Welcome to Singapore, Expats! Here's Everything You Need to Know

The Iconic Jewel at Changi Airport in Singapore

Are you ready to embark on a new adventure as an expat in the vibrant city-state of Singapore? From the moment you set foot in this diverse, dynamic city, you'll be greeted with a warm welcome and a world of opportunities. Singapore offers a unique blend of culture, cuisine, and career prospects, making it an enticing destination for expats from around the globe. So, whether you've just arrived in Singapore or are contemplating a move, this article is your essential guide to help you navigate this wonderful island nation.

Visas and Immigration

As you embark on your journey to Singapore, securing the right visa is your key to unlocking the city's countless opportunities and adventures. The process might seem daunting, but fret not; Singapore's welcoming embrace awaits you.

The Right Visa for You

Singapore's Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website is your compass in navigating the visa landscape. Here, you'll find an abundance of valuable information on the various visa options available to expatriates. Whether you're a skilled professional seeking employment, an entrepreneur with business aspirations, or a student pursuing academic excellence, Singapore has a visa tailored to your needs.

National Registration Identity Card (NRIC): Your Access Pass

Once you've obtained your visa, the next item on your checklist is the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC). This little card is the gateway to a multitude of essential services and aspects of life in Singapore. Think of it as your golden ticket, granting you access to all the city has to offer.

The NRIC is more than just a piece of identification; it's your lifeline in Singapore. It serves as proof of your legal residency status and is indispensable for various aspects of your daily life, including:

  1. Financial Transactions: From opening a bank account to securing a credit card, the NRIC is your proof of identity in the financial world. It's your first step towards fiscal independence.
  2. Healthcare: When you need medical care, the NRIC ensures you receive the attention and services you require. It's your passport to Singapore's world-class healthcare system.
  3. Housing: Looking for your dream apartment or house in Singapore? Your NRIC is essential for renting, buying, or leasing property. It's your key to unlocking the doors of your new home.
  4. Education: For students and parents, the NRIC is a vital document when enrolling in schools or educational institutions. It paves the way for academic success.
  5. Employment: Your NRIC is often a prerequisite for securing employment in Singapore. It establishes your eligibility to work in the country.

In essence, the NRIC is your official identity, your proof of residency, and your access pass to Singaporean society. Keep it safe, as you'll need it throughout your journey as an expat in this vibrant nation.

As you set your sights on Singapore, take the time to understand the visa that aligns with your goals, and utilize the resources available on the ICA website. Once you've secured your visa, obtaining the NRIC is the next step in your journey. Embrace it as your gateway to a life filled with diverse experiences, rich culture, and incredible opportunities in the Lion City.

Finding a Job

One of the most appealing aspects of living in Singapore as an expat is the abundant job opportunities the city-state offers. With its bustling economy and global connections, it's a hub for professionals seeking a rewarding career path. If you're ready to kickstart your job hunt, Singapore has a variety of avenues to explore:

  1. Online Job Boards: The digital age has revolutionized job searching, and Singapore is no exception. Numerous online job boards, both local and international, feature a plethora of vacancies across different industries. Websites like JobsDB, Indeed, and LinkedIn are your best allies when it comes to scouting opportunities. They allow you to filter your search by industry, location, and more, making it easier to find the perfect fit.
  2. Recruitment Agencies: Singapore's job market is served by a wide array of reputable recruitment agencies. These agencies have a keen understanding of the local job landscape and can help match your skills and aspirations with suitable positions. They can also offer guidance on industry trends and salary expectations. Some well-known recruitment agencies include Robert Half, Michael Page, and Kelly Services.
  3. Networking: Expanding your professional network is a tried and tested method for finding job opportunities. Singapore is home to a vibrant expat community, so don't hesitate to connect with fellow expats who might have valuable insights and leads. Attend local meetups, join expat-oriented groups, or consider reaching out to professionals through platforms like LinkedIn. You'll be surprised at how small connections can lead to significant opportunities.
  4. Government Resources: Singaporean government websites are invaluable resources for job seekers. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) provides a wealth of information on employment regulations, work permits, and various work-related matters. It's a comprehensive guide that can help you navigate the intricacies of working in Singapore. The Work in Singapore website is another treasure trove of information, offering insights into various industries, labor market trends, and job-seeking tips.

