish.

                We had a half bottle (375ml) of a (relatively) cheap white wine from Sardignia, which I thought would be perfect with the style of dishes... and this really worked out well.

                We waited FOREVER for all of our courses. However, I know this is a chef owned place... and I would rather wait than have the cooking passed off to a minimally trained local line cook in a big factory type restaurant. I suspect much of the problem was the remaking or modification of at least seven dishes in my immediate vicinity (three to my left, three to my right, and one across the room). The waiter was to accommodating to make sure everyone was happy. Maybe he should take a lesson from one of the crabby Hawkers one can find around.

                What do you think of Tiong Bahru? Are there any other old neighborhoods like this that aren't about to be taken over by stylish yuppies (or what would they be called in Singapore?) There's a charming studio apartment in good location here, but 250 square feet! And not exactly cheap. Singapore accommodation is KILLING me.

                It may be better for me to stay in a hotel, given the prices of apartments.

                1. re: chrisdds

                  250 square feet? Can that even be legally called an apartment?

                  The city-ish and trendy areas you are looking at are quite pricey, Tiong Bahru being a particular case in point. If you look more on the fringes (Toa Payoh and Balestier, for example), you can get a 700+ square foot studio for under $3k (with a pool, gym and other condominium accoutrements).

                  1. re: Julian Teoh

                    Julian's correct, chrisdds - you *can* find more reasonably-priced condominiums a bit further out - Seasons Park (Yio Chu Kang Rd), Signature Park (Toh Tuck Rd, Bukit Timah), etc.

                    You get larger (1,000 sq ft or more) apartments for S$3000 as mentioned by Julian. 250 sq ft is not viable at all - I didn't even realise there are apartments that tiny in Singapore!

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Lavender is good too. Near to Balestier that Julian's recommending, convenient for the East-West line, close to town (CBD, Orchard etc) & Little India / Arab St and has numerous nearby food options. You can get a studio for just over S$3k I believe & a 1000sq ft 2 bedder for about S$4.5k.

                      1. re: RipCurl

                        I just checked in to a hotel at Lavender. I think will also give consideration to Balestier, as I tend to like the old neighborhoods. I have never been there and immediately discounted it due to location... however the respected opinions on this forum are now making me reconsider. Is this be the same as Novena MRT? Or is that a different thing?

                        1. re: chrisdds

                          Not the same although the Balestier stretch (Balestier Road and nearby streets) is just under 1km away from Novena MRT, so fairly close.

          3. Food is a priority no matter where you live in Singapore. So is kiasu...

            1 Reply
            1. re: BuildingMyBento

              FOMO, for those hipsters from other lands.