Moving to Singapore is a particularly exciting and rewarding experience. You are, of course, looking forward to starting this new adventure alone or with your family. But to prevent the dream from turning into a nightmare once you land a foot in Singapore, there are some things that you must absolutely prepare well before the big departure.
A new country means new rules, new legislation, new education or a new health systems. All these are things you need to be well informed about in order to move with peace of mind.
UEX summarizes here for you the tips and 6 steps to follow before you take the plunge!
1. Take the necessary steps to obtain a visa before moving to Singapore
This is the first step before considering moving to Singapore for a long period or not.
If you wish to work in Singapore, you must be in possession of a specific valid visa according to your employment contract. For example, if you want to work as a senior manager, you will need an Employment Pass (EP), an entrepreneur will need an EntrePass, a student moving to Singapore for an internship will benefit from a Working Holiday Pass (WHP) etc.
For more information on work visas in Singapore, visit the website of the Ministry of Manpower, the MOM.
Remember to take the necessary steps before your departure, no contract can start without a valid visa on site!
2. Finding an accommodation in Singapore
Once you are sure you can come to work, you need to find an accommodation to settle in Singapore! Rents in the city-state are particularly high. On average you will pay S$2,800 per month for a one-room apartment in the city centre and S$5,300 for a three-room apartment. More generally, there are three main categories of housing:
- HDBs: the equivalent of a social housing, which represent 85% of the real estate market.
- Condominiums: private buildings with facilities such as swimming pools, sports halls, a guard, etc. which represent 10% of the property market.
- Single-family homes: reserved for Singaporeans and wealthy permanent residents.
The real estate market is certainly higher but it is less sclerotic than e.g. in the United Kingdom. Indeed, you will have no difficulty finding accommodation in a short time once you arrive on site. The agents are very responsive and you will not need to create a “rental file”.
There are several Facebook groups, in particular, that publish various rental ads. For the more adventurous among you, you can move into your apartment as soon as you arrive without necessarily having visited it beforehand.
Be careful not to be fooled: some owners abuse the fact that tenants are foreigners to rent them properties at abusive prices. To avoid this, simply go to the Urban Redevelopment Authority website (URA), select your condo and look at the transactions for your building by month, to find out if you are paying more or less than your neighbours.
3. What about the driving license in Singapore
Moving to Singapore is good, being able to drive there is even better! Singapore is very well served by public transport (buses, MRT etc.). However, if you wish to drive during the 12 months following your arrival in Singapore you have two options:
- You can drive with your foreign license if it is translated into English. Please note that the translation must be legalized by your embassy.
- You can drive with a valid international licence.
After this 12-month period, you must convert your driver’s license into a Singaporean license and pass the local highway code called the Basic Theory Test (BTT). Once you have passed this test and obtained it, you will only have to request the conversion of your permit from the Traffic Police Department.
4. Ensure that your children will go to school
Moving to Singapore with your family is a challenge, and quickly the question of children’s schooling once settled arises.
Singapore is a country where the quality of education is recognized in both the private and public sectors.
Enrolment in a private school is not guaranteed, the number of places is often limited and the selection process difficult. Be careful to estimate the cost. Tuition fees are often high and additional costs such as school transport or the canteen must be added.
The other alternative is to choose a public school. Places are often scarce for expatriates because these schools are reserved primarily for Singaporeans. The application process is a little complicated but very well explained on the MOE website.
The diversity of choice of public or private schools can make it difficult for parents to make a decision. Getting informed about opportunities and registration procedures remains the best strategy.
Some parents turn to homeschooling, which can be an alternative and another life choice.
5. Before moving to Singapore, think about getting vaccinated
There are no particular problems in Singapore where sanitary conditions are very safe. Traditional and recommended vaccinations in Europe (tetanus, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis B) are generally sufficient if you plan to stay only in Singapore.
Be careful to check that all your vaccinations and those of your family are up to date. Otherwise you may not get your visa.
However, if you want to discover the surroundings of the Singaporean city-state, some vaccines are recommended:
- Hepatitis A vaccine
- Japanese encephalitis vaccine (to be planned 2 months before departure)
- Typhoid fever vaccine
- Rabies vaccine
For more information about these vaccines, their costs and the countries concerned, do not hesitate to read our article on how to prepare your trip in Southeast Asia.
Dengue fever transmission in Singapore has been sporadic or non-existent in recent years. However, to learn more about this infection and get our little tips, don’t hesitate to read our Dengue Fever Prevention Guide.
If you have young children who need to be vaccinated on site, this article about the schedule of childhood vaccinations and its cost will be very useful.
6. Ensure that you are well covered in Singapore
Health has no price, but it has a cost! In Singapore, the quality of care is excellent in both the private and public sectors, but the prices are very high. For example, the price for a simple operation for appendicitis is S$20,000! It is therefore better to be insured.
Social security does not exist for foreigners. The Central Provident Fund is a mandatory individual capitalization system for Singaporeans, but is not available to foreigners who are not permanent residents. If you move to Singapore, you will therefore need to take out a private insurance.
If your employer offers you health insurance, make sure your family is also covered with you. Remember to check also the reimbursement limits. To find out if your employer’s health insurance covers you correctly, click here. It is not uncommon for ceilings to be low and for you to have to top-up your coverage with a private health insurance.
UEX offers personalized health insurance tailored to your needs. You can view and adjust the price and coverage of your insurance directly on our platform with just a few clicks! For more information do not hesitate to contact us!
To find out more about healthcare topics in Singapore you can check our articles. To understand how your health insurance plans cover the healthcare costs, you can approach UEX’s happiness team by email or by phone for more information and guidance – and the good news is that they are super nice!
With UEX, you can obtain a quote for a health insurance contract customized to your needs and requirements – all in less than a minute!