Whether you're in search of your first job in Singapore or planning to advance your career, remember that patience and persistence are key. The job market is competitive, but the rewards are well worth the effort. With a strong economy and a diverse array of industries, you'll find Singapore to be a land of opportunity for expats looking to make their mark in the professional world. So, start your job hunt with confidence, and your next career milestone could be just around the corner!

Finding Accommodation

One of the initial hurdles you'll face when settling in Singapore is securing suitable accommodation. With its status as a bustling metropolis, Singapore's densely populated landscape can make finding affordable housing a bit of a challenge. But fret not, as there is a wide array of housing options to suit your preferences.

Housing Options

In the housing market of Singapore, you'll encounter a diverse range of options, catering to various lifestyles and budgets. These include:

  1. Apartments: Apartments, often nestled in high-rise buildings, are a popular choice for expats. They offer convenience, security, and a sense of community. Whether you're seeking a compact studio or a spacious penthouse, you're bound to find an apartment that suits your needs.
  2. Condominiums: If you're looking for a step up in terms of amenities and luxuries, consider condominiums. These gated communities often come equipped with facilities such as pools, gyms, and security services, making them a fantastic choice for expat families or those seeking a more lavish lifestyle.
  3. Landed Houses: For a taste of traditional living, you can explore landed houses, which are essentially standalone homes with private gardens. They provide more space and a greater degree of privacy, making them suitable for larger families or those who crave a serene environment.

Your Search

The hunt for the perfect residence doesn't need to be daunting. Here are some steps to help streamline your search:

  • Online Search: The internet is your best friend when it comes to finding housing options. Numerous websites and property portals list available rentals, complete with photos, prices, and location details. Take advantage of these resources to shortlist potential homes.
  • Real Estate Agents: Many expats find it beneficial to enlist the services of a reputable real estate agent who specializes in expat housing. These professionals have in-depth knowledge of the local market and can help you find the right place based on your criteria.
  • Personal Recommendations: Don't hesitate to tap into the expat community or ask your new colleagues and friends for housing recommendations. They may provide insights and leads that you won't find elsewhere.

Avoiding Scams

While the majority of property transactions in Singapore are safe and legitimate, it's essential to remain cautious and conduct thorough research to protect yourself from potential scams. Here are some precautionary steps:

  • Verify Property Ownership: Ensure the person renting the property is the rightful owner or authorized to lease it. You can request proof of ownership or check with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for confirmation.
  • Inspect the Property: Before signing a lease, personally inspect the property to ensure it matches the description and photos provided. Be wary of landlords who are unwilling to grant you a viewing.
  • Beware of Advanced Payments: Avoid making substantial upfront payments without a signed contract. Deposits and rentals should be transacted as stipulated in your tenancy agreement.
  • Lease Agreement: Always insist on a written lease agreement that outlines the terms, conditions, and responsibilities of both parties. Seek legal advice if needed to understand the terms thoroughly.

By following these steps and staying vigilant, you can navigate the Singaporean housing market with confidence and find the ideal place to call home. Whether it's a cozy apartment, a luxurious condominium, or a serene landed house, Singapore offers a myriad of housing choices to match your unique expat lifestyle.

Cost of Living

Let's delve into one of the vital aspects of expat life in Singapore – the cost of living. Singapore is widely recognized for its high living costs, and there's no denying that it can be on the pricey side. However, there's an important silver lining to consider: the generous salaries on offer often help tip the balance in your favor.


