Singapore is well-known as an expat-friendly, global city and attracts many professionals from around the world for its lifestyle, salary, and climate. Currently there is an estimated 1.2million expats living in Singapore, making up a quarter of the population. Many more intend to move out here in the near future now that borders are opening up, especially those with highly-specialised skills that cannot be found within the country.
Are you thinking of moving here, or already in the process? We spoke to the experts - expats who have already been through this to give their top tips on what you need to know before taking the plunge (or the flight!)
Cost of living
Sam, an expat living in Singapore for 5 years: “We have lived in many countries across the world, but Singapore has been one of the most expensive. Firstly be sure to secure a good expat salary - one that includes a comprehensive health insurance package - so that you’re not caught out by unexpected expenses, and stick to a budget. That being said we’re really happy here, and we have a very comfortable life.”
Ben, an expat living in Singapore for 3 years: “When I moved here I wasn’t expecting that apartments would be much smaller than my previous city. So, I moved with all my belongings and struggled to fit them in. My advice would be to curate what you bring and only pack if necessary - if there’s anything you’ve forgotten you can most likely buy it here. If you haven’t got somewhere to leave unneeded items, you can always do what I did and rent some storage space - I used Space Next Door and found cheap storage near to me so I can access my stuff when I want.”
Jo, an expat living in Singapore for 8 years: “Unless you’re coming from an equally hot and humid country, nothing will prepare you for how sticky and stifling it can be here! Make sure you bring moisture-wicking clothing that will take the sweat away, and prepare yourself for frizzy hair - it’s par for the course if you don’t have straight hair!”
Anna, an expat living in Singapore for 9 years: “I wasn’t really aware of Singlish, but when I went to work there were instances where I couldn’t quite follow the conversations of my colleagues. Singlish is a mix of different languages that came about through the influences and close proximity of different cultures. Although English is the predominant language, it would be beneficial for expats to learn some Singlish to help them understand colloquial Singaporean communication. You will hear 'sounds' like lah, lor, leh, huh, and eh - each one has its own meaning and the more you expose yourself to them, the sooner they will become second nature!"
Francois, an expat living in Singapore for 4 years: “The public transport infrastructure in Singapore is incredibly efficient and there’s not much point in having a car as it’s very expensive. You can always rent one for the day if you want to drive somewhere.”
No chewing gum!
Angela, an expat living in Singapore for 15 years: “Singapore is very proud of its cleanliness, the streets are all well cared for. Whatever you do, keep your litter until you see a bin or you get home. And don’t expect to find chewing gum here, it’s illegal to sell it!”