Expat guide for living in Singapore


Singapore is a modern and elegant city straddling several islands at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula.

The city has one of the strongest economies in Asia-Pacific based on banking, financial services and information technology.

Wages are high for the region, but so too is the cost of living.

Singapore is a Muslim country with strict rules on how to behave in public.

Home to 45,000 British expats, the country is not a cheap retirement option but a great destination for career-conscious expats on assignment.

10 quick facts about life in Singapore

  • Singapore is not just one island state – the country is made up of 64 islands that are all smaller than the mainland
  • The city zoo opens all night offering a unique chance to see nocturnal animals
  • Indoor waterfalls are popular – some drop over 30 meters at Jurong Bird Park, Cloud Forest, and Jewel Changi Airport
  • Singlish is the local English dialect which unexpectedly adds “lahs” and “lehs” while foreigners are called aunts and uncles
  • Singapore is a modern city but has adopted parks, gardens and greenery to improve the environment
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are home to thousands of orchids
  • The symbol of the town Merlion is a lion, but there is no evidence that lions ever lived on the island and historians suspect that someone mistook a tiger for a lion when naming the town.
  • On-site fines are common for littering, smoking in public – including vapers – and taking chewing gum in Singapore
  • It is forbidden to drink in public between 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m., except in a licensed bar, café or restaurant.
  • Kissing in public is allowed, but indecent behavior is prohibited – but there is no indication of the legality of a kiss

Where to live in Singapore

Where you live in Singapore depends on your lifestyle and budget. The city is divided into numbered neighborhoods which also have names.

Each neighborhood tends to attract a certain type of expat – families with children, singles, nightlife lovers, etc.

Holland Village in District 10 is one of the favorite places for expats to live. The leafy streets are full of accommodation, and most are just a short walk from the Botanical Gardens. Several good schools are also present in the neighborhood.

Orchard Road is a bustling boulevard with chic designer boutiques, upscale restaurants, clubs and bars. The district is Singapore’s premier nightlife area.

Sentosa is where the city’s theme park is located, along with sandy beaches and other entertainment.

The central business district is located in Tanjong Pajar (district 2).

Singapore is a modern city with many houses in high rise buildings, but that doesn’t mean expats can’t buy a house or a villa, although they can attract a high price or rent.

Non-residents can buy houses, but the type and locations are limited.

Work in Singapore

Expats must earn a minimum of S $ 4,500, up to S $ 5,000 for the financial sector to qualify for a work pass from the Ministry of Manpower. Requests are made on behalf of employees by their employer.

A work pass allows an expatriate to open a bank account in Singapore.

Singapore has a thriving banking and financial services industry serving the Asia-Pacific region. Software engineers are also in high demand.

Cost of living in Singapore

Average monthly salary

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Average monthly salary after taxes and social security contributions 5,102.36 2699.66
British State Pension (maximum payment) 1470.91 778.26

Monthly rents

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Family of four living expenses (including downtown rent) 9,971.58 £ 5,275.97
Family of four living expenses (including suburban rent) 4,477.54 £ 2,369.07
Family of four living expenses (excluding rent) 4,714.45 2494.42
Cost of living for singles (including downtown rent) 4,182.32 2212.87
Cost of living for singles (including suburban rent) 1,875.71 992.44
Cost of living for singles (excluding rent) 1 294.76 685.06

Eat outside

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Cheap restaurant 14.53 7.69
Three-course meal for two at the mid-priced restaurant 70.14 37.11
Mcdonalds 8.01 4.24
Domestic beer (500 ml on tap) 10.02 5.30
Imported beer (330 ml bottle) 11.02 5.83
Cappuccino 5.61 2.97
Coke Pepsi (330 ml) 1.85 0.98
Water (330 ml) 1.47 0.78

Daily essential groceries

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Milk (1 liter) 3.18 1.68
Loaf of white bread 2.29 1.21
Rice (1kg) 2.74 1.45
Eggs x 12 3.21 1.70
Cheese (1kg) 25.17 13.32
Chicken fillets (1kg) 9.83 5.20
Beef (1kg) 22.23 11.76
Apples (1kg) 4.74 2.51
Bananas (1kg) 2.97 1.57
Oranges (1kg) 4.33 2.29
Tomato (1kg) 2.87 1.52
Potato (1kg) 2.53 1.34
Bottle of wine 07.30 15.91
Cigarettes (1 x 20 Marlboro) 02.14 7.42


Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Taxi (per kilometer) 0.79 0.42
Gas (1 liter) 2.17 1.15
Buy a new Trendine VW Golf 1.4 / 90 KW 120,245.43 63 621.92

Utilities (monthly)

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Utility pack for 85m2 apartment (Electricity, heating, air conditioning, water, garbage disposal, etc.) 146.89 77.72
Prepaid smartphone (1 minute) 0.19 0.10
Internet (60+ Mbps high speed with unlimited data) 45.32 23.98

Sport and entertainment

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Fitness club, monthly package for x1 adult 140.82 74.51
Tennis courts rental (1 hour on weekends) 13.02 6.89
Cinema ticket x1 seat 13.02 6.89


Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Preschool (or kindergarten), full day, private, monthly x1 child 1,305.76 690.88
International primary school, annual x1 child 27,714.47 14 663.74

Clothing And Shoes

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
Pair of jeans (Levi’s 501) 82.29 43.54
Summer dress in a chain store (like Zara or H&M, etc.) 54.36 28.76
Pair of Nike running shoes 121.32 64.19
Pair of men’s leather business shoes 128.48 67.98

Monthly rent)

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
1 bedroom apartment downtown 2,887.56 1,527.81
1 bedroom apartment in the suburbs 1,875.71 992.44
3 bedroom apartment downtown 5 257.13 2,781.55
3 bedroom apartment in the suburbs 3 182.78 1 684.01

Buy an apartment

Average price – Singapore dollar Average price £
City center price per square meter 24,485.90 12,955.50
Suburban price per square meter 12,561.03 6,646.05

Mortgage rate

Mortgage rate – 20 year fixed term 2.16%
Exchange rate of £ 1 to Singapore Dollar: 1.89 (May 19, 2021)
Price data source: Numbeo.com

Singapore Schools and Universities

Singapore has a world-class public education system as well as a network of world-class international schools and colleges.

For a small island state of just 5.7 million people, Singapore has 36 universities of higher education.

Health in Singapore

the Singapore ranks by World Health Organization health system as the sixth best in the world.

Life expectancy is high and infant mortality is low.

Treatment costs can be high, and expats are expected to pay for their care unless they have medical insurance coverage.

Expats on assignment can expect employers to include health coverage in their pay, but these may not cover a family or limit the demands for treatment in public hospitals and not in the most efficient private hospitals. .

Related Articles

Further information and related articles can be found by following the links below

Do you have any questions?

Talk to a financial advisor.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.