It’s certainly possible to live a luxurious lifestyle in Singapore, especially for those lured to the buzzing city-state by a lucrative expat package. It’s well known that the day-to-day cost of living in the ‘Little Red Dot’ can get pretty expensive. That said, even those expats who don’t earn a top-tier salary will still find they can enjoy a high quality of life in Singapore.
There’s something for everyone (and every budget) when it comes to having a good time, and expats moving to the city-state should have no problem finding fun things to do in their spare time.
Conspicuous consumption in the form of shopping and eating is a Singapore norm and firmly features in both local and expat lifestyles. New arrivals in the city should prepare to engage in both of these popular pastimes – and budget accordingly.
Otherwise, much time is devoted to the pursuit of life outdoors, despite Singapore's constant heat. On weekends, parks and trails heave with bike riders, joggers and those simply enjoying a stroll.
Expats should keep in mind, though, that Singapore has a work-hard-play-hard culture in every sense of the expression. While the lifestyle can feel indulgent at times, it’s likely to be well-earned.
Shopping in Singapore
From luxury boutiques and modern malls to streetside flea markets, expats will find that the options for shopping in Singapore are almost endless – whatever their budget.
Both locals and expats in Singapore love to shop, and there is no shortage of aisles to cruise in this city-state. Orchard Road and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands are particularly known for having high-end designer stores such as Chanel and Prada.
Eating out in Singapore
As mentioned, food and frequenting lavish restaurants are a big part of Singaporean culture, and there are numerous exciting eateries and food stalls to choose from. From a bowl of noodles at a hawker centre to a tasting menu at a celebrity restaurant, foodie expats will have a great time exploring the city’s food scene, which boasts just about every type of cuisine imaginable.
Restaurant reviews and recommendations are easy to come by online, and magazines are also a valuable source when looking for the latest hotspots and trends in the culinary scene. Local food bloggers can be helpful too.
Nightlife in Singapore
Even with the high price of alcohol in Singapore, the bar and club scene is impressive and particularly popular among expats. People sometimes start their night immediately after work, a prime time to take advantage of happy-hour prices.
Watering holes along Clarke Quay are often loud and popular with tourists, while bars in the city centre cater to the after-work crowd, some of which have live music for entertainment. For a more scenic night out, head to one of the rooftop bars or any of the many spots dotting the marina.
Sports and outdoor activities in Singapore
Outdoorsy types in Singapore will find an abundance of activities to keep them occupied. Along with sports clubs where expats can take part in organised outdoor fun, there are also plenty of attractions and green spaces scattered throughout the city where expats can enjoy the sunshine surrounded by the natural environment.
Kayaking, paddleboarding, cycling and hiking are all popular activities around the island’s various beaches and parks. These spots are also perfect for a picnic and a relaxing day with friends or family.
Regional travel from Singapore
Escaping the non-stop bustle of Singapore for some R&R is easy, affordable and quick. Expats should make use of the country’s central location and efficient airports whenever they can to break free from the city-state’s relentless hum and preserve their sanity.
One way to find out about last-minute travel deals is by subscribing to local discount-deal sites. Singapore also hosts some travel fairs each year, which provide ideas for planning a trip. But connecting with fellow expats and locals and planning a weekend getaway based on their recommendations is a good route too.
Family life in Singapore
Expat families living in Singapore will, of course, have a different lifestyle to carefree singles or career-driven power couples in the city-state. The good news is there is no shortage of family-friendly activities in Singapore to keep everyone occupied, and the overwhelming amount of greenery in the form of playgrounds and parks makes for affordable entertainment.
There’s the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park for starters. Universal Studios Singapore is another great place to take the kids for the day, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens is perfect for a picnic. For some social interaction, sign the kids up with a playgroup or a sports team, or check the neighbourhood’s community centre for activities in the local area.
What do expats love about Singapore's quality of life?
"Personally, I feel my quality of life has improved drastically since moving here, but then this city and its quirks fit me perfectly." Ellinor, a Swedish expat, tells us about her experience moving to Singapore in her interview.
"There is a thriving expat community, and I was able to integrate very quickly through sports clubs and work. It’s a very social environment and everyone likes to meet for beers, dinner, lunch, etc." Read more about how Scott, a South African expat, adjusted to life in Singapore in his interview.
►Read one expat's top 10 tips to making the most of expat life in Singapore
►Find out about Singapore's best shopping spots in this article on Shopping in Singapore
Are you an expat living in Singapore?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Singapore. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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