Landed your Ideal Job...Now What?
It is time to plan an international move to Singapore! This is the ultimate guide designed to help you transition & settle into your new life.
Remember with more than 1/3 of all Singaporean residents being foreigners, you are not alone!
Before You Pack...
Determine your Expectations
Set realistic expectations & understand that it will take time to transition into your new life.
Develop a Plan
Have you thought about how long you intend to stay? Where are you going to stay? How you are going to set up a bank account? Creating a plan for the first month is key to alleviating stress on arrival.
Be Open Minded & Willing to Learn
Be willing to try new things & explore. Remember that different is not always a bad thing! Try to find a balance between the new & familiar; remember that in order to grow, we need new experiences!
PRO TIP: Try to get into a daily routine as quickly as possible. For example, if you go to the gym regularly before moving, start going again when you arrive.
Deciding where to stay is one of the biggest decisions; the majority of Expats live in Condos.
HDBs are the cheapest & most affordable of properties to rent (similar concept to UK, USA & EU).
The price is based on the size of the property, typically a 2 bedroom HDB (including 1 bathroom, 1 toilet & a connected living room/ kitchen) will cost you between $1,800 SGD* - $2,200 SGD* per month.
Condos are the most common accommodation for Singaporean expats. What sets the HDB & Condos apart are the facilities available to you; many new condos shooting up all over Singapore & their facilities can range from swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms, saunas, BBQ pits, & much more. Condos are also generally much bigger than HDBs & normally start from $3,000 SGD* per month for a 1 bedroom.
In short supply, a landed property is essentially a semi-detached house, which sometimes has several floors. Landed properties normally start from $6,000 SGD*, but securing one can be difficult, normally come unfurnished, & have a waiting list.
NOTE: You will most likely need to pay 3 months of rent upfront (1X1st month’s rent & 2 months for bond). If your accommodation is under $4,000 SGD*, you may also need to pay a finders fee to the agent.
PRO TIP: Location, Location, Location... do your due diligence and work out your journey time; this will help you in deciding where you need to look for properties and greatly effect the price.
Getting around in Singapore is cheap and easy; the most popular modes are public transport and taxis.
Singapore’s transportation infrastructure is great value. Buy an EZ link card at any MRT station & you’ll save on bus/ MRT travel. 5 stops will cost around $1.50 SGD* on any line & it is even cheaper on the bus. The card is designed to deposit money on & as you enter & exist the station, you simply swipe your card & the journey value is deducted from your card.
Taxis are also extremely good value; a 10 minute trip will set you back around $6 SGD*. Getting to work has never been so straight-forward, but getting a taxi in Singapore when it is raining can be difficult.
The cost of driving in Singapore can be extremely expensive, costing as much as $100,000 SGD* for the license to put a car on the road. Many expats opt for car leasing to avoid the large lump sum payment.
PRO TIP 1: Majority of people save their money & get a taxi or public transport instead of the cost of having a car.
PRO TIP 2: You can download an application for your phone, which makes getting a taxi easier. Taxis will pick you up from a location/building, so always know the postcode of your location!
One of the great things about Singapore is the social life. It can be as expensive or cheap as you like. Eating and drinking is indeed a national past-time in Singapore. The country’s food is a true representation of its multicultural heritage, as it serves up a true melting pot of flavours and foods.
Going out for a drink in Singapore can be very expensive. A reasonable bar will set you back: Pint of lager or beer - $12 SGD*, Glass of wine - $14 SGD*, Juice & softdrink - $8 SGD*.
Places that overlook Marina Bay will cost between $20 - $30 SGD* per drink. Ensure to look out for the ‘1 for 1’ offers: this actually means 2 for the price of 1! Knowing happy hours can save you money.
Dining in Singapore can be extremely good value, especially if you go for the local food at hawker centres. Dinner here can cost as little as a couple of dollars per person. Some of the most famous stalls are in Mustafa, which has a massive Indian community. Here you will find
some of the best Indian food, be it North or South & everything in between! In Chinatown you will find a wide array of local & Chinese food. The best thing to do is take a weekend out & just get yourself lost - immerse yourself in the high quality & value for money eateries across Singapore.
It is important to investigate as many elements of your expenses as possible.
Healthcare in Singapore can be expensive for an expat, so you need to make sure that you are well-covered when you arrive. Depending on your employment arrangement you may or may not be covered by your Employer. Typical insurance will start from around $100 SGD* per person, per month for a basic medical walk-in service & hospitalisation.
Electricity & Water costs are relatively expensive. For a two-bed apartment you should expect to pay around $150-200 SGD* per month on electricity & water depending on usage.
The cost of living in Singapore can be relatively high when it comes to your children’s education. International schools’ tuition fees can range from $6,000 to $20,000 SGD* per year depending on whether you choose a local or international school.
PRO TIP: Turning off your air-con and hot water system when you do not need it will save a quite a bit on your electricity bill!
Taxes & Banking
This may not be the most exciting part of relocating, but it will enable to you fully plan and settle in quickly.
One of the biggest benefits of working in Singapore is the significantly low tax rate when compared to other countries.
Tax in Singapore is not withheld & paid by the employers & as such employees are paid their entire salary. Instead, an employee must file income tax in the following year, where they are then able to pay over a period of time.
There is a wide selection of global, regional & local banks in Singapore. To open a bank account in Singapore, you will need an employment pass. If you have a partner who is on a dependent pass, they will only be able to have a joint account.
NETS is a debit system that is arranged with your bank, which is accepted at all supermarkets & most stores. Some retailers only accept NETS or cash, so it can be a good idea to opt for a bank that offers NETS cards.
International banks provide financial plans that are specifically designed for expats that manage currency conversions & international transfers.
* Prices are estimates as of 2015