Maybe you’re tired of living at home with parents, or perhaps you just feel like it’s time to be your own person and find a space to call yours. There’s no greater mark of adulthood than this: being able to live on your own, do your own chores (without being nagged into doing them!), and paying the bills — independently.
But moving out is not as simple as it sounds. It’s not just about finding a cheap enough listing that won’t break the bank because of monthly rental payments. Having a home or a room to call your own involves a lot more than that!
So, before you start packing your bags, here’s a list of things to consider and look out for while you’re out apartment hunting.
On a scale of HDB to condo, how big are your pockets?
For the first-time tenant-to-be, the first choice you’d have to make would be choosing between renting a room in a HDB flat or in a condominium. Of course, the cheaper option would be to go for HDB flats and rooms.
Condominiums, on the other hand, will demand a lot more from your bank account, though if you are someone who will extensively use the facilities, it might work out. For example if the difference in rent is equivalent to what you pay to use a gym outside.
But the type of property you choose isn’t the only thing you have to consider.
Which neighbourhoods won’t break the bank?
Another factor that ultimately affects rental price is the neighbourhood you choose to live in.
According to HDB statistics from the last quarter of 2020, these are the average rental prices for every neighbourhood, segmented according to flat size:
|Ang Mo Kio||$1,800||$2,100||$2,400|
|Choa Chu Kang||N/A||$1,890||$1,950|
According to CNA Lifestyle, the rental rates for condos also depend on the region of Singapore you’re looking at:
- $2,100 to $2,600 for areas outside the central region (OCR)
- $3,500 to $4,200 for the rest of the central region (RCR)
- $5,000 to $8,000 for the core central region (CRC) and Sentosa
If you’re not planning to rent an entire unit on your own, and would like to figure out the monthly rent for just one room, simply do quick maths and divide the total rental amount by the number of bedrooms or potential roommates. That’s the monthly amount you’ll have to fork out.
And speaking of roommates…
To roommate or not to roommate?
Whether or not you have roommates will determine just how much you’ll pay per month in rental.
Though roommates would make sense if you are exercising financial prudence, you have to consider whether you’re comfortable sharing a flat with total strangers, or even your landlord.
If not, you’ll have to either rope in a bunch of friends to be your roomies, which could potentially sour your relationships, or rent a flat all on your own. And let’s be real: not a lot of us have the income or the budget to afford living alone.
Are you emergency-ready?
We can’t emphasise this enough: striking it out on your own and moving out means you’ll need to be doubly prepared for when disaster strikes.
Without an emergency fund (of about three to six months’ worth of monthly expenses) to fall back on when life takes an unexpected turn, you might cripple your rent-paying abilities if you’re forced to draw from your income to pay off medical bills or some other emergency.
Not being able to make rent is going to be stressful — so save yourself the trouble and prepare an adequate amount of money for your emergency fund before taking the plunge.
Are you realistically going to be able to keep to a regular chore schedule? Sure, if you’re renting a room on your own, then that’s a lot less surface area to cover. But renting a whole flat, even with roommates, means that you’re effectively responsible for the cleanliness of the entire unit.
That means more time set aside for mopping, vacuuming, and doing this over and over again every week. Living in filth is an option, but it’s not one we’ll recommend.
Add that on top of your full-time job and you’re going to have a lot of work on your hands from morning till night. The alternative is to perhaps hire a weekly cleaner to keep things in order while you’re busy hustling, but that’s yet another cost to add to your monthly expenses.
Furnished, partially furnished, or unfurnished?
Renting an unfurnished or partially furnished unit means you’ll have to fork out more cash to buy whatever you need to make your house a home.
To avoid this huge cost, you could rent a place or a room that’s already fully furnished. It will will save you a lot of pain down the line if you’re not planning to occupy the unit in the long-term.
Of course, the only downside to this is that you’ll have to live with furniture and decor that might not align with your tastes.
Also consider that if you move to another unit in the future, after buying all your furniture, you’ll have to pay for moving costs if you’re taking your stuff with you to the next place.
How much should your deposit amount be?
When you sign the tenancy agreement, one of the things you’ll have to pay upfront is the security deposit.
While there’s no official stipulated amount to pay, the deposit is usually one month’s worth of rent for a 1-year lease or two months’ worth of rent for a 2-year lease. You’re paying this deposit to cover the charges for any damages you might cause during your stay there.
This doesn’t apply for wear and tear, though. So make sure your tenancy agreement states clearly what the deposit can and will be used for, to avoid any unpleasantness with your future landlord.
The 30% rule
Finally, as a general rule of thumb, you should only give yourself up to 30% of your monthly income to be used for rent. It doesn’t make financial sense to allocate a bigger proportion of your salary just for a space to call your own.
So, for example, if you’re earning $5,000 a month (assuming this is your take home pay), $1,500 is your budget to play with as you’re looking for an apartment or room. This will help you to narrow down your options as you look through property listings.
To rent or not to rent? Only do it if you are prepared
Before you take the leap towards independence, remember to factor in all other costs involved apart from paying rent.
Most importantly, make sure your finances are well in place, especially fundamentals like your emergency fund, before taking on this huge financial commitment.
There are early termination fees if you have to end your lease prematurely because you can no longer afford it, so it’s vital to be prudent and responsible — no matter how much you’re dying to move out as soon as possible.