Price per square foot: 1,792 SGD ($1,400)
When Parag Khanna, 35, relocated with his wife and two young children to Singapore last year, he purchased a 4,000 square foot new construction home, something that would likely never come on the market in New York, where he had lived previously.
“We joke that it’s the Asian dream,” said Khanna, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, a think tank.
Khanna lives in a modern neighbourhood filled with tightly packed homes, many worth more than 3,840,600SGD ($3 million). “It’s not a suburban home with a white picket fence,” he says of the four-story terrace home that is attached to an identical one. “It’s vertical and narrow.”
Other residents live in high-rise flats, a near necessity because of the country’s density. More than 5 million people live in just 272 square miles — New York City’s five boroughs, by contrast, comprise about 303 square miles and are home to more than 8.3 million people. About a quarter of Singaporeans live in so-called shoebox homes that are less than 550 square feet.
Even so, the tiny city-state has the highest rate of ownership — 93% — in the world. Most citizens are guaranteed a form of housing, arranged by Singapore’s Housing and Development Board. Foreigners, along with corporations, will pay an extra tax beginning this year — a duty designed to prevent out of control price increases.
Singaporeans also have the lowest mortgage interest rates in Asia (many borrowers pay less than 1% interest) and repayment options are flexible. Property taxes are progressive and vary from 4% to 16% annually, depending on a home’s value.
Most residents view home ownership as a savings vehicle.
“It’s like a bank account,” Johnson said, adding that in many Asian countries, including Singapore, ownership is a way to be integrated into society.
(Roslan Ragman/Getty Images)