Are you thinking about living in Singapore?
Singapore may be a tiny island nation, but don’t let its size fool you.
It’s one of the world’s most prosperous countries, boasting a super-efficient infrastructure, a dazzling skyline, and a mix of different cultures.
If you’re looking for a place that perfectly blends tradition and modernity, Singapore is where it’s at.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about living in Singapore.
🇸🇬 Local Culture and Lifestyle
Now, before you dive into life in Singapore, it’s crucial to get a sense of the local culture and lifestyle.
Singaporeans come from diverse backgrounds, and understanding their customs, languages, and traditions will help you settle in and feel right at home.
Plus, it’s always more fun to experience a new place when you truly appreciate what makes it special.
Trust me; you’ll want to soak up everything Singapore offers!
Location and Size
First things first, let’s talk location. Singapore sits just north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula.
Size-wise, it’s pretty small, only about 710 square kilometres (or roughly 275 square miles).
But don’t let that fool you – it’s home to over 5 million people and offers a lot of excitement in a compact space!
Climate and Weather
As for the climate, well, you can expect it to be warm and humid all year round. Singapore is a tropical paradise, with temperatures usually ranging from 24°C (75°F) to 32°C (90°F) daily.
And guess what? Rain is also a frequent visitor, so always having an umbrella handy is a good idea. Monsoon seasons hit between November and January and June and September, but a little rain never hurt anyone, right?
One of the coolest things about Singapore is its incredible ethnic diversity. The main ethnic groups are Chinese, Malays, and Indians, but you’ll also find Eurasians, Peranakans, and expats worldwide.
This mix of cultures creates a vibrant and unique atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else.
From the flavourful cuisine to the colourful architecture, you’ll be constantly amazed by the cultural richness of Singapore.
Official Languages and Their Usage
With so many different backgrounds, you might be wondering about the language situation.
Well, Singapore has not one, not two, but four official languages!
They are English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. English is the most widely spoken, so no worries if that’s your native tongue.
But to impress the locals, try learning a few phrases in other languages. It’ll be a fun challenge and help you connect with the people around you.
Cultural Festivals and Celebrations
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Singapore’s diverse culture is to join in on the many festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
You’ll be able to experience Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, and Christmas, to name a few.
Each festival has its unique customs, decorations, and, of course, delicious food.
So, mark your calendars and get ready to party with the locals because there’s always something to celebrate in Singapore!
💰 Overview of Singapore’s Economy
Alright, let’s talk business! Singapore is an economic powerhouse, with a GDP per capita that consistently ranks among the highest in the world.
Its strategic location, pro-business environment, and skilled workforce make it a trade, finance, and innovation hub.
So, if you’re looking for a place to build your career or start a new venture, you’ve come to the right spot.
Key Industries and Job Opportunities
Now, what kind of jobs can you find in Singapore? The city-state has a diverse economy with key industries such as finance, manufacturing, logistics, and information technology.
The biomedical, aerospace, and clean energy sectors are also growing rapidly. If you’ve got the skills and experience, there’s a good chance you’ll find a job that suits your expertise.
Plus, with many multinational companies having regional headquarters here, you’ll have the opportunity to work with people worldwide.
Work Culture and Expectations
Regarding work culture, Singaporeans are known for their efficiency and professionalism.
You can expect a competitive environment where punctuality and productivity are highly valued. Don’t be surprised if people work long hours; the work ethic here is strong.
But hey, with hard work comes great rewards, right?
Just remember to strike a balance between work and play because life in Singapore offers plenty of opportunities to unwind and enjoy yourself outside the office.
💸 Cost of Living in Singapore
Singapore is often ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world. As an expat, it’s important to know the cost of living and plan your finances accordingly.
Here’s a cost of living table with estimated monthly expenses in Singapore, including columns for SGD, USD, and GBP:
|1,200 – 7,000
|905 – 5,280
|720 – 4,200
|150 – 350
|113 – 264
|90 – 210
|300 – 600
|226 – 452
|180 – 360
|4 – 100
|2 – 75
|2.5 – 60
|100 – 300
|75 – 226
|60 – 180
|Leisure & Entertainment
|50 – 150
|44 – 113
|30 – 90
Here’s a breakdown of some of the main expenses to consider:
Housing: Housing costs can vary significantly depending on the accommodation type, location, and size. Renting a shared apartment or HDB flat can cost between SGD 1,200 to SGD 2,000 per month, while a private condo or apartment ranges from SGD 3,500 to SGD 7,000 per month or more, especially near the city centre. If you’re looking to buy property, be prepared for high prices. You can rent a bed space if you also want cheap living arrangements.
