Expat's Manual

Moving to Singapore is something that many people dream of because life here is considered by many to be life at its best. Singapore is an efficient and clean Asian city that retains much of the charm from its British colonial days whilst also offering a cutting edge, well-developed environment. Singapore's position on the southern tip of Malaysia has allowed it to develop into one of the most important trade and finance centers in Asia and today it is the fifth wealthiest country in the world according to GDP. It also has the fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre in the world.

Singapore's population of 5.08 million people (June 2010) largely consist of people of Chinese (70%), Malay and Indian backgrounds.

Singapore is a city of very strong laws, which are adhered to strictly. Whilst this has given it a reputation as an authoritarian state, the reality is that they keep the city safe, clean and well ordered.

The main religions followed in Singapore are Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Tao.


Singapore as an Expat Destination

Expats from all over the world move to Singapore in large numbers on a yearly basis and at present there are approximately 1.31 none permanent residents/citizens living in Singapore (June 2010). Singapore is widely regarded as the easiest city in Asia for expats to fit into and it allows foreigners an opportunity to become acquainted with different cultures in a relatively safe and modern environment.

Singapore is a great location in which to raise a family and the availability of high quality of education, low price of home help and strong security means that bringing up children here is often easier than it would be in your home country.

The standard of living available in this city is notoriously high and the healthcare facilities are second to none. Singapore has a very low crime rate and the streets are safe, even in the middle of the night. There is no shortage of expat groups and clubs throughout the city so, no matter what your nationality, you can always be sure of finding fellow expats somewhere in the city.

One of the few disadvantages of moving to Singapore as an expat is that information that is broadcast via TV and media is Government censored. However, the reliable and inexpensive broadband services entail that expatriates can easily overcome this obstacle.


Cost of Living in Singapore

Singapore offers a very high standard of living but this can come at a price. In the 2012 Mercer cost of living survey Singapore remained in the list of top ten most expensive cities in the world in which to live, moving up two places on the previous year from position 8 to position 6. Expatriates who seek living conditions that are similar to that they enjoy in their home country will find that property prices are very high here, whether they rent or buy. Alcohol is also taxed at a high rate, entailing that those expats who like to visit bars and clubs will find that maintaining a social life here is expensive. It is also very expensive to own a car due to the heavy taxes that are imposed on vehicles.

On the whole, food and groceries are quite reasonable and expatriates who are prepared to dine in the local hawker stalls and shopping mall food courts will find that they can dine out very cheaply.

Our relocation guide contains detailed living costs across different types of lifestyles and living options. Because our guides are written by expats who live and work in the countries themselves, you can be assured that you have the information you really need when moving to Singapore.


Language

The official language of Singapore is Mandarin Chinese and this is the language of the Singaporean Government. However, English is the most common language and is the language of business and trade. Children will generally be taught in English in schools but will also be expected to learn Mandarin as well. Other common languages in Singapore include Tamil, Malay and Cantonese.

Many Singaporeans speak a language that has come to be known as Singlish. Singlish is a mixture of English and other languages and can be difficult for English speakers to understand. That said, English speakers seldom experience any real problems communicating with people in Singapore.


Climate

Singapore lies almost on the equator and therefore enjoys a tropical climate with no sharply divided seasons. It has a year-round high temperature as well as high humidity and large amounts of rainfall. Temperatures usually range from 22 °C-34 °C (72°-93 °F). Humidity increases with rainfall, often reaching 100%. Its hottest months are June and July, while its monsoon season is in November and December.


Moving to Singapore: Expat Job & Career Opportunities

If you are highly educated and/or have strong work experience there are potentially opportunities open to you in Singapore. However, competition is fierce and because Singaporeans themselves are well educated it can be very difficult to find a job that will provide sponsorship. It is generally recommended that people who are planning on moving to Singapore, and who are not in a position to transfer with their own company, should have a job lined up before they arrive in Singapore.

Once in the country networking is extremely important and a significant proportion of people find work through who they know as opposed to through job advertisements themselves.

A significant proportion of the jobs available for expats in Singapore are in the banking and finance industries. There are also some opportunities available in shipping, information technology and the electronics industries. Despite the recent global economic issues, the trend seems to be an upward one.

It is crucial to note that, unlike many other countries, a foreign spouse who wishes to work in Singapore cannot do so without their own valid employment pass. For further information pertaining to the visa requirements for working in Singapore please see our guide to living in Singapore.


Key Facts Every Expat Should Know About Moving to Singapore

  1. It is actually warmer and drier in the eastern part of Singapore. This is worth bearing in mind when you are choosing which area to live in. See our guide to living in Singapore for detailed information about popular expat areas to live.
  2. In Singapore you are required to pay a tax in order to own a television (the license fee).
  3. There is a restriction on which breeds of dog you can bring into the country. There is also a limitation on the number and type of animals you are allowed to own depending upon the building in which you live.
  4. Left hand drive cars are not allowed in Singapore and there is therefore no point in importing any type of left hand drive vehicle.
  5. You may drive in Singapore on your own license for up to one year but after this period you will be required to convert to a Singapore license. More information on this can be found in the Singapore guide.

Moving to Singapore: City Guide

Expat Info Desk currently has a city guide available for living in Singapore. This exhaustive guide contains everything you need to know about relocating here and will assist you to:

  • relocate efficiently and effectively with minimum stress.
  • settle in to your new life quickly and easily and find the help and assistance you need, when you need it.
  • identify areas to live in that suit your lifestyle and budget.
  • find the right places to meet like-minded people.
  • find schools that are suitable for your children and their learning needs.
  • ensure that your family get the most of their experiences abroad.
  • prepare for the new culture in advance and avoid any cultural traps.
  • deal with any transition challenges.
  • cut through red tape and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.

Unlike a book, the guides are regularly reviewed and updated in order to ensure that the information is accurate and reliable and because the guides are written by real expats who live and work in Singapore, you can be assured that you are accessing the information that you need as written by people who really are in the know.

Your only expat guide to moving to Singapore; Feel at home abroad – Fast!

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