Moving to Singapore: A Simple Guide to Relocate As A Foreigner

Singapore is the only country to transform from third to first-world status in a single generation. Singapore’s advanced amenities and well-developed infrastructure provide expats with an exceptional standard of living. The highest living standards are based on political stability, personal safety, security, and sustainable economic prosperity.

If you consider moving to Singapore an exciting decision but are still confused about specific circumstances, IMovingTo will guide you through every step of the relocation process and let you become a Singaporean expat without any obstacles. 

A Brief Look at Culture & Social Life in Singapore

As a result of the influence of East Asia, South Asia, and Malaysia, Singapore successfully combines cultures from Asia and Europe. Here, a variety of languages, cuisines, and traditions coexist. Discovering the diverse ethnic neighborhoods such as Little India, Chinatown, and Kampong Glam is fascinating. Various religious and ethnic celebrations that occur throughout the year also significantly impact Singapore’s culture.

People in Singapore are encouraged to reach their full potential regardless of their background, race, or religion since the country is a meritocracy. The stars on the national flag of Singapore stand for principles that are particularly essential to Singaporean culture: peace, progress, democracy, justice, and equality.

Since Singaporeans strongly emphasize discipline, they have a strict conception of life, characterized by distinct social hierarchies and established authority systems.  

Cost of Living in Singapore

While Singapore has a very high standard of living, it is occasionally quite expensive. The cost of real estate is more elevated in Singapore than in the USA, as evidenced by the fact that a three-bedroom apartment in the Central District rents for about 5,040 USD per month.

Alcohol is taxed heavily. Therefore, foreigners who enjoy going to pubs and clubs will discover that sustaining a social life here is pricey. Due to the high car taxes, owning a car is also quite expensive. 

Food and groceries are generally relatively affordable, and expats willing to eat at neighborhood hawker stalls and shopping mall food courts will notice that they may dine out at a low cost. Furthermore, the following indications will enhance your understanding of Singapore’s general cost of living.

  • Three-course meal for a couple in a mid-range restaurant: $80
  • Monthly transport pass: $125
  • Basic bills (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for a small Apartment: $186
  • Cinema ticket: $14

Healthcare System in Singapore

The quality and efficiency of the Singaporean healthcare system are well-known throughout the world, and it’s indeed among the hospitals and services in the country. Expats rate the hospitals and services in the country exceptionally highly.

One of the reasons Singapore’s healthcare system is so appreciated is its simplicity and the speed with which foreigners can access English-speaking medical professionals.

If you are a permanent resident contributing to the Central Provident Fund, a required social security savings program that Singapore permanent resident employees contribute to, the government offers subsidized health care.

The government’s public healthcare insurance is limited to expats who are not Singaporean citizens or permanent residents, as they do not pay into the Central Provident Fund. The main distinction between Singapore’s private and public health insurance is access, which should be considered.

Available Visa Types & Work Permit Requirements

Foreigners moving to Singapore should have a work visa or work permit to start a job lawfully. Fortunately, there are several different work visas and permits to consider. However, possessing one of these permits, typically with a 2-year expiration date, does not provide permanent residency.

A Singapore work visa is often only available to those who meet the following requirements:

  • Have a valid passport
  • Be at least 18 English old
  • Meet the criteria for the position (with supporting documentation from professional institutions)
  • Work only related to their capacity

All employees need to make sure they have the appropriate work visa. This should be something that your company can assist with. If not, skilled immigrants will often require one of the following visas:

  • Employment Pass – For international managers, executives, and professionals who will earn at least 2,600 USD each month and possess the necessary credentials. Valid for 2 years at most.
  • S Pass – For mid-level skilled employees who meet the evaluation requirements and earn at least 1,700 USD monthly. Valid for 2 years at most.

Employees in the entertainment, building, manufacturing, marine shipbuilding, process, or services sectors can also obtain specific work permits.

How to Take Care of Your Finances in Singapore

The process of opening a bank account in Singapore for non-residents has become more challenging as a result of anti-money laundering rules. However, creating a bank account should be simple if you are over 18 and employed in the country with all the necessary legal documentation.

It is preferable to open a local bank account in Singapore, as your home bank may charge you for foreign withdrawals and purchases. A local account also simplifies setting up bills and receiving salary checks.

Most banks in Singapore offer the greatest online banking choices for foreigners seeking a traditional online banking account. If you are uncertain about how long you will stay in Singapore, another option is to open a multi-currency online-only bank account. For instance, Revolut is a Singapore-based online-only bank that suggests holding 14 currencies simultaneously. 

