Moving to Singapore?
Moving to Singapore
At a Glance:
- English is not only the language of business and administration in Singapore, but one of their four official languages: the others being Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.
- Although the government heavily regulates public life in Singapore, it also means it is a modern, clean, efficient, and safe place for its people as well as for expats.
- Not everyone requires a visa to visit Singapore, however, everyone entering must be granted a visit pass.
- Foreign professionals wanting to work in Singapore must first obtain a work permit, also known as an Employment Pass (EP). There are multiple permits available, such as the P1, P2, Q1, Q2, and S passes; the requirements of each vary depending on your monthly salary and level of qualification.
- Singapore has no major health risks that expats need to be aware of, having excellent healthcare facilities and personnel.
Singapore’s colonial past established it to be a place of thriving expat culture. Today, Singapore’s economic success is the main reason behind the influx of foreign business officials.
A population of over 5.7 million testifies to record numbers of people relocating to Singapore and some 40 percent of all inhabitants are foreign-born workers or students. One in four skilled workers, for example, is from overseas, and about 50% of all service sector employees come from a different country.
The city-state has a lot to offer to expats from all over the world, both in terms of career opportunities and quality of life — the latter being rated as the highest in Asia. The government, while by no means neglecting its own people, takes measures to attract highly skilled international workers keen on moving to Singapore.
The country’s small population and limited resources mean expats and foreign businesses are important for Singapore’s economy. Those planning to move to Singapore can expect as a consequence a warm welcome, and good working and living conditions.
Getting to Know Singapore
Depending on your country of origin, a move to Singapore might not be as big a culture shock as moving to some other Asian countries. However, expats should be aware of some essential facts about this city-state. The Republic of Singapore is a representative democracy with a unicameral parliament: with a president as its constitutional head of state and a prime minister as its executive power.
It is also considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world and has been politically stable ever since independence in 1965. Undoubtedly this is another reason why so many businesses who want to tap the Asian market have been opening up shop in Singapore.
Safety and Stability: The Police Are Your Friend
However, stability and security come at a certain cost for people moving to Singapore from countries who place a higher value on individual freedom. The government regulates nearly every aspect of public life. To provide a modern, clean, efficient, and safe place for its people as well as for expats, the government enforces law and order in an unyielding judicial system that includes corporal punishment and the death penalty.
While the latter is reserved for serious crimes like drug trafficking, unsuspecting foreigners who are caught feeding birds, failing to flush a public toilet, chewing gum, spitting on the street, or jaywalking can face a hefty fine. Jaywalking, for instance, can range from 20 SPD on the spot, up to 1000 SPD or three months imprisonment.
However, people moving to Singapore shouldn’t get the wrong idea. The police in Singapore may be assertive, but they are as much your friend and helper. For example, if you inform the police that you will be going away on vacation, an officer will patrol your house during your absence.
If you would like to read up more on this topic, check out the articles in the Safety and Security Category of our Extended Guide to Singapore.
Don’t Worry about the Language
One thing most foreigners moving to Singapore needn’t worry about is the language barrier. English is not only the language of business and administration, but together with Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil, it’s also one of Singapore’s official languages.
While knowledge of the other languages is very helpful, foreigners can usually get by with English alone. Most Singaporeans are bilingual or even multilingual.
However, this does not mean you cannot take the chance to learn a new language! Check out our article on Learning a Language in Singapore for more information on both the local languages as well as learning opportunities.
Health Risks in Singapore
There are no major health risks expats need to be aware of. Healthcare personnel and facilities in Singapore are excellent, and generally hygiene standards are very high.
As in all tropical countries, there are incidents of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne infection causing severe flu-like symptoms and, if untreated, sometimes even death. The only effective precaution is to protect oneself against mosquito bites.
While malaria is not an issue in Singapore, people with respiratory diseases (bronchitis, asthma) might experience aggravated symptoms due to the hot and humid climate.
You can find more in-depth information on these topics in the articles of the Health and Insurance Section in our Extended Guide to Singapore.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.
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