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Moving to Singapore

Your guide to expat life in Singapore. Embrace the Singapore spirit

Want to move to Singapore?

Expats are attracted to Singapore by the promise of high salaries, lavish lifestyles and luxury homes, and they’re rarely disappointed. Despite being relatively young, Singapore has already experienced significant changes in its lifetime. Welcoming people from across the globe, Singapore has quickly developed a unique hybrid culture that makes it the most consistent performer in our rankings and a favourite among expats.

Singapore's identity is built on its multiculturalism and Singaporeans are proud to attract people from around the world. This 'Singapore Spirit' has a significant impact on new arrivals who feel welcomed with open arms into their new community, helped by the fact that most Singaporeans are bilingual. It's unsurprising, then, that the country is the best destination for expats moving with children.

With goods and services flowing in and out of Singapore, the country is one of Asia's key trade hubs and a major contributor to the thriving regional economy. Experienced expats are sought for their knowledge and expertise and are rewarded with impressive salary increases and promotions.

While the year-round humidity can take some getting used to, being located in the heart of Southeast Asia is ideal for travel – you can easily escape for the weekend to one of the many idyllic beaches and islands in the region.

Basic info about Singapore

  • Population: Around 5.8 million

  • Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic

  • Main languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil

  • Main religion: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Taoism

  • Time: GMT+8

  • Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are used

  • Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)

  • International dialling code: +65

  • Internet domain: .sg

  • Emergency numbers: 999 (police), 995 (ambulance and fire)

  • Road traffic: Drives on the left

Weather in Singapore

There’s little variation in Singapore’s weather throughout the year, with temperatures hovering between 25°C and 30°C (77°F and 86°F). The early monsoon season in December and January is the wettest time of year, followed by a relatively dry period through February and March.

Key phrases

  • Hello Hello
  • Good evening Selamat petang
  • Goodbye Sampai jumpa lagi
  • How are you? Apa khabar?
  • Thank you Terima kasih
  • Yes Ya
  • No Tidak
  • Do you speak English? Bolehka anda cakap Bahasa Inggeris?
  • Can you help me? Bolehkah anda membantu saya?
  • Sorry Minta maaf

Shipping to Singapore

With one of the world’s busiest ports, Singapore handles shipments efficiently. Sending your belongings to Singapore by sea is likely to be your cheapest option, but it can take a number of weeks longer than other shipping methods. Sea freight costs are usually based on the volume of the items you want to send. But you can buy furniture at a reasonable price when you arrive, so consider what you really need to take before you pack up your entire home.

Banned items

Singapore has a long list of prohibited items, including chewing tobacco, controlled drugs, copied CDs and DVDs, and any material deemed obscene or treasonous.

Pets

Cats and dogs from countries with a high risk of rabies are quarantined for either 10 or 30 days when they arrive. Quarantine space must be booked three months in advance, and some breeds are banned from Singapore altogether. All pets must be microchipped and have up-to-date vaccination records as well as a valid Veterinary Health Certificate.

Top tips for Singapore

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Singapore.

It’s financially good, the quality of life is good, education for children is excellent, and there are more travel opportunities than we would have had in home country. As a family we all now have a global view and have experienced different cultures through living it.
Ensure that there is schooling available for your children, take time to choose your residence, be aware of the high cost of cars.
Income in Singapore may seem to be very high with very low tax rate, but beware house rental is getting too expensive, and tighter measures have made it harder for foreigners to buy property.
Singapore actually has a lot to see and visit. Besides the popular tourist spots, there are a number of places which are very special and exclusive. For example, the wetland reserve or botanic gardens.
Read up on all the public rules and the fines that come with it, for example ’No chewing gums’, ’No spitting’ etc...Get a guide of Singapore and note down all the important areas near your home, for example 24 hr clinic, food courts/malls, schools and places of interest, banks etc.
Research the real cost of living i.e. food and alcohol prices, health care, air con utilities plus rental, transport, travel and schooling before moving don’t just focus on tax rates. Less tax can be eaten up by other expenses.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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