Opinion: COVID-19 Could Spur Long-Term Singapore Apartment Rentals in the Long Run

The endemic future is creeping up on Singapore's apartment rental market

The new COVID variant splashed across the Singapore news scene when the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 11,732 new COVID-19 cases on 11 October. It was the first time the daily number of cases exceeded 10,000 in more than two months. Still, the reopening boom continues. Companies and expats are still returning to Singapore to do business. So could all this momentum spur longer-term Singapore apartment rentals?

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Quick FAQs for XBB, The New COVID Strain

1. Is the XBB strain a new COVID variant of concern?

The XBB variant, an Omicron subvariant, has spread rapidly. It is responsible for half of all daily COVID-19 infections, compared to none just three weeks ago. Since it evolved naturally from the BA.2 Omicron subvariant strain, it has been able to avoid the protection from COVID-19 vaccines. The variant has an altered form of surface spike protein, so our body needs to learn how to recognise the new spike protein.

While the XBB variant is more easily transmissible, most experts agree that it is not more virulent, i.e. dangerous. Health officials in Singapore have noticed that the new virus strain does not lead to worse outcomes. Cases of severe symptoms in patients are growing slower than the growth in cases as well.

2. Should I still be wearing masks for the XBB variant?

While Singapore has yet to alter the new COVID-19 guidelines announced at the end of August 2022. Mask-wearing is still optional for most indoor locations. You only need to wear masks in the following indoor settings:

  • Healthcare facilities and ambulances
  • TCM, medical specialists, general practitioners, and dental clinics
  • Residential care homes
  • Public buses
  • MRT/LRT services

That said, some workplaces have re-implemented mask-wearing policies indoors for the time being, though there aren’t too many reports of it. That said, if you’re feeling unwell, do remember to take an ART test and quarantine if you’re COVID positive. If you want to lower the probability of getting re-infected with COVID-19, you could wear a mask in indoor settings. At this point, it might well be a habit that we can’t really kick.

3. Is the new strain of COVID in October 2022 even more deadly?

The XBB strain does not seem to cause severe disease or severe illness in most patients. Only mild symptoms are prevalent, such as a slight fever or sore throat. That’s because the majority of the population in Singapore has built resilience against COVID-19 through the help of vaccines and immunity gained from previous infection waves.

Singapore: A Safe Harbour from COVID-19

Despite global geopolitical tensions and fears of a recession, Singapore’s economy still seems to be chugging along. Hotels and nightclubs throng with tourists. Last week, Singapore avoided a technical recession, growing 4.4 per cent year on year in the third quarter of 2022. While some signs point to a worldwide recession come January 2023, Bloomberg Intelligence predicts that growth will slow to 2.9 per cent next year. Even so, Singapore’s economy will outperform many others in the region.

Historically, Singapore’s economy so far has been resilient against shocks to the global economy. It was able to stand its ground even through the COVID-19 pandemic. While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted economic growth in Singapore during 2020, the nation-state’s total economic output had already exceeded pre-crisis levels last year.

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Despite COVID-19 being thrown into the mix, Singapore might yet be solidifying its quality of life. It has learned two main approaches to overcoming viral threats: the need to be flexible and be prepared. In addition to maintaining its excellent medical standards by investing in healthcare workers and infrastructure, it has also gained policy experience to counter future pandemic threats.

The new Terminal 5 at Singapore’s Changi Airport will be built to accommodate post-pandemic aviation trends. It has features that can scale operations up and down. Smaller sub-terminals can transform into testing and quarantine centres for travellers, while new automated processes allow for contactless flight transfers to reduce cross-infections for business travel. 

Factors Behind Longer Leases for Singapore Apartment Rentals

With the government’s long-term outlook and planning, foreign firms and expatriates are looking to stay at apartment rentals for a longer period of time to tide through whatever COVID-19 variant that could be coming next. After all, Singapore condo rentals and public housing have always been a tenant’s haven. Serviced apartments, with their comfort and convenience, have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity too. However, before the current skyrocketing prices, rents were stable because the housing supply was always adequate.

But extremities in the shorter term may also push tenants to sign longer leases. The market has been facing supply issues as COVID-19 affected the construction of both public and private residential properties. With persistent upwards pressure on rental rates, tenants are signing longer teases to lock in their current rental rates. More and more tenants are looking at two-year leases for Singapore apartment rentals—and even serviced apartments—instead of the usual one-year leases.

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Foreign firms also continue to view Singapore as a gateway to other regions in Asia. China’s economic slump and tensions with the West over Taiwan and Hong Kong further entrenched Singapore’s position to do so. As Singapore reopens for business, many firms have decided to move some operations to Singapore or increase their headcount. With that, Singapore will continue to witness a stream of expats moving in, further eating up supply in the market.

Plus, in this endemic future, expats are only more likely to move out of their place of origin when there are long-term prospects. And Singapore has always been ticking all the boxes for expats and foreign firms: a robust rule of law, convenient public transportation, adequate education and healthcare infrastructure.

Rough Seas Ahead for Apartment Rentals in Singapore

The distorted rental market will likely persist, even if new residential developments are completed before the end of next year. The new projects may provide some relief, but the supply of available Singapore condo and HDB rentals might still decrease in 2023 and 2024. The new property cooling measure may not move the needle by much because the 15-month wait-out period may also spur demand in the residential rental market, as buyers not impacted by the wait-out period might have to rent a home during the 15-month period.

Singapore Apartment Rentals Made Breezy with MetroResidences


Whether you’re staying for a longer period or not, we have a wide range of options across coveted locales such as Raffles Place, Orchard Road, and Arab Street. If you’re planning to move your furkid abroad with you, we’ve even got a couple of pet-friendly Singapore condo rentals and serviced apartments too.

All our serviced apartments and hotel rooms are conveniently located, with hassle-free access to public transport. It all comes fully furnished too, with amenities like wi-fi, air-conditioners, and even fully-equipped kitchens. With MetroResidences, you can find your home away from home.

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