- Nassim Road, Singapore’s most prestigious street, is lined with embassies and mansions.
- I walked down the street recently and found that many of the residences sat empty and in a state of disrepair.
- Most of the mansions were barely visible behind dense foliage and gates with security cameras.
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Nassim Road’s ultra-wealthy residents live in mansions known as “good class bungalows” — the most coveted type of housing in Singapore, which must have a land area of at least 15,000 square feet.
“Nassim has become a brand name on its own,” Bruce Lye, the cofounder and managing partner at Singapore Realtors Inc., told me. “The Nassim address itself commands a big premium … If you have the opportunity to own a piece of land there, it’s something that can be passed down for generations to come.”
The most expensive home ever to sell on Nassim Road was a bungalow that sold for $170 million in 2019. The rumored buyer? Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin, who has lived in Singapore for more than 10 years. Saverin did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for this story.
Nassim Road’s exclusivity stems from its secluded locations, large lots, and the fact that it’s a short street with a limited number of home sites.
“A piece of regular land in Nassim is like fine art or wine,” Lye told me in March, adding that the prices of such properties “keep reaching new highs all the time.”
I recently took a walk up Nassim Road, starting from where it meets Tanglin Road and Orchard Road — Singapore’s famous shopping street — all the way to its end point at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Here’s what I saw.
After the hustle and bustle of the Orchard Road area, stepping onto Nassim Road felt like stepping into a quiet, lush garden.
The road was lined with trees, which muffled the noise of the city.
Toward the bottom of the road were a couple of condo buildings including this one, called Nassim Park.
Current listings in the building range from a four-bedroom unit for about $9.5 million to a five-bedroom penthouse for $26 million.
But the street is not all polish: I passed an abandoned building with a sign that said it used to be the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.
The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia is now located off Orchard Road, about a 10-minute drive away.
As I continued my walk up Nassim Road, the sounds of the city faded away even further and all I heard were birds and the occasional sounds of construction.
The few cars that drove by were either construction vehicles or Range Rovers, Audis, Mercedes, and Porsches.
The condo buildings I saw at the bottom of the street gave way to grand homes like this gated mansion …
… and this ultra-modern house, which belongs to Stephen Riady, the executive chairman of real-estate company OUE.
Nassim Road is clearly a high-security area: Every home I saw was outfitted with multiple security cameras, and that was on top of the gates and fences that surrounded most of the homes.
And the homes weren’t the only high-security buildings on Nassim Road.
I walked by the Russian Embassy, a stark gray, brutalist building that had signs warning that photography was forbidden. The street is also home to the Embassy of the Philippines and the Embassy of Japan.
Some of the houses had gate houses.
Most of the mansions were set far back on their lots and partially obscured by trees.
Many were barely visible at all.
Through dense foliage, I could see just a peek of Eden Hall, the official residence of the British high commissioner in Singapore.
In March, a bungalow right next to Eden Hall sold for $96 million to Jin Xiao Qun, the wife of Singaporean tech entrepreneur Shi Xu, who founded Nanofilm Technologies International.
Sunita Gill, the CEO and founder of the real-estate firm Singapore Luxury Homes, told me at the time that the new owner would likely need to shell out about another $20 million to renovate the nearly 60-year-old bungalow — showing just how much effort and money buyers are willing to spend for property on Nassim Road.
About halfway up Nassim Road is the most expensive property ever sold in the prestigious area: a good class bungalow that sits on nearly 85,000 square feet of land.
In the summer of 2019, it sold for SG$230 million, or about $170 million. The seller was Cheng Wai Keung, chairman of property developer Wing Tai Holdings, who has an estimated net worth of $705 million.
The identity of the buyer has never been made public, but rumors have floated around that it was billionaire Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin.
The old Saudi embassy was not the only run-down building I saw on Nassim Road. Several other homes also appeared to be empty.
Lye, the real-estate broker, told me that quite a few of the homes on Nassim Road are sitting empty because some buyers are “land banking,” or holding the property with the intention of selling it in the future rather than living in it.
“People who own these plot of land are waiting for somebody to buy them out at whatever premium that they think the plot commands,” Lye said. “People are just buying it, knowing that the value will always be there.”
There were, however, multiple active construction sites on Nassim Road where people were either renovating older bungalows or building new ones.
The grandeur of Nassim Road is perhaps best displayed by satellite, which shows sprawling mansions with resort-like grounds and swimming pools.
But from the road, you can only catch a tiny glimpse of that opulence. The neighborhood’s true essence is hidden from view for those who don’t have the wealth and access to go beyond the gates.
If you’re looking for a clear display of Singapore’s famed wealth, you won’t find it on Nassim Road.
While there’s no dearth of impressive homes on Nassim Road, the bulk of them are hidden from view by trees, walls, and fences.
And that’s certainly not by accident: Like the ultra-wealthy across the globe, Singapore’s rich on Nassim Road clearly covet privacy and security.