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Cheap apartments for rent in Singapore probably sounds like an oxymoron nowadays. As the country continues to stimulate creation of local businesses and attract foreign investments, battles over real estate are becoming fiercer by the day. Fresh expats with nominal to nil experience will likely get tricked or intimidated into signing up for a 24-month lease at premium rates. Here’s a crash course to renting smart in Singapore.

career-options11Know Your Options

If you’re searching independently, good starting points are either online property portals that are localized to Singapore or a property agency. Find a property agency that operates within areas you are interested relocating in. For expats who are relocating because of a new job opportunity, see if your employer can provide housing assistance. Contact the company’s HR department. They may have brokers and agencies to refer as well as financial aid for the relocation expenses incurred.

depositReady Your Security Deposit

When you rent an apartment, house, condo, or even commercial space, you’ll be required to place a security deposit. The amount usually equals one or two months of rent. Once the contract ends, you get back the security deposit. Landlords may fashion security deposits into several schemes, such as a 6-month lease with a 6-month security deposit paid in advance, a 12-month lease for 1-month deposit, and so forth. If you damage the property, the landlord has the right to deduct an amount from your security deposit to compensate for the repair or replacement of the property.

Rent-or-buy-squareBe Aware of the Expat Clause

You’re not the first expat to step into Singapore looking for a house or condo for rent near MRT or its bustling tech and business centers. Over the years, certain policies have been put in place to accommodate the unique circumstances of expatriates. One of these policies is the expat clause, which basically gives the expat the right to recoup their security deposit in the event that they need to prematurely break their leasing contract. If, for example, your employer requires you to relocate again, you can cancel the lease without any financial ramifications. Look for this particular clause before signing a lease.

Peruse the Parameter

Prior renting, look around the area. As a general rule of thumb, average monthly rent within surrounding properties should be no more than 10 percent of what your landlord is charging you. Looking at comparable properties is a great way to gauge whether or not the property you are looking to rent is affordable. Make sure to account for differences in housing type. HDB for rent, for example, are much cheaper than single-family homes or shophouses. Aside from average rent prices, look for environmental pros and cons. Are the shopping malls, banks, schools, libraries, and healthcare facilities nearby? If so, do they close early or is accessible even late at night?

Whether you’re looking for a 5-bedroom mansion inland or a cozy studio apartment in Singapore, these four tips can help simplify the search. While it’s indeed hard to find cheap housing around Singapore’s continuously improving economy, there’s absolutely ways to squeeze your every dollar for that prized space.