Expatriate Living

Singapore is made up of a multi-racial demographic with many different cultures and social customs. A small island, this relatively young country has developed into a bustling hub of technology, arts and finance in the centre of Southeast Asia within decades. One can easily adapt to its diverse culture, lifestyle, customs, food and activities. All international festivals and occasions are celebrated with equal enthusiasm and excitement. International cuisines of different nationalities are also available at various food outlets.

It’s natural for anyone to take some time to adapt to a new environment and culture. The following address a few points to help make the process a little easier.


A person relocating to Singapore for better opportunities should get acquainted with our native languages for better communication. Singlish is a predominant slang here – a local form of English which also consists of words from different languages like Malay and Chinese, as well as Chinese dialects like Hokkien and Cantonese. For example, sentences here may be accented and ended with ‘lah’, in similar fashion to how some Canadians may end their sentences with ‘eh’.

Cost of Living 

Most expatriates are often offered competitive salaries with additional benefits like bonuses and recreational facilities. Other examples of said benefits include an entertainment allowance, payment of school fees, housing, childcare and a transportation allowance. With these subsidies, expatriates may find housing, transportation, food and education costs relatively cheaper than in their own countries.

Taxes & Taxable Income

Taxes in Singapore are regulated by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). All Singaporeans and expatriates employed here are required to pay income tax. The income that is taxable comprise of profits earned from profession and business, income from fulltime as well as part-time work, interest earned from annuity and pension, dividends earned from company shares, property rent and royalty.

Housing in Singapore
When moving to Singapore for the first time, Expatriates usually rent a private apartment or house. With this in mind, it’s not surprising to find expatriates concentrating in certain areas that have a wide variety of condominiums to choose from.

Consider the following factors when looking for a property for the first time in Singapore:

– Budget for rental
– Type and size of property you want to live in
– Distance to work and transportation links
– Proximity to international schools if you have any young children
– Restaurants and entertainment options to spend your free time in the neighbourhood
– Distance to the airport, if you or your partner plan or have to travel often

Budget and Property Prices
Rental prices fluctuate heavily depending on the supply and demand of available units. With constant development and upgrading within such a small land area, home and property prices can be rather steep, with many expatriates opting to rent instead. These prices vary greatly, depending on many different factors like location, amenities, and size of the home.

The following table gives a rough idea of the current price range you can expect:


Central (Newton, Holland Village, River Valley, Orchard, Tanglin)
1-bedroom apartment S$3,000 – S$7,000
2-bedroom apartment S$3,500 – S$8,000
3-bedroom apartment S$4,500 – S$10,000
Penthouse / 4+ bedrooms S$6,000 – S$20,000
Terraced House S$6,000 – S$25,000
Bungalow S$15,000 – S$60,000

East Coast & Bukit Timah 
1-bedroom apartment S$2,500 – S$4,000
2-bedroom apartment S$3,000 – S$5,000
3-bedroom apartment S$3,500 – S$7,000
Penthouse / 4+ bedrooms S$5,000 – S$15,000
Terraced House S$7,000 – S$10,000
Bungalow S$12,000 – S$40,000

Other Areas 
1-bedroom apartment S$2,000 – S$3,000
2-bedroom apartment S$2,500 – S$4,000
3-bedroom apartment S$2,800 – S$5,000
Penthouse / 4+ bedrooms S$3,200 – S$8,000
Terraced House S$5,000 – S$10,000
Bungalow S$8,000 – S$20,000

For the latest prices, check our rental listings at PropertyGuru.com.sg

Property Type – House vs. Apartment
Typical condominiums in Singapore have a multitude of facilities – e.g. swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts, playgrounds, BBQ pits, etc. They are also usually within a walled compound with security guards. Do note that because plot sizes here are relatively small, only the very luxurious landed properties have pools and other facilities.

For somebody moving from a colder climate, please remember that Singapore has a tropical climate, with more small animals and insects around than what you may normally be used to. These tend to cause more problems in landed properties, especially those close to high density areas of flora. If your budget allows however, there are also some nice bungalows that will give you the luxury and privacy that a condominium would not be able to.

Various reliable housekeeping agencies here offer quality cleaning services for offices, apartments and homes. The two prominent housekeeping services companies in Singapore are the Housekeeper’s Management Services and the Association of Singapore Housekeepers.

Singapore has one of the most modern and efficient public transportation systems in the world, and travelling from any point on the island to another does not take long under normal conditions.

Car ownership can be expensive here, but the roads are well maintained and somewhat less congested than in many other cities. Public transportation is also very effective, but tends to be more concentrated in areas where locals live (HDB estates). In any case, unless you live along the edge of Singapore, your commute would rarely exceed one hour.

The main options for getting around are:

Mass Rapid Transport (MRT)
Singapore’s metro/underground train system currently has three lines, with the fourth partially finished. The map below shows the locations of each MRT station as well as details of the distance to the closest MRT station for each listing. Fares range from S$1 to S$2.10, depending on the distance travelled, and if you’ve had to switch from a bus, and vice versa. The map can be found at http://www.smrt.com.sg/trains/images/tn_networkmap_big_030811.jpg

Singapore also has an extensive bus network that covers a much larger area than the MRT. Calculated by the distance travelled, fares can range from S$0.71 to as high as S$4, depending on differing factors like distance travelled, and the type of bus service taken. More details on the bus services and the routes covered can be found at http://sbs.streetdirectory.com.sg/sbs/sbsindexsn.jsp?map=1.

Taxis here are generally plentiful and relatively cheap, compared to many other developed countries. Fares can start from S$2.80 to S$5.00, depending on the type of taxi one hails or calls. This would probably be the transport of choice for most single professionals living close to the city centre. It can sometimes be difficult to get one during peak periods, and additional charges apply for phone bookings and certain hours.

