OverviewWe are made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and increasingly, people of other nationalities with their own cultural distinctiveness and strengths, yet we maintain good relations with each other. A full calendar of traditional festivals and holidays celebrated throughout the year adds to its cultural appeal. Though physically small, Singapore is an economic giant. It has been Southeast Asia’s most modern city for over a century. One of the safest countries in the world, if not the safest.
Weather & ClimateSingapore does not have clear-cut seasons like summer, spring, autumn and winter. The weather is warm and humid all year round. However, there are two main monsoon seasons in Singapore: Northeast Monsoon Season (December-March) and the Southwest Monsoon Season (June-September).
Average Temperature: 27.94°C (88.122F)
Relative humidity (84.2%)
HolidaysNational Public Holidays include:
- New Year’s Day
- Chinese New Year
- Good Friday
- Labour Day
- Vesak Day
- Hari Raya Puasa
- National Day
- Hari Raya Haji
- Christmas Day
Do’s and Don’ts
- Singapore has changed our timezone 6 times since 1905
- You can find the national anthem in microtext on the back of the $1000 note.
- Popular cable channel Cartoon Network initially thought Singapore was in Malaysia. It’s true, Singaporeans are often mistaken to be from Malaysia or China when travelling overseas
Cost of LivingThe average cost of living is $ S$4,228 per month for an individual and S$7,458 per month for a family of four, as of 2021. This average includes housing rent, utility costs, food, transportation, mobile bills, and many others. The cost of living in Singapore is not too high except for a few categories that include education, housing and transportation.
Tax RatesIncome Tax – For the residents of Singapore, the personal income tax rates generally escalate with the increase of pay, with a maximum of 22%. The income tax rate for every $10,000 above $20,000 is 2%, which increases to 3.50% for every next $10,000 added above $30,000 and so on. For more information, refer to the IRAS website.
Goods & Services Tax – the GST rate for Singapore is 7%.
- Being super clean
- Greenery amidst the city
- Year round summer
- Awesome airport and airline
- Cheap and good street food
- A collection of colloquial catchphrases and lingo influenced by Singapore’s multiculturalism
Visa & Employment PassesThere are various types of visas, namely: Employment Pass Scheme, Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) Scheme, Tech.Pass (for Tech Entrepreneurs), Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) Scheme, S Pass Scheme, Miscellaneous Work Pass Scheme, Dependent Pass Scheme, and Permanent Residence Scheme for Work Pass Holders.
Visa And CitizenshipThe requirements for said schemes are:
- Valid travel document (minimum validity of 6 months at the time of departure)
- Confirmed onward or return tickets (if applicable)
- Entry facilities- including visas to the next destination and sufficient funds to maintain yourself during your stay in Singapore.
- For more information, you can check out our articles below: Type of Work Visas in Singapore
Common Questions about Work Visas in Singapore
From 1 September 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for an Employment Pass (EP) will be raised from SGD3,900 to SGD4,500 for new applications.
The salary criteria for older, more experienced candidates in their 40s will also be raised in tandem.
The new salary criteria will apply to renewal applications from 1 May 2021.
New EP applicants in the financial services sector will need to meet minimum salary criteria of at least SGD5,000 from 01 December 2020.
From 01 October 2020, the qualifying salary will be raised from SGD2,400 to SGD2,500 for new S Pass applications. The salary criteria for older, more experienced candidates will also be raised in tandem.
The new salary criteria will apply to renewal applications from 1 May 2021.
Tech.Pass (As of 12 Nov 2020)
The tech pass is the latest visa administered by the Singapore Economic Development Board. It allows established tech entrepreneurs, leaders or technical experts from around the world to come to Singapore to perform frontier and disruptive innovations.
However, to be eligible for the pass, you must satisfy any two of the following conditions:
- Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last 1 year) of at least S$20,000.
- Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market cap of at least US$500mil or at least US$30mil funding raised.
- Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100mil annual revenue.
Note: Educational qualifications and work experiences are required by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Click here should you wish to apply for an employment pass and here to find out about each type of pass.
Work Permit Process For ForeignersRequirements are different for different types of permits eg. Company’s sealed sponsored applications (employment pass), declarative forms sponsored and stamped by the company (S pass), a copy of passport, educational documents, copy of resume of applicant, proof of residential address(in case of local residence) etc.
To apply, please visit WP Online to fill in the forms required.
Job OpportunitiesSome of the most popular job sectores in Singapore include finance, banking fields, shipping and technology.
Job Seeking Sites
Housing & ConnectivityIn Singapore, there are many different housing types, ranging from the basic HDB flats to executive condominiums and private houses. For foreigners, the most common type of housing chosen are executive condominiums. Read on more to find out more about the processes to renting and buying a house.
