Singapore has, over the last few years, attracted a steady stream of eager expats to its shores with the promise of high salaries, a ritzy lifestyle and a perfectly central location. Situated at the southern tip of the magnificent Malaysian peninsula, this city-state buzzes with a fascinating mix of nationalities and cultures. Apart from a relatively large sprinkling of expats from all over the world, the Lion City is locally populated by those of Chinese, Malay and Indian descent, making it one of the most richly diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Singapore further appeals to expats' sensibilities with its renowned efficiency, exemplary public transport system, communications infrastructure and healthcare facilities, as well as a local culture that promotes tolerance, harmony and respect.
Prudent measures by the government have ensured a stable economy, resulting in some of the biggest names in business establishing regional headquarters in the country which, in turn, means plenty of jobs and professional opportunities for qualified expats.
One unavoidable fact of life in Singapore is, unfortunately, that it's pricey. The ritzy lifestyle inevitably comes with a monstrous price tag, but it's also true that the city-state is home to a large percentage of high-earning expats, many of whom have much more disposable income than they might have been used to in their home countries, making the high cost of living a non-issue.
The island-state is, contrary to some reports, also an ideal place to raise a family. Expats moving to Singapore with children can take comfort in the knowledge that the Lion City is crime-free, clean and safe, while various local and international schools provide an immaculate standard of education.
Those expats who imagine Singapore to be a cold, hard concrete jungle, will be surprised to know that, even though much of the island is occupied by dense high rises, it contains a startling amount of natural foliage and vistas, with beautifully luxuriant botanical gardens, lively water parks teeming with happy children, sun-soaked beaches, and a heavily forested 28-hectare zoo.
With good flight connections and an eminently central location, it’s also a great base from which to explore the rest of Southeast Asia, India and Australia.
All of the above, combined with beautifully balmy year-round weather, exhilarating nightlife and plenty of shopping opportunities, create an enviable lifestyle in this glamorous island city – and, indeed, many expats find themselves staying in Singapore far longer than initially anticipated.
Population: 5.7 million
Capital city: Singapore
Neighbouring countries: Singapore is an island city-state off the southern coast of Malaysia.
Geography: Singapore's terrain is mostly low-lying with a gently undulating central plateau. The city-state consists of 63 islands, including the main island of Singapore Island (Pulau Ujong in Malay).
Political system: Unitary dominant-party parliamentary republic
Major religions: Buddhism, Christianity
Main languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Many locals speak Singlish, which is a dialect based on English with some Malay and Mandarin words mixed in. It can take some time to understand.
Money: The Singapore Dollar (SGD) is divided into 100 cents. ATMs are plentiful and foreigners can easily open a bank account in Singapore, sometimes without even being in the country.
Tipping: Most hotels and restaurants include a standard 10 percent service charge. An additional gratuity is always appreciated but not necessary.
Time: GMT +8
Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are British-style, with three flat blades.
Internet domain: .sg
International dialling code: +65
Emergency contacts: 999 (police), 995 (ambulance, fire)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left. Public transport infrastructure in Singapore is excellent and owning a car is not necessary.
Singapore Expat Interviews
"Singapore has a great work-life balance with excellent, affordable travel opportunities. The lifestyle, the food and the weather – quality of life is extremely high." Read more of Matt's comments about life in Singapore.
"Expats here in Singapore are all in the same boat so are very open and approachable to making new connections and building the expat network." Read Jarrad's full interview about his experience as an expat in Singapore.
"Enjoy your time in the little red dot. It really does have a lot to offer – culture, travel, food just to name a few. It is the perfect blend of East and West!" Read our interview with Jasjit, an Australian expat living 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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