Living and working in Singapore:

Relocation Guide


Are you an employer/employee looking to relocate to Singapore? Do you happen to be searching for the best information to help guide you through the process? Look no further.  

Airswift’s Global Mobility Services offer the most relevant and vital information for your next big venture. Our Singapore relocation guide is no exception! 

If you want to skip to a section of interest for you, then use these links below to navigate to the related topic:

What makes Singapore so successful?

Singapore is a breath-taking city state with one of the most stable economies in the world. Best known for its clean streets, stunning modern architecture and exquisite food, Singapore is sure to impress you like no other.

Home to the world's busiest port, Singapore has over an astounding 600 shipping lines. These shipping lines send container ships, super tankers and passenger liners into the waters. This connects the port to 123 other countries!

Something else interesting to note before moving to Singapore is that it is Asia’s biggest physical oil trading hub. It is often described as being “the undisputed oil hub in Asia” and harbours a very bright and positive future for the global oil and gas industry.

Singapore Skyline

Why is Singapore known as a technology hub?

Singapore, amazingly, has emerged into a prosperous technology hub. As of today, an astonishing 80 out of the top leading 100 tech firms in the world have a presence in Singapore. 

According to Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprises, she refers to Singapore as a "miniature Silicone Valley" that sits in the heart of Southeast Asia.

Singapore by night

Singapore is home to world class innovation and invention that play a huge part in the city-states overall business culture. In 2017, Singapore was ranked as the most innovative country in Asia by the 2017 Global Innovation Index. The 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index ranked Singapore sixth in the world. This is a massive reason as to why corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook and IBM use Singapore to pilot new projects before rolling them out. 

Alongside all of this ground-breaking innovation is the highly skilled talent pool that Singapore offers. This dominates most of the world's talent pools, as they this year rank third in the 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index.

Given how fast Singapore allows tech companies to hit the ground running, combined with the highly skilled talent, world class innovation and invention, this makes Singapore one of the best places for IT and tech companies to expand their businesses into Singapore.

Are you planning to expand your business to Singapore?

Consult with a global employment specialist

How strict are Singapore's laws?

If you are planning on moving to Singapore, you may be curious about their laws and guidelines to follow. 

Singapore is what is described as a 'fine city', as it is genuinely a very fine city, but also a city that hands out a lot of fines. Here are some of the reasons that you could receive a fine or jail time in Singapore:

  • Littering
  • Smoking in restricted areas
  • Spitting in public
  • Drink Driving
  • Jaywalking
  • Eating and Drinking on MRT
  • Feeding pigeons

Singapore has very strict laws that need to be upheld, so as long as you are aware and conscious of the laws that you need to abide by, then your stay should be free from any penalties.

Singapore holds these strict laws for many reasons. One is because they are passionate about maintaining a clean and green country. Another is that they need to maintain law and order to ensure that the city-state is kept vibrant and safe for all of its residents. This in turn helps to attract more tourists and foreign investors to Singapore.

Why move to Singapore?

Economic stability, multiculturalism and fastest average internet speed is a few out of the many reasons to move to Singapore. Singapore maintains a clean and green city for all global visitors and has become one of the most desirable countries in the world for not only pleasure, but business also.

If you’re a lover of hot weather – relocating to Singapore may be in your best interest. Singapore has a very hot climate with temperatures averaging 30°C (86°F) during the day and a tropical 26°C (78°F) in the evening. 

Keep in mind that the Northeast Monsoon Season starts December to March. The Southwest Monsoon Season starts from June through to September.

Singapore city at night

How to open a bank account in Singapore 

If you’re now more tempted to move to Singapore, then you will need to know about Singapore’s banking system. 

Each bank has different requirements for opening an account with them. Some have differing minimum balances and service charges. The documents you  need to open a bank account in Singapore are a passport, employment pass and proof of address. A reference from a current bank or a letter from an existing customer of the bank may also be a requirement.

It is useful to know that Singapore accepts AMEX, Diners, MasterCard and Visa in major stores. ATM machines are available throughout the island. Also, most banks operate Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM and Saturday from 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM

The currency in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar, using 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, and S$1 coins. 