Buying PropertyAverage HDB Price (as of June 2020)
Average Condominium Price (as of June 2020)
Average Landed Property Price (as of June 2020)
The documents which you need to attach to buy a property in Singapore are:
1. Authorization Form
2. E-Application Form
3. Proof of Citizenship
4. Proof of Relationship and Marital Status
5. Proof of Income
6. Forms and Undertakings
To buy a property, your income must be qualified enough. Now the polices are different for different sized flats. For example for 2 room flats, the income should not exceed more than 2000$ and for 3 bed room flat it should be around 3000$. To buy 3,4 or 5 bed room flat, the income of the buyer should not exceed 10000$. Apart from the income restrictions, there are few other polices for example the buyer must be a national citizen. The buyer must be above the age of 21. There is a family nucleus policy for the buyer as well.
Housing RentalS$700 – S$2,000 for Shared HDB flat or Condominium
$1,500 – S$4,500 for Studio Apartment or One-bedroom HDB/Condominium
Average housing rental per month for Singles (as of Feb 2020)
When you have found a place you’d like to rent, you’ll go through the following process:
1) Making an offer
Once you and the landlord have decided on a rent amount that both of you are comfortable with, it’s time to make your offer.
It might be more convenient to do this verbally, but remember that if you’ve got nothing down in black and white, there’s nothing stopping the landlord from renting out the place to someone else with a better offer.
To lock down your offer, you might want to sign a Letter of Intent.
This letter indicates that you intend to sign a tenancy agreement with the landlord, and that he agrees not to continue searching for tenants.
You want to negotiate the conditions in your tenancy agreement at this stage (eg. whether you are allowed visitors, whether you’re allowed to use the common areas, whether utilities are included, which repairs you’re responsible for).
It is likely you will be required to pay a good faith deposit together with the Letter of Intent. This is usually a month’s rent for year-long leases, or two months’ rent for 24 months. If you go on to rent the property, the good faith deposit will go towards your security deposit. The security deposit is refundable when your lease lapses, although the landlord may retain some or all of it to repair damages you’ve caused to the property.
Once you’ve signed the tenancy agreement, you are officially renting the place.
But before you do so, make sure you read it thoroughly and negotiate on any points you’re not comfortable with. Note that the minimum lease term is officially 6 months for HDB property and 3 months for all other property, although some landlords flout the rules.
While you should already have negotiated as much as possible before signing the Letter of Intent, comb through the tenancy agreement to see if there’s anything you missed. If you did not have to pay a good faith deposit, you will be required to pay your security deposit when you submit the signed tenancy agreement to the landlord.
You’ll want to make sure you pay your rent on time every month, otherwise your landlord may not want to renew your contract when it ends.
Most landlords in Singapore prefer payment by bank transfer, but if you’d prefer to pay by cheque or in cash, discuss this with your landlord ahead of time.
Note that some landlords may not be residing in Singapore, in which case you will not be able to pay in cash.
Mobile Network ProvidersThe four largest telcos in Singapore are SingTel, Starhub, M1 and Circles.life. For more information, please refer to their websites for their wide range of mobile plans. The average phone bill per month his $28 to $50.
- SingTel – $36/mo for 10GB
- Starhub – $50/mo for 13Gb and weekend unlimitied
- M1 – $40/mo for 15GB
- Circles.life – $28/mo for 6GB
Internet Service ProvidersThe average monthly internet bill is $43 as of Jan 2021.
- Singtel (S$49.90)
- MyRepublic (S$49.99)
- ViewQuest (S$42.50)
- M1 (S$39.90)
- StarHub (S$42.90)
Getting AroundThe cost of a car in Singapore is generally higher than most countries, due to the additional cost of Certificate of Entitlement (COE).
Public Transport SystemThe average transportation cost is $97 per month as of 2021.
Use of bus service will be the most recreational way of exploring Singapore while travelling and yet economical too. Fare can be paid by EZ-link stored-value cards or Singapore tourist card.
Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) MRT tickets can be purchased for single visits at the time of visit but for frequent travellers special discounts are available through the EZ-link stored-value cards.
Taxi/Ride Hailing services
Taxis can be used for places which cannot be reached by bus and also provides benefits of a comfortable and personal ride. The fares may vary for different companies. However cabs are metered. For ride hailing services, the price is determined before the ride itself, however, it is subjected to ERP charges. Taxi companies include Comfort Transportation, CityCab, Yellow top taxi etc. Ride hailing companies include Grab, GoJek, Ryde.
Foreign Driving LicenseStep 1.Pass the Singapore Basic Theory Test (BTT)
To convert your overseas license, you will need to pass the Singapore BTT. Overseas theory test results are not admissible for consideration.
Step 2. Apply for conversion
After you pass the BTT, you must apply for conversion at the Traffic Police Test Centre counter located in the driving centres in person.
