What is Living in Singapore as an Expat Really Like?

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What It Means to be an Expat in Singapore

An expat in Singapore is a person that is living in Singapore for a short, but undefined amount of time. To truly be an expat or expatriate of Singapore, you must have been born in another country and plan to return to your native country after your time in Singapore spent working on a job or assignment.

Singapore is small, prosperous, and the only place in the world that is an island, country, and a city. According to HSBC Expat, the best country in the world for expats to live is Singapore for many reasons.

Though Singapore is full of wealth, prosperity, and expensive options and lifestyles, it also offers a good quality of life and strong economic system with its simple and affordable public transportation options, low-cost tasty food, exciting nightlife scenes, variety of job opportunities, spectacular museums, year-round pleasant weather, lovely green parks, and safe environment full of friendly natives and foreigners.

 

Things to do When Living in Singapore

Compared to many other countries, Singapore is extremely liveable for expats because it has the welcoming traits that other countries lack. For one thing, Singapore is made of a variety of ethnicities including Indian, Chines, Malay and British.

Most native Singaporeans can speak all or many of these languages. Best of all, Mandarin Chinese and English and the main languages spoken by most foreigners and natives there. That makes it very easy to become friends with the locals and get to know the fun unofficial language they have called Singlish.

Singlish is an informal mix of English, Chinese, and Malay that the Singaporeans and expats love to use. There are actually about 1.3 million foreigners out of the 5.6 million natives in Singapore, which means Singapore expats feel right at home.

Singapore also has the most beautiful tropical weather, especially if you’re someone that loves when it’s hot outside. You can always cool off easily since most indoor places of business keep the air conditioning going at all times.

According to the 2018 Global Peace Index, Singapore is the 7th safest place to live with nice clean and airy streets. The city is also full of luxurious greenery with over a million trees and plenty of walls on buildings covered with beautiful plants.

Singapore also has the best public transportation system considering it is cheap and easy to use. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a bus, the subway, a taxi, or an Uber, they are all excellent services for a very good price.

Expatriate life in Singapore can be a great experience since the food culture there is highly unique with delicious exotic meals that have a bit of flavor from every culture in the city and the late-night cocktail partying scene is thriving considering some people party until the early morning even on weekdays.

Singapore also offers great options for everyone to stay fit and healthy. The city has a wonderful public park called Botanic Gardens that offers free and affordable classes including yoga, tai-chi, and more. Expats can also find nature trails all along the coast of Singapore which are perfect for hiking and water-sports. For the most part, everyone in this city is very relaxed and likes to walk at a slow pace. The natives and foreigners enjoy having many vacation spots close by on Sentosa island and neighbouring countries that are a short, cheap plane ride away.

There are plenty of options for an expat when choosing what type of house to rent. They may like a government owned flat., privately owned condo or a single-family home in the suburbs. The condos and apartments usually have great amenities like fitness centers, pools, function rooms, and playgrounds right on site.

Both the public and private schools are great with a good educational curriculum. The private schools have fees that are quite high, but they offer good chances that your child can continue the school curriculum from your native country if you start the application process early.

Making expat or local friends is very easy considering the many online forums, fun social events, volunteering, and classes that are offered. All of these things offer a perfect way to meet more people in a great environment.

What It Means to be an Expat in Singapore

Cost of Living in Singapore

Some believe Singapore is one of the most expensive countries to live in, but it really just depends on the way you live your life.

Rent can be expensive if you choose to live near the center of the city. Expats can cut down on living costs by moving farther away or living in Singaporean public housing.

Cars are also pretty expensive, but an expat can easily take public transportation, taxis, Grab or Go-Jek’s which are all very affordable and nice.

The cost of food can also be high but eating at places known as hawker centers, some with Michelin stars, can be much more affordable than buying groceries.

Here is a list showing examples of a variety of living expenses in Singapore:

  • One litre of milk: SGD $3.14
  • A large dozen of eggs: SGD: $4.00
  • A bottle of red wine: SGD $32
  • Average monthly rent: SGD: $2,628
  • Monthly utilities: SGD: $158
  • Monthly Internet service: SGD: $42
  • A gallon of gas: SGD: $8.96
  • Monthly transportation ticket: SGD $94
  • Toyota: SGD $100,00
  • Deodorant: SGD: $5.48
  • Toothpaste: SGD $3.72

 

Working as an Expat in Singapore

Fortunately, there are great opportunities for expats that are living and working in Singapore. This is because English is the first language of the country and the employers there are used to hiring foreign professionals. Expatriates are always welcome by the government and everyone else.

There are many employment agencies in Singapore that are there to help expats with their job searches in finance, technology, engineering, management and accounting since they are the jobs that are in demand right now.

Another good option for work searches in Singapore is The Strait Times, online job portals, and specific company websites that have posted open positions.

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Expats in Singapore usually receive a 29% increase in salary and there are many high-quality expat jobs in Singapore that are available in Singapore thanks to the growing industries there and the fact that huge corporations like American Express and Microsoft have offices in the city now. To legally work in Singapore there are a few steps every expat must take including:

1.) You must first decide on the career you are most qualified for.

2.) Then you must use the employment agencies and other help options to find the job that is best for your qualifications and experience.

3.) After that, you apply for that job.

4.) Next, you will be contacted for an interview in a process that could take a couple of weeks to 2 months to be completed.

5.) If you have been hired, you will receive a job offer and contract with 3 days to decide If you would like to take the job.

6.) After you have accepted the job offer and everything is truly finalized, you must apply for as work visa. This should be easy considering Singapore is very welcome to foreign professionals. There is a non-refundable application fee with a processing time of 7 days if you apply online and 5 weeks if you apply on paper.

Taking the time to find work in Singapore is worth it because you get the opportunity to enjoy the quality lifestyle that Singapore has to offer. Not to mention, this city-nation-island is so diverse that expats are sure to find their work environment to be full of a variety of cultures and ethnicities. This leads to new learning experiences and amazing possibilities of new friends from different cultural backgrounds.


There is no doubt that Singapore has a lot to offer in many ways. It is truly a beautiful place for expats to live and feel at home. The welcoming diversity, delicious food, and high variety of things to do ensure happiness and success for natives and foreigners.

So, be sure to bookmark our site for the latest news and updates about the best ways to live as an expat in Singapore.

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What is Living in Singapore as an Expat Really Like