8 things you need to know before moving to Singapore

So, you’re coming to Singapore and staying for the long term, and it’s your first time staying in our island city.

We know that you’re going to be just a little unsure about how things are going to be here, so we’ve put together a quick guide to help you hit the ground running.

International Schools

If you’re coming with your children, Singapore has multiple international schools set up to make sure your children have a top-class education.

Some schools like the French School of Singapore, cater to specific audiences, but most schools offer at least an IB or IGCSE program, with some schools like the Tanglin Trust School offering up to an ‘A’ Level qualification. If you’re looking for a list of schools, here’s one to start you off.

See more8 Places to Rent Near International Schools

Types of Housing

In many other countries, government-funded public housing does not constitute a majority of the housing supply. However, the converse is true in Singapore.

Over 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing, and a large amount of land is set aside for this purpose.

HDB in 418 Serangoon Central. Picture: iProperty

Public housing is colloquially called “HDB housing”, and can be rented out to expats. Private homes, on the other hand, are made up of landed property, condominiums and executive condominiums.

While these apartments and homes can also be rented out to expats like you, they tend to be more expensive.

Want more information and details on housing in Singapore? Here’s a detailed breakdown!

Staying near Public Transport

The island is going to be smaller than you expected, but that means you probably won’t have to deal with hour-long commutes on your regular work day.

Singapore has a highly efficient, and well built out public transport system that moves millions of people every day to and from work. The public transport system is made up of an extensive rail network, and a well-distributed bus network.

Bedok MRT Station. Picture: iProperty

Our advice is to try to stay within walking distance to any MRT station or at least be near a bus stop that takes you to an interchange. You’ll be able to reach the Central Business District from most parts of the island within 10-20 minutes.

If you’re staying on the absolute ends of the island, it’ll take a maximum of 40 minutes during peak travel periods to get into the city.

See moreProperties near MRT stations may prove attractive to investors

Cars cost a lot more than you expect

One of the few reasons why Singapore was ranked as one of the most expensive places to live in the world is because of the cost of a car.

A Toyota might cost $20,000 elsewhere, but that same Toyota will cost close to $100,000 here. That’s because the government places multiple taxes and permits on a vehicle in order to discourage the use of cars in land-scarce Singapore.

On top of a 20% duty on the open market value of the car, every car must have a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) that can cost as much as $40,000.

See more: Crazy Rich Singapore: Homes for Living the High Life

No Uber, but Taxis and Grab everywhere

If you really want to get somewhere in a jiffy, it might be a good idea to get a GrabCar or a Taxi. Grab is the dominant regional ride-hailing app in Singapore, with many people using the app to get private rides, rideshares, taxis and even make financial transactions like paying merchants.

If you’re travelling in South East Asia, the app will also function in places where Grab works. Most major South East Asian cities, like Hanoi and Jakarta, have Grab services in place.

Low crime rates

Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world, with a low crime rate, and an astounding 0.2 homicides per 100,000 people.

Many establishments in Singapore open late, with some food outlets even going for the full 24 hours.

The country is safe enough that most people don’t encounter crime, even when they’re out getting supper at 2 am. The police force is aware that low crime doesn’t mean no crime, so they’ve set up multiple 24-hour police posts throughout every neighbourhood in Singapore to ensure a quick response to any emergency calls.

Food Culture

One of the best things about Singapore is how cosmopolitan the city is, and nothing says “International City” better than the density of cuisine in Singapore.

Most local fare will only cost you between $5 – $10 for a complete meal, with hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops dishing out delicious staples from all across South East Asia.

If you’re looking for high-end cuisine, Singapore is home to multiple Michelin Starred restaurants, as well as a wide array of cuisines. The late Anthony Bourdain once called Singapore “possibly the most food-centric place on Earth”. We’re going to have to agree with him on that one.

Groceries and Essentials

Almost every neighbourhood in Singapore will have a mall within walking distance or a bus ride away. Most of these are service malls and have shops that hold supplies for day to day needs.

There are also large supermarket chains like NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Giant and Cold Storage dotting the island. These supermarkets are the go-to places for Singaporeans to pick up their weekly groceries.

Most of Singapore’s food supply is imported from nearby countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, but there are also premium goods imported from other places like Japan and Europe. Food prices are mostly reasonable, with items like milk and eggs not costing more than $3 – $4.


Robertson Quay, River Valley. Picture: iProperty

There’s always more to learn about Singapore, but we’ve covered most of the key concerns for those that are about to move into the country for the long term.

As always, try to immerse yourselves in our culture, and enjoy your stay in Singapore!

See more10 Unique HDB buildings in Singapore