Singapore City

If you’re moving to Singapore or considering a move within the country, the biggest question you probably have is “where should we live?” Singapore has a wide variety of residential options, and the choice of where to live will determine much about your daily routine. Considerations such as ease of commute for children and parents, access to highways and public transportation, preference for an urban or suburban setting, and proximity to services, leisure activities, and nature areas might all play a role in your family’s decision. 

The largest concentration of SAS families lives in the traditional expat-popular area bounded by the PIE, CTE, AYE, and Clementi Road. Around 15 percent of our students live in the Woodlands area and walk or bike to school, while smaller percentages live in Sembawang, Upper Bukit Timah, Yio Chu Kang, Ang Mo Kio, the East Coast Parkway and West Coast Highway areas, and Sentosa. Door-to-door school bus service is available through our bus provider, Yeap Transport, and 80 percent of our students make use of this option (costs depend on route and are separate from school tuition). School bus ride times vary by how far from school you live and where on the route your particular residence happens to be. In general, SAS students’ school trips run against rush-hour traffic, while parents who commute into the city may be more affected by rush-hour traffic. 

We asked a number of SAS parents what they like about living where they do, and their answers reveal the range of priorities for our families, as well as the diversity of accommodation options available. Wherever you live, you’ll find you’re part of a neighborhood community, as well as part of the SAS community at school and around the island!

Here is a map of 2017-18 distribution of SAS families in Singapore. Each dot indicates a house, condo, or apartment building housing at least one SAS student.

Singapore Neighborhoods

Walk to school: The Woodlands neighborhood
If you want a neighborhood school experience, consider living in the Woodlands. Your kids can walk, scooter, or bike to school from the semi-detached and stand-alone houses in the streets beside the elementary school and the various condo developments further up Woodgrove Avenue. SAS families find it a welcoming community, with volunteers organizing weekly and monthly events as well as a morning crossing guard at the pedestrian entrance to the school. Brian S. says, “living near school is awesome! Our kids can roll out of bed at 7:15 and still be in their classrooms by 8, and they participate in all sorts of school activities without us having to oversee logistics. We enjoy going to school shows, games, and concerts, and I like using the track and APEx gym outside school hours. Some people call this area ‘Little America,’ but our neighbors are very diverse and include many Singaporeans. The kids can walk to friends’ houses, and the neighborhood hosts things like the famed Halloween celebration and Woodlands/SAS yard sale, as well as book clubs, exercise groups, and monthly morning coffees. Our family enjoys spotting wildlife in nearby Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve and eating in local hawker centers. The Singapore Zoo, River Safari, and Night Safari are just a few minutes away by car, and we find a yearly membership to these attractions worthwhile. The Woodlands can seem far from other parts of Singapore, but it’s really only 25 minutes by car or cab to the city, and less than an hour by MRT. As I travel a lot, I appreciate the straightforward commute to the airport, which takes me exactly 25 minutes door to door by cab.”

Green and relaxed: The Dairy Farm or Upper Thomson Road areas

For families who want to live closer to the city but still enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle, the Dairy Farm or Upper Thomson Road neighborhoods are good options. Dairy Farm, which once hosted Singapore’s first herd of dairy cows, is next to several nature reserves with lots of wildlife and trails for both hiking and mountain biking. It is near two highways and is served by the MRT’s recently opened Downtown Line. Colleen S. says, “Dairy Farm is an oasis of nature near the bustling city. Just minutes from our door, there is a lush rainforest, green corridor trail, and old quarries. These are favorite walks for our family and dog. Unusually for Singapore, our condo has more green grass and trees around it than buildings and the outdoor space brings a sense of calm. The MRT provides easy access to downtown, and school is just a ten-minute drive via the BKE.” In the other direction from SAS, neighborhoods along Upper Thomson Road like Springleaf or Windsor Park are similarly convenient to school and to nature reserves around MacRitchie and Pierce Reservoirs. Public transport is improving in this area, with plenty of buses now and a new MRT line opening in coming years. Getting to school from Dairy Farm or Upper Thomson takes 10 to 15 minutes by car and 30 to 40 minutes by public transport, while the trip to town takes 15 to 20 minutes by car or 20 to 30 minutes using public transport.

