Guides for Expats

Expat Guide - Buy Property in SingaporeExpat Guide - Buy Property in SingaporeExpat Guide - Buy Property in Singapore

This page covers some brief information on the procedures to buy or purchase property in Singapore. Tips for foreigners or investors buying apartment, house or other properties in Singapore.

Please also read our Expatriates FAQ for more information.

Eligibility to Buy Private Property

In the year 1973, the Singapore Government has imposed restrictions on foreign ownership of all private residential property in Singapore. Such ownership is governed by the Residential Property Act.

The Act aims to give Singaporeans a stake in the country by being able to buy and possess their own residential property at an affordable price and also encourage foreign talent by allowing permanent residents and foreign companies who make an economic contribution to Singapore to purchase such properties for their own occupation.

The Residential Property Act (RPA) is then amended on 19 July 2005 to allow foreigners to purchase apartments in non-condominium developments of less than 6 levels without the need to obtain prior approval.

For restricted property such as vacant land, landed properties such as bungalows, semi-detached and terrace houses, prior approval is still needed if foreigners wish to buy. Landed properties is a special class of residential property that Singaporeans aspire to own, and should remain restricted. Foreigners need to apply for approval from Singapore Land Authority before buying.

If you are a foreigner (or expatriate) and you wish to purchase a restricted residential property, you need to download the application form at You can submit the form together with the relevant supporting documents such as your entry and re-entry permits and qualifications to:

Land Dealings (Approval) Unit
No. 8 Shenton Way,
#27-02 Temasek Tower,
Singapore 068811

What are the non-restricted residential properties?

Foreigners are not restricted from acquiring:

  • Developments approved as a condominium development under he Planning Act
  • A flat in a building of 6 levels or more including the ground level and any level below the ground level including HUDC Phase I, Phase II flats and privatised HUDC Phase III and IV flats
  • A leasehold estate in restricted residential property (refer to A) for a term not exceeding 7 years including any further term which may be granted by way of an option for renewal

What are the restricted residential properties?

Foreign persons (including natural persons, foreign companies and societies) are restricted from purchasing:

  • Vacant land
  • Landed residential property, such as bungalows, terrace houses, semi-detached houses
  • Residential property in a building of less than 6 levels

Other restricted properties

  • A HDB Shophouse
  • A HDB flat purchased directly from HDB
  • A resale HDB flat where HDB has consented to the sale
  • Executive Condominium bought under the Executive Condominium Housing Scheme Act, 1996

Eligibility to Buy HDB Property and Executive Condominiums

HDB Flats are apartments built and maintained by the Housing Development Board (HDB). More than 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB housing estates. HDB housing estates are usually self-contained towns with clinics, schools, supermarkets, food centres, as well as sports and recreational facilities. For the classification of HDB flats, the living room is counted as one room.

To buy a flat directly from HDB, you must be a Singapore citizen, must include another Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident to form a family nucleus. To buy a flat from the resale market, you must be a Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident. Include at least one listed occupier who is a Singapore permanent resident or Singapore citizen. Please visit the HDB website for more details.

Executive Condominiums (EC) were introduced to cater to Singaporeans, especially young graduates and professionals who can afford more than an HDB flat but find private property out of their reach. ECs are comparable in design and facilities to private condominiums as they are developed and sold by private developers.

The first owner of a Executive Condominium are not allowed to re-sell their unit in the secondary market within the first 5 years. After the initial 5 years, owners are allowed to sell their units to Singaporeans. Foreigners can be only buy a Executive Condominium after 10 years, in which all restrictions will be lifted.

For HDB flats, HDB shophouse and Executive Condominiums, eligibility is subjected to the Housing And Development Board. Interested purchasers can approach HDB directly to enquire on their eligibility to purchase a HDB unit or Executive Condominium unit.

For more information/queries, please contact:

Housing and Development Board
480 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh,
Singapore 310460
Tel : (65) 6490 1111
Tel : (65) 6397 2477

Property Investments for Permanent Resident Application

Under the Global Investor Programme (GIP) administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB), foreigners can be considered for Permanent Resident (PR) status if they invest a certain minimum sum in business set-ups and/or other investment vehicles such as venture capital funds, foundations or trusts that focus on economic development.