Private Cars
Owning a car here is more expensive, compared to many other countries, and is not really necessary here on a whole. Most save money by using a taxi; however, owning a car gives you the freedom to move around – and heading up to Malaysia every now and then for a round of golf might be a strong enough reason to get one.

Singapore is densely populated and traffic may slow down especially during peak hours. However, the infrastructure helps to smooth out some of the issues and public transportation on the whole is still considerably better than in some of the neighbouring countries. If you still intend on purchasing a car however, but be aware of additional charges that comes with owning one:

Purchase Price – Cars here are probably the most expensive in the world due to import duties and Certificate of Entitlement (COE – a permission to own a car for 10 years, after which it has to be renewed).

Road Tax – Depending on the size of the engine, you need to pay road tax annually. This can vary from a few hundred for a small car to thousands for an SUV.

Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) – A fee is charged during peak hours (from S$0.50 to a few dollars) to access certain roads and areas (mostly in the Central Business District (CBD)). ERP locations can be found at

Parking – Though there are parking charges in most locations in Singapore, please note that parking in the CBD can be especially expensive. Condominiums usually have parking charges included in the maintenance fee (which is paid by the landlord).

Petrol – It may come as a surprise, but petrol is probably the smallest component of your car ownership costs. It is currently around S$1.80 / litre.

You will also need to convert your driver’s license into a Singaporean one within the year. This is a relatively straightforward process, but will require you to take the basic theory test. Please note that the traffic flow in Singapore is on the left side of the road (as in UK and Malaysia).

Schools & Childcare
There are a multitude of schools of great repute in Singapore, including over 370 childcare centres, offering affordable and high quality childcare services.

We also have many international schools in Singapore to cater to the needs of expatriate children. For most large groups, you have a choice of sending your children to a school which follows your national curriculum while being taught in your native tongue. We’ve listed the main international schools in Singapore below – please check their websites for more information.

Australian International School 
1 Lorong Chuan, Singapore 556818

Australian International School in Singapore | AIS Singapore

Bhavan’s Indian International School 
11 Mt Sophia Blk E, Singapore 228461


Canadian International School
5 Toh Tuck Road, Singapore 596679


Chatsworth International School 
37 Emerald Hill Road, Singapore 229313


Dover Court Preparatory School 
301 Dover Road, Singapore 139644


DPS International School 
36 Aroozoo Avenue, Singapore 539842


EtonHouse International School 
51 Broadrick Road, Singapore 439501


German School 
72 Bukit Tinggi Road, Singapore 289760


Hollandse School 
65 Bukit Tinggi Road, Singapore 289757


International Community School 
514 Kampong Bahru, Singapore 099450


ISS International School 
21 Preston Road, Singapore 109355


Japanese Kindergarten 
251 West Coast Road, Singapore 127390

Japanese School (Primary) 
95 Clementi Road, Singapore 129782 (Clementi Campus)
11 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507657 (Changi Campus)

トップページ システム用

Japanese School (Secondary)
201 West Coast Road, Singapore 127383

トップページ システム用

KGS International Pre-School (Japanese)
16 Ramsgate Road, Singapore 437462


Lock Road Kindergarten 
10 Lock Road, Singapore 108938

Lycee Francais De Singapour 
3000 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, Singapore 569928


Norwegian Supplementary School 
c/o Royal Norwegian Embassy, 16 Raffles Quay #44-01 Hong Leong Bldg, S048581Tel:
Overseas Family School
25F Paterson Road, Singapore 238515


Rosemount Kindergarten 

25 Ettrick Terrace, Singapore 458588


Rosemount International School 
461 Telok Blangah Road, Singapore 109022


Sekolah Indonesia 
20A Siglap Road, Singapore 455859

Singapore American School 
40 Woodlands Street 41, Singapore 738547


Singapore Korean School 
74 Lim Ah Woo Road, Singapore 438134


Swedish Supplementary Education School 
c/o Swedish Embassy, 111 Somerset Road #05-01 Singapore Power Building,
Singapore 238164

Swiss School 
38 Swiss Club Road, Singapore 288140


Tanglin Trust School 
95 Portsdown Road, Singapore 139299


United World College of South East Asia 
1207 Dover Road, Singapore 139654


Waseda Shibuya Senior High School 
57 West Coast Road, Singapore 127366


We have provided some other useful websites for additional school matters:
Directory of Local Schools – http://app.sis.moe.gov.sg/schinfo/SIS_DirSvc.asp
Studying in Public Schools – www.croxxing.com/english/info_overview.html – in german
Fee Structure Public Schools – www.croxxing.com/english/info_fees.html – in german
Ministry of Education – www.moe.edu.sg/
Foreign Student Information – www.moe.gov.sg/esp/foreign/ and www.moe.gov.sg/csc/csc_admission.htm#Foreign
Foreign Student Admission Application Form – http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/international-students/
CQT Application Form – www.moe.gov.sg/esp/foreign/CQTForm.pdf – not working and can’t find a replacement
Advice for Expatriates to Place Children in Local Schools – www.moe.gov.sg/esp/eduinfo/
School Terms and Holidays – http://www.moe.gov.sg/schools/terms-and-holidays/

Pet Relocation
There are certain restrictions imposed for the relocation of a pet brought from places other than England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. These pets are quarantined for around thirty days. The completed license has to be submitted two weeks in advance before the import. An amount of S$50 is charged for every pet.

There is also a ban on Pit Bulls, Tosas, Akitas, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brazilieros and Neapolitan breeds in Singapore. The Animal, Meat & Seafood Regulatory Branch in the Singapore government can be approached for obtaining detailed information on import regulations.