Guide to living & working in Singapore

This quick reference guide provides practical advice for people looking to work in Singapore. It also contains information on visa requirements, tax, bank accounts, accommodation, healthcare and transport.

Working

It is important to be aware of your job prospects in Singapore prior to departure. Our Global Opportunities team can provide an honest assessment of your chances of finding a job in Singapore based on your skills and experience.

They can also help:

  • Tailor your CV for the Singapore market.
  • Provide advice on Singapore interview techniques.
  • Source information on Singapore salary trends for your industry.
  • Pre-arrange interviews with our Singapore recruitment consultants prior to your arrival. 

To view the temporary and permanent positions we currently have available visit  www.michaelpage.com.sg.

Please use these jobs as a reference only and do not apply directly for Singapore jobs while you are still overseas. Our consultants will not be able to consider your application until you arrive in Singapore.

Healthcare

As part of a sponsorship scheme most companies will also register you in their employee health scheme. To supplement this you may want to explore private health insurance schemes with insurance companies.

For further information take a look at www.gov.sg

Renting a Property

Renting property in Singapore is a challenge, due to availability and costs. Apartments (Units) in Singapore can vary in price, depending on their size and location.

As a rough guide a two-bedroom flat in Singapore would cost upwards of S$1,800 per month, with a three-bedroom flat in a central location, with facilities costing upwards of S$3500 + per month.

The popular areas to live for those living away from home include East Coast and Holland Village.

Setting up a Bank Account

Bank accounts are relatively easy to open in Singapore. You will require proof of identification such as a passport or driving licence, proof of an address in Singapore and as a precaution, a reference from your bank in your home country. Most banks also have a minimum initial deposit.

The majority of banks and ATMs will allow you to withdraw from international bank accounts, provided your bankcard has an international symbol on it, such as Cirrus. We recommend that before departure for Singapore you check with your bank that you can use international banking services.

The leading banks in Singapore include:

Pay and Benefits

Wages in Singapore generally pays well, depend on the employment package you are offered. All employees in Singapore have to participate in the Central Provident Fund. CPF is a comprehensive social security savings scheme to which both employers and employees have to contribute. CPF takes care of members' needs in retirement, healthcare, home ownership, family protection and asset enhancement.

Foreigners only need to begin their monthly contributions to the CPF after having assumed permanent resident status. During the first two years as a permanent resident, contribution rates to CPF are reduced. Permanent residents can withdraw their savings at age 55, after a Minimum Sum in their Retirement Account is set aside. Members can also withdraw their CPF savings if they are permanently incapacitated or will leave Singapore and West Malaysia permanently. If members do return to Singapore, they must reimburse the CPF Board for the amount they had withdrawn with interest.

If you have left Singapore and West Malaysia permanently and have no intention of returning for further employment or residence, you may apply for the withdrawal of your CPF savings.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Singapore is amongst the highest in Asia but this should come as no surprise as Singapore offers state-of-the art facilities for education, shopping, sports and recreation just like western countries. Prices of food and clothing are reasonable and the living conditions are among the best in Asia as the inflation rate is comparatively lower than most other countries.

A 3 bedroom apartment in the city would cost you around $4000 per month. A 4 bedroom apartment located on the outskirts of the city would cost you roughly $2500 per month. Housing costs depend on the location as well as the facilities available and the extent of furnishing done in the apartment.

Transportation costs for a month of daily taxi usage is $400 whereas if you travel by the MRT they would come up to $60-$70 a month. Education costs for an international school per child for one month would be $600-800. Food cost could account for $800 a month (eat in + groceries) for a family of four. Expenses on utilities such as water, gas, electricity including the running of the air conditioner come up to $250-$280 a month.

Other expenses like a quality bottle of wine would cost $60.00. A pack of 20 cigarettes cost $5.80. Certain luxury, but essential items, such as mobile phone costs $400 plus about $30 a month for subscription, a home computer costs around $1500, and a laptop costs around $3500, whereas a TV set would cost $800.

Taxation & Superannuation

Tax in Singapore is very competitive with its neighbours as well as on a global stage.

Non-residents are taxed at either a flat rate of 15 per cent on employment income, without personal reliefs, or the residents' graduated rate, whichever is higher.

Tax returns are based on the calendar year and must be filed by 15 April. For further information visit www.iras.gov.sg

Transport

Driving

You will need to obtain a Singapore driving license if you are planning on staying longer than six months. It is extremely expensive to own and drive a car in Singapore and the government actively encourages alternatives by providing one of the best public transport systems in the world. This combined with Singapore’s size (just 626km square) will usually mean that catching public transport or a Cab is a much better option.

Public Transport

The main mode of public transport is the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) system.  There are currently 64 stations providing access to the main area’s of Singapore. Train’s are reliable and arrive every few minutes and are very cost effective.

Catching a bus can sometimes be a testing experience but is probably the cheapest way to get around Singapore. Fares range from SG 80 cents to SG$1.50 for non-air-conditioned buses, and from SG 90 cents to SG$1.80 for air-conditioned buses.

While not as cheap as the SMRT or catching a bus, taxis are an affordable option in Singapore, especially when compared to taxi fares in other countries worldwide. The flagdown rate starts at SG$2.50 for the first 1 km, and it's SG 10 cents for every 240 m thereafter (up to 10 km) and then SG 10 cents for every 225 m (after 10 km) thereafter.

Contact

Singapore is keen to attract foreign professionals; skilled workers, graduates and anyone else who can help contribute to the Singapore economy.

Unfortunately we are not able to assist with your job application if you do not possess or are not eligible for a valid work permit or working visa. For more information please visit http://www.contactsingapore.org.sg or contact our Global Opportunities team.