Where to find accommodation in Singapore

Short term: Once in Singapore, you may need to seek out short-term accommodation. There is a wide range of options available to suit your budget and your personal preferences. These range from budget hostels and well serviced apartments, to world class five-star hotels. You can decide whatever suits your needs the best. 


Long term: Are you looking to move to Singapore for more than 6 months? If so, you can look at renting public and private housing on a long-term basis. You could also buy certain private properties which are available to foreigners.

As you know, Singapore ranges from skyscrapers to modest apartments. The choices for relocation in Singapore are endless. You will need permanent resident status and approval to buy houses that are landed property.

What is the cost of living in Singapore?

Now that you’re aware of the living options in Singapore, you may want to know the cost of living in Singapore. This expensive city holds firm the reputation of being one of the costliest locations in Asia preceded only by Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong. 

All the expenses do not come without reason. Singapore’s quality of life is very good. This chic metropolis offers you not only unforgettable moments, but the best convenience in Southeast Asia.

For people that have moved to Singapore, it is the best choice due to its high-quality infrastructure and health facilities. You won’t regret your choice of living and working in Singapore.

What is Singapore’s Social Etiquette?

If you’re set on relocating to Singapore, you should be aware of the etiquette necessary in normal day to day life and business settings. When making introductions in Singapore, during formal meetings you should use the title or family name. There are different cultures that you will need to respect with rules to follow.

Multi-ethnic millenial group of friends taking a selfie photo with mobile phone on rooftop terrasse at sunset

Chinese people use their family names first, followed by their personal names. Malay people do not use their family names. Indian people will use their personal names first followed by their family name. 

Singaporeans do not use physical contact while greeting somebody of the opposite sex. This includes kissing and hugging. 

What is Singapore’s Business Etiquette?

From a business perspective, the culture in Singapore is much more formal than other Western countries. Within each company in Singapore, there are strict rules of protocol that you must adhere to. Here are a few of them that you may need to observe:

  • When scheduling an appointment, you should make them at least two weeks in advance.
  • Punctuality is a virtue in Singapore so you must arrive at all meetings on time.
  • Encourage questions after a presentation and smile when answering questions.
  • Presentations should come with backup material, including charts and figures.
  • Never disagree or criticise someone senior to you in rank. Questioning authority is taboo.
  • Don’t schedule meetings during Chinese New Year as businesses close for the week.

Following these business etiquettes will make moving to Singapore smooth and enjoyable. 

What is the business dress code in Singapore?

Need to know what business attire to wear in Singapore? Well, Singapore has no set standard for business dress. Smiling employees in a line at work

For men, a suit worn with or without the jacket is acceptable. This is to accommodate for the blazing Singapore climate. You can wear ties for some formal occasions, but it isn’t a day to day need. 

For women, their business attire may include a pantsuit, or a sleeved blouse paired with a skirt. 

Useful Public Safety information in Singapore

Fortunately, Singapore has earned the distinction of being one of the most crime-free countries in the whole world. As amazing and reassuring as that is, there are still a few things that you should keep an eye out for. 

people crowd walking on busy street on daytime

There are instances where pickpockets and purse snatchers will target unsuspecting victims. There aren’t any specific places in Singapore that are prone to crime, but avoid dark and secluded areas. This is especially important if you happen to be alone. 

It’s good to know if you’re relocating to Singapore, that the streets are usually quite safe at all times. It's never a bad idea to keep an eye out.

In case you need help, here are some Singapore emergency contact numbers: 

  • Police Department: 999
  • Fire & Ambulance: 995
  • Non-Emergency Ambulance: 1777

What are Singapore’s Health Care Standards?

Relocating to Singapore means that you will need to adapt to their health insurance system. Luckily, Singapore has one of the best, high standard healthcare systems in the world and ranks for this. 

Singapore has a universal system. It includes government managed public and private options. This means that support is accessible in emergency and non-emergency situations.

What is Medical Insurance like in Singapore?

Doctor shaking hands to patient in the office at desk

You will be happy to know that if you purchased insurance policies in your previous or home country, they may still be valid in Singapore. Check with the insurance company to see if this applies to you. Confirm if they can service your policy and cover critical illness or hospitalisation bills.

What vaccinations does Singapore require?

