When I came to Singapore as a student. I was amazed at the beautiful multi-cultured city state. Coming from Africa, this was a completely new experience for me. The ultra-urban facilities and the multiple restaurants around the city which offered exquisite buffets were especially quite fascinating for me. When I arrived I was lucky to have some relatives who were willing to accommodate me before I could get my own residence. However, I took a lot of time touring the city state that it was quite some time before I finally focused on getting a house.
Since I was a postgraduate student and I wanted to be working as I study, I had opted to get a house that was closer to town and not confined within the university. I wanted to have the freedom of being able to get a firsthand experience of the life in Singapore. My uncle, who was hosting me, had come to Singapore about six years ago. He had come in as a student and had started working after a few months. With time he had been able to establish himself such that he had a steady job by the time he was graduating from university.
Having attained the higher degree and having worked for some time in Singapore had helped my uncle get a better job after graduation and from then on he had not looked back. He had gone on to gain citizenship of Singapore. He is now married to a Malay and they have two kids. He later bought the HDB house he had rented and I must say it is quite a nice house… no wonder I was not in a hurry to leave and look for my own house.
In Singapore, getting a house can be tricky. The privately owned real estate property is very expensive. Only the rich are able to afford renting or buying such houses. The government however has thousands of houses that it has built under the Housing and Development Board which they offer at low prices to ensure that the people of Singapore do not suffer from lack of proper living quarters.
This offer of the subsidized houses is not extended to foreigners. I was however lucky since as a student I could rent a HDB house. My problem was that I was too choosy. I found the houses too crowded and the houses I found were in locations that were not ideal for my education or for my desire of being close to an area where I could easily get a job.
I did not also want to use a real estate agent in helping me to get a house. Using a real estate agent could significantly raise the initial amount of money I would have to part with once I got a house. I figured I would use the experience of looking around to customize myself with the city. Luckily the people spoke English although their accents were at times difficult to decipher. I however realized that the people were also finding my accent troublesome.