Guest post written by Ross Campbell
Moving to Singapore from the U.S.
Singapore is listed as one of the top places in the world for expats to live because it has excellent work opportunities and the quality of life is considerably higher than many areas of the world. Living in Singapore is a great opportunity and it has been quite popular with U.S. expats as well as British and Indian expats for many years and when you arrive, you will quickly find a population blended well with eastern and western diversity living together comfortably with a unique culture not seen in many other places.
Aside from grand employment opportunities, Singapore is also one of the most stimulating cities in Southeast Asia and between a sub-tropical climate and a wide array of entertainment and things to do, you could virtually get lost in the excitement from one day to the next.
Singapore is, quite literally, the powerhouse of Southeast Asia and has a population of nearly 6 million. English speakers will find it a breeze to communicate because there are so many people who speak English. It may be beneficial to learn at least a little Mandarin, Malay or Tamil as those are common languages to hear as well.
Finance is the leading employment opportunity in Singapore and it seems that bankers from around the globe have relocated Singapore with their families in large droves over the last decade. If you aren’t a banking wiz however, you can always find work in one of many other industries including manufacturing, energy and technology and for many, the service and tourism industry has been great. It is very common to see American expats working in the tourism industry in Singapore as well as in local restaurants and clothing shops.
Anytime you take it upon yourself to relocate to a new country, you are going to need to take care of obtaining, or turning in, some vital paperwork to go. If you plan to just go to Singapore to check it out and see what you may be missing, you won’t need a visa but you are going to need to have a passport with a minimum of six months left on it to travel to Singapore.
If you are planning to move to Singapore, you better have a job lined up or already have extensive plans to open your own business quickly upon arrival. For a permanent move, your employer must place an application that shows you will earn no less than $2311 (USD) monthly.
You can also apply for an EntrePass if you are an aspiring entrepreneur and plan to start your own business operation. Many American and British expats are entrepreneurs and can employ other expats and local Singapore citizens while earning an income for their own families.
It is also possible to gain permanent entry if you are a middle-income wage earner and make at least $1540 (USD) monthly. The best thing to do when planning a permanent residential move to Singapore will be to speak directly to a representative at the Ministry of Manpower to determine what to do about your visa permit status and employment pass entry.
Setting up your bank accounts locally is a good idea and something that you can usually do before your arrival. If you are used to seeing banks including Citibank, HSBC or Barclays, you will feel right at home because these banks, and numerous others, are in Singapore and if your account is already with a bank that is local, it will be a breeze to transfer your accounts to the local branch.
Unless you plan to spend a great deal of money on hotel stays when you arrive for your permanent move to Singapore, it is highly advisable to begin house hunting prior to the move if possible.
Most expats rent apartments or condos in Singapore and there are numerous choices that include swimming pools, fitness rooms and other amenities that expats enjoy. Families tend to rent in areas that have swimming pools and children’s activities but there are quite a few nice rentals outside of the city centre that will cost far less than the rentals in the heart of the city. Something to keep in mind is that the real estate market in Singapore can be expensive, but there are many affordable homes in the mix as well.
It is also extremely nice, and peaceful, to find a home right on the coast or near the water where you can enjoy the peace and quiet. Within the city, you will find that even the nicest accommodations are going to be a little noisy due to the hefty population and wide array of things to do at all hours.
One of the most important things to do when house-hunting is to speak to a property agent for advice. A licensed real estate agency will be the best to show you everything within your personal budget and to show you the homes that you will really like. It’s going to prevent you from wasting precious time going from one dull location to the next when you could find that home that really wows you from the start.
Just in case you are moving to Singapore for a lower wage employment opportunity, you may be interested in knowing that the government offers affordable housing and even expats are eligible for a government subsidized home in Singapore. These homes are generally nice and comfortable but they won’t have amenities included in the upper scale homes in the area.
Buying property in Singapore may also be an option, but be sure you will live in Singapore for many years and do watch out for the loan fees. Loan fees in Singapore can be very high and you are also going to need a very high downpayment to buy. While most people rent, there are those that prefer ownership so they can modify the home to suit their tastes and so they will have stability for their family for years to come.
There is no greater feeling than being able to sit in your own comfy chair or lay down in your own bed to sleep at night. The quicker you can find a home to rent, the faster you can have your household goods shipped over. To have personal items shipped, you need to hire an international moving company. The company will be able to deliver your household goods to the port, load them into the container and ship them to Singapore for you. Once they arrive, you will need to meet them at the port to have them delivered to your new home.
If you plan to bring your car to Singapore, you need to hire a professional international auto shipping company such as A1AutoTransport to handle getting the car to the port in the U.S. and shipping it to Singapore. Again, you must be at the port when the car arrives so it can be cleared by customs and you can then drive it home or have it delivered by transport to the new home. Once it arrives, you will need to register it with the Land Transport Authority. Your car needs to either be new or manufactured within the last three years or it cannot be imported. The car also needs to a right-handed driving vehicle or it cannot be imported or driven in Singapore. Any modifications that need to be taken care of should be done before the car is shipped or it will be denied entry.
Living in Singapore tips
Once everything is said and done and you have everything moved to your new home in Singapore, take some time to get settled in and comfortable before you start living your new life in this great city-state. Also, living in Singapore means you can check out the city from a high spot and see the city all lit up at night.
During the day, take time to explore the city and visit local museums, shopping centers and restaurants to get to know some of the locals. If your condo or apartment has a pool or fitness center, head down to one of them and meet some of your neighbors.
Be sure to take time to Skype or video chat on your phone with your friends and family back home. This will help keep homesickness at a bay and will help you get acclimated to your home in Singapore quickly!
Ross Campbell likes to travel on his spare time which leads him to settle down in foreign locations. Currently in Singapore working with his company A-1 Auto Transport INC.