You should check with your GP what vaccines you will need before you travel to Singapore. You may need more than one dose, or boosters for childhood vaccines.

Special Precautions to take in Singapore

There is a risk (albeit small) from Dengue Fever in Singapore. Travellers should take normal precautions against mosquito bites such as:

  • Using mosquito proof bed nets
  • Wearing light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Applying an appropriate insect repellent
  • Empty out any standing water

Applying these things to your daily routine should reduce the amount of mosquitoes!

Singapore Public Hospital information

There are seven public hospitals in Singapore.  There are five general hospitals, a women’s and children’s hospital and a psychiatry hospital. If you are a non-Singapore citizen or permanent resident, you may only stay in A (with 1 or 2 beds per room) and B1 (4 beds) class wards. The charges in these wards are not subsidised. 

All charges in Singapore’s public hospitals are as transparent and clear as it gets. 

What are the public transportation options in Singapore?

If you’re relocating to Singapore, you will need to know the best public transportation options. What is great about Singapore is that there are several transportation options for you to use.

Singapore Train

Buses: Prefer to ride the bus to work? 

No problem, Singapore has one of the best bus systems than many major cities across the globe! With over 300 different services, you will be able to travel throughout the city with ease. The easiest way to travel by bus is to use an EZ-Link card and to buy a Mighty Minds Bus Guide from a newsagent (S$3.90). Expats can download the app Moovit, an extremely helpful travel planner to assist and guide you through the public transit options, showing you real time arrival, schedules and more!

Taxis: Is a taxi ride more of your style? 

There are taxi ranks in most busy areas in Singapore, but you can also walk to the main roads and flag one down. If you intend to do that, in the Central Business District (CBD) it is not allowed. Do not attempt to flag down a taxi in this area. The majority of taxi drivers speak English which is very convenient.

Trains: Do you like riding the train to work?

If you travel by train, new lines and stations continue to open making access to other parts of the city easier. The construction in Singapore’s suburbs relates to the development of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. The aim is for the MRT to be more extensive than the London Underground!

World's Best Airport

There is a breath-taking main airport in Singapore that you can travel from called Changi International Airport (SIN).

Jewel Changi International Airport: is 18 km (11 mi) North East of Singapore, the modern Changi International Airport is vast, efficient, organised and more stunning than you can imagine. One trip here and you will be hypnotised by its charm and beauty.


This spectacular airport is overflowing with amazing features, one being the iconic Jewel. To get here after arriving at Changi Airport is easy, as it is connected to the Arrival Hall of Terminal 1 linked to terminal 2 and 3 by link bridges. Also, there is a handy free airport shuttle that sits between Terminal 3 and 4, so you should have no problem navigating through with ease.

There are superb, luxury shopping malls, several brilliant hotels, bars, eateries, top restaurants and the amazing Jewel Sky Net for you to enjoy!

To get the full Changi Airport experience, you should definitely check out the Jurassic Mile Park dinosaurs walk, Singapore's largest permanent outdoor display of life-sized dinosaurs. The tallest of the dinosaurs displayed here stands at an immense 5 meters tall!

singapore dinosaur

The exquisite Jewel Changi Airport has some of the most breathtakingly beautiful, unique attractions for all visitors to appreciate such as Shiseido Forest Valley, Mirror Maze, Canopy Park, the Bouncing Sky Nets and so much more!

Be sure to visit this eccentric airport, as it is a one of a kind experience, loved by every visitor that steps foot inside.

Some useful information about the airports in Singapore

The following items will need export permits.

Prohibited exports: Firearms, ammunition, explosives, animals, telecommunication equipment. Films and videotapes, precious metals, stones, drugs, poisons.

These are the restricted imports you must declare on arrival. 

Prohibited imports: Poultry products, weapons, chewing gum, tobacco products.

Is there departure tax on flights from Singapore?

Yes. Flights that you board from Singapore will include airport departure tax in the ticket price. 

What documentation do you need to drive in Singapore?

Women on a road trip talking and looking very happy

Are you looking to drive yourself in Singapore instead of taking public transport? Here is what you will need to know: 

If you want to drive in Singapore during a short stay, you don't need extra documentation. This is if you have a foreign drivers licence or an English written one.  If your driver's licence isn't in English, you will need an official English translation or an International Driver's permit.  

