Guide to Moving Your Job Abroad: Singapore

Guide to Moving Your Job Abroad: Singapore

Singapore is a popular destination for expats who are looking for a unique and evolving location to relocate to. With such a pro-business environment and unrivalled access to booming markets due to it’s positioning in the heart of Asia, Singapore provides incredible opportunity for businesses to thrive and expand.

With a range of luxury hotels, casinos, shopping malls and nightclubs, Singapore has a lot to offer those looking for a life of style. Living spaces are fairly spacious and the schools available to expatriate children are of a high quality.

However there are some drawbacks to living in this city state. The Government exercises rigorous control over media and press, and freedom of speech is non-existent. The cost of living in Singapore is also very high, ranking as 6th most expensive in the 2012 Mercer cost of living survey. Some expats comment that the city can be boring and sterile – a cultural desert, but many more will argue that it is the perfect location for enjoying a quiet family-based lifestyle.

Employment, economy & business culture

Employment passes (visas) are available to foreign professionals looking to work in Singapore and these professionals may apply for a Dependant’s Pass, allowing their dependable others (wife, girlfriend, children) to live with them for the period of the pass. There are three different types of passes available depending on your monthly salary and a short-term non-renewable work pass is available for those looking to work for up to 1 month.

Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires and has a highly developed market-based economy.

The business culture in Singapore is fairly relaxed as long as you don’t bring up discussions about religion, politics or racism. English is the working language and working hours are usually between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday. Business gifts are common, with gifts such as company pens oftentimes being gifted. When giving or accepting a gift, business card etc. it is respectful and polite to do so with both hands.


Singapore is a top destination for expatriates and has become a magnate for high performers. Learn more about this career hotspot by reading ‘Career Hotspots 1: Singapore‘.

Career Hotspots 1: Singapore


Expat lifestyle & cost of living

Singapore has a lot to offer expats looking for an active lifestyle outside of work. There is a very low crime rate in the city and many find it one of the most civilised locations to live. There is a very good social life on offer in the city and the expatriates living in Singapore that we spoke to said that it is more of a livelier location than they were originally led to believe – there’s a lot more to the city than meets the eye.

There is great access to the rest of Asia with a trip to Indonesia via ferry taking under an hour and short flights to locations such as Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and many other locations.

The cost of living in Singapore is varied. Whilst the cost of property and cars are expensive, public transport and taxis are cheap. The cost of eating in a restaurant can be very cheap, but the option to spend more is available if desired.

Below is a list of goods, services and accommodation along with their prices (in $ USD) according to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2012.

Prices of goods / services ($ USD):
Bread, White Sliced $3.95
1 ltr Milk, Pasteurised, Whole $1.84-$2.46
Cigarettes (20 pack) $9.10-$9.25
Fitness Club annual fee (1 adult) $1,101.49 -$1,450.14
Tennis Court rent (1 hr, weekend) $8.25-$9.02

Prices of Accommodation (Monthly Rent): Good-Excellent ($ USD)
2 Bedroom, Unfurnished Apartment $3,471.29-$7,327.25
2 Bedroom, Furnished Apartment $3,858.51-$8,486.55
4 Bedroom, Unfurnished House $9,260.68-$18,519.81


Singapore has one of the lowest income tax and cost of living for expatriates. Find out more about how far your money could go in this popular expat destination by reading ‘Locations With the Lowest Tax and Living Costs: Singapore‘.

Locations With the Lowest Tax: Singapore


Health & education

Singapore has an excellent health service, hospitals are modern and well-equipped and doctors are highly qualified. A resurgence of dengue fever has been observed over the past years, although this is not a major health concern. The government has made an effort to monitor and control the situation, and the same is true for Avian Influenza (bird flu). Food and water are safe to eat and drink. Air quality is generally good, but in recent years Singapore’s weather has been affected by haze and smog due to plantation burning by farmers in Indonesia.

Singapore places a huge importance on education, which has a curriculum set by the Ministry of Education. School fees depend on the residential status and country of origin of the parents, level of the student and type of school. Independent schools charge a separate scale of fees and other miscellaneous fees may also be applicable.

There is a wide choice of private and international schools offering a high standard of education to expatriate children in Singapore. There are American, Australian, British, Canadian, French, German, Swiss and Japanese schools.

Public services & transport

Singapore has a very high standard of telephone, internet, mail water and electricity services. The Singapore authorities provide excellent public transport facilities, including an efficient bus service and one of the world’s most advanced metro systems (Mass Rapid Transit, MRT). The MRT is modern, comfortable and efficient. Traffic is congested during the rush hour, although a marked improvement has been made since the introduction of Electronic Road Pricing. Singapore Changi Airport is situated 25km from the city centre, and offers an excellent choice of services to all parts of the world.

As mentioned above, cars are expensive to buy, however taxis are cheap and a good option for many wishing to travel around the city.


Singapore has a lot to offer expatriates from all walks of life. There are many great expat communities happy to welcome new residents into their social groups. Income tax is low compared to many countries, even for expatriates (non-residents), making it a very popular destination for many.

The city provides a safe haven for families and young children and there is plenty to keep them busy – with much more on offer in other countries all within a few hours flight.


Singapore is a top destination for expatriates and has become a magnate for high performers. Learn more about this career hotspot by reading ‘Career Hotspots 1: Singapore‘.

Career Hotspots 1: Singapore


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