The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the rental demand for the various property types in Singapore, from HDB flats to studio apartments to co-living spaces. In both the HDB and private rental markets, rents are continuing to increase as supply declines.
According to the PropertyGuru Singapore Property Market Report Q2 2022, this is partly due to young families turning to the rental market while waiting out the BTO construction delays. Other unmarried couples and singles are also moving out in their pursuit of space and independence. And as travel resumes and Safety Management Measures lift, we’re expecting a boost in the foreign workforce numbers who will largely rely on rental accommodation.
For young singles or couples, renting a whole studio apartment is an option. Studio apartments are a relatively affordable form of accommodation in Singapore which hits the sweet spot between price and privacy afforded. However, co-living spaces are also an attractive alternative. Here’s how studio apartments in Singapore measure up to co-living spaces.
Renting Studio Apartments vs Co-living Spaces in Singapore: A Summary
For those who are unfamiliar with co-living, co-living spaces are considered shared accommodation managed by a co-living provider. These spaces promote community living and are usually fully furnished, with amenities such as wifi and cleaning all handled by the proprietor. They can sometimes be leased on a shorter-term basis than typical rental accommodation and tend to be popular with those working remotely, entrepreneurs and creatives.
To help you decide between studio apartments in Singapore and co-living spaces, here are the main differences between the two accomodation types:
Community living, privacy only in your bedroom
Requires viewing before choosing and renting
Very quick to choose and rent
Minimum three-month contract for private property; minimum six-month contract for HDB flats
Short contracts may be possible
Can be fully-, partially- or unfurnished
Utilities and wifi may not be provided
Utilities and wifi provided
Cleaning not provided
Typically more expensive than co-living spaces, costs largely depends on size and location
Typically less expensive than studios apartments; however, larger rooms with more privacy can be pricier than some studio apartments
1. Community Living vs Privacy: Co-living Can Be Better for Socialising
Co-living spaces are usually promoted as a form of community living, with shared areas in the home such as kitchens and living rooms. Co-living space providers often organise social events amongst members. On the other hand, studio apartments imply that you will be living alone. This offers more privacy but also comes without the community aspect.
If you’re new to the city and want to make friends, or wish to live with like-minded people, co-living might be more suited for you. For those who are considering co-living but are worried about privacy, know you’ll at least have a safe space in your own room.
2. Finding a Place Is Less Hassle with Co-living, But Renting Offers More Variety
Co-living spaces tend to be easier to find and rent than a regular rental property. Instead of viewing multiple properties, you can simply contact the company managing the co-working space and they will help you find a property that meets your needs. This can be particularly convenient for expats who have recently arrived in Singapore and need accommodation on short notice.
On the other hand, to rent a studio apartment, you typically need to secure and attend multiple property viewing sessions until you find a property that suits you. When you do find a suitable property, you might find yourself in competition with other potential renters; your dream place might not be secured. The process of finding an apartment and signing a lease can thus take some time.
If you’ve decided to look for a rental property without an agent, you’ll spend a lot of time browsing properties for rent and messaging the agents in charge of the listings to secure viewings and manage paperwork. And if you do hire an agent, you’ll have to pay them commission, incurring more cost.
However, one upside to studio apartments is there is much more variety. Studio apartments to rent, at various locations and price points. Here’s a range of approximate rentals of studio apartments based on their location*:
Studio apartment Singapore
Estimated monthly rental cost
$2,800 to $3,800
$3,800 to $4,500
$3,500 to $4,000
Farrer Park / Little India
$3,700 to $4,800
Paya Lebar / Eunos
$3,030 to $4,330
$2,200 to $3,000
*Prices were taken from available listings on the PropertyGuru website as of 23 June 2022 (subject to change as listings are added or removed).
3. Rental Costs: Co-living Spaces for One Is Generally More Affordable
Generally, co-living spaces are more affordable than renting an entire studio unit. As a single person, renting a studio apartment can easily be twice the cost of living in the most basic room of a co-living space. But like rental apartments, there are varying room sizes in co-living spaces.
