Why Geylang May Be Your Ideal Neighbourhood
What’s your dream neighbourhood like? Let’s say you’d like fantastic food at all hours of the day, great connectivity to the city, a cultural melting pot with history, and a vibrant and grungy feel.
If a combination of all that sounds like the perfect hood for you, then Geylang may just be the place for you. Yishun may have taken the spotlight as Singapore’s actual hotspot of vices, but nothing beats Geylang if you want to live in a safe (it’s Singapore, after all) area that isn’t sterile and spotless.
A little history
Geylang is by no means a new development, which means that the architecture in the area is varied, more visually interesting, and there is a mix of modern skyscrapers with old shophouses and many little alleys.
The use of the sea lanes by the British for trade meant that the Malay villagers who were then living in floating villages on the Geylang River had to move inland.
The changing names of Geylang also reflected what the area was known for, first Geylang Kelapa (Kelapa means coconuts in Malay) and subsequently Geylang Serai as we know today. Serai means lemongrass in Malay, and it was cultivated and processed in the area.
As more families settled in the area, Geylang expanded up until World War II, when plantations soon gave way to tapioca farms, as tapioca was one of the most common staple foods eaten during the Second World War Post-War, the population in Geylang grew quickly, and so did social vices.
Today, the mention of Geylang will likely evoke two main streams of thought amongst the average Singaporean: That of ‘Good Food’, and ‘Red-Light District’. It’s known as the underbelly of an otherwise squeaky clean country, and has even been hilariously exaggerated in the American crime-series, Criminal Minds.
So, why would anyone want to live in a ‘Red-Light District’?
Living in a neighhbourhood where prostitutes ply their trade or where hidden alleys play host to illegal gambling dens may not sound very appealing. However, in Singapore, even the most vice-ridden area can be considered safe. Furthermore, the action is concentrated along specific zones (the ‘Lorongs’) and many residential properties are found outside of these areas.
For those who seek an interesting neighbourhood to live in, there is also the contrast between the social ills that awaken at night, and the number of old temples, clan associations, churches, and mosques that are easily found in the area.
4 reasons why Geylang may or may not be right for you
#1 Location, location, location
If you want to be close to the downtown core of the city, then Geylang can hardly be faulted. The CBD area is a mere 15-minute drive away, and so is East Coast Park.
Access to the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) means you can quickly get to the West (Tuas) or further east of the island, while Nicoll Highway and Geylang/Kallang Road takes you to the heart of the city.
For public transport users, the East-West and Circle Lines serve Geylang, with Aljunied, Paya Lebar, and Eunos stations in the middle of Geylang and Dakota and Mountbatten stations along the border with Marine Parade. Bus services are also aplenty in the area.
#2 It’s got heritage and culture
Geylang is a real mix of cultures and ethnicities. You’ll find many Chinese clan associations and eateries surrounding the Sims Avenue and Geylang Road area, and you have the Malay community who were the first settlers of Geylang. The Geylang Serai market is one of the best wet markets in Singapore and the hawker centre is known for its lip-smacking good Malay food.
There isn’t (yet) the heavy gentrification of old neighbourhoods like what you might find in Tiong Bahru, and so if annoying hipsters get to you, Geylang may feel like the last old estate that only gets the odd invasion of Instagrammers during the Ramadan bazaar.
Also, in a city where every building looks about the same as the other, the low-rise rows of conservation houses and shops feel like a breath of fresh air.
#3 Rental potential
Even if you’re looking for a residential home, knowing that your property has the potential to fetch good rental yields is surely a relief. Due to its excellent location around the fringes of the downtown core, Geylang will remain an attractive rental option, as long as you aren’t right in the heart of the areas where the vice activities take place.
#4 You may not think of it as a child-friendly area, though
Depending on how open-minded you are, certain areas of Geylang toe the line between being an honest reflection of society and being a little odd to raise a family in.
Of course, the infamous brothels aren’t scattered around the entire neighbourhood but are concentrated along the ‘Lorongs’, so it really depends on how close your property is to the zone.
The government has also decided to rezone the area so as to “prevent friction” from occurring between the seedy commercial activities and residents who want to live with some nocturnal peace. With that, the surrounding properties may see an increase in prices thanks to the concept of scarcity, and Geylang may just be the unlikely property hotspot of the future.
So if you are looking for home loan for your next property in Geylang, be sure to head over to our housing loan calculator page to choose the right housing loan.