The biggest chunk of your expenses in Singapore will likely be allocated to housing. The city is known for its real estate prices, with high demand and limited space. Whether you choose to reside in a luxurious apartment, a modern condominium, or a charming landed house, be prepared to allocate a substantial portion of your budget for your residence.


Food is a passion and a way of life in Singapore. From hawker centers to high-end restaurants, the culinary scene is rich and diverse. While dining out can be an indulgence, the local hawker stalls offer a plethora of delectable and budget-friendly options. Embrace the local flavors, and you'll find that living in Singapore offers the chance to savor mouthwatering dishes without breaking the bank.


Singapore's efficient public transport system is a boon for residents. From buses to trains, getting around the city is a breeze. The cost of transportation can vary depending on your daily commute and mode of travel. Consider purchasing an Ez-link card for discounted fares, and you'll find that Singapore's transportation system not only keeps you connected but also helps manage your expenses.


Singapore prides itself on its world-class healthcare system. While the quality of medical services is high, it's essential to have health insurance to cover your medical expenses. Make sure to explore the various insurance options available, either through your employer or as an individual, to ensure that you're adequately protected in case of unforeseen medical circumstances.

For a more detailed breakdown of the cost of living in Singapore, you can turn to online resources like Numbeo. These platforms provide up-to-date information on expenses, enabling you to create a comprehensive budget that suits your lifestyle and financial goals.

Remember that while Singapore's cost of living can be demanding, the city's dynamic job market and generous compensation packages often offset these expenses. With prudent budgeting and a bit of financial planning, you can enjoy all that Singapore has to offer without compromising your financial well-being.

So, when it comes to the cost of living in Singapore, it's all about finding the right balance between your income and your expenses. Embrace the city's unique opportunities, and you'll discover that the advantages of living here far outweigh the financial challenges.

Culture and Customs

Singapore is a true melting pot of cultures, each contributing to the rich tapestry of the nation's history. Embracing the local customs and traditions is not only a sign of respect but also a fantastic way to connect with the community. Here are some tips to help you navigate the intricacies of Singapore's cultural norms:

  1. Learn Basic Malay Phrases: While English is one of the official languages in Singapore, it's always appreciated when you make an effort to speak a bit of the local language. Start with basic Malay phrases like "hello" (selamat pagi for good morning), "thank you" (terima kasih), and "goodbye" (selamat tinggal). These simple greetings can go a long way in building rapport with locals and showcasing your respect for their culture.
  2. Dress Modestly: Singapore is a country that values modesty, particularly when visiting places of worship like temples and mosques. Ensure your attire covers your shoulders and knees when visiting these sacred sites. It's a small gesture that reflects your consideration for the local customs and beliefs.
  3. Refrain from Eating or Drinking on Public Transport: One of the key customs to be mindful of is to avoid eating or drinking on public transport. This is not only a matter of etiquette but also a local regulation. Help keep Singapore's public spaces clean and pleasant by saving your meals and beverages for appropriate venues.
  4. Display Respect toward Elders and Authority Figures: In Singapore, respecting elders and authority figures is deeply ingrained in the culture. Use polite language and gestures when interacting with those who are older or in positions of authority. This courtesy is appreciated and reciprocated, making your interactions in the city all the more pleasant.

By embracing these customs and demonstrating your respect for Singapore's cultural heritage, you'll not only blend in seamlessly but also create meaningful connections with the local community. Singaporeans are known for their warmth and hospitality, and your willingness to engage with their traditions will be met with open arms. So, don't be shy to say "selamat pagi," wear modest attire at religious sites, and be courteous on public transport—these small gestures will make your expat experience in Singapore even more enjoyable.

Things to Do and See

Singapore offers an array of exciting activities and attractions for expats:

Marina Bay Sands: The Rooftop Oasis

One of the most iconic landmarks in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, is not just a hotel; it's a destination in itself. Perched atop the imposing skyscrapers is the famous Marina Bay Sands rooftop infinity pool, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city's glittering skyline. As an expat, this is your chance to experience true luxury and indulge in the exclusive pool area. Whether you're swimming or simply lounging with a cocktail in hand, this spot is a must-visit for that picture-perfect moment.

