Your guide to expat life in Singapore

Moving to Singapore

Singapore is a very attractive expat destination – and you’ll have little trouble acclimatising to its way of life. English is widely spoken and newcomers are warmly welcomed.

A melting pot of ethnicities and traditions, Singapore has plenty of colourful local customs for you to immerse yourself in. It also has a large and friendly expat community that helps to ease the transition when you first arrive. 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.

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Basic info

  • Population: Around 5.7 million
  • Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
  • Main languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil
  • Main religion: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
  • Time: GMT+8
  • Electricity: 230 volts, 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

Next holiday

Jun

26

Hari Raya Puasa

If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s moved to the first available weekday.

Public Holidays

2016
1 January New Year's Day
8 February Chinese New Year
25 March Good Friday
1 May Labour Day
21 May Vesak Day
6 July Hari Raya Puasa
9 August National Day
12 September Hari Raya Haji
29 October Deepavali
25 December Christmas Day
2017
1 January New Year's Day
28 February Chinese New Year
14 April Good Friday
1 May Labour Day
10 May Vesak Day
26 June Hari Raya Puasa
9 August National Day
2 September Hari Raya Haji
19 October Deepavali
25 December Christmas Day
2018
1 January New Year's Day
16 February Chinese New Year
30 March Good Friday
29 April Vesak Day
1 May Labour Day
15 June Hari Raya Puasa
9 August National Day
22 August Hari Raya Haji
7 November Deepavali
25 December Christmas Day

Your relocation checklist

Moving to a new country takes a lot of planning. To help you get started, here are some of the things you need to do before you leave home – or just after you arrive.

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 Cakap Bahasa Inggeris
  • Can you help me Bolehkah anda membantu saya?
  • Sorry Minta maaf

Top tips

View a selection of tips sourced from expats about 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.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Ensure that there is schooling available for your children, take time to choose your residence, be aware of the high cost of cars.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Income in Singapore may seem to be very high with very low tax rate, but beware house rental is getting too expensive, and tighter measure have made it harder for foreigners to buy property.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“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.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“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. Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“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 be other expenses.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Singapore

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Really think about how many possessions you need - and leave some space for buying new interesting Oriental furniture!

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Singapore

Shipping

With one of the world’s busiest ports, Singapore handles shipments efficiently. 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.

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Shipping by sea

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.

Prohibited 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 are quarantined for 30 days when they arrive, unless they’re from Australia, New Zealand, the UK or Ireland. All pets must be microchipped and have up-to-date vaccination records. They must also be treated for external parasites 2 to 10 days before their departure - and for internal parasites within 4 days of leaving their home country.

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 August 2016. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.