Buying 7 Areas With Waterfront HDBs For Affordable Scenic Views + Useful Tips To Choose One
- October 4, 2021
- 11 min read
Thanks to the stunning surge in COVID case numbers, it’s been a little trickier arranging property viewings as people are understandably wary about letting strangers in at the moment. (I’m not dying to mingle myself, at this point in time!) Hence, instead of doing an in-depth review of a specific waterfront development in this article (like Waterfront Isle and Waterview), I’ll be taking a broader focus and looking at the different areas in which you can find affordable waterfront HDB living.
In Singapore, affordable housing doesn’t get any cheaper than government housing so it’s where I’ll start my search! In this piece, I’ll be identifying some areas in which one can find HDBs with waterfront views, before moving on to look at where you can find affordable waterfront private property (besides Bedok Reservoir) next week.
There are 4 different types of waterfront views you can get in Singapore (and I’ll try to cover at least 1 of each in this article):
Before I started researching waterfront developments, I hadn’t realized how many we had in Singapore! I’d only associated waterfront living with Sentosa, Robertson Quay, and Marine Parade but there are actually many more choices. That said, I’m not going to look at the Marine Parade HDB here as it’s pretty iconic and most of us are familiar with it. I’ll also skip Bedok Reservoir here as I’ve already written 2 articles on it, albeit on the condos around Bedok Reservoir, not the HDBs.
I guess the number of waterfront developments makes sense since we are an island, after all. Whether you want to live in the North, South, East, or West of Singapore, there’ll be an HDB for you (or condo, in next week’s article). (Fun fact: the abundance of waterscapes that Singapore offers is why waterfront homes here command the lowest premium amongst 12 major international cities. It’s 7.7% in Singapore compared to a stunning 89% premium in Sydney!)
Punggol: spoilt for choice with views of the Johor Straits, the 5-ha lake in Punggol Park, and/or Sungei Serangoon
Designated by the government as the “waterfront town of the 21st century”, Punggol seems like a good place to start off this article. In fact, it was where I started my search for an affordable waterfront home several months back. 7 of the 11 districts here, such as Waterway East, Waterway West, Matilda, Northshore, and Punggol Point will feature waterfront HDB living.
I particularly like the views from Punggol Bayview and Northshore District but both will not MOP for some time. If you can wait, note that Northshore is the 1st HDB with a direct sheltered link to an LRT station. It also has a seafront viewing deck – something that even some waterfront condos, such as Waterview at Bedok Reservoir, can’t boast about.
For buyers who want to move almost immediately, as I do, you can consider the following HDBs in Punggol:
- 473a/475a/ 475b upper Serangoon crescent: this was where I started my search for an affordable waterfront home. I was attracted by the unblocked lake view, very generous ceiling heights (only for top floor units) and 2 balconies (another HDB-rarity) that 475a and 475b Upper Serangoon Crescent offered. (473a Upper Serangoon Crescent has units with park/lake views but no balconies sadly – balconies are a must to me to maximise waterfront living, although I expect that will be a contentious statement.)
Unfortunately, I changed my mind after seeing how narrow the walkways were- I’d be too close to my opposite neighbour for comfort. Also, it’s a little far from amenities.
- Waterway Cascadia (reached MOP this year with the best views facing Sumang Walk)
- Waterway Terraces (MOP-ed in 2021 as well but already shows signs of wear and tear – our previous review pegged it as the worst maintained HDB viewed to date. Moreover, whilst its Juliet balconies do wonders for ventilation, they don’t do much to maximise the views and sunlight. The corridors are also frightfully long with as many as 82 units in a row (the noise….)… On the bright side, Waterway Point is right at your doorstep as well as a food court and Hao Mart. It’s not for me but, if it is for you, check this out to see our take on which stacks have the best water views.
- Hougang Capeview has views of Sungei Serangoon. Some units have balconies and full height windows and there are also shops, NTUC, Texas Chicken and a food court at your doorstep. Nonetheless, traffic noise (from the planes overhead and the neighbouring roads) will be your constant companion! (For more info on the noise and the transformation of the region, check (the end of) this article out.)
Jurong Lake: living by the water near Singapore’s 2nd CBD
The border of Jurong Lake is dotted with HDB blocks: sadly, not all have decent water views as some blocks are too short whilst others are too far from the Lake. Personally, I can’t stand it when units are advertised as having a water view and, when you visit, you realize that you have to squint to see the water body from the window! You do get a proper water view (in some units) at Block 322 Tah Ching though. (Click here if you want to see a photo of what the water view from an actual flat at Block 322 Tah Ching would look like.)
Teban Gardens (Pandan Reservoir): an EM with a killer view
There are several HDB blocks with unblocked water views around Pandan Reservoir, such as 55 Teban Gardens Road, 409 Pandan Gardens, 411 Pandan Gardens etc . (Note, this is not an exhaustive list. In addition, some of these units are no longer available, but I’ve still added a link to them so that you can get a glimpse of the kind of views they offer.) However, I’m singling out 50 and 51 Teban Gardens Road as an EM is rare and, an EM with a water view, rarer still.
