When it comes to choosing a neighbourhood to live in or invest in, many people tend to stick to safer options like Central, Ang Mo Kio or Queenstown. While these areas have their own appeal, they are often overcrowded, overpriced, and lack the charm and character of a neighbourhood like Telok Ayer.
That’s why we’re excited to share with you some of our favourite hidden gem neighbourhoods that offer a Singaporean experience that’s as authentic as it gets.
Join us as we dive into these underrated neighbourhoods and discover what makes them so special. From the charming and cosy Tiong Bahru with its mix of old and new hangouts, to the vibrant Joo Chiat/Katong – these neighbourhoods have got it going on!
1. Joo Chiat/Katong
Joo Chiat is synonymous with the Peranakan culture and boasts a rich historical heritage that dates back to the early 1800s.
Owning a home here can feel like waking up back in time to Singapore’s early days. The district has meticulously preserved much of its cultural and historical significance with many historical buildings built in the 1900s still standing today. You can spot many preserved historical buildings such as the former Joo Chiat Police Station repurposed for more modern uses.
Among its most prominent landmarks are the kaleidoscope of colours on the vibrant shophouses lining Koon Seng Road, which dates back to the 1920s. Giving a splashy multicoloured feel, it is a shining contrast amongst the monotonous colours on most of Singapore’s more modern buildings.
With a colour palette matching almost every colour of the rainbow, you’ll find a culture with as diverse a personality within the neighbourhood. It offers a unique living experience if you’re looking for a visually stunning neighbourhood like no other.
2. Tiong Bahru
The entire district exudes a nostalgic and homely vibe, providing a calming atmosphere to retreat to after a long day in a modern office building.
One of the reasons why Tiong Bahru feels like home is because of the many family-run provision shops that have been in business for generations. For instance, Pin Pin Piau Kay & Co has been selling daily necessities since 1938. Shopping here feels like a trip down memory lane, evoking memories of childhood visits to small local grocery stores with your family.
Another thing that makes Tiong Bahru unique is its architecture. The neighbourhood is known for its Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles that have been blended seamlessly with its 1930s charm. The district’s traditional and modern residential properties, ranging from pre-war shophouses to contemporary condominiums, make it a perfect blend of modern convenience and traditional charm.
If you fancy a walk around the district, you’ll notice the vibrant and eye-catching street art that captures the feel of a bygone era. For example, The “Bird Corner” mural at Seng Poh Road depicts the tale of bird singing competitions held at Tiong Bahru amongst other regular events in the area.
All in all, Its unique blend of traditional charm and modern convenience, combined with its nostalgic and homely vibe, makes Tiong Bahru a place that feels like home.
Bedok New Town, completed in the early 1980s, is one of the first HDB towns designed to offer a complete living environment in Singapore. Its excellent connectivity to the rest of Singapore via the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) makes it an ideal location for those who work in other parts of the island.
A treasure trove of rare units
Another highlight of Bedok is its diverse range of older and newer HDB flats, condominiums, and landed properties. From older 3-room or 4-room flats in places like Stratford Court, to newer flats in places like East Village, this mix of options means homeowners are going to almost be guaranteed to find the perfect unit for their needs. Landed properties also offer the privacy and seclusion that apartment buildings can’t provide.
This mix of developments within close proximity also means it makes for an interesting neighbourhood and day-to-day interactions between communities.
There’s something for everyone
While the community is known for being a little more laid back, the area also offers an option for a pretty vibrant lifestyle with plenty of sporting activities in the area like Bedok Reservoir for a spot of kayaking or wakeboarding. For a more thrilling experience, they can head over to Forest Adventure, an adventure park that includes a zipline across Bedok Reservoir.
HDB’s Remaking Our Heartlands (ROH) project
Bedok is also undergoing constant changes with HDB’s Remaking Our Heartlands (ROH) initiative. This project aims to transform the Bedok town centre into an integrated complex, redeveloped hawker centre, sporting facilities, and town plaza. The latter will include a heritage corner supported by the National Heritage Board.
Overall, Bedok offers a unique and exciting lifestyle that is hard to find in mainstream cities. Its mix of older and newer HDB flats, private condominiums, and landed properties, along with its continued development through HDB’s ROH project, make it an attractive location for those who seek a serene yet exciting lifestyle.
4. Telok Ayer
According to some, Telok Ayer is the CBD’s ‘hippest’ neighbourhood with some of the region’s buzziest food spots.
A simple walk past the area will speak volumes about the rich heritage of the street. And it wasn’t by chance either – as Telok Ayer Street was part of the government’s conservation to ensure key buildings and shophouse rows were restored to their original appearance.
Choosing any home here will indisputably be a unique pick for you. Regardless if it’s a HDB or a private residence, you will be owning an undoubtedly significant piece of heritage in the heart of one of the island’s culturally rich neighbourhoods.
Telok Ayer Street was one of the first streets in Chinatown and formed the backbone of the development of the Chinese immigrant community in early Singapore. One of Singapore’s oldest schools, Gan Eng Seng School was also founded on the street – which was started in 1885 as the Anglo-Chinese Free School.
On top of that, temples and mosques are also plentiful in this area with significant templates like Thian Hock Keng Temple standing as a glowing reminder of Chinatown’s beginnings and being the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore, built in 1839.
Ready to own a home in one of Singapore’s hidden gems?
These neighbourhoods offer a glimpse of just the kinds of amazing hidden gems available in abundance all over Singapore with a little due diligence and homework. Going this route also means you’re far more likely to find a good deal due to these units being lesser-known and not as popular.
Considering neighbourhoods like this can make purchasing a home a truly fun and fulfilling experience that keeps rewarding you long after the handover of the keys. Nothing compares to waking up and living within a buzzing community and the distinctly unique living experience that each of these locations offers.
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