Some co-living spaces offer the option of sharing a room with multiple persons. Other co-living spaces have rooms of different sizes to choose from, with the monthly cost increasing proportionately to the living space.
For those who are more budget-conscious and looking to share a room, try renting a shared condo unit with multiple bedrooms or an HDB flat. But if you’ve got your heart set on an affordable studio apartment to rent for under $2,000, you’ll probably have to rent a property that is in the Outside Central Region (OCR) or a much smaller space in the Core Central Region (CCR).
4. Co-living Spaces Provide Cleaning Services, Studio Apartments Do Not
Many co-living spaces provide weekly cleaning services, which are included in the price of the rent. Rental studio apartments typically do not come with cleaning services.
5. Co-living Spaces Are Fully-furnished and Decorated, Studio Apartments Come In Various Furnished States
Co-living spaces come fully furnished and are often beautifully decorated in a way that reflects the community’s aesthetic and ethos. This is ideal if you want to live in a tastefully-designed space without going through the hassle of furnishing and decorating for yourself. Often, an individual would opt for a co-living space because they like the decor.
But for rental studio apartments, there is always a risk that the property owner’s interior design preferences may not be complementary to your own. Depending on how strict your landlord is, they may not allow you to paint or install decorations to transform your home to your tastes.
Also, rental studio apartments come in various furnished states: fully-furnished, partially-furnished or unfurnished. Those who are moving from a previous rental unit or from their parents’ home may prefer an unfurnished studio apartment as they would be able to move their existing furniture over. However, if you’re an expatriate living in Singapore for the first time, a fully-furnished apartment is likely to suit you better.
6. Co-living Spaces Have Amenities and Utilities Provided, Studio Apartments May Not
Co-living spaces take care of the nitty-gritty, with amenities such as utilities and wifi being automatically provided. For rental studio apartments, you have to sign up for a wifi and/or utility provider on your own, more often than not.
7. Co-living Spaces Can Offer Short Contracts, Rental Spaces Are Good for the Long-Term
Some co-living spaces can be rented on a short-term basis of as little as a few days. In contrast, private studio apartments must be rented for at least 3 months, while rental HDB property must be rented for a duration of at least 6 months. Therefore, those who plan to live in Singapore for a long time are more suited to renting a studio unit.
Co-living Spaces in Singapore: What Are Your Options?
Looking for a place to live? Here are some prominent co-living spaces in Singapore to consider:
We’ve included the approximate prices of renting through one of these co-living providers, however, do note that some of them offer studio apartments and/or whole apartments in addition to co-living spaces, which will raise the upper end of the price range.
Co-living spaces in Singapore
What is it?
Refurbishes and decorates heritage shophouses into stylish boutique co-living spaces; shophouses are located in attractive neighbourhoods in central or city fringe locations, all bedrooms are suites with their own bathrooms
$2,125 to $4,800 per month
Private and shared accommodation in popular locations such as One North, Tiong Bahru and Katong; fully-furnished studio apartments and full 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments are also available
From $1,100 per month, from $90 per night
Co-living homes, serviced apartments and hotel residences in the CBD and suburban areas like Clementi and Paya Lebar; choose between common rooms, master bedrooms and whole units
From $1,400 per month
Co-living units in the city centre and on the city fringe, some of their locations include Balestier, Keppel and Boon Lay; has over 800 units islandwide
$1,300 to $2,000 per month
Fully-furnished rental units in 3- to 6- bedroom shared apartments as well as studio apartments in numerous popular neighbourhoods including Orchard, Changi and Serangoon
$800 to $4,200
The Assembly Place
Fully-furnished rooms with the option of shared or ensuite bathrooms; private apartments that are partially- or fully-furnished also available, ranging from studio, 1- to 4- bedroom and penthouse units
With that, we hope this article has been helpful for you and comes in handy when you decided between taking up a studio apartment or co-living space!
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This article was written by Joanne Poh. A former real estate lawyer, she writes about property and personal finance and spends her free time compulsively learning languages and roller skating in carparks.