Utilities: Expect to pay around SGD 150 to SGD 350 per month for utilities like electricity, water, and gas, depending on your usage and the size of your home.
Groceries: The cost of groceries can vary greatly depending on your shopping habits and dietary preferences. While shopping at local markets and opting for local produce can be more affordable, imported goods and speciality items tend to be more expensive. You may spend between SGD 300 to SGD 600 per month on groceries.
Eating out: Singapore can be affordable or expensive, depending on your choices. Hawker centres and food courts offer budget-friendly options, with meals costing around SGD 4 to SGD 10. Mid-range restaurants usually charge SGD 25 to SGD 80 per person, while fine dining establishments can cost SGD 100 or more per person.
Transportation: Public transport in Singapore is relatively affordable, with a monthly MRT and bus pass costing around SGD 128. Taxis and ride-hailing services are more expensive and can add up quickly if used frequently.
Healthcare: Healthcare in Singapore operates on a co-payment system, with patients sharing the cost of medical services with the government. It’s essential to have health insurance to help cover these costs, either through your employer or by purchasing a separate plan.
Leisure and entertainment: The cost of leisure and entertainment activities can also vary greatly. Movie tickets, for example, can cost around SGD 9, while a gym membership may range from SGD 50 to SGD 150 per month.
🏠 Housing and Accommodation
Types of Housing
Now, let’s talk about finding a place to call home in Singapore. Various housing options include public housing (HDB flats), private condos, and landed properties.
HDB flats are the most common and affordable option, while private condos offer more amenities like pools, gyms, and security. Landed properties, on the other hand, are more spacious but can be quite pricey.
Average Costs and Considerations
As for prices, well, housing in Singapore can be more expensive than in other places. The monthly rent for a one-bedroom HDB flat starts at around SGD 1,500, while a private condo in a central location could set you back SGD 3,500 or more. Landed properties are even more expensive.
Remember that location, size, and amenities will affect the price, so you must prioritise your needs and budget accordingly.
Tips For Finding A Suitable Place To Live
Ready to start house hunting? Here are some tips to help you find the perfect place:
- Research different neighbourhoods and decide which one suits your lifestyle and budget (more on that below)
- Consider the proximity to your workplace or school and access to public transport and amenities.
- Work with a reliable property agent who can guide you through the process and help you navigate the local housing market.
- Be prepared to negotiate the rental price and terms with the landlord.
- Lastly, take your time and visit multiple properties before making a decision.
🏘️ Popular Neighbourhoods for Expats
Finding the right neighbourhood to live in is essential when moving to a new city.
In Singapore, several areas are particularly popular among expats, offering a great mix of amenities, international communities, and convenient locations.
Here are some of the top neighbourhoods to consider:
Holland Village: Known for its lively atmosphere, Holland Village is a popular choice for expats, especially young professionals and families. The area offers a mix of housing options, from HDB flats to private condos, and boasts a wide range of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The nearby MRT station makes it easy to commute to the city centre.
Tiong Bahru: A trendy neighbourhood with a mix of old and new, Tiong Bahru is popular among expats who appreciate its unique blend of hipster cafes, charming heritage shophouses, and local food markets. The area offers a laid-back vibe and a strong sense of community, making it an attractive option for a more relaxed lifestyle.
Orchard Road: If you love shopping and being in the heart of the city, Orchard Road might be the perfect spot for you. This bustling area is home to numerous high-end malls, hotels, and restaurants and offers easy access to public transportation. Expats who don’t mind the hustle and bustle will find plenty of modern condos and apartments.
Tanglin: Located near the famous Orchard Road, Tanglin is a more upscale residential area popular among affluent expats. The neighbourhood offers a mix of luxury condos, landed properties, and several international schools, making it an ideal choice for families.
East Coast: The East Coast is a great option for those who enjoy being close to the beach. Popular among families and outdoor enthusiasts, this area offers a more relaxed pace of life, with plenty of green spaces, parks, and recreational facilities. Housing options range from HDB flats and condos to landed properties, and several international schools are nearby.
Ultimately, the best neighbourhood for you will depend on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and budget. Take the time to explore different areas and speak to other expats to understand better what each neighbourhood has to offer.
With patience and persistence, you’ll find the perfect place to call home in Singapore!
