Are you contemplating moving to Farrer Park? You have my vote of confidence. Farrer Park was a wonderful neighborhood to me. I lived there for four years. I still remember arriving in Singapore and signing a two-year lease at City Square Residence like it was yesterday. Back then, City Square Residence was considered a dive. I suppose it still is! The condominium attracts many young foreigners, including students, due to its cheap rents and the fabulous pool. Naughty subletting was rampant once upon a time. Imagine 10 people squeezed into a 3-bedroom flat! These days, that’s all been nipped in the bud thanks to COVID19 and the introduction of a strictly guarded entrance.
But, I’m getting off track. Despite its hazy reputation, I adored living at City Square Residence because it was in the heart of Farrer Park. This great area has only gotten better and better over the years. Sadly, it’s now time for me to move on. But, not before I share the top 7 reasons why Farrer Park is the best neighborhood in Singapore.
- Farrer Park has the BEST mall in Singapore
- Trendy Cafe Scene
- A Dash of History at Farrer Park
- Food, Fabulous Food!
- Public Transport Hub
- Cheaper Rents vs other Expat Neighborhoods
- There’s some Nature (but not too much)
Farrer Park has the BEST mall in Singapore
Yep, you heard that correctly. City Square Mall at Farrer Park is the BEST mall in Singapore! This medium-sized mall is a pleasure to navigate because it’s always busy but never crowded.
Our family is half Japanese, so our favourite store at City Square Mall is Don Don Donki. For those not in the know, Don Don Donki a Japanese supermarket that is a tad less posh than Isetan. We buy frozen tonkatsu and marinated pork belly from there. Sometimes we splurge on the fresh sushi.
Still on the Japanese theme, City Square Mall also has Daiso, a Japanese $2 shop, and Japan Home, a homewares store. When we are not shopping for Japanese stuff, then you would find us doing our weekly grocery shop at the NTUC Fairprice at City Square Mall. The prices are good and there is a decent selection of green vegetables.
On weekdays we’d go to City Square Mall for local brekkie at the Toast Box. But on weekends we indulged in a mug of brew from Starbucks when we needed a shopping break and a spot to nurse my little fellow!
Trendy Cafe Scene
Move over Tiong Bahru. Farrer Park now has the most happening cafe scene in Singapore. When I first moved to the area in 2017 there was only a measly Cedele. Nowadays, there are more European-style coffee shops than you can poke a stick at! My favourite cafes are clustered around Tyrwhitt and Hamilton Roads. For The People serves the creamiest cafe lattes and has the comfiest seats.
Lucid has a solid second-best white coffee on the block. If I’m in the mood for something sweet I’d go to Tiramisu Hero for their desserts in a jar or Black Fairy for the matcha latte and chocolate pudding.
There are also a tonne of good coffee shops on the other side of Farrer Park as well, around Rangoon Road. Old Hen is a much-loved neighborhood favourite. For a comprehensive review of all cafes around Farrer Park, please be sure to read my blogs on Best Coffee and Best Brunch places in Farrer Park.
A Dash of History at Farrer Park
Farrer Park has its fair share of history. Petain Road was named after a disgraced WW1 French General and is home to the prettiest pre-war conservation houses in Singapore. Take a stroll around the block and admire the unique Peranakan tiles imported from Belgium and Japan. I adored these special shophouses so much that I even made a video about them!
A few blocks down is Tyrwhitt Street. Aside from having some awesome coffee shops, this street was once called Fisher Road when it housed many hardware stores, abattoirs, and local associations. Despite the new name, some remnants of its former life still exist. Chye Seng Huat Hardware is a trendy cafe converted from an old hardware store. A few doors down, the Druggists might sell craft beer today, but it was once the Chinese Drug Association. The original building remains pretty much intact. You can read more about the Druggists here.
Food, Fabulous Food!
There is so much good stuff to munch on in Farrer Park, my Best Places to Eat at Farrer Park blog doesn’t do it justice. Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find it in Farrer Park. There are awesome dumplings at Swee Choon, Hand in Hand, and Din Tai Fung. For burgers go to Two Blur Guys, Ordinary Burgers, or Mash at Pek Kio. And, for the best Italian, there is Bruno’s Pizzeria.
For cheap local food, there are also plenty of hawker centres. There is the Berseh Food Centre on Jalan Besar – famed for the cockle laksa, the no-name hawker opposite City Square Mall with the divine butter chicken from Punjab Tandoori, and of course the amazing albeit small hawker at Tyrwhitt Street (just opposite the Chinese Temple) with my favourite roasted pork at 88 Hong Kong Roasted Meat Specialist.
The recently re-opened Lavender Food Hub, located on Jalan Besar, is also worthy of a mention. They do really good salted egg chicken!
Farrer Park has some upmarket dining options too. For a special occasion, indulge in Japanese Omakase and fresh sashimi at Mizuya. Or, treat yourself to a fresh seafood lunch at Scaled (tip: order the roasted prawns!)
Public Transport Hub
Farrer Park has excellent transport links. Obviously, there is the Farrer Park MRT station which has the North East (purple) train line. You can reach China Town, Outram Park, Clark Quay, HarborFront and Serangoon all in under twenty minutes on this line. If you don’t mind walking a little, there is also Bendemeer MRT station (Downtown line) and Lavender MRT station (East West line) within easy reach.
Major bus stations along Serangoon Road and Jalan Besar will connect you to almost anywhere in Singapore, from Orchard to Geylang. If you are really lazy, a taxi into town is not too expensive (under $20) given Farrer Park’s central location.
Cheaper Rents vs other Expat Neighborhoods
I hate the term “expat neighborhood” as it implies a level of vulgar affluence that I’m just not comfortable with. However, in Singapore, property types are divided between HDBs (government housing), condominiums, and landed properties. So in this context, expat neighborhood refers to an area with private condominiums available for foreigners to rent. Condominiums jam-packed with foreigners abound in River Valley, Robertson Quay, Holland Village, and East Coast. However, these trendy neighborhoods command rents of around $5,000 and upward a month. Eeeek! By comparison, you can get a respectable two-bedroom flat in Farrer Park for under $4,000. The most popular condos are City Square Residence, Sturdee Residence, and Kerrisdale. There are also smaller unit blocks along Rangoon Road and by Somme Park.
Why is the rent cheaper in Farrer Park? The area is close to many art schools, including Nanyang College of the Arts and Lasalle. Art students tend to be poor ya know! Farrer Park is also next to Little India, which becomes noisy with migrant workers every Sunday. Lastly, Farrer Park has a lot of narrow and bumpy sidewalks which are not so wheelchair or pram-friendly.
There’s some Nature (but not too much)
Farrer Park is a true inner-city suburb with some nature, but not too much! Nobody wants too much nature. It attracts bugs. In Farrer Park there is the lovely Somme Park, which has a small running track (one circuit is approximately 100 meters), a few trees, a sandpit, and some play equipment. There is also a patch of grass for walking by Pek Kio food centre. And, if you are willing to walk a little further afield, you can wander down to the Kallang River. There is a lovely walking track there THAT takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. It is also the ultimate spot for early evening picnics.
So there you have it. 7 reasons why Farrer Park is the best neighborhood in Singapore! I hope I will have the chance to live in Farrer Park again one day.