But the awe doesn't stop at the pool. Marina Bay Sands is home to world-class restaurants, high-end shopping, a vibrant nightlife, and even an impressive observation deck. This is the place where your evenings turn into unforgettable memories.

Gardens by the Bay: A Green Oasis

In the heart of the city, you'll find the Gardens by the Bay, a sprawling urban garden that defies convention. The futuristic Supertree Grove is a mesmerizing sight, where towering tree-like structures light up the night sky with a dazzling display. As an expat, this is your chance to immerse yourself in this remarkable blend of nature and technology.

Don't miss the awe-inspiring Cloud Forest and Flower Dome conservatories, where you'll encounter a diverse collection of exotic plants and flowers from around the world. Exploring the Gardens by the Bay is like stepping into a sci-fi paradise – a true testament to Singapore's commitment to sustainable urban development.

Sentosa Island: Fun in Abundance

Located just off the southern coast of Singapore, Sentosa Island is an expat's playground. It's an island of pure entertainment, and the list of attractions is extensive. Universal Studios Singapore, located on the island, is a must-visit for movie buffs and thrill-seekers alike. It's a place where your favorite films come to life with thrilling rides, shows, and character encounters.

For those seeking underwater adventure, the S.E.A. Aquarium is a mesmerizing world beneath the sea. Here, you can explore the depths of the ocean and get up close and personal with marine life from around the globe.

Sentosa is also home to beautiful beaches, golf courses, and an array of dining options. It's the perfect destination for a day of fun in the sun, and you'll find yourself returning time and time again.

Culinary Delights: A Feast for the Senses

Singapore's culinary scene is a treat for the adventurous foodie in you. The city's diverse population has brought a fusion of flavors from around the world, making it a haven for food lovers. As an expat, you'll have the opportunity to savor dishes that range from local hawker stalls serving mouthwatering hokkien mee and laksa to high-end restaurants offering fine dining experiences.

Don't miss the chance to explore hawker centers, where you can try Singapore's signature dish, Hainanese chicken rice, or indulge in a fiery bowl of chili crab. Be sure to venture into the bustling streets of Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam to experience the authenticity of Singaporean cuisine.

Religious Heritage: A Tapestry of Faith

Singapore's rich tapestry of religions and cultures is on full display through its many temples and mosques. As an expat, visiting these places of worship offers a unique opportunity to learn about the country's diverse religious heritage.

You can explore the intricately designed Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore's oldest Hindu temple, or the serene Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, which houses a sacred relic. Don't forget to visit the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, an architectural masterpiece that showcases the Islamic heritage of Singapore.

Singapore's array of attractions and activities make it an ideal destination for expats seeking adventure, culture, and excitement. Whether you're relaxing by the Marina Bay Sands pool, marveling at the Gardens by the Bay, enjoying the thrills of Sentosa Island, savoring culinary delights, or exploring religious heritage, Singapore promises an unforgettable journey. So, pack your sense of wonder and get ready to dive into the vibrant tapestry of this extraordinary city!


Singapore is a dream destination for expats, offering diverse culture, delicious cuisine, and top-notch amenities. If you're contemplating a move to this fantastic city-state, remember to plan ahead and conduct thorough research. And, for a smoother transition, consider these additional tips:

  • Join an expat club or group to meet like-minded individuals.
  • Learn some basic Singlish, the colloquial form of English widely spoken in Singapore.
  • Make the most of government services and resources available to expats, such as job search assistance and visa information on the MOM website.
  • Be patient and understanding during the adjustment period. Embrace the experience and enjoy your time in this wonderful city!

Singapore is not just a destination; it's an experience waiting to be explored. So, get ready to embrace the Lion City and embark on your journey as an expat in one of Asia's most dynamic and welcoming metropolises.

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