If you are in Singapore for over 12 months, then you need to convert your licence to a Singapore licence. Those living in Singapore with a student pass, employment pass, dependency pass or work permit need to switch to a Singapore licence. To do this, you need to pass the basic theory test, which informs the driver of driving regulations.

You cannot drive to work in Singapore with a work pass unless it  states “driver”. Also, if the overseer of the work pass gives permission.

What is Singapore’s Country Code?

Relocating to Singapore will mean having a new country code. This is +65 – there is no city code for Singapore. You can make IDD calls from the many card and credit card phones located in post offices and around the city area

Something else that you may need to note is that phone cards come in denominations of S$2, S$5, S$10, S$20, and S$50. Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies and the coverage is good!

Does Singapore have access to Internet Cafes?

Yes. Singapore has lots of internet cafes around the city available for public access. Many Wi-Fi hotspots are available island wide. You have a selection of options when it comes to using the internet in Singapore. 

There are three service providers, Singtel, Starhub and M1 in Singapore. They offer competitive rates to install broadband at home.

Singapore’s electricity info

Sockets supply 220- 240 volts AC, 50Hz. If this range is suitable for your technology, all you’ll need is an adapter.

What interesting places can you visit in Singapore?

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Moving to Singapore for business will be an exciting time. After a long day of working in Singapore, you will need some time to relax and take in the beauty that this city state has to offer. We have a whole list of unique and brilliant suggestions for you to visit when you get here:

  • The majestic Gardens by the Bay (cloud forest/supertrees)
  • The buzz of Marina Bay
  • The tranquil Botanic Gardens
  • The historic National Museum of Singapore
  • The open beauty of Singapore Zoo
  • The views from the Marina Bay Skypark
  • The enlightening Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Any one of these places will beat all expectations! You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to experience Singapore to the fullest.

What is the Nightlife culture like in Singapore?

If you love a bit of excitement in your life, you will be happy to know that Singapore nightlife is never dull! It has entertainment such as bars, clubs, pubs, street opera, river cruises and international stage shows. Your day can never be boring. Places such as Boat Quay and Clarke Quay have a selection of restaurants, pubs and lively bars.

Where are the best places to do your shopping in Singapore?

Moving to Singapore means you will need to find a good place to do your weekly shopping. Orchard Road is the main shopping area in Singapore. There are plenty of malls located around the island. Due to the mixed cultural background of the nation, you will be able to find goods from all over Southeast Asia in one city at very competitive prices.

What types of food does Singapore have to offer?

Eating is a national pastime in Singapore. The range of food available is vast and a blend of the various cultures and cuisine in Singapore. This includes Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Japanese, American and Korean! Singapore has food stalls and restaurants.


From global franchises to gourmet delis and six-star settings. There are endless food promotions and tours held throughout the year, including the Singapore Food Festival in July.

A sumptuous meal at most food courts will cost you S$3 on average. If you prefer a home- cooked meal, you need to be careful about the grocery items you buy as the Singapore supermarkets can be expensive.

Is Tipping an option in Singapore?

Tipping is not a way of life in Singapore. Singapore prohibits it at the airport and discourages it at hotels and restaurants where a 10% service charge is included in the bill. A tip should only be exercised when the bill does not include a service charge.

What are Singapore’s national dishes?

Like the culture of the country, the national dishes of Singapore are a blend of various cuisines. Some of Singapore's national dishes include chili crab, various fish curries, chicken rice.

  • Laksa: A spicy noodle soup with coconut milk
  • Nasi Lemak: Flavoursome rice mixed with coconut cream and meat, fish or vegetables
  • Rojak: A sticky salad, garnished with ginger and chopped peanuts
  • Hokkien Prawn Mee: Stir- fried noodles and prawns

Some general food safety information in Singapore

The majority of food consumed in Singapore is imported.  The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) ensures all food meets stringent standards. As a result, Singapore has one of the world’s lowest levels of food-borne diseases and the majority of food served is fit for foreign stomachs. Tap water is safe to drink.

Thank you for taking the time to read our guide to living in Singapore. We hope that this will be helpful for you when you move to Singapore!