Moving to Singapore

Interested in moving to Singapore from Australia? Then you will be happy to know that Singapore is one of the worlds top expat destinations. In fact, given that Singapore and Australia have a close trading relationship and that English is the official language, Australians will find moving to Singapore a relatively easy transition.

If you are moving to Singapore and are looking for information on what to do before and after, we have outlined the essential information you should know before you go.

Tips on moving to Singapore

There is a lot to learn about moving to Singapore and many things to plan, so here are a few vital points we think should be on the top of your list when considering the move:

  • Request removal quotes: Whether you are looking to save money on moving to Singapore or you just want someone to look after everything for you, requesting removal quotes is a great place to begin. You can save a ton of money on your move to Singapore by just seeing what is out there.
  • Choosing the right removalist: Once you have received moving quotes, what do you do with them exactly? You may want some guidance on which company to work with, check out our top 10 Australian international removalists.
  • Moving and shipping costs: After choosing a removalist, you may want to understand what other costs are associated with moving overseas and shipping your belongings. Give our shipping costs page and or our international moving costs article a read.

Live in Singapore permanently

Moving to Singapore

Australians require no visa (although you need at least six months left in your passport) for a stay of less than one month. However, if you plan on living, working and or studying in Singapore, you’ll need to apply for the relevant visa.

A work visa in Singapore is also referred to as an Employment Pass. Your employer must apply for your Employment Pass with you or on your behalf. Once you have held this pass for at least 6 months, you then have the right to apply for permanent residency. Most people do not apply for this visa until they have lived and worked in Singapore for a few years.

You can apply for permanent residency for your whole family but do bear in mind that boys with this residency status are required to register for national service at age 16 ½. In Singapore this mandatory service lasts for two full years, followed by an additional 40 days per year until the age of 50 (40 in some cases).

For information on these visa processes as well as on the costs associated with them, refer to the Ministry of Manpower’s website.

If your move to Singapore becomes a permanent one, you may want to then become a citizen of Singapore. You will be considered if you are:

  • A Singaporean Permanent Resident (PR) who is at least 21 year or older and has held PR for at least 2 years
  • The spouse of a Singapore Citizen who has been married for at least 2 years, and has been a Singaporean PR for at least 2 years.

To check your eligibility, as well as find all information required for becoming a citizen in Singapore, visit the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority website.

Setting up your finances in Singapore

Due to Singapore’s position as a global financial centre, it is home to many banks from English-speaking countries, such as HSBC, Citibank, Chartered Bank and Barclays. As such, it is possible to set up a Singaporean bank account before arriving in the country. Make sure you speak with your current bank to see if they have branches in Singapore and / or what international banking services they offer.

Once you have a bank account set up in Singapore, there are many ways of transferring your money over. Consider using services such as TransferWise, Global Reach or TorFX.

Finding somewhere to live

Housing in Singapore can be pricey as it is densely populated, and land is at a premium. For expats moving to Singapore, renting a condo – an apartment in a high-rise building – is a common and logical option.

Rent in Singapore is roughly comparable with rent in Sydney, which is Australia’s most expensive city. Apartments offer expats a social lifestyle, and the high-rise buildings normally have a swimming pool, gyms, playgrounds and other communal amenities.

For those who are interested in a house or a less centrally located apartment building, there are many areas outside of the city to choose from. If you move to Singapore, work with a real estate agent – whether you want to rent or buy.

For information on the different neighbourhoods to live in in Singapore, check out the guide from Expat Living. KRIB is another great resource for anyone moving to Singapore. Through their personalised real estate search, KRIB help you discover the best and most suitable place to buy or rent in Singapore.

Moving to Singapore this year

Cost of living in Singapore

The cost of living in Singapore will vary depending on where you lived in Australia before, and of course where you choose to live in Singapore. For a full breakdown of housing, utilities, groceries, eating out and more, use Budget Direct’s cost of living comparison guide.

Healthcare in Singapore

The healthcare system in Singapore is among one of the best in the world. Both public and private healthcare are similar in cost. Anyone earning a decent salary normally opts for private cover just to cut down on waiting times. It is important to take out a comprehensive health insurance policy. Expats do not qualify for the subsidies that locals and citizens are entitled to.

For advice and great expat health insurance why not check out Pacific Prime.

For any Australian planning a move to Singapore, it might be handy to know some important facts, if you didn’t already, before stepping onto the plane.

Capital citySingapore
CurrencySingapore Dollar (SGD)
Drive onLeft hand side
Time zonesSGT
International dialling code+65
Emergency number995 (ambulance and fire) | 999 for police
Electricity230V | Plug G
LanguagesEnglish, Chinese (Mandarin), Malay and Tamil

Singaporean languages

Singapore is known for being a cosmopolitan city and country for adopting four official languages.

English is the language of business and the first one to be taught in school.

Regarding education and learning English, students also study their mother tongue which can be Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil. Not only do students maintain their cultural heritage, they also have the chance to be bilingual, if not multi-lingual.

For expats and foreigners, the predominant usage of English means living and working in Singapore is easily adaptable, much more than other Asian countries.

Working in Singapore

Singapore is a hub for the financial, manufacturing and digital sectors. If you are moving to Singapore for work, definitely check out the Ministry of Manpower’s in-demand skills list. The Singaporean government are always actively looking to attract ‘foreign talent’ through initiatives run by the Ministry of Manpower.

Other employment websites include:

Education and schooling

Expats moving to Singapore have the choice of enrolling their children for excellent free state-funded schools or fee-paying international schools. The option is yours.

As mentioned above, bilingualism is highly valued and all children in Singaporean schools learn a minimum of two languages from as young as the age of three.

Primary school education begins at the age of seven and children are streamed from their fourth year on based on their ability. Every student takes the national exams in their sixth year. The results then determine the kind of secondary school they can go to.

Secondary education in Singapore is divided into three different streams; express, normal (academic) and normal (technical). Students who are placed in the express stream are prepared for Singapore’s Cambridge O-Level exams after completing four years of study. The students who study in the normal (academic) stream, sit their exams after five years. Then students completing the normal (technical) stream study more vocational subjects like design and technology. This would be the equivalent of TAFE preparation.

In Singapore, there are 34 universities, with two of them ranking in the top 20 on the world’s stage. If you are moving to Singapore with your family, be rest assured that your children will receive a top class education.

Why Singapore is unique

Singapore is a melting pot of people, cultures and cuisines. It is unique, somewhere everyone has heard of, but is Singapore a city, country, or island?

The short answer is: all three!

Singapore is an anomaly, something they are quite proud of! The country is the only island-city-country in the world. Although Hong Kong is also a city-island, it is actually considered a Special Administrative Region that is part of China.

Singapore ranks third in the world for life expectancy and boasts one of the highest per-capita GDPs in the world. Taxes are high and crime is very low. Singapore is known for receiving high-ranking marks for education, technology, health care and quality of life.

A great place to move to and start your life as an Australian expat.

What Next?

After reading this far you must be interested in moving to Singapore! Hopefully we’ve made moving to Singapore a little easier to navigate with any stage of the moving process you are at. There is a long list of factors and considerations but nothing that Sirelo can’t help you with. Best of luck with your move to Singapore!