In fact, there’s even a penthouse executive maisonette with great water views for sale now (or, at least, at the time of writing) at Block 51. Do note that the surrounding area is quite industrial and not the most exciting in terms of shops and restaurants, which is the reason why I ultimately decided to remove the penthouse EM from my property shortlist, tempted though I was by the view (and the price point). (My Mother would literally cry at the lack of amenities. Or I’d cry, from her nagging.)
543/544 Jelapang Road (Pang Sua Pond): another EM with a waterview
Resale HDBUltimate List Of 23 HDB Executive Maisonettes: Location, Price, Size, And Are They Worth Buying?by Ryan J
Die-hard West-Singapore fans who want more space and a water view, rejoice: there is also an EM for sale at 544 Jelapang Road (at the time of writing) which overlooks Pang Sua Pond. And, unlike the earlier listing at Teban Gardens, you’re not as far from, as my Mother likes to call it, “civilization” as the mall (Bukit Panjang Plaza) is a mere 7 minutes walk away. A COV of $150k-$180k, as mentioned in the property ad, for a Bukit Panjang HDB is not to be taken lightly, however, so I ultimately decided to give this a miss too.
125/126/131/138/144 Potong Pasir Avenue 3 (Kallang River)
I’d never associated Potong Pasir with waterfront living before this article so happy to say I learned something new today! In 2015, 400m of Kallang River in Potong Pasir was transformed – not only was the river cleaned, making it less stinky, but there were also even 4 lookout decks built for people to enjoy the view and embrace waterfront living. As we all know, being located next to a river isn’t a guarantee of a good view in Singapore, but these Potong Pasir blocks have the added advantage of being located across from greenery (on the other side of the river).
Kallang Trivista (Kallang River): where 45% of 808 units enjoy riverfront views
Sadly, only certain units in this city-fringe development have full-length windows and/or balconies to enjoy the scenery. Click here to see an example of what a water view from this unit looks like (at the time of writing, the 3-bedroom unit was still available.)
Another waterfront HDB is River Vista@Kallang, located a 20-minute walk away.
241 Bishan Street 22 (Kallang River): where units river views retain value better than non-river facing ones
A study of sales in this area between 2002-2018 shows that river-facing units here consistently sell at a premium (in terms of average psf) to the non-river blocks directly behind, although the premium was always below 9.42% before 2014. (Click here for a graph of the sale data.) Note that pre-2012, the river here was an ugly canal and, even then, there was a price premium for river-facing units. However, after PM Lee officially opened the rejuvenated Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and naturalized Kallang River, the psf disparity widened significantly. Non-river facing units saw a steep 10.4% decline in average psf (presumably due to the Total Debt Servicing Ratio cooling measure introduced in 2013) whilst river-facing ones only declined by 2.18%. By 2018, the average psf disparity was 18.89%! (Do note that the river-facing premium does not guarantee that you’ll make a profit – you’re selling high, but you’re also buying high.)
Fun fact: The units here date back to 1992, and are all 4-room flats or bigger. From the looks of the map, blocks 242, 251, and 252 should also have water views but none have river-facing units for sale at the time of writing.
There are other waterfront HDBs that I’ve not covered in this article but it’s impossible to list every single 1 in a single article. Hopefully, what you’ll take away from this article is that there’s much more to waterfront HDBs besides the usual suspects (Marine Parade etc).
Before I sign off, here are some tips that may come in handy during your waterfront HDB hunt:
- Do you have a preference for a Seaview versus, say, a lake view? If so, note that salt water isn’t good for buildings and it costs more to maintain seaside properties. I’m assuming that the government will cover the cost of repairing any damage to the actual HDB building but you may have to replace what’s inside your flat more often. Some Punggol Bayview residents have already complained about their sinks corroding!
(To be honest, the high maintenance cost associated with seaside living is 1 reason I looked at waterfront HDBs, even though I had decided at the beginning of my property search to concentrate on resale condos.) Punggol Bayview residents have also complained about the smell coming from Pasir Gudang, so do your research before you buy. For more information about living near Pasir Gudang, check this out.
- Living next to a river isn’t all about beautiful views as there’s the risk of flooding: always check that your property is suitably elevated above the river!
- Better views may not result in higher profits: although units with water views can sell for a premium (3-5% for resale HDB flats and 6-10% for resale condos), you often pay a higher price for them too. Nonetheless, I say a good view is priceless. Moreover, as the segment on the waterfront Bishan HDBs above demonstrates, water views can help your property retain value in event of a downturn.
- The water may not always look good. Sure, in the property ad, the water is as blue as the Caribbean but, in reality, Singaporean waters have a propensity towards greenness in most cases. Which is why it’s worth your while to visit the property several times to see if you like the view enough to commit. (Green water is another reason I passed on the Upper Serangoon Crescent HDB! The view wasn’t sufficiently beautiful in reality to make up for the inconvenience of moving to Punggol.)
See you again next week as I (hopefully) continue on my house hunt!