Suburban living: The areas around Adam Road, Farrer Road, Sixth Avenue, and Holland Village

Neighborhoods in this area suit those who want to be equidistant between school and downtown. With major roads and the PIE highway nearby, vehicle commuting is easy, while bus and train options are numerous. Colleen and Rajiv D., who have lived near Adam Road for a decade, say, "we love this location because it has a real neighborhood feel and is very convenient. The PIE is just seconds away, making it very easy to get to the Orchard area, the CBD, or the Woodlands by car. Nature is close by, with the Botanic Gardens within walking distance and MacRitchie Reservoir, a great option for nature lovers and trail runners, a two-minute drive. There are restaurants and shops within walking and biking distance, and several clubs popular with expats, like the British Club, Swiss Club, and Hollandse Club, are also nearby. For sporty families, living near the Grandstand Turf City, with its facilities for soccer, rugby, baseball, horseback riding, golf, and adventure activities, is very convenient.” A little to the south, the neighborhoods around Farrer Road, Sixth Avenue, and Holland Village are also popular with SAS families. They offer a suburban lifestyle with a mixture of housing styles. Families enjoy exploring the restaurants and shops in Dempsey, a leafy, repurposed British army barracks, or Holland Village, where the main road is closed to cars at dusk. New stations on the Downtown Line and Circle Line have made these areas even more attractive. Time to school? Around 20 minutes by car, up to an hour by public transport. Time to the CBD? Depending on location, around 10 to 15 minutes by car and 20 to 30 minutes by public transport.

City living: The River Valley, Orchard Road, and American Club areas

The busier downtown residential areas offer myriad opportunities for exploring Singapore’s cultural diversity and enjoying its dining and entertainment options. “My living area, off River Valley Road and near the Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut MRT stations, is within walking distance of Orchard Road for shopping, Fort Canning Park for relaxation and exercise, and Clarke Quay for dining,” says Mie M. “We can get to the riverside area and down to Marina Bay easily on foot or by cab, and both Chinatown and Little India are just minutes away by taxi or public transport. There are great restaurants all around us, as well as temples, museums, shopping, and sightseeing. And during New Year’s Eve and National Day, we can see fireworks and air shows!” In this area, high-rise living is the norm. Getting to SAS takes a little longer from the downtown areas, around 30 minutes by car or up to an hour by public transport, but on the flip side, working parents can get to city offices quickly and conveniently. A little further from the CBD, the condo developments around the American Club, located off Scotts Road near the Orchard MRT station, are popular with SAS families, while stand-alone or semi-detached houses can be found in the leafy neighborhoods around Grange and Tanglin Roads.

Lively and accessible: The Newton and Novena area

Those who value a lively vibe and easy access to city entertainment and professional areas might choose a place in the Newton and Novena area. Angela W. enjoys it because “we can walk to Orchard Road in less than 15 minutes and the public transport links are amazing. I’m always discovering more options that make getting to work, shopping, and activities as simple as tapping my SASCard on the bus or train card-reader. Direct buses connect us to the financial center, as well as places as diverse as Little India, Marina Bay, Tiong Bahru, and the Singapore Stadium. We never miss having a car in this location. If you enjoy city life and want to explore downtown Singapore with no hassles, this is the place for you!” Angela says new train lines have made SAS more easily accessible by MRT, and the app Moovit has taken the hassles out of her public transit connections. She also notes that ridesharing seems to be popular in this area. Housing options are varied and there are many medical facilities nearby. The nearby CTE and PIE expressways make car or cab transit efficient from here. Getting to school will take around 25 minutes by car and 45 minutes by MRT; travel times to the CBD are 10 minutes or less by any mode of transit. 

Family-friendly fun: The East Coast area

For a family-oriented lifestyle with short commutes to downtown shopping areas, entertainment venues, and business districts, as well as Changi Airport, take a look at the East Coast area. “This is a good location away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” says Lindsay W. “We love all the outdoor options, especially East Coast Park and its bike trails, which can take you all the way to Changi Beach Park and even Pasir Ris, or, in the other direction, across the barrage to Gardens by the Bay. This a fun area for biking, scootering, and walking with kids, and it has lots of good restaurants and grocery stores. We can go to sports events like the Rugby Sevens and WTA Tennis Finals at the National Stadium and Sports Hub, and make use of the public sports facilities there. We like the low-rise feel and the fantastic public transport options here!” History buffs will enjoy the old shophouses in Geylang, Katong, Jalan Besar, and Kampong Glam, many of which now host quirky shops or cafes. F1 enthusiasts can easily get to the race route from this area, and large downtown events like the National Day Parade are also easy to attend. Car times to SAS from this area are around 30 minutes, while the MRT will take you 45 minutes to an hour. Getting downtown will take less than 15 minutes by car and 20 minutes by public transit, with the airport similarly close in the other direction.

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