Moving to Singapore: Pros and Cons for Aspiring Expats

Moving abroad requires careful consideration and planning. Although it can be exciting to imagine a new life in a foreign city, most people have both positive and negative experiences after relocating. Even those who have spent many years living in international locations often have challenges. If you are considering a move to Singapore, consider these pros and cons before you take the plunge.

Accommodations in Singapore

The majority of the housing available in Singapore is high-rise condominiums and apartments. Yards are virtually nonexistent in Singapore, even for those living in houses. To compensate for the lack of private yards, you will find extensive green spaces built into the city design. Many parks are also present for residents.

  • Positives: Housing options are plentiful in Singapore, so renters have many choices in both government-owned and private-owned apartments and condos. Construction of new condo developments is ongoing. These developments offer appealing amenities such as on-site pools, gyms, playgrounds, and function rooms. If you prefer to live in the suburbs, you will find a variety of single-family homes.
  • Negatives: Housing is expensive in Singapore due to the high demand. Rents increase for properties closest to the center of the city, but single-family homes in the suburbs can be expensive, too. Living in a condo or apartment outside of the center of the city might allow you to find more reasonable rent.

Transportation in Singapore

Although the island itself is only 268 square miles, the transportation system in Singapore is extensive. Roadways and infrastructure are also well-developed. Residents travel around the island easily by car. Public transportation is also available via bus and train.

  • Positives: The Singapore government has designed a convenient public transportation system. Navigating the island by bus or train is simple and inexpensive. Cabs are also available and affordable. Plans for adding additional train lines are in place, which will continue to improve Singapore’s transportation system.
  • Negatives: Owning and operating your own vehicle in Singapore is prohibitively expensive. The government levies taxes, insurance fees, and customs duties on vehicle owners, and tolls throughout the island are also expensive. You will also have the expense of parking your vehicle.

Travel From Singapore

Traveling to Singapore requires extensive time due to the remote location of the island. Flights in and out of Singapore tend to be expensive. Once you arrive and become settled in the country, you can enjoy a variety of local vacation areas, however. These destinations are easily accessible and affordable.

  • Positives: Traveling from Singapore to other destinations in Southeast Asia is affordable. A number of airlines serve the country, offering travel opportunities to Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. It’s even possible to plan spur-of-the-moment weekend getaways. Airlines offer inexpensive airfare deals.

Safety in Singapore

The presence of law enforcement in Singapore is very low-key. Residents typically don’t see police cars patrolling the streets. Police officers are also rarely noticed in public. Even with this low profile, Singapore is a very safe city.

  • Positives: Singapore enjoys a low crime rate for both residents and tourists. The local government employs a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs.
  • Negatives: Crossing the street in crosswalks is crucial in Singapore because pedestrians do not have the right of way over motorists. Sidewalks in the city are small, and bicycles share sidewalks with pedestrians because Singapore does not have bike lanes. Motorists are not careful about watching for cyclists, so biking can be dangerous. Park connector pathways are the safest option for cyclists.

Social Scene in Singapore

People are friendly in Singapore. Whether you are just visiting or making Singapore your new home, you shouldn’t have trouble meeting people. You can find new connections with locals in the city, or you might connect with other expats.

  • Positives: Explore Internet options to meet people; many social media websites feature groups of expats who are trying to meet others, and locals are also active online. Organizations in the city also organize social events. You could join an expat club to meet others with similar interests and backgrounds.
  • Negatives: Although clubs and bars are prevalent, frequenting these establishments can be expensive. Singapore implements a “sin tax” on alcoholic beverages, and this excise tax increases the price of drinks significantly.

Health Care in Singapore

Health care in Singapore is less costly than in other countries. A socialized health care system is available, and many residents qualify for this coverage. Whether or not you have insurance, you will likely find medical services to be affordable, and expats can be insured.

  • Positives: The country operates a number of public hospitals throughout the island. You can also find a variety of outpatient clinics, some of which are public and others are private medical practitioner clinics. With insurance, your provider will give you a list of physicians and clinics available to you.
  • Negatives: Singapore uses a direct bill settlement process, which requires immediate payment for services. If an insurance company does not offer this payment option, the patient has to pay out of pocket; generally, the insurance company will reimburse you later. To avoid surprises, it’s wise to know how your insurance company handles direct bill settlement.

Education in Singapore

Singapore prioritizes education. Expats have the option of enrolling children in either local public schools or private international schools.

  • Positives: Public schools are both affordable and of high quality. Expats who prefer that their children continue with an education that matches the system of their native country can opt for a private international school.
  • Negatives: Expats may have to pay more for public schools than locals have to pay. Even so, education prices are not excessive. Private international schools are more expensive than public schools. Admission to both public and private schools in Singapore can be challenging, so expats should submit applications far in advance of a move to Singapore.