Private residential properties investment will be considered for application for Permanent Resident application. A foreigner can be considered for PR status if he invests at least S$2 million in business set-ups, other investment vehicles such as venture capital funds, foundations or trusts, and/or private residential properties. Up to 50% of the investment can be in private residential properties, subject to foreign ownership restrictions under the Residential Property Act (RPA). This is to attract and anchor foreign talent in Singapore.

Property Search

Engage a Realtor

A professional property agent in Singapore will assist you and protect your interest throughout the purchase, secure the offer for you at the best possible price. With a much better knowledge of Singapore, the agent will be in a better position to recommend and advice on the choice of property. He will also ensure that all documents are in order and you are dealing with the rightful owner of the property.

Use Only 1 Agent

Most property companies share the same database of property listings in Singapore. Therefore use only ONE agent at a time. If you approach many agents at the same time, very likely that they will show you the same property. Much confusion and embarrassment will arise if you engage many agents. Using 1 agent, you will save valuable time for yourself and the agent. He will then understand your needs and requirements better after a few viewings. Only if they are incompetence, unresponsive or not showing the correct property you wanted, then start to look for another agent.

Location, Budget, Stamp Duty, Rental Yield


Depending whether you are buying the property for own stay or investment, location plays an important role. Properties in prime districts retain their value very well and they usually have the highest capital gain in a bullish property market. Properties in the suburbs are lower in price and may be more suitable for own stay than investment. If you can purchasing the property for investment, the properties in prime districts like district 09, 10, 11 or the Central Business District are the safest buy. Properties with sea view at the East Coast are also great for a resort home or investment.


How much cash upfront you willing to pay for the property? How much CPF in your ordinary account that you can use for the purchase? The latest MAS ruling allows purchaser to loan up to 80% of the valuation or purchase price, whichever is lower. 10% must be paid in cash and the other 10% can be paid using CPF or cash.

Buyer's Stamp Duty (BSD)

Stamp Duty Based on the Purchase Price or Market Value, whichever is higher:

Every $100 or part thereof of the first $180,000 - $1
Every $100 or part thereof of the next $180,000 - $2
Every $100 or part thereof of the remainder - $3

For ease of calculation, if the purchase price is more than $300,000, stamp duty payable will be:
3% of purchase price minus $5,400

Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD)

On 7 December 2011, the Government announced the introduction of the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) to be paid by certain groups of people who buy or acquire residential properties (including residential land) on or after 8 Dec 2011. Subsequently, on 11 Jan 2013, the Government announced the revised ABSD rates applicable to purchases or acquisitions of residential properties on or after 12 Jan 2013.

Affected buyers are required to pay ABSD on top of the existing Buyer's Stamp Duty (BSD). From 12 Jan 2013, buyers or transferees who are:

a) Foreigners (FR) and entities would have to pay ABSD of 15% on the purchase or acquisition of any residential property.

b)(i) Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) would have to pay ABSD of 5% on the purchase or acquisition of their first residential property.

b)(ii) Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) who already own 1 or more residential properties would have to pay ABSD of 10% on the purchase or acquisition of another residential property.

c)(i) Singapore Citizens (SC) who already own one residential property would have to pay ABSD of 7% on the purchase or acquisition of the second residential property.

c)(ii) Singapore Citizens (SC) who already own two or more residential properties would have to pay ABSD of 10% on the purchase or acquisition of another residential property.

The ABSD is payable by affected buyers at fixed rates on the actual price paid or market value of the property whichever is the higher.

Profile of buyerABSD rates (from 12 Jan 2013)
FR and entities buying residential property15%
SPR buying 1st residential property5%
SPR buying second and subsequent residential property10%
SC buying the first residential propertyNil
SC buying second residential property7%
SC buying the third and subsequent residential property10%

ABSD: Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty
FR: Foreigners
SPR: Singapore Permanent Residents
SC: Singapore Citizens

Visit IRAS website for more info:

Rental Yield

If you are buying the property for investment and intend to rent out the property, calculate the yearly rental yield versus the purchase price. Properties at district 09, 10 and 11 easily yield the highest rental returns. Due to the premium in price for freehold properties, they most likely have lower rental yields than leasehold properties.

If you are a non-residential foreigner (no valid employment permit or pass for long stay) purchasing a property for rental returns, do not forget to factor the personal income tax, which is moderately high at 20%. For foreigners who are working in Singapore with valid employment status, the tax rate will be much lower. Visit the IRAS website for more info on taxes.

