Do you ever wonder what living and studying in the world famous Lion City is like? Singapore is a crowded but extremely safe and efficient country. It’s one of the four “Asian Tiger” economies alongside South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, making it an ideal choice for students keen to forge a career in Singapore’s highly developed, free economy. Did we mention it’s also rather beautiful? Condos, old shop houses, heritage buildings, high-rise architectural marvels and lush greenery exist side by side. You might not be able to buy gum, but you can certainly enjoy Universal Studios, the night safari, Gardens by the Bay or just a simple late night meal at your local hawker center.
Exciting times to be in the city state? Yes. However, Singapore is also known to be eye-wateringly expensive. It’s the kind of place where a cup of coffee can either cost you SG$3 or SG$15 depending on where you go. Students looking for places to stay should know not just where to go to get a cheap meal, but also know about all of the options that they can explore when living away from home. There’s all sorts of housing arrangements to match all sorts of financial situations, and students can often arrange this easily before arriving.
Options for student accommodation in Singapore
First-year international students are often given priority when they apply for on-campus education. School-based student accommodation in Singapore is usually done in halls of residence and this is an ideal option as the buildings often provide many amenities. Room rates vary between SG$140 to SG$440 per month, depending on the number of students sharing a room. While it’s cheaper to share a room, you might also just want to pay the extra balance for privacy. Horses for courses, guys!
Private hostels are another option for cheaper student accommodation. These are usually run by either educational institutions or independent agencies. If you have a valid student visa, you can rent a single room by the day, week, month, or do a three-month contract. You will also be asked to pay a deposit and registration fee. Some hostels are exclusively for international students and can be a place to make new friends in a new environment.
If you’re willing to share a room, your accommodation could be as little as SG$480 per month. However, if you value your alone time, be prepared to fork over SG$730 for a single basic room.
Some local Singaporean households open up their homes and offer full boarding for international students by letting out a room. This is another good option that won’t be too tough on your wallet. The cost of doing a homestay boarding arrangement ranges from SG$500 to SG$1000 per month.
Another alternative — and probably the most expensive — is renting a space independently. The International Student Service Centre at your educational institution will normally provide you with housing agents’ contacts. Students are expected to pay at least one month of advanced rent along with a one month security deposit.
Those coming with family may want to look into serviced apartments in the city, where small kitchens and extra rooms may give you the comforts of home.
If you’re going to Singapore for a short-term study, like an executive training programme, you may just want to stay in one of the country’s many, many hotels. While you can usually find reasonable places and prices centrally located — note, the rooms will be tiny — expect to be charged a premium should your time of study fall during major events in the country, like the famed Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Studying in Singapore
Singapore has 34 universities throughout the island, with six of these being prestigious national schools. The two best-known are National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) — ranked respectively as the number one and two schools in Asia according to QS World University Rankings 2019.
There are also several recently established collaborative institutions throughout the island, including the Singapore University of Technology and Design, which was developed in partnership with the world renown Massachusetts Institute of Technology — aka MIT. NUS has also recently partnered with Yale to launch the first liberal arts college in Singapore, Yale-NUS college.
These collaborations show a keen initiative in becoming globally-minded and fostering innovation in Singapore’s higher education section. In practice, it means exciting options for prospective students and growing international interest.
Just remember, if you want to keep it cheap — stay in halls of residence as long as you can, and failing that — sharing is caring, and it’s also a lot less expensive when it comes to having a roommate.