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Expat guide to moving and living in Singapore

Singapore’s city-state still continues to be a top choice for expats when moving to Asia.

In recent years, Singapore has never failed to provide a better life for its people. It was even ranked as number 1 in Southeast Asia’s quality of life. With its thriving economy, citizens get to enjoy high-quality health care, proper education, societal safety, and a business-friendly structure.  

Check out these fun facts about Singapore:

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Let’s take a look at what it’s like to live in Singapore and how you can qualify to be a Singaporean expat.

Visa Requirements

There are a lot of visa types that you can apply for in Singapore. And it varies depending on the purpose of your visit. But if you’re considering having a permanent stay, applying for a PR visa will be the perfect choice for you.

For you to be eligible for this category, you must have the following requirements:

  • Spouse of a Singapore citizen or a Singapore permanent resident (PR)
  • Aged below 21 who is unmarried, born within the context of legal marriage, or have been legally adopted by a Singapore citizen, or Singapore PR (Have Singapore citizen or PR parents (natural or adoptive parents), whose age is under 21 and is unmarried) 
  • Aged parent of a Singapore citizen
  • Employment Pass or S Pass holder
  • International student in Singapore
  • Foreign investors in Singapore

But the usual gateway for expats for permanent residence in Singapore is that they apply for a Singapore job that can provide them either an Employment Pass or an S Pass. They are eventually eligible to apply for PR once Employment Pass holders are able to present 6 months' worth of payslips from their Singapore employer or if S Pass holders have at least stayed and worked for 3 years in Singapore.

Good thing that there are licensed agencies in Singapore that can help you with the visa process. For example, French citizens looking to move to Singapore can approach FCCS (French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore) with their visa application.  

A permanent residence application must be submitted online through e-Service. The
application form can be completed online or downloaded and finished offline before being submitted online.

Download the guide for a step-by-step process to prepare and submit the necessary documents for your visa application.

Living in Singapore

Home or accommodation is the first thing you will be looking for when moving abroad. Although Singapore is land-wise small, it never disappoints with its wide range of accommodation.

Singapore is penned to be one of the world's most expensive cities due to its well-developed infrastructure and modern facilities. And its property market is known to be divided into 2 groups - public and private sectors.

Most locals opt for HDB housing provided by the Singapore government. Though expats are eligible to rent an HDB flat, there are still non-citizen requirements to be met, which limits HDB to only a certain number of expats.

Oftentimes, especially high-earning foreigners prefer to rent a private apartment, condominium, or bungalow in central Singapore. Although living in these high-end properties in Singapore can become expensive, 87% of expats report that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to spend comfortably in this kind of lifestyle, according to InterNations. 

Working in Singapore

As Singapore focuses on growing its economy for the years to come, the government has made its effort to add more job opportunities for both locals and foreigners. Singapore's foreign workforce totals of 1,305,800 in 2022.

Nowadays, the most thriving industries in Singapore are the ones that are evolving around digitalisation, among which are Financial lines, Tech, and eCommerce industries. It is important to know if your target career is in demand for you to have a higher shot of getting a job.

Career opportunities are open as long as you can possess an Employment Pass or S Pass. In order for you to be eligible for these passes, you must do your part of searching for an employer that could provide you with a job in Singapore. You can search through job platforms like Linkedin, Jobstreet, Indeed Singapore, or Upwork to explore Singapore companies that have job openings.  

Take note that to know the general employee benefits by right that you must negotiate accordingly with your employer. For starters, employee health insurance is a commonly negotiated benefit because it can help you in balancing and manage your healthcare expenses extensively. But in case your employer doesn't provide Corporate Health Insurance, consider having personal Expat Health Insurance for you and your family, frankly, medical expenses are unavoidable thus making it mandatory.  This insurance is perfect for expats as they won't be eligible for many government-funded healthcare schemes.

But if you are an avid entrepreneur who dreams of having his own company in Singapore someday, fortunately, you can register for a Singapore company. Know how to establish your own Singapore company.

Healthcare in Singapore

Singapore takes pride in having one of the best and most advanced medical systems. It even ranked 2nd in Southeast Asia’s Healthcare index.

Both locals and expats can enjoy access to its world-class medical facilities. Singapore has supported the healthcare of its residing citizens by implementing a mandatory system, but expats can fully utilise this system if he has already successfully registered as Permanent Resident.  A part of their wages will be automatically put into CPF (Central Provident Fund) contribution. This contribution will be helpful to cover the basic health insurance plan only.

Out-of-pocket medical fees are still applied in most certain cases especially if you’re aiming to have exclusive care from private medical facilities. So it is advised to get insurance, such as International Health Insurance or at least an add-on to MediShield Life, which should be considered for you to have complete access to any healthcare services and facilities. 

Navigating through Singapore

Living a good life wouldn’t be complete without a well-established transport system. And Singapore not only boasts of a safe and clean surroundings but also of its public transportation system.

Singapore’s government has invested well in its public transportation in order for its residing citizens to enjoy exploring Singapore with ease. With its efficient combination of integrated rail and road infrastructures, Singapore was able to establish MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). This rail network is 230 kilometers and placed all over Singapore. This allows people to travel to their work, malls, and recreational places in just minutes. And the good thing is, commute fees in Singapore are very much affordable.

So why choose Singapore?

Pretty much, if you’re trying to find a place in Asia that offers the best quality of living then Singapore is no doubt a top candidate for you to consider.

Expats and its family can live in confidence in Singapore due to its well-built systems. Not only do they offer the great qualities mentioned earlier, but they also make sure that education and the personal safety of its people are always in good hands and are also an utmost priority.

If you are in need of support in structuring your life in Singapore, know that you can reach out to our insurance experts to advise you on the best plan to protect your expat journey. 

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