Valuation & Loan

Check the indicative valuation for the property you intending to buy. Valuation directly affects the amount of loan you can get for the property. Take into account the number of years that you can loan, the monthly instalments, etc. On 12 January 2013, MAS announced new property cooling measures by lowering the Loan-to-Value (LTV) Limits and increasing the Minimum Cash Down Payment.

a) For individual borrowers who have no outstanding housing loans, the LTV limit will be 80%, or 60% if the loan tenure exceeds 30 years or the loan period extends beyond the borrower's retirement age of 65.

b) For individuals obtaining a second housing loan, the Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits will be 50%, or 30% if the loan tenure exceeds 30 years or the loan period extends beyond the borrower's retirement age of 65.

b) For individuals obtaining third or subsequent housing loans, the LTV limits will be 40% or 20% if the loan tenure exceeds 30 years or the loan period extends beyond the borrower's retirement age of 65.

d) For non-individual borrowers, the LTV limit will be 20%.

For HDB flats, you may want to check the eligibility to get a concession loan from HDB. If you are not entitled to get the loan from HDB, the other way is to get it financed by a commercial bank.

Documentation for Private Property

Option to Purchase

You have decided to purchase a property. Prepare 1% of the purchase price (as a consideration) in exchange for the Option to Purchase from the seller. Option to Purchase is usually prepared by the seller's (vendor) solicitor or property agent. You are usually given 14 days to decide whether to proceed with the purchase. If you decide to proceed, exercise the option by signing in your solicitor's office and forward it to the seller's solicitor together with another 4% or 9% (agreement between the vendor and purchaser) of the purchase price.

Offer to Purchase

Alternatively, you can ask your realtor to prepare the Offer to Purchase and attention to the seller. Clearly stating the price, sales completion date and others. Terms and conditions can be drafted by your solicitor or your realtor.

Completion of Sale

From then on, leave it to your solicitor for the completion of the sale, which will be completed in around 8 to 10 weeks time (agreement between the vendor and purchaser). Your solicitor will lodge a caveat on the property, coordinate with the financial institution, CPF board (if applicable), prepare the mortgagor/mortgagee documents.

Stamp fee will be payable to Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore within 14 days upon exercising the Option to Purchase or signing the Sales and Purchase Agreement when you buy from a property developer. For stamp fee payable, refer to the 'Buyer's Stamp Duty (BSD)' and 'Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD)' sections above.

For HDB flats, there is also an option period of 14 days for the buyer to consider over the intended purchase, to check his eligibility, financing aspects and other issues such as whether the flat is affected by redevelopment/upgrading, the liability to pay upgrading cost/levy etc. If the buyer does not wish to buy the resale flat, he can let the Option expire and loses only the option fee. To ensure a standardised practice, HDB has the following guidelines for the Option Fee, Deposit and Option Period:

Option Fee - An amount not exceeding $1,000
Deposit - An amount not exceeding $5,000 (including the Option Fee)
Option Period - 14 calendar days

Please visit the HDB website for more details.

Inspection Before Taking Over Property

The buyer can request and state clearly in the Option to Purchase for permission to inspect the property before the completion of the sale. Check the fixtures and fittings, and also the items that the seller had agreed to sell with the property.

For HDB flats, HDB will do the inspection on your behalf. They will check for any unauthorised renovation. Seller will need to reinstate the flat into the condition allowed before HDB approve the sale.

Commission Payable

As each realtor may charge differently, please refer to your realtor for the service fee payable.

Buyer and seller should ensure that an invoice from a licenced real estate agency is issued to them. Upon payment, do not pay cash directly to the realtor, instead, issue a cross-cheque payable to the realtor's agency according to the invoice.

Related Page

Re: Moving to Singapore in 45-60 days!

Simple - boycott those places who charge for water (even if you have ordered drinks) and tell them you are doing so, rate them on Yelp and HungryGoWhere appropriately. Or leave before ordering.

We do any combination of all of the above.

There was a website that went viral a few years ago and a thread here on this, a list of those restaurants who charge for water.

Wet napkins are an excuse to charge .40-1.00/pp that, like soggy peanuts, most locals know better than to pay for, and, given the rampant public toe- and nose picking, are key to have handy at all times, especially if you ride buses and trains frequently.

Packs of the disinfectant kind are reasonably priced at places like Watsons.

Shoplifting record few years back can apply Spass?