Please bring these items, where applicable:
1. The original and a photocopy of your passport and NRIC/entry permit/employment pass/dependent pass/social visit pass/work permit.
2. The original and a photocopy of a valid foreign driving licence*.
*Foreign driving licence must be obtained prior to the issuance of your Work Pass/Dependant Pass/Student Pass, etc
3. One recent matte passport-sized colour photograph of you:
- With a white background
- Eyes looking straight
- Both ears and eyebrows are visible in the photograph
- No headgear unless normally worn for religious purposes
- Glasses worn should not be tinted
- A processing fee of $50 (payment by CashCard and NETS only)
**Translation is not required for licences issued by Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Please also note that if your foreign driving licence does not have the 1st date of issue, you are required to obtain an extract of driving licence record from the Licensing Authority. For more information, you can check out our article on Transport in Singapore.
Driving In SingaporeOnce you are 18 years old you are allowed to drive but only after getting a proper driving license. To get a driving license in Singapore one needs to pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT). Once you are cleared in the test, you will need to get that national license exchanged with the local driving license through Traffic Police Driving Test Centres.
HealthcareSingapore’s healthcare programme was ranked the best in Asia by WHO in 2012. It has a highly organized system of defined private and public sector facilities. Both sectors include highly skilled professionals offering the best level of comfort and treatment.
Public SectorGovernment of Singapore has ensured the best health care staff with highly qualified doctors and appropriate infrastructure that sets a bench mark for all private sector hospitals. Fees for all kinds of treatment are subsidized by the higher authorities and are much less than the private sector. Facility centres include government hospitals, polyclinics and OPDs.
Private SectorPrivate health care centres provide excellent services on their own, there fees are quiet high but they ensure minimum waiting time for patients along with good hygenic conditions and service level that mostly attract the medical tourists. Individuals who are not Singaporean citizens can claim healthcare facilities if provided by the employer.
Some health insurance companies in Singapore are:
3. NTUC Income
Despite there being many great banks in Singapore, these are the top few:
- Developmental Bank of Singapore (DBS)
- Post Office Savings Bank (POSB)
- United Overseas Bank (UOB)
- Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC)
- Standard Chartered Bank
If you were to choose one, we would suggest DBS or POSB if you need cash withdrawals often, if not OCBC could be another viable option. For more information, please refer to their websites.
EducationThe most important key to success in today’s world and for an empowered mind is getting the best possible education as we all have heard of the phrase “Education is an investment in knowledge that pays the best interest”.
PreschoolIn Singapore the average age to start preschool is 3 years or more where children can generally just play around and learn to move out of home into a friendly and comfortable school environment.These schools are run by charitable funds or have a very affordable structure for the fee. However this stage can be missed.
Primary SchoolMost children start school at the age of six from the primary school which is mandatory for all and is completely free of charge. The main subjects focused are English language and Mathematics. Rest of the subjects can be opted voluntarily according to interests. The duration of primary school is 6 years with 2 initial years of orientation.
Secondary SchoolSecondary school education lasts for 4 or 5 years and children pass by an end of secondary school exam. After this, there are two different options for further studies, the first one requires two to three years pre-university course while the second one takes you directly to a technical institute or polytechnic.
Institute of Technical Education (ITE)ITE provides pre-employment training to secondary school graduates, and continuing education and training to working adults. ITE offers apprenticeships for the skilled trades and diplomas in vocational education for skilled technicians and workers in support roles in professions such as engineering, accountancy, business administration, nursing, medicine, architecture, and law. ITE has three colleges that offer the National ITE Certificate (NITEC), Higher NITEC, Master NITEC and Diploma (Technical/Work-Learn)Programmes.
PolytechnicOne of the features of polytechnic education is the strong emphasis on practice-based learning. Work attachments with industry partners are part of the curriculum and can vary in duration from six weeks to six months or longer for selected courses. These work attachments will enable you to gain valuable on-the-job experience and provide you with opportunities to work with industry experts. The courses are normally completed within 3 years.
Junior College (JC)After secondary school, junior college is an option for further studies, requiring two to three years time before taking GCE “A” levels examination. Students can opt to take Science, Arts or Hybrid streams for this time period. After the “A” levels examination, you can apply to the different universities.
International Baccalaureate (IB)In Singapore, the IB diploma program is being offered by 24 schools. It is for students aged 16-19. After the program, you can apply to the different universities. It is recognized by 19 universities in Singapore.
UniversityThere are six public universities in Singapore, they are:
For more information, please check out our article Education In Singapore.
Pet RelocationShipping a beloved pet to the Singapore can be a stresssful and worrying task. Here’s a general breakdown of the costs needed to relocate with your furry friend.
- A copy of the AVS-issued export licence.
- The original veterinary health certificate that fulfils the import and/or entry requirements of the destination country.
- Any other additional supporting documents required by the destination country.