Public Transportation System
One of the best things about living in Singapore is its excellent public transportation system. You’ve got the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) trains, buses, and taxis at your service, making getting around Singapore easy.
The MRT is super efficient, clean, and convenient, connecting you to almost every part of the island.
Buses are also a great option for reaching places not covered by the MRT, and they’re affordable too.
Private Transportation Options
If you prefer private transport, you can always rent or buy a car, but be warned – it can be quite expensive due to high taxes and fees.
Alternatively, you can use ride-hailing services like Grab, which are popular and widely available. And let’s not forget about bicycles and e-scooters!
They’re a fun, eco-friendly way to get around, especially in pedestrian-friendly areas.
Costs Of Commuting
When it comes to the cost of transportation, public options are definitely more budget-friendly.
An adult MRT ride starts at SGD 1.70, while bus fares begin at SGD 0.95. You can save even more with an EZ-Link card, allowing you to tap in and out of buses and MRT stations easily.
Private transportation, on the other hand, can be quite pricey, especially if you’re considering owning a car.
🏫 Education and Schooling
Overview of the Education System
Singapore is known for its top-notch education system, consistently ranking among the best in the world.
The system fosters critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability, preparing students for success in today’s rapidly changing world.
Education here is divided into primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, with compulsory education lasting for ten years.
Types of Schools and Institutions
When it comes to schools, you’ll find various options, including government-run schools, government-aided schools, independent schools, and international schools.
Government-run and government-aided schools follow the national curriculum, while independent schools have more program flexibility. International schools cater to expat students and typically offer globally recognized curricula like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Cambridge IGCSE.
Considerations For Expat Families
If you’re an expat family moving to Singapore, choosing the right school can be daunting.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Curriculum: Decide whether you prefer a local or international curriculum, considering your child’s future educational and career goals.
- Location: Consider the proximity of the school to your home and workplace, as well as transportation options.
- Fees: Be aware that international schools can be quite expensive, so consider the cost when deciding.
- School culture and community: Visit the school and talk to other parents to get a feel for the environment and whether it fits your child well.
- Waiting lists: Popular international schools often have waiting lists, so start the application process as early as possible.
🏥 Healthcare System
Public and Private Healthcare Options
Singapore boasts a world-class healthcare system, offering public and private healthcare options.
The public healthcare system comprises government-run hospitals, polyclinics, and speciality centres, while private healthcare options include private hospitals, clinics, and specialists.
Both sectors provide high-quality care, so you can rest assured that your health is in good hands.
Costs and Insurance
Regarding healthcare costs, Singapore operates on a co-payment system, which means patients share the cost of medical services with the government.
While public healthcare is generally more affordable, the fees can still increase, especially for non-residents.
Private healthcare, on the other hand, tends to be more expensive. Securing health insurance to help cover costs is a good idea. Many employers in Singapore offer health insurance as part of their benefits package, so check with your employer before purchasing a separate plan.
Quality of Healthcare Services
Singapore’s first-class healthcare services have highly trained doctors, state-of-the-art facilities, and cutting-edge medical technology.
In fact, Singapore is often ranked among the best healthcare systems in the world.
You can expect efficient and professional care for public or private healthcare.
Communication with healthcare professionals is usually a breeze, with English being widely spoken.
Overall, the healthcare system in Singapore is one less thing to worry about as you settle into your new life in the city-state.
🍸 Lifestyle and Entertainment
Food and Dining Options
Food lovers, rejoice! Singapore is a culinary paradise, offering a mouthwatering array of local and international cuisines.
From hawker centres and food courts to upscale restaurants, there’s something for every taste and budget.
Don’t miss out on local favourites like Hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab, and laksa.
Thanks to the city’s diverse population and thriving expat community, you’ll also find plenty of international food options.
Shopping and Leisure Activities
If shopping is your thing, you’re in for a treat. Singapore is a shopper’s heaven, mixing high-end malls, boutique stores, and bustling markets.
Orchard Road is the city’s shopping mecca, while places like Haji Lane and Bugis Street offer a more diverse shopping experience.
Nightlife and Entertainment Venues
As the sun sets, Singapore’s nightlife comes alive. Whether you’re into swanky rooftop bars, lively clubs, or laid-back pubs, there’s a spot for you to unwind and have a good time.
Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, and Club Street are popular areas for a night out on the town.
If you’re more into arts and culture, catch a show at the Esplanade or explore the many galleries and museums scattered across the city.