Hi friends .
I need to know i am foreigner as few years back i have shoplifting record few years back , can i apply for work in singapore .

WTS: BRAND NEW DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ - 950usd

Up for sale is a brand new - never used - never opened. New in Box.!!!

We are an authorized DJI dealer so all purchases come with full warranty and support.We have all of the original packaging box for all DJI Products.

DJI Product list (NEW IN BOX)

Inspire 1 - 2500usd
RONIN - 2600usd
S1000 - 3000usd
S900 - 1200usd
Phantom 2 Vision+ - 950usd
Phantom 2 Vision - 700usd
Phantom 2 - 550usd
Phantom FC40 - 480usd
Phantom 1 - 350usd

Professional DJI flight control system
3-axis gimbal stabilized 4K camera
HD wireless video transmission
Full remote camera control capability
App controlled manual camera settings
GPS-free indoor stabilisatio
Battery/Type - 6000 mAh LiPo 2S
Velocity Range - Below 8 m/s (2 m above ground)

KIT INCLUDES..(all brand new)

Remote controller x 2
Battery TB47 4500mAh x 2
Charger x 1
Propellers 1345 x 4 sets

The copter's are brand new sealed in box ready to fly.

Bulk order and sample order available, drop shipping available to any address you want to deliver to. We deliver worldwide.

CALL US ON +1-252-495-8017, call only.

Send inquiry to our email at :

WTS : DJI Inspire 1 Drone Quadcopter with 2 Remots and an E

Up for sale is a brand new - never used - never opened. New in Box.!!!

We are an authorized DJI dealer so all purchases come with full warranty and support.We have all of the original packaging box for all DJI Products.

DJI Product list (NEW IN BOX)

Inspire 1 - 2500usd
RONIN - 2600usd
S1000 - 3000usd
S900 - 1200usd
Phantom 2 Vision+ - 950usd
Phantom 2 Vision - 700usd
Phantom 2 - 550usd
Phantom FC40 - 480usd
Phantom 1 - 350usd

Professional DJI flight control system
3-axis gimbal stabilized 4K camera
HD wireless video transmission
Full remote camera control capability
App controlled manual camera settings
GPS-free indoor stabilisatio
Battery/Type - 6000 mAh LiPo 2S
Velocity Range - Below 8 m/s (2 m above ground)

KIT INCLUDES..(all brand new)

Remote controller x 2
Battery TB47 4500mAh x 2
Charger x 1
Propellers 1345 x 4 sets

The copter's are brand new sealed in box ready to fly.

Bulk order and sample order available, drop shipping available to any address you want to deliver to. We deliver worldwide.

CALL US ON +1-252-495-8017, call only.

Send inquiry to our email at :

Re: Music

Psycho Crooks - Nostalgia


Don't know how to term it, it feels like almost organic house in the way the beast writhes...
Absolutely dazzling recording quality. Honestly perhaps the best recording/engineering of any song from the web I've heard this year.

Now... to switch it on a loop, stoke up this Cuban, grab a G+T and sit outdoors and contemplate what that socking great star/planet over in the east is, about 40 degrees up from the horizon.... hmmm...

Re: At what point do you remain here, and sell your 'home',

I guesstimated it in a different way. I looked at my annual outgoings in London, as a presently comfortable benchmark. That was *everything* from the gas bill, DIY, clothing, groceries, dining out, via the mortgage, to holidays and Xmas spending plus all the rest. I then tweaked it considering a move to a regional city; so > no future mortgage likely, but having a car and running costs would be a new necessity, and so on, and so on. IIRC I then perhaps doubled the income figure targeted, since this was a lifetime target, and I wanted to ensure every eventuality was well covered. That indicated a target income requirement .

To secure a steady reliable annual 'x', one has to consider steady and reliable indexed (for inflation) income streams. This might have included let property, but as my own plan was/is to fully move away from hands on investment (landlording) that is not an attractive to me. An alternative, especially for those who LOATH WITH A PASSION hehehe... managed financial products is self-investing in a small basket from the FTSE-100 index. Conservatively that yields 5+% , and any longer term capital gain on top is an unplanned bonus.

Therefore the savings pot required is => x/y. Or to illustrate, an income of say 25k, at 5% requires a savings pot of 500k. Pretty damned stark isn't it, but better one faces this well ahead of time. Annuities (how many fixed pensions operate) work in in a similar fashion, though they guarantee a fixed return and generally speaking you lose control of the capital, and never get it back. Annuity actuaries rather unromantically use 'death tables' to estimate based upon your address, education, career and so on what your life-expectancy is. And since you're not getting your whole capital back, you need a smaller lump sum to secure a comparable income.

