Everything You Need to Know About Moving to Singapore
Often ranked as one of the best places in the world for expats, Singapore is a popular pick for people moving from the UK. The island city-state combines a strong economy – one of the best in Southeast Asia – with vibrant culture, beautiful sights and a busy, prosperous population. It’s a cutting-edge city with plenty of charm and a great standard of living, which explains why so many people emigrate to Singapore – there are an incredible 1.6 million non-permanent residents and expats living there!
Before you make the move to another country, read our complete guide on moving to Singapore to find out about the work passes you’ll need, key things to know, and the best places to live in Singapore for expats.
In this guide:
- Singapore visas and work passes
- Moving your belongings to Singapore
- Things to know before moving to Singapore
- Where to live in Singapore
Compared to other countries, like New Zealand, Singapore actually has a relatively straightforward entry system. There’s no points-based tally system, and work visas – usually referred to as ‘passes’ – aren’t too hard to obtain as long as you have a job offer or role already organised.
There are a lot of different passes and visas available, and Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has a very helpful website that explains the requirements of each pass clearly. Here are some of the most popular passes for expats moving to Singapore from the UK,
- Employment Passes: For high-skilled professionals or managers with a job offer, paying at least $4,500 SGD (Singapore dollars) per month
- S Passes: For mid-level skilled workers with a job offer, paying at least $2,500 per month
- Work Holiday Pass: For students and graduates 18 to 25, who want to work and holiday in Singapore for 6 months.
- Entrepreneur Pass: For entrepreneurs, investors and innovators looking to start a new business in Singapore, who meet certain innovative criteria such as having funding from a VC, holding an intellectual property, or having an investment track record.
Cost of visas and passes
Though the cost of living in Singapore can be high, work passes are quite reasonably priced – for example, the Employment pass costs $220 and the S Pass $140. Find full prices at the Ministry of Manpower.
For anyone looking to become a permanent resident when emigrating to Singapore, the Professionals and Skilled Worker Scheme is one of the most popular and easiest paths to take if you already hold an employment pass – this scheme is intended for professionals who are working in Singapore at the time of applying for residency. Permanent Residence (PR) applications can be applied for by a whole family, consisting of a ‘lead’ applicant, their spouse, and unmarried children under 21.
You’ll also need to factor in the costs of moving to another country. Because Singapore is an island nation, and the border crossing on the main causeway is incredibly busy, most expats moving to Singapore will want to look at flying their possessions or shipping them. Air freight can be incredibly expensive, so for most expats, you’ll be looking at shipping by sea with an international removals company.
Before you choose, make sure you do plenty of research to find the right company for you – you don’t want to risk your possessions being damaged, arriving months behind schedule, or (heaven forbid) not arriving at all.
Singapore’s shipping regulations are quite kind to expats shipping goods, as long as you follow the rules. As long as your items meet the following conditions, you won’t be charged the usual Goods and Service Tax.
- You have owned and used the goods for at least 3 months
- You’re importing the goods within 6 months of moving to Singapore
- You won’t be disposing of the items for 3 months after they’ve been imported
Moving to another country is always full of surprises – some good and some not so good! On the whole, Singapore is a country that’s incredibly expat-friendly, but you should be prepared and do plenty of research to avoid the dreaded culture shock when you emigrate to Singapore. To help you get settled straight away and make sure you’ve got a good grasp of the basics, here are some of the things to know before moving to Singapore.
Languages spoken in Singapore
The official language of Singapore is Mandarin Chinese – but English is the most common language. This makes things a lot easier for native English speakers compared to some other Asian countries, which is part of the reason so many expats consider emigrating to Singapore. Official government communication will be in Chinese, but in shops and business you can mostly expect to speak English. Children will be taught both Chinese and English in Singapore schools, so if your whole family is moving to Singapore, your children will benefit from a multilingual education. You might also become familiar with ‘Singlish’, the creole language that’s a combination of Singaporean slang and English.
Cost of living in Singapore
Singapore offers a truly incredible standard of living, and one of the best international experiences for expats, including strong wages and great opportunities for career advancement. However, this does come at a price – Singapore has a comparatively high cost of living. The annual Mercer Cost of Living survey for 2020 puts Singapore as the 5th most expensive city for expats, down two places from 2019. There are high tax rates on alcohol and vehicles, so social life can be restrictive, and while there’s a wide array of stunning property on the market, expats moving to Singapore may find the property prices high compared to their home country.
One of the big things to know before moving to Singapore is that it has a tropical climate – and yes, while that means it’s always warm, it also means monsoon seasons! Expect high humidity and lots of rainfall year-round, with monsoons most likely in November and December. Temperatures rarely drop below 24 degrees, even at night, so if you like a warmer climate, moving to Singapore might be a good fit for you. If you’re not a fan of humidity reaching up to 100%, you might want to look for properties in the eastern part of Singapore, where it’s sometimes warmer and drier.
Singapore is a city-state, and so significantly smaller than some other expat-friendly countries. Spanning just 279 square miles, you might be surprised how different areas of Singapore can feel. Here are our recommendations for the best places for expats to live in Singapore.
One of the pricier areas, properties near Orchard Road enjoy unparalleled access to central amenities. Some of Singapore’s most famous malls, restaurants, hotels and entertainment will be right on your doorstep. Despite this, plenty of areas in Orchard are (as the name suggests) surprisingly quiet and leafy.
An older, more traditional option, Tanglin is home to many of Singapore’s embassies. Often regarded as one of the best places to live in Singapore, Tanglin’s property varies from smaller condos to large estates with grand gardens.
An area that’s always popular with expats, Holland Village offers easy access to Orchard Road, a good selection of shops and restaurants and a wide variety of properties. Holland Village also boasts a large hawker centre – one of Singapore’s famed indoor street food venues.
Moving to Singapore is a big life decision, but this expat-friendly city state is welcoming to all, with a culture that’s easy to get to know and love and a vibrant expat community. If you’re looking to emigrate to Singapore and need to sell your house fast for cash, Good Move can help. Moving to another country can be stressful enough, so let us take the stress out of selling your house. Check out the Good Move blog for more expat guides and homecare tips.