Moving Your Household Belongings in Singapore

Singapore is an island country with one of the busiest international borders. As a result, hiring international moving companies would be the best option if you’re thinking about how to relocate overseas. Your belongings may take some time to get to Singapore, but it will all be worthwhile. 

Renting a vehicle to transport your items to Singapore is possible but improbable for most expats. Moving your belongings by plane can quickly add up cost, mainly as larger furniture pieces are more challenging to transport in cargo.

The most practical and reliable choice for expats is to ship large items like furniture and household goods to Singapore. Shipping is the best option because it is less expensive than air freight and less complicated to plan than land transportation. Most home goods you have owned and used for more than 3 months should easily pass through customs when you relocate to Singapore.

How Does the Transportation System Work?

Singapore has efficient and affordable public transportation options. You should be able to get to the majority of the destinations you intend to visit frequently using buses, MRT trains, and taxis. Buses and trains accept the EZLink card, simply charged off at machines or customer service centers. 

When it comes to taxis, they are well-regulated and can be called, found at stands, or waved down. They operate on a meter, give you a receipt, and display contact information in case of any issues. However, the pricing can be complicated to calculate, and there are certain extras, particularly from midnight to six in the morning and during the morning rush.

Getting Accommodation in Singapore

You can consider alternatives to reduce costs, such as flat shares or relocating outside the city center, since renting or buying a house in Singapore is pricey. Consider factors like transportation and other facilities crucial to you as you research the various places. Orchard, Tanglin, Holland Village, and East Coast are a few of the popular areas for foreigners.

Numerous real estate recommendations are available online. Nest Pick, for example, can assist you in determining costs and places. Housing and Development Board (HDB), which is subsidized and offers reasonable assurances for landlords and tenants, accounts for about 80% of the market. 

On its website, HDB offers a wealth of information. When you select a place to reside, you and your landlord must sign a Tenancy Agreement and a Letter of Intent and deposit.

Career Opportunities for Expats

Are you among those with a high education level and professional experience? If so, then there may be multiple prospects for you in Singapore. 

The competition is tough for Singapore expats, and it might be challenging to find a job that will support them due to the high level of expertise among Singaporeans. It is generally advised that persons who are moving to Singapore and unable to relocate with their current employer have a job lined up before they get there.

Since most employers will interview you before hiring you and Singapore is a conservative country, it is vital to present a classy appearance when attending appointments.

Electronics manufacturing is the industry with the most jobs. Working for large multinational corporations offers foreign expats many wonderful prospects. Jobs can also be found in trade, engineering, research and technology, industrial development, tourism, and other fields. Many foreign nationals are employed in the banking industry as well.

Pros & Cons of Moving to Singapore


Cultural diversity

Despite its diversity of religions and cultures, Singapore represents immense unity. Even more unexpectedly, the small country has a variety of festivals and cuisines. 

Another benefit is that Singapore has as many as 4 official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. Therefore, you won’t have any problems with being misunderstood or misinterpreted as English is commonly spoken in this region.


Singapore is among the safest places in the world. The policing system is well-equipped with cutting-edge technologies and public security mechanisms to maintain surveillance and protect citizens. 

The country came in 2nd place behind Tokyo on the Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index for 2017. Since Singaporeans are also renowned for their honesty, you’ll probably get your phone or laptop back if you lose it.

Clean environment

Cleanliness is one of Singapore’s defining qualities. Since you cannot bring food or beverages on public transportation, you will have a better time exploring the city’s streets and enjoying its architecture. 


Therefore, this country is ideal if you prefer a more disciplined lifestyle, as many residents share your values.


Strict laws

Singapore’s government seems to have more strict regulations for maintaining city cleanliness and keeping an eye on illegal activity. You may occasionally feel uncomfortable seeing cameras everywhere in parks, streets, and other public areas. 

Also, try to be aware that it is forbidden to smoke, drink, or even sell gum in public in this country. In Singapore, it’s also against the law to use a private WiFi network or feed pigeons.

Weather conditions

If you enjoy outdoor activities a lot, the tropical climate of Singapore might not be for you. Even though the temperature remains above 30 Celsius, you are less likely to enjoy outdoor adventures without being overheated. 


People looking for external pleasure will find it quite challenging due to the high temperatures, especially during the daytime. However, the motivation to go on morning or evening walks is the beautiful nature all around you.

Final Thoughts

All in all, life is an adventure in Singapore for expats. Whether exploring the local cultures and traditions or just commuting to your preferred destinations, there are endless opportunities, gorgeous architecture, and welcoming locals.

Still, moving abroad might be challenging. However, it can be a fulfilling and exciting experience when done properly. 

So, if you’re set to move to Singapore, take advantage of our relocation services at IMovingTo, and our experts will guide you through every step of the process.

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