I know for a fact some people might find this a curious approach to go about things, but I actually found it a surprisingly liberating exercise. I've figured out my own personal 'x' that will allow for all known knowns, and hopefully almost all unknown unknowns (i.e. plus contingency) that I, we, might wish for. That includes a garden, dog, cat, and a goat! :cool:

And that's the course I've been navigating for 5+ years now. Progressively exiting property (while tax incentivised) and building my DIY 'annuity'.

--- If it seems a bit over-planned, esp to non UK people, keep in mind many UK corporate pension schemes imploded in the 90/00s. And the state pension scheme went a similar way around 2000, and hence I'm essentially going to receive neither. If you have a rock-solid corporate pension scheme, or national one (CPF etc) then good for you, and I'm very envious :) The only people in those shoes in the UK these days seem to be politicians and civil servants (spit).

When the time comes to pop my clogs, I want to ensure my dependents are as fully comfortable as they are now. On the flipside, I do not wish to leave anything additional to them/others that I might otherwise enjoy myself whilst I still can. 'I earned it, I damned well intend to enjoy it!'. If this entails breaking the parsimonious habits of a life-time (that got me to this position) then I'm going to have to grit my teeth hard and force myself to do it.

Lastly there comes the concept of winding down the portfolio as time passes on, with the perfect scenario being spending your final £100 on the day before you depart this world. I don't think that one can ever in any meaningful way map this one out, what with all of life's uncertainties. But the old adage goes 'He lived a modest life, and died the richest man in the graveyard': And one thing I'm determined about, is that I am not going to be that man.

--- I 'started out' in work in 1986, and with my first home in '92. So we're almost on a par there. But 15% rates - ouch! you really started out at the hardest time, though I can imagine if you had the funds there must have been some juicy opportunities around. Agreed, there's little point needing to work when you've hit your goal. However employment brings a lot to the day beyond a pay-cheque. There might be future avenues for part time work, volunteering, and so on.... we'll cross THAT bridge further down the line...
Bucks/Oxon have a lot going for them, but from what I've seen as they're becoming prime commuter belt they're getting damned expensive too.
I have a soft spot for the Dutch. They had colonies, and were a great trading nation, so despite their almost impenetrable language they think similarly to the Brits (compare and contrast vs some of our other EU neighbours). It is not an obvious retirement location though, not least in not having a better climate than we do. But I'm sure your husband has his reasons, and London-AMS is such a well served and short route, it would make a very convenient location for a 2nd home...

Re: At what point do you remain here, and sell your 'home',

Primrose Hill:
I too like most people have a figure in my head, may it be £1 or £5/10m. Once that's achieved, what's the point of working anymore?
I started my UK journey in the late 80s in East Londn, interest rates were at 15%. I love the countryside of OXfordshire and Buckinghamshire. However, nowadays with Dave's caraway idea of HS2 you have to be careful where you buy.
My husband quite fancy Netherlands

Re: Moving to Singapore in 45-60 days!


ask first next then, then vote with your wallet.

i would expect, in singapore, some anal staff to insist you are not allowed to drink your own bottled water in their restaurant.

"no outside food/drinks" seem to be a popular sign.

Re: Driving Singapore registered rental car into Malaysia

i would think all singapore rental cars have an in-car unit - i wouldn't worry about it, as you can surely specify this before inking the agreement.

autopass is a card for use in singapore by a non-singapore-registered vehicle. so don't worry about that.

in any case, if you lack an in-car unit (eg, vintage/classic car), just avoid CBD and expressways. elsewhere, you can make payment by cash card without the IU (eg, insert cashcard at tuas/woodlands checkpoint, similar to the touch n go card...).

make sure your rental car insurance covers your use of the vehicle in malaysia. some don't.

have fun!

Driving Singapore registered rental car into Malaysia

I live in Singapore and thinking of driving into Malaysia (Kluang/ Batu Pahat) for the weekend. There seem to be 2 options:
option 1. Rent a car in Singapore and drive into Malaysia - rental is sgd 130 for 2 days, with car from "major provider inside Changi airport" as the discounter website said.
option 2. Take a bus from Queens bus station into JB and and rent a car on the main street there - apprx 100 sgd for 2 days.

