​Moving to Singapore soon for a new job?

Congrats, the competition for jobs is heated here. This is not surprising, considering Singapore hosts the world's fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre. Indeed, the city-state is a unique blend of cultures thanks to the high number of expats brought in by this business, and thus it truly encapsulates the phrase ‘where East meets West’. Despite the apparent easiness for expats to blend in, especially considering English is the most common language used for business, there are several things you will need to think about before taking the leap. Whether it is joining a foreign community group, or planning your commute, considering these points will help you to relocate efficiently and effectively with minimal stress.

1. Join local, and international, social groups

A whooping 43% of Singapore’s population was born abroad; this makes it one of the world’s predominant expat hubs. This provides a valuable chance for you to split your time between networking with foreigners like you, and national residents. Certainly, the opportunities associated with both are plentiful, with plenty of social groups, cultural sites, and an active nightlife. However, beware the cost of alcohol in the city-state; it is extremely highly taxed. If you want to meet with your new workmates, or other expats who have moved to Singapore, make sure you have a heavy wallet. As you’ll see, high prices associated with material things is a common trend here, as seen in the cost of housing.

2. Arrange your housing well in advance, and understand your options as an expat

In the UK, we are used to seeing an apartment that we like in our price range, and applying for it. In Singapore, however, there are restrictions upon the sort of housing that expats can live in. Most citizens of Singapore live in new public housing provided by the HDB. However, as an expat, you will only be able to buy such properties if they are being resold. This means that you will be more limited in your housing search, and there could well be fierce competition for these homes amongst expats. Don’t move to Singapore without a clear plan in place for where you are going to live!

Other common types of housing available to you, such as studio flats and exclusive apartments, will also be very expensive, as there is not a lot of free space in Singapore. It is no wonder that worldwide surveys of the most expensive places to live consistently place the city-state in the top ten. For instance, in March 2019, Housing Wire ranked Singapore 5th in a list of the 10 most expensive places to rent a one-bedroom apartment, with an average cost of £1,468.27. For comparison, the price of living in London, which we all know is extortionate, is 3.93% cheaper; Paris is 42.59% cheaper. Therefore, if you manage to find a good deal with a reputable landlord, make sure to snag it. As in the UK, send a letter of intent (LOI) to the landlord, outlining the basic conditions of your contract.

The numbers that I’ve just listed can seem pretty intimidating, I know. However, don’t be scared off of moving. Salaries are generous and taxes are comparatively low, and there are many areas just outside of the city centre which can be cheaper to live in. Make sure to check out Bedok, Changi, Pasir Ris, Woodlands and Jurong.

3. Commuting: living further away from your workplace can work out cheaper for you

If you do decide to live further away from your workplace for the sake of cheaper accommodation, then you’ll have to arrange suitable transportation for your commute. It’s best not to rely on driving to work. Singapore hosts only 149 vehicles per 1000 people, thanks to the heavy taxes imposed on vehicles. Expats are also required to apply for a Singapore license after 1 year of living there.

So, what’s the best way to travel? Luckily, public transport princes are on average extremely low, and usually only a couple of Singapore dollars. You only pay for how far you travel, and you are allowed up to 5 transfers within a 2 hour journey, which can be on the bus or train. Pretty good, right? What’s more, the MRT offers free morning rides in the city area for commuters using the network before 7:45 am.

So, moving to Singapore need not be a fuss. Whilst some elements of life are more expensive, others are far cheaper, creating a very manageable balance for an expat living and working here. At Aspire, we are experts in recruiting into the APAC market, and have loads of jobs in Singapore available now. So, why not take the leap, and make Singapore your new home?