Moving to Singapore in 2018: Living costs and relocation tips

Singapore is a city that routinely ranks among the best in the world for expatriates. It places top in the 2017 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, scoring highly in all categories, including Economics, Experience and Family.
For professionals who are moving to Singapore in 2018, we have put together an expat’s guide to The Lion City (a nickname derived from the English meaning of ‘Singapore’).


As with any international relocation, finding somewhere suitable to live for yourself and your family is a top priority. Singapore is a popular and built-up city, meaning land and space come at a premium. In the city centre itself, most accommodation consists of high-rise apartment buildings. There are large condos available, which come with a range of amenities including pools, recreation areas, a gym or function rooms. These are particularly popular with expatriates who relocate to the city for work and wish to live near their place of business.
Popular areas to consider include Holland Village, which is close to Singapore Botanic Gardens, and Sentosa. The latter is known as a ‘resort island’ offering high-end homes on the water’s edge. While apartments are the most common option, there are also ‘landed’ houses, which give more space for families. The market is competitive, so you will need to be prepared to act quickly to secure the right property.
Rents and house values are considered high, however, figures on Expatistan suggest that housing in general is cheaper than it is in London. With the right relocation package and a generous budget, it’s possible to get a luxury home in a desirable location and benefit from a range of extras facilities too.

Family life

For those moving with family to Singapore, selecting a good school is a key concern. There are some excellent private international schools in the city, including Dulwich College Singapore and Tanglin Trust School. These schools offer a high level of education and are often oversubscribed. It’s recommended to start the application process well in advance of the planned relocation. However, school fees are similar to those of private London schools and many expatriate packages will include an educational supplement.
Day-to-day living costs are lower in Singapore than they are in London, according to a 2016 report from Barclays. The data shows that things like entertainment, clothing, health and fitness, and utilities are all lower than in the UK capital. With excellent wages and good career progression, a move to Singapore can make strong economic sense.
There are large pockets of expats within the city limits, which is good for building a personal network after relocation. It’s worth bearing in mind that so-called ‘sin taxes’ are levied on certain products when socialising. This includes heavy duties on alcohol, tobacco and gambling, which are used to fund health and social care. Income tax is, however, quite favourable, with the top tax band fixed at 22% – find out more in our detailed article on taxation in Singapore.
Healthcare is another consideration and something that is often included in the relocation package from your employer. The cost of public healthcare and private healthcare for expatriates isn’t vastly different, so many expats will opt to go private to cut down on waiting times. Facilities are excellent and the quality of care is among the best in the world.
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