Expat Singapore

Singapore is one of the fastest growing economies and island states in the world. Singapore is sometimes referred to as a no-nonsense business island that takes pride on its highly educated and trained work force. For the most part, the expats that do come here do so at the request of their employer. While visiting in Singapore can be interesting and enriching, for those that would like to live in Singapore for the long term, you should craft out a detailed plan.


Singapore has a tropical monsoon climate that for the most part is extremely hot and humid. During the year, expect temperatures to be in the high 70’s to high 80’s. While the nights are cooler, you won’t encounter any cold weather during the year. The monsoon is present during November through January and while the majority of rainfall falls within these few months, rainfall can fall during all times of the year. Rainfall during the monsoons can consist of torrential downpours, which last a short period of time. When packing, try to bring along clothing that dries quickly. While you won’t need a winter jacket, a heavy sweater or very light jacket may be good to use during the very cool conditions that occur during the night.


The Government of Singapore is very strict but fair. The government has elections once every 5 years. Singapore has multiple parties. The party that receives more than 50% of the vote forms the new government. The government in Singapore is very transparent and it is said that corruption is at a minimum. In fact, it is rated as one of the least corrupted governments in the world. While there is much praise for the government of Singapore for not being corrupt, many critics have stated that the stance of the Singapore government on social issues is too excessive.

For instance, censorship is extremely high. If you are planning on visiting Singapore, make sure you check out the Singapore government website. Many items that may be normal to travel with such as pre recorded CD’s and DVD’s, along with books and magazines may be banned from the island. In addition, fines for certain social behaviors are high and in certain situations individuals that are caught littering or chewing gum (chewing gum is banned) may be required to pay an extremely high fine, sometimes more than $1,000. It should also be noted that drug use is a big mistake. Do not get caught trafficking or using drugs. You may receive the death penalty or 10 years in jail.

Two resources are the Singapore Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.

For information on visa’s and immigration, read Immigration Singapore: Visa, Employment Pass, Work Pass, Dependant Pass, Permanent Residency (PR) Singapore.

Other government departments you may have to work with include:

Tax System

Most people that venture to Singapore come on the request of their employer. Singapore is a great place to do business and there are many multi national companies that have offices in Singapore.

It is important to note that before working in Singapore, you will need the proper working papers and certificates. In addition, before you leave Singapore and return home, you or your HR department will have to contact the Singapore government and fulfill any tax debts before leaving.

Singapore has a territorial basis for taxation, meaning that for most expats, only Singapore derived income is taxed. There are some exemptions to this rule. For expats, expect a tax rate from 2% to 28% after the proper reliefs have been paid to the government. There is also a flat tax structure available at which you need only pay 15% rate on income tax. This flat rate means that no other reliefs need to be paid to the government.

To learn more about expat taxes in Singapore, read Guide to Personal Income Taxes in Singapore.

Medical Care

Singapore has modern medical facilities. In addition, the health care in Singapore is high quality and extremely accessible. There are plenty of public and private hospitals available and if you need emergency assistance, you are only a phone call away. Regarding health insurance, you should contact your employer or HR department. Most people that come here as expats do work for large companies or corporations and are usually eligible for health care insurance while on the island.

Besides public and private hospitals, there are plenty of clinics, dental facilities and drug stores to buy prescription pharmaceuticals. When filling out your form for your visa or work permit, you may need to provide information on vaccinations for certain diseases such as Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever.

Real Estate

Real estate is very secure and easy to invest in. You do not have to worry about contracts going awry in the court or losing your investment because of new laws. For those looking to buy an apartment, condo or town home expect moderate to high prices, especially in the city center.

Renting a flat can be time consuming and frustrating for some. Many agencies will not show you an apartment and will only rent you an apartment by the amount of bedrooms, location, etc. You will not be able to see the apartment in many situations until you rent it.

While there is cheap housing available, it is usually not for expats or foreign nationals. You will likely need a permit to rent specific types of apartments that fall into low rent categories. For an average apartment, expect to pay S$4,000 for a well furnished one to three bedroom flat, near the center of the city the price can be around S$5,500 to S$7,000.


One of the many bright spots about living in Singapore is the wealth of shopping. There are many places to find high quality goods and there are brand new modern shopping malls available for those that enjoy shopping. Besides shopping malls, there are plenty of markets and shops that cater to discount shoppers, as well as boutique shops and antique shops for those individuals that are looking to purchase extraordinary and unique items.

Food is excellent in Singapore and there are plenty of great restaurants along with smaller kitchens that cater to the people that are passing by for a quick snack. Nightlife is excellent as well and there are many bars, clubs and lounges to hang out at.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Singapore is not cheap, however lower taxes and quality of life do make it extremely attractive. Living in Singapore is just as expensive as many major cities such as New York and San Francisco. While rental fees are usually a little less, they are still expensive and can cost from $1,000 to $7,000 for a one bedroom to three bedroom condo, apartment or town home.

Owning a car is very expensive as well and most expats suggest that you get by with taxis and public transportation, which by the way are very accessible. Purchasing a car is possibly more expensive than any other place in the world and can cost tens of thousands of dollars more than in the US.

For food and entertainment, prices are moderate to high, but Singapore does offer a good value and high quality entertainment for the price.

Web Sites for Expats in Singapore

Expat Singapore

ExpatSingapore.com is a must-stop website for all resident or newly-arrived expatriates! The site offers hundreds of pages of useful and relevant information on every aspect of life in the Lion City, conveniently sorted into several main sections.


Countless expats enter Singapore via this gigantic award winning expat portal and virtually live in the lion city long before their first visit or relocation to Singapore. This is the ultimate free support with unbiased information for expats while on the move to Singapore and long after immigration for the entire duration of an expat’s employment in Singapore.

Singapore Expats

A one-stop residential property guide, renting procedure and information directory for expatriates living or relocating to Singapore.

Singapore Country Guide

Country guide to Singapore from ExpatForum.com.


AngloINFO provides the English-language information you need for life in Singapore.

Drew & Napier

Singapore immigration consultants.

DNH Consultants

Singapore immigration consultants.

Extradition from Singapore

Requests for extradition from Singapore are handled by the Attorney General’s Chambers using the rules defined in the Extradition Act.

The Extradition treaty between Singapore and the United States of America was signed on December 22, 1931

The Singapore Exchange of Notes was signed at Singapore April 23 and June 10, 1969

Map of Singapore