Moving to Singapore
A technologically advanced city-state with a vibrant medley of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Western cultures. Singapore is a tropical heaven with a very high standard of living.
Moving to Singapore gives you fast-paced modern society embedded in Asia. And with English language widely spoken across Singapore, the small but mighty country has become a very popular expat destination. Singapore boasts the perfect blend of Asian cuisine and warm climate of the East, with a world-class school system and booming technology and business industry.
Singapore offers experiences for all. There are beaches, shopping centres, sparkling clean highways and a prompt train and underground system which all make life easier. Walk along a lavish waterfront promenade then take a train journey to the heart of the city-state to enjoy the busy bars and bustling nightlife.
It’s important to start your property hunt early when moving to Singapore. The country has limited space and a large population, so the housing market here is very competitive and everything moves quickly.
When looking for your new home, be sure to work with local estate agents or an expat housing expert. They will be able to recommend the best type of property and location for your individual needs, as well as give invaluable local insight. No two districts of Singapore are the same in terms of facilities and price ranges, so having the local knowledge will prove invaluable.
Most areas outside of the city centre comprise of government housing, known locally as HDB, alongside private apartments to rent. Districts closer to the city centre offer high-rise condominiums, however these come at a price premium and are only available for long-term lease.
If you are looking for a larger family home, some areas such as Bukit Timah offer a few detached houses. However, these properties move exceptionally quickly thanks to ever increasing demand. Condominiums are the most common choice for long-term stays. The modern condominiums are increasingly popular as they boast excellent facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and BBQ spots.
Family life and schooling
Singapore’s education system is consistently regarded as world leading. With a large expatriate community, there are both state schools and private international schools available for all newcomers. International schools provide education taught in a multitude of languages from Chinese, to French, to Swiss. Meanwhile, the official teaching language of Singapore is English, so state-funded schools are also a fantastic option. To be able to make use of the state education system you must have a work permit and plan on staying long term.
Primary school begins at age 6 and continues until age 12. Then it’s on to secondary school for a further 4 years, until students reach age 16/17. Extracurricular activities are greatly encouraged alongside education giving students the opportunity to explore performing arts, sports and other clubs. Post-secondary school, students may make the decision to attend a junior college, polytechnic institution or continue on to university.
Discover our school search service for guidance and assistance in finding and applying to the right schools in Singapore for your family.
As a hub of communities from Chinese to Canadian, Singapore has no single culture but is rather an exciting mix of customs and traditions. Singaporeans enjoy colourful festivals all year round from the vibrant festivities of Chinese New Year to the luminous and glittering celebrations of Christmas.
Walking around visitors notice the extreme mix of old and new. The neoclassical western architecture stands alongside Chinese temples to create a dynamic metropolis. In fact, Singapore is famed for its incredible hanging gardens by the bay and impressive skyscrapers, which draw in tourists and expats every year.
The choice of food here is boundless. It only takes a short trip down to Little India, Arab Street, Chinatown or Kampong Glam to see the variety of cuisine on offer. And for those looking for a quiet retreat, you can take a visit to beautiful beaches and grand temples just outside the centre.
The official language is Malay, reflecting and paying homage to the indigenous people. But English, Chinese and Tamil are all widely spoken and considered to also be official languages.
Good to know
Prepare for topical weather. Situated one mile from the equator, Singapore enjoys the heat all year round. So, shorts and flip flops are a must, as is air conditioning.
Singapore is renowned for its cleanliness and for good reason. The sparkling clean streets come with harsh fines for anyone who litters. And it’s good to know that drinking and eating on public transport is also banned. Be sure to read up on other regulations regarding littering or transport as there are many unique rules. For example, only dental or nicotine gum is permitted in Singapore, surprising many western visitors.
In order to live and work in Singapore you will need to obtain an employment pass. These are obtained through the Ministry of Manpower, and there are specific rules and requirements depending on your home country. For many expats, this process will be taken care of by their employer. You will not be able to move and obtain a work pass without company endorsement and a job offer. You will also need your employment pass in order to open a bank account or to get a credit card. And you’ll need one/both as Singapore’s fast becoming a cashless society.
When travelling around Singapore, or commuting to work, expect to use public transport. Their public transport system is very good, very reliable and very clean. With buses, trains and taxis in abundance and at affordable rates, this is the preferred method of getting around. It’s also important to note that driving in Singapore is exceptionally expensive – prohibitively so! The majority of expats and permanent residents forgo this option entirely to keep the cost of living down.
How can we help with your move to Singapore?
With over 120 years of experience moving people around the globe, we make moving home easy no matter where you’re going to or coming from. From helping you find your dream home, matching your family to the right schools, to setting up one-to-one language courses, we know what makes a successful relocation. We’re your relocation company, specialising in moves to Singapore.
Are you relocating employees? Discover our destination services designed to ensure a smooth transition and help your assignees settle in.