Since there will be 4 adults, option 1 seems more convenient, but I saw from google that there are various fees/tolls (both at Causeway and Tuas) on the Singapore side, plus ERP if straying into CBD, all that have to be paid only with a "car registration specific" Autopass and in-vehicle unit. Does anyone know if rental cars from major providers in Changi come with these devices pre-installed so renters can just pay usage charges? Apart from that does anyone have experience with whether it is possible and/or practical to drive a Singapore rental car into Malaysia?

Once on the Malaysia side it seems much simpler with both cash or Touch'nGo stored value cards accepted. And this is all that will need to be dealt with if renting in JB.

Thoughts and/or experience on pros/cons of above options appreciated.

Re: At what point do you remain here, and sell your 'home',

Thanks SMS, very interesting. Using Streetview and viewing northwards I can now see all the barbed wire, and a monolithic 70s office-looking building. I remember you describing Seletar and living out that way.

I got to fly out of Seletar a few times, it was the Berjaya hub for destinations such as Tioman. Simplicity itself, but what with all the major road-building that was happening some years ago it's days were numbered. re: the plot discussed, there's probably room for 50+ blocks on that land...

Re: New in SG, Anything to do this weekend?

Ya, not really my speed, I'm usually running or on two wheels but thanks for the head's up.

Re: At what point do you remain here, and sell your 'home',

Well, it's complicated :)
London occupied a pretty defined central area until quite recent times (c1800). For example Kensington Palace was a Royal 'out-of-town' summer residence, and the adjacent Kensington Gardens, now half of what is commonly referred to as Hyde Park, was where the king and his entourage used to go and hunt deer! A further example is Portobello Road, named after the Battle of Portobello, and now famous for it's street market, which used to be a simple farm-track connecting Notting Hill Gate (the 'Gate' was derived because it was the site of a toll-gate on the road from the west into London*). That track led from the Gate up to a farm about two miles north called 'Noten Barnes' . Located on a hilltop, the name for the area evolved over time into Notting Hill.

As London grew in wealth, so did the likes of population density. Houses were heated via coal fuelled fireplaces. Usually at least one in every room. Houses were big, and rooms were small enough to facilitate a simple fireplace heating them, so a middle class house might have say 8 - 12 fireplaces, and grander place might well have 20+. This of course was well before the advent of smokeless fuel, and so London fast became something of a victim of it's own success. The air was very polluted, and in winter it was commonly shrouded in a 'pea-soup' fog, or more literally smog. This is where the term (later borrowed by a historic US rain-wear company) 'London Fog' came from. Maybe you've seen the sort of conditions portrayed in Jack the Ripper (etc) movies, where you'd be out on the street and not be able to see your own hand extended before you.

So what happened was there was some kind of societal movement from the 1830s. Some of the larger family estates (Grosvenor, Cadogon, Portman, deWaldon etc), begun buying whole fields, whole farms, out in what is now 'Zone 2'. There they built magnificent squares and white-painted pillar-fronted terraces of grand houses. These were pitched as being healthy areas, more suitable for the rapidly growing middle classes, with garden squares and communal gardens, where families could enjoy space and fresh air, away from the dirt and overcrowding of the centre of town. And the people flocked to them, and hence rose neighbourhoods like Knightsbridge (and yes, that was named after a bridge across a tributary of the Thames used at least in part by knights heading to Hampton Court Palace to the west!), Marylebone, Kensington, Notting Hill, and so on.

But World War One changed everything. In 1913 you might be a well-to-do middle class family occupying a house like one of these - Stanley Gardens, W11.

... with parents, perhaps 6 children, and 3-5 staff. Maybe 5-6,000 square feet each, and backing onto small private gardens, that in turn back onto enviable communal garden squares. The domestic staff were in the front of the line that got drafted to the front-line, and a huge proportion never returned. A lot of young men, sons of the household who otherwise might have expected to inherit the home were enlisted as officers. Ditto as to their fate.

The result post-WW1 was the surviving remains of families occupying huge houses, which were under-staffed. Suddenly areas such as these started to become somewhat less attractive as a reduced family with less or no staff, and less income, were simply not capable of running them. WW2 was the follow-up blow that changed everything. A great deal of family wealth was destroyed, as were those young enough to earn it. Longer established 'suburbs' such as Kensington and Knighbridge were less impacted, as by then they were probably home to long-established inherited wealth. More recent aspirational suburbs such as Notting Hill were hammered hard and by the late 1950s they were run-down ghettos where no polite person would dare to venture.

