Singapore rents driven lower despite rising numbers of foreign workers

Singapore’s residential rents are falling at a precipitous rate – and the reason could be a sea-change in the make-up of the city-state’s expat workers.

The drops in Singapore’s residential rents has – mistakenly – being attributed to the government turning off the spigot of foreign workers flowing into the country. In fact, the number of foreign workers continues to rise, with the figure, excluding domestic helpers, up more than 22,000 last year, according to data from the Ministry of Manpower. While the growth rate has certainly tapered down from a peak of nearly 149,000 added in 2008, those fresh additions will still be looking for housing.

But there’s no mistaking that rents have come down, with the official rental price indexes showing declines in the neighborhood of 10 per cent since 2013, while anecdotally, much larger drops are bandied about.

 One landlord is citing a bigger drop. Alexander Karolik Shlaen, an economist and CEO of Panache Management, a luxury brands and real estate investment adviser, said a unit he owns has seen a rent drop of 40 per cent, from 13,000 Singapore dollars a month in 2008, down to under 8,000 Singapore dollars now.