Living as an Expat in Singapore: 8 Things to Prepare

On top of its dynamic and stable economy, the city-state of Singapore (SG) is well-known for its high quality of life and vibrant multicultural society. It’s no wonder, then, that the Lion City has become a sought-after destination for expatriates from around the globe.

As of June 2022, 1.56 million individuals—which make up nearly one-third of Singapore’s 5.64 million-strong population—are living in the country as non-residents. This prosperous island nation in Southeast Asia clearly offers an enticing blend of business opportunities, political stability, and a harmonious multicultural environment.

Still, migrating to Singapore is a significant milestone for an expat, and anyone who wants to live in the city-state has to make the necessary preparations to seamlessly transition into their new living environment. If you see yourself staying in SG in the next few years or so, start preparing early on so that you can embark on this exciting new journey with confidence.

Here are some of the things that you’ll need to get ready so that you can start your expatriate journey in Singapore on the right foot:

1. Proper Documentation, such as Visa and Work Permits

Obtaining the appropriate documentation is crucial when moving to another country. The right legal requirements, such as a visa and work permit, will allow you to work and reside in Singapore without any complications.

You must make sure to research the specific visa categories that are available to you, such as the Employment Pass for professionals, and understand the eligibility criteria and application process. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MoM) website provides comprehensive information on the various work permits available to would-be expats and the necessary steps to apply.

View of Singapore’s public housing

2. A List of Convenient Housing Options and Up to 3 Months’ Worth of Rent

Your housing arrangement should be a top priority when relocating to a different country, and Singapore is no exception. Luckily, there’s a wide range of housing options available in the country, including public housing from Singapore’s Housing & Development Board (HDB) and private condominiums.

Start your search in advance and consider factors such as location, budget, proximity to amenities, and transportation links. You should also budget for up to three months’ rent, as landlords in Singapore typically require an upfront payment comprising the first month’s rent, a security deposit, and possibly an agent’s fee.

3. Mobile Plans and Internet Connection

Next, you’ll need to set up a mobile plan and obtain reliable internet to stay connected in Singapore. Several telecommunications providers offer competitive mobile plans with varying data allowances and call packages, so it’s best to compare mobile plans to see which option is best for you. Base your decision on your needs and consider factors such like speed, contract terms, and customer support.

4. Life Insurance and Health Coverage

You’ll also want to secure life insurance and health coverage to protect yourself and your family, especially when you’re quite a distance away from your friends and other people who form your support group. Remember that it will be even more difficult to navigate health emergencies when you’re initially unfamiliar with the healthcare system and the facilities and services available to you.

While Singapore has an excellent healthcare system, private health insurance will offer you additional coverage and peace of mind. Research different insurance providers and policies to find one that suits your needs and your family’s. International insurance providers typically offer comprehensive health insurance plans designed specifically for expats in Singapore.

5. School Applications, If You’re Moving with Kids

If you’re bringing children along with you to Singapore, it’s important to plan for their education. The city-state houses a variety of local and international schools catering to different curricula and educational philosophies.

Search online or ask for recommendations, and shortlist schools that align with your preferences and requirements. Admission processes and timelines may vary, so check the specific requirements of each school and submit your children’s applications well in advance.

6. Financial Management Tools, such as Local Bank Accounts

It’s also essential to open a local bank account in Singapore to properly manage your finances. Many local banks offer a wide range of banking services that are tailored to the unique needs of expatriates.

Narrow down a list of Singapore banks and look at the account options available, such as savings accounts and multi-currency accounts, and compare fees, interest rates, and accessibility. The right local bank account product will enable you to manage day-to-day expenses, receive your salary, and handle financial transactions in the most convenient manner during your stay in the country.

7. Knowledge of the Local Culture and Lifestyle

Embracing the local culture and lifestyle is key to making the most of your expat experience in Singapore. The Lion City is known for its diverse population and multicultural society, which mostly comprises the Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian peoples.

It’s well worth taking the time to learn about local customs, traditions, and etiquette. Be ready to explore Singapore’s vibrant food scene by visiting hawker centres and local markets that offer myriad culinary delights. Attend cultural festivals and events as well to immerse yourself in Singapore’s rich heritage. Being engaged with the local community and immersing in Singapore’s culture will enhance your overall experience and foster meaningful connections during your stay.

8. Support from Your Networks and Connections

Last but definitely not least, you’ll want to build a support network before, during, and after your move to Singapore. You can find people in the same boat as you by joining expat groups, online forums, and social networks. These places will allow you to connect with fellow expats who can provide valuable advice, share experiences, and help you navigate your new surroundings.

Many expat communities in Singapore also organise social events and activities, offering opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and forge friendships. Consider actively making time for these events and expanding your current network in Singapore. In addition, be sure to leverage your existing professional networks and connections to establish new relationships in Singapore, both for personal and career growth.


Moving to and living in Singapore will be an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in a thriving cosmopolitan city with a high quality of life. Prepare yourself well ahead of time for this big move, and ready up each item you need to get a fresh start in this exciting new location. That way, you can ensure a smooth transition to life in SG and fully embrace the kind of lifestyle that this prosperous island nation has to offer.

Images: Envato

Leave a Comment