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An Expat's Guide to Living in Singapore

Jan 3, 2023Roshel Rebello
An expat sitting on a sofa and researching about working and living in Singapore

A leading global city of enterprise and talent, Singapore offers a plethora of opportunities for trade and investment. The location of Singapore has enabled it to be one of the most important centers for trade and finance in Asia. According to 2016 Triennial Central Bank Survey, Singapore has the largest foreign exchange (FX) center in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region and globally, it is the third largest. These factors open multiple possibilities for expats from all over the world to move to this city-state. Singapore is also considered to be one of the easiest cities in Asia and across the globe for expats to fit in as it offers high-quality education, good healthcare facilities and other amenities. It is also a relatively safe and modern environment to raise a family and lead a comfortable life. Singapore also aspires to be the world’s first Smart Nation allowing citizens and expats to experience an improved quality of life, along with futuristic business opportunities for global enterprises. So, if you are an expat who wants to move and live in Singapore or relocating to Singapore as a family, then this article might offer some insights.

Expat Community in Singapore

According to the Population in Brief 2020 report, the Singapore non-resident population stood at about 1.64 million as of June 2020, about 29% of Singapore’s population of 5.69 million. Expats from different nationalities can be found in Singapore and many of them even have their own expat associations. You can find various associations specifically for nationals, such as Americans, Australians, British, Dutch, German, Japanese and more.

Singapore as an Expat Destination


Singapore has 4 official languages, namely Malay, Chinese, English and Tamil. Malay is also Singapore’s national language. However, the commonly used language in business and trade is English. Schools usually tutor children in English, but they may be expected to learn a second language as well. Many Singaporeans also speak a language known as Singlish. Singlish is like a mixture of English and other languages and might be difficult for English-speaking people to comprehend.

Cost of Living

The standard of living in Singapore is high but the healthcare and education facilities offered are second to none. The high standard of living is also reflected in the property prices in Singapore, both for rented as well as purchased properties. Even owning a car in Singapore may be expensive as heavy taxes are imposed on vehicles. These factors could be a deterrent to some. However, to ensure a comfortable stay, make sure that your expenditure is in-line with your income and expat relocation package.


Moving around Singapore is quite easy. You can make use of public transport, such as buses, Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), or taxis to get from one place to another. But, if you want to drive yourself around, owning a new car may be expensive. Also, the Singapore government has a restriction on the number of cars that can be on the roads. Along with converting your license to a Singaporean one within 12 months of your arrival, every vehicle owner must also pay the registration fees as well as the road tax.

Job Opportunities

Singapore has over 7,000 multinational companies (MNCs). MNCs benefit from Singapore’s sophisticated infrastructure, stable political environment, and highly skilled workforce. Expats who are highly educated and/or have strong work experience have the potential to land job opportunities in Singapore.


According to the World Bank annual ratings 2020, Singapore is ranked 2nd among the 190 economies in the world in terms of ease of doing business. Singapore has over US$19 billion in private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) assets under management as of 2019. Also, in 2019, Singapore had over 3,600 tech startups and about 200 different intermediary and supporting organizations, such as co-working spaces, accelerators, coding academies, among others, offering a great ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs. Not only that, the Singapore government has also contributed to this business growth as it has spent more than US$60 billion over the past several decades to improve the country’s R&D infrastructure, launch accelerators, and create VC funds among others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Singapore attractive for expats?

Singapore offers a wide range of job opportunities for expats. The standard of living is high. Healthcare facilities and education for kids are top-notch, making Singapore a sought-after destination for expats.

How many non-residents live in Singapore?

Out of the total population of about 5.69 million, the non-resident population in Singapore is about 1.64 million as of June 2020, according to the Population in Brief 2020 report.

Is Singapore good for entrepreneurs?

Singapore offers a conducive environment for startups and entrepreneurs as it has multiple co-working spaces, coding academies, accelerators, etc. Also, in the year 2020, Singapore has ranked 2nd among 190 economies in the world in terms of ease of doing business, according to World Bank annual ratings 2020.

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