The UK begun a policy of mass-immigration of labour from the colonies. Many people from the Sub-Continent emigrated to the northern mill towns of Bradford, Coventry, Birmingham, and so on. West Indians who were coaxed with jobs as train drivers, postmen, bus drivers and so on seemed to congregate in west London, especially centred on Notting Hill. This saw the rise of rogue landlords like the notoriously violent Rachman It's after him that the British terms rachmanism, and 'a rachman landlord' are coined.

He bought up those huge houses, and housed maybe 20-30 immigrants in each, in slum conditions. A lot of the rights and protections you see today in modern tenancy law, tenancy agreements (even here in SG) likely derive from this one monster of a man.

Places like Notting Hill became essentially no-go zones. No sane person would venture north of Notting Hill Gate, even into the late 60s. Gradually, almost street by street, that boundary was progressively pushed further northwards. New housing laws and protections finished off the likes of Rachman. Aspirational but poor workers saw these magnificent streets of houses, and so there came a market for splitting up the huge old houses into flats that people could afford. The business opportunity was so compelling that hordes of building contractors were brought in from all corners to carry out such conversions. Many of them were from Ireland and were semi-skilled. There were almost no building regulations/codes so invariably the 'conversion' into flats was done as cheaply and hence shoddily as might be expected when a quick profit was the only goal. This is where the expression 'Gerry-built' derives from, meaning done badly/done cheaply. Gerry being a euphemism for your then average working-class Irishman.

By the time I moved there, the Front-line had pushed northwards to Westbourne Grove. My first home, as the owner, was the ground floor of a previously grand house located about 400M to the north. Even 25 years ago you had to keep your wits about you going home from work up those final few streets. Maybe akin to heading north above 96th (IIRC?) or 110th streets in Manahttan. The buildings were glorious from the street, but the internal 'build-outs' were usually of terrible quality. At the place a few streets away that is now 'my home' I had to remedy that by taking out all the internal walls and ceilings and pretty much starting again from scratch, in strict compliance with today's onerous and expensive Building Regulations.

So that's a double-espresso fuelled potted history of aspiration, deprivation, Gerry-built opportunity grabbing > final progressive gentrification and a phoenix-like rise from the ashes.

I'm sure there are parallel histories in other cities. I had the formative experiences of staying in the rather notorious 'Rex and Stiffles' hotel in Bombay in 1983, and a few years later the perhaps even more notorious Chungking Mansions (ha, what an ironic name!) in Hong Kong...

Notting Hill has now changed so much (I described this previously). The buildings all look pretty much the same from the street but the people who live there seem to have changed beyond recognition. The remaining West Indians who arrived in the 60s together with their Carnival must feel the same when they choose to take the money and move on.

* I love these old names hehe... Shepherd's Bush centred on Shepherd's Bush Common, was where farmers from the 1600s onwards would drove their flocks in from sheep-country in the west. That was their last RnR/overnight location before they'd continue onto Smithfield (meat) Market in the City.

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Re: At what point do you remain here, and sell your 'home',


When I first moved into Seletar Airbase back in 1983 from where you are referring all the way to Jalan Kayu parallel to YCK were old miltary buildings (mostly quarters). The one in front of the huge government building (restricted access) is the only one left. all the rest have been demolished for the widening of YCK from 2 lane to 4 lane years ago. That one sat well back off the proposed widening area. For a time it was used by a local archery club but not sure if private or SSC operated. Behind the government building (the huge grey thing) are more military buildings sitting around a radar or some other type of transmitter. There used to be a number of very tall antenna masts (2 or 3) out there but I don't know it they are still there or being used. You cannot see those back building from YCK but you can see them from the CTE.

I lived out there in the camp from early 83 till I moved into my HDB flat in Sep 99. It's peaceful normally, except when SAMCO used to bench test their rebuild turbine engines out at the Seletar Airport. Then you couldn't hear your TV or hardly talk without yelling. But it was usually only for an hour or two now and then. Hadn't Premas Int'l taken over management of the old black and whites from UDMC, I'd probably still be there today. I loved it out there as it was just about a close to being home as I could find on the Red Dot. I was close to the water as well.