Despite its limited area, Singapore is one of the most developed and prosperous countries in the world. A true model of educational and economic success, this Asian El Dorado welcomes many expatriates every year, creating a truly multicultural and plurilingual society.

Most of the new arrives are settled on the large island of Pulau Ujong, where skyscrapers and old neighborhoods meet. From the old alleys of Little India and