SINGAPORE: A Singaporean married woman in her mid-30s took to social media to ask whether Geylang was generally safe for young families.

She heard her mom say, “wah if you live in Geylang then you cannot come home late.. so unsafe, you will get assaulted and your husband will get slashed hor. Is Geylang really still an unsafe place, in general? Has anyone had any sketchy experiences in the recent years?” she wrote.

The woman explained that she and her husband had been looking for apartments to buy, but since the home prices were “crazy,” she said it’s been rough finding something within their budget.

“We saw a few condo units in Geylang (such as Tre Residences) going for pretty good prices. My husband, being a foreigner, is completely okay with living in Geylang and can’t understand why it’s so affordable despite it being so close to town,” u/cakebitxh89 wrote on r/askSingapore on Jan 10.

However, as a local, she’s been “hardcore dissuaded” by her parents to live in Geylang, and growing up, she’s also heard people talk about how dangerous Geylang is. 

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SG Redditors suggest Geylang is safe

One Redditor who lived in Lorong 14 Geylang for several years said that “it was safe to walk out alone in the brightly lighted areas when the streets are not empty. I have never been harassed or stopped, probably, because the business-men and business ladies are able to “sense” if you are a local in search of fun or food.”

Another Redditor also offered an explanation of why the condos are relatively cheaper.

“Location wise its not on the geylang lorong side so its pretty okay. Why is it so affordable is because of the size of the unit, the newer condos 3 bedrooms are 94x to 98x for non yard layout. Those with yard are typically 10xx sqft.”

Yet another SG Redditor also said that the area is not dangerous, but because people “always had the stigma,” they chose not to live there and added that “a lot of the smaller boutique condos there have a lot of sketchy people living there. No danger, but vice.”

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Pros and cons of living in Geylang

Given that Geylang is Singapore’s only red-light district, many locals view it as “dangerous.”  The neighbourhood, which occupies an area of less than 10 square kilometres, is notorious for its long line of brothels and street prostitutes.

Pros

Geylang’s reputation has slowly been overturned in recent years.

Today, the area is surrounded by nine police stations and is routinely patrolled. It’s also well-known for its cleanliness and well-kept facilities, as government officials regularly inspect it.

In addition, Geylang neighbourhoods are said to rarely have conflicts, even though many Singaporeans view them as seedy. 

Cons

Even though Geylang’s image has improved, some illegal activities still remain in the area.

The Straits Times revealed in December 2023 that following many raids in Geylang, 18 males and 12 women, ages 24 to 65, were being investigated for various offences.

Police reportedly found 45g of crystal methamphetamine along with unregistered health goods like cough syrup and alleged intimate physical enhancement products.

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What was it like living in Geylang

An article published by 99.co featured Malaysian Marcos Teng, who shared what it was like to live in Singapore’s sole red light district. He rented a place at Geylang Lorong 18 to 20.

According to Teng, Geylang was way friendlier than Tampines (a location he also lived in at one point). He said that during his time in Geylang, he gained 4 kilos in one year, as people always tried to sell him food. Teng also noted that food was readily available in that area “for almost around the clock.”

Teng recounted that the fights in the area often involve “drunk individuals” and not actual “gang members.” He also pointed out that the real vice in the area was not prostitution but “illegal cigarette sellers.”

Read more: Two arrested after brawl breaks out at Geylang coffeeshop