Is Living Long-Term in Singapore Possible?

Many people migrate to another country for various reasons. The young 20-somethings may do it for fun and the experience of living in another country far away from home. The 30-somethings may want to gain international experience to further their careers. The 40 and 50-somethings may want a change in environment or a more fulfilling career. Retirees may want a comfortable retirement home. 

While some people stay short-term, there are others who build their lives in another country. There are a lot of things to consider when moving to another country. Basic considerations include safety, use of English language, and government stability. Singapore checks all these boxes. 

Below we discuss the main issues that people wanting to live in Singapore long-term usually have:

Transportation

Getting around Singapore is not only affordable, safe and reliable but the public transportation system is excellent! There are trains, buses, taxis, and private hires for you to choose from.

The island’s mass rapid transit (MRT) subway system boasts a complex rail network and reaches almost all parts of the island city. Trains come on time at short intervals of about 3 to 5 minutes. You can travel from the west to the east of Singapore for about S$2 one-way! This is the fastest way to travel around the island.

It is a good way to see Singapore via bus rides, not just for the scenic routes but to watch people go about their daily lives in both suburban and city areas. Cost of bus rides are comparable to the MRT’s but rides might take longer and are subject to traffic conditions.

Singapore’s road networks take up about 12% of its land, connecting people and goods easily and efficiently. Taxis and private hires are the most expensive type of public transportation but it is also the most convenient. 

Singapore car prices are the most expensive in the world, averaging about 5 times more expensive than first world countries including the USA, the UK, and Australia. Due to Singapore’s small land size, the high prices are an effort to control private vehicle ownership. 

Healthcare

In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the quality of Singapore’s health care systems at number 6 while the United States at 37th and in 2020, Singapore ranked 1st in the world for the most efficient healthcare by Bloomberg Health-Efficiency Index. There are public and private institutions in Singapore.

Apart from its quality, Singapore’s public healthcare is affordable too. Employing a mixed financing system, it keeps costs low and reduces overuse of medical services. While the margin costs for Singapore citizens/permanent residents and foreigners is not too wide, foreigners need to have medical insurance as government subsidies are not available for them. 

Property

Being land-scarce, Singapore’s real estate is one of the most expensive in the world. To accommodate the large number of residents, high-rise apartments are a common sight as compared to houses. 

Public housing is reserved for Singapore citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents only. It is meant to provide affordable housing for locals. Average price of a 99-year lease flat from the Housing & Development Board (HDB) is S$500,000. 

Private housing can be bought by both locals and foreigners. There are different types of housing such as condominium apartments or penthouses, terraced houses, semi detached houses, and bungalows. Average price of a condominium apartment is about S$1.8 million.

The most premium real estate in Singapore is the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) – only 2700 GCBs in 39 areas. A GCB must have at least 1,400 sq m of land area. Average price of a GCB bought in 2021 is S$29 million.

For expats, renting would be the most affordable option and allows the flexibility to let go of the property once they decide to leave the country. However, due to the recent pandemic and inflation, rents have become more expensive. It is possible for expats to find cheaper leases if they are willing to live amongst locals and travel further for work. 

Education

Similar to Singapore’s property industry, its education is divided into public and private schools. Public schools are for Singapore citizens and permanent residents while private schools such as are for foreigners. 

Singapore’s education system has been consistently ranked as one of the highest in the world by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The education system started in the 1950s and 1960s as Singapore started to develop its own economy. With its goal to create a skilled workforce, reduce unemployment, and integrate a new nation of multiracial and multireligious people. Singapore’s education system has since evolved according to the times and has successfully increased the quality of education consistently up till today. 

There are a total of 80 international schools in Singapore. As it is in the private sector, their curriculum is not regulated by the Ministry of Education (MOE) of Singapore. The schools run on their own branding and operations.

Jobs & Business

During the pandemic, Singapore managed to attract biotech and tech companies to set up its offices in the country. This causes an increase in job opportunities but due to COVID-19 restrictions, there has been a shortage of talent, especially foreign talent. The number of job vacancies in Singapore in 2021 was at its highest in at least a decade, and 35% of those openings remained unfilled for six months or longer. 

For foreigners who want to work in Singapore, you’d need to have a job before coming into the country. Your employer would be responsible to get your work pass ready. There are different types of work passes, depending on the type of work, industry, and salary. A foreigner may be on Work Permit, S-Pass, Employment Pass (EP), Personalised Employment Pass (PEP), Training Employment Pass (TEP) to be able to legally work in Singapore. 

Strong trade and investment makes Singapore the most competitive Asian country and the world’s easiest place to do business. With favourable tax benefits, great infrastructure, strategic location, availability of highly skilled workforce, and transparent laws, Singapore has a great business environment. 

While it is easy and fast to set up a business entity in Singapore, foreigners who want to set up a company and live in Singapore can consult Singapore’s leading immigration expert, [email protected] (IASG).

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