Moving to Singapore
Moving to another country is exciting, but it’s also a big step, and you need to be prepared so that you know what to expect and what to do when you arrive. There are also a lot of things to arrange in advance. We provide you with the tips you need in order to make your transition as smooth as possible.
Before you make your move to Singapore
Cost of Living in Singapore
You may have heard that Singapore is one of the most expensive countries in the world. In fact, it’s ranked tenth overall. Before you commit to a move, you should examine your living costs compared to your compensation to determine whether you will be able to maintain the standard of living you are accustomed to.
However, if you come from Australia or move to Singapore from Europe, you may find that the lower taxes in Singapore leave you considerably better off! If you do have to make some sacrifices in order to live in Singapore, you may still find it worthwhile if you are able to save money that will boost your standard of living when you return to your home country.
Accommodation rental, a vehicle (if you buy one) and the costs of schooling will be among your highest costs. Check out your options before you make up your mind. You might share accommodations or live away from the central business district to reduce your rental expenses.
Booking a Serviced Apartment in Singapore
It can take a month or in some cases two months to find the right apartment for your needs in Singapore. In order to make sure you are comfortable and can hit the ground running we advise you to book a Serviced Apartment in Singapore for at least the first month.
Work Passes and Permits for Singapore
Of course, you will have to obtain the necessary permits in order to be employed in Singapore. You can find the requirements, check your eligibility and see what documents are required on the Ministry of Manpower website. If you already have a job offer, your employer will help you out. After submitting your application, you will have to wait for 3-4 weeks before receiving an ‘in principle’ Employment Pass. This has to be endorsed within 30 days, or it will expire.
If you haven’t got a job in Singapore yet, you can’t apply for your Employment Pass yet. Instead, you will have to obtain an a Dependant’s Pass, for your spouse and children, or a Long-Term Social Visit pass if you are an unmarried couple. The validity of these is linked to the main Employment Pass holder.
The supporting documentation that you will have to supply includes: electronic, certified copies of you academic qualifications, a copy of your passport, and a recent passport photograph of yourself.
Financial Arrangements in Your Country of Origin
If you want to keep your existing bank accounts open, you must check with your financial institution to determine what the implications are. Find out if you will be able to access your funds from Singapore, and if you are not going to use your account while you are away, discover what the charges to keep it open will be, and under what circumstances your account may be declared inactive.
You may want to send money back to your home country, so you may want to open an account that gives you good value on money transfers from Singapore. For example, Filipinos often use BPI or MetroBank and Indians often use Citibank, ABN or AMRO.
Schooling for Children in Singapore
If you’re planning to move to Singapore with your children, you should ensure that they have a place at a school before you search for accommodation. If you look for accommodation first, you might end up living too far away from your children’s schools.
You can find out more about school admission requirements for international students on the Ministry of Education website. Students who are moving to Singapore to study without their parents or who are too old to be classified as dependants, will need to get a Student Pass.
When you enrol your child at a school, you will need certain documentation. Although the Ministry of Education provides a list of documents commonly needed for an enrolment, it is always best to discuss this with the school or schools in which you intend to enrol your children. Ensure that you have compiled all the documents you will need before you leave home.
There are several excellent International Schools in Singapore where your child will be schooled in their home language, and will not have to make any big adjustments in order to settle in.
Dedicated pet owners may want to bring their pets along with them. Depending on where you are from and the type of pet you would like to bring with you, you may have to obtain a permit and meet certain quarantine requirements. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore website contains all the information you need as well as a handy Pet Import Requirement Calculator that will save you having to sift through information that doesn’t apply to you.
You will not be able to import certain breeds that are deemed dangerous: Pit Bulls, Bull terriers, American Bull dogs, Akitas, Neapolitan Mastiffs and Tosas, as well as any related crossbreed are not allowed in Singapore. A second category of dogs must be leashed and muzzled in public.
You should also check out dog licensing requirements. For example, you will only be able to keep a certain number of dogs, and depending on your housing, you may only be able to keep a small breed of an approved type.
Once you have arrived in Singapore
Get Your Employment Pass Endorsed
Your company’s HR department will help with your endorsement. Give them your passport and immigration card. You will be asked to sign a health declaration form. Your endorsement can be done in less than one day, but it’s still best to get it done right away. Your HR department handles this once you have submitted your documents.
Most people move into temporary digs on arrival and then go house-hunting. If you did your homework, you will already know which districts you are interested in. Here’s a guide to neighborhoods in Singapore which you might find helpful. When it comes to finding your new home, it’s best to work through Singapore property agents.
Open Your Singapore Bank Account
As soon as you have obtained endorsement of your Employment Pass, you can open your account. Shop around to determine what fees are charged and what balance you will have to maintain to keep your account open. To open a bank account in Singapore, you will need:
- Your endorsed employment pass
- Your Passport
- Funds to form an opening balance
Electronic funds transfers within Singapore usually take one or two days to clear.
How to Get a Credit Card in Singapore
Credit card offerings vary from bank to bank, so do your homework to get a deal that suits you.
Most banks will require:
- Endorsed Employment Pass
- Company ID
- A recent payslip or other accepted proof of income.
Credit cards with a maximum credit limit of $500 are available from some banks without proof of income.
Getting a Mobile Phone in Singapore
Before you go looking for a phone, check if your employer can help you get one. Corporate discounts can make your package a lot cheaper. If you get your phone privately, you will need your passport and employment pass. If you are getting one through your firm, bring your company ID along.
Of course, you could also choose a prepaid option, and if you are in Singapore for a limited period of time, this is the best option. There are also prepaid deals that let you phone your home country for less; so once again, it’s good to shop around.
Filipinos can get a good deal with the Kabayan card from SingTel. This allows you to talk to Globe and Touch Mobile subscribers in the Philippines at local call rates and you will not be charged when you receive a call from home. Your folks at home will also be able to get in touch with you for less.
What You Need From the Government of Singapore
The first thing you need is a SingPass. This gives you online access to various government services and is handy when you want to file your tax return. If you want to find out more about your tax obligations, your employer will advise you, or you can find more information from the Inland Revenue authority of Singapore. Your existing drivers’ license will only be valid for the first year – thereafter you will have to get a local license. It’s usually a straight-forward process to convert your licence. Most foreigners simply have to pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT) before they can convert their licence.
Getting Around in Singapore
Singapore has an excellent public transport system. The MRT (mass rapid transit) system is excellent, and you can get an EZ Link card at TransitLink ticket offices. The bus system is also very reliable, so if you are planning to do without a car, you will not experience any major inconvenience. Taxis are also cheap and plentiful, with many app booking services available such as Uber or Grab Taxi.
Safety in Singapore
The crime rate in Singapore is very low, and many people attribute this to the application of the death penalty for a variety of crimes including drug trafficking. However, one should still be cautious and streetwise.
Weather in Singapore
Singapore experiences hot temperatures and rainfall all year. Check out a summary of average temperatures, minimums, maximums and rainfall. A compact rain poncho that can fit into your bag will come in handy.