With so many lifestyle and entertainment options, you’ll never run out of things to do in Singapore.
Enjoy the vibrant, cosmopolitan city life as you create unforgettable memories in your new home.
💡 Tips For Expats and Newcomers
Adapting to Local Customs and Etiquette
Getting used to a new country and its customs can be challenging, but it’s all part of the adventure!
Singapore is a mix of different cultures, and respecting local customs and etiquette is important.
Some key points to remember are:
- Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
- Be mindful of personal space and avoid touching people you’ve just met.
- Avoid discussing sensitive topics like politics and religion in casual conversations.
- Respect local laws and regulations, like no smoking or littering in public places.
Networking and Building Connections
Making friends and building connections in a new city can greatly enhance your experience.
Joining clubs, attending social events, and volunteering are great ways to meet new people.
You can also connect with fellow expats through online forums and social media groups. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – you never know who you might meet!
🤔 Pros and Cons of Living in Singapore
Living in Singapore comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s look at some pros and cons to help you better understand what to expect.
Pros of Living in Singapore
- Safety: Singapore is known for its low crime rates and strict law enforcement, making it one of the safest cities in the world.
- High quality of life: With excellent healthcare, education, and public services, Singapore offers a high standard of living for its residents.
- Cleanliness: The city is well-maintained and clean, with strict laws against littering and a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability.
- Efficient public transportation: The MRT, buses, and taxis make it easy and affordable to get around the city.
- Cultural diversity: The mix of cultures, languages, and cuisines makes Singapore a vibrant and exciting place to live.
- Economic opportunities: With a thriving economy and numerous job opportunities across various industries, Singapore is an ideal place to advance your career or start a business.
Cons of Living in Singapore
- High cost of living: Housing, transportation, and general living expenses can be quite high, making it challenging for some people to manage their finances.
- Limited space: Singapore is a small city-state with limited space, which can lead to overcrowding and a lack of privacy.
- Strict laws and regulations: Singapore’s strict rules and regulations, such as those regarding chewing gum and public behaviour, may feel restrictive to some individuals.
- Climate: The hot and humid weather and frequent rainfall may be uncomfortable for those unfamiliar with tropical climates.
- Work culture: The competitive work environment and long working hours can be stressful and lead to an unhealthy work-life balance for some people.
Weighing the pros and cons is essential when considering a move to Singapore. While the city has much to offer, it’s important to carefully evaluate whether it’s the right fit for you and your lifestyle.
💡 Visa Rules For Living In Singapore
Singapore offers visa options for foreigners who want to live, work, or study in the city-state.
While specific requirements may vary depending on your nationality, here’s a brief overview of visa options:
Employment Pass (EP): The Employment Pass is for professionals, managers, executives, and specialists who have a job offer in Singapore. The minimum monthly salary requirement for an EP is SGD 5,000, and the job should align with the applicant’s qualifications and experience.
S Pass: The S Pass is for mid-skilled workers who have a job offer in Singapore and earn a minimum monthly salary of SGD 3,000. Applicants must also meet certain educational and experience requirements.
Dependant’s Pass (DP): If you hold an Employment Pass or S Pass, you can apply for a Dependant’s Pass for your spouse and children under 21 years old. In some cases, other family members, such as parents or unmarried adult children, may be eligible for a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP).
Student Pass: If you plan to study in Singapore at an approved educational institution, you can apply for a Student Pass. You’ll need a confirmed place at the institution and provide supporting documents, such as proof of financial means to cover your stay.
Work Holiday Pass: The Work Holiday Pass allows young adults aged 18 to 25 (up to 30 for Australians) to work and live in Singapore for up to six months (one year for Australians). This program has a quota of 2,000 applicants. The applicant must meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being a full-time university student or a recent graduate.
EntrePass: If you’re a serial entrepreneur, high-calibre innovator or experienced investor planning to start a business in Singapore, EntrePass might be the right option for you. You can check more information here.
There are also other work passes that are not mentioned, feel free to check the Ministry of Manpower’s Website.
Keep in mind that visa requirements and processes may change over time, so it’s essential to consult the official website of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore or consult the Singaporean embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date information.
🇸🇬 Final Thoughts On Living In Singapore
Living in Singapore offers a unique and rewarding experience for expats from all walks of life. With its diverse culture, excellent quality of life, and countless opportunities for personal and professional growth, it’s no wonder that the city-state attracts people worldwide. Embrace the adventure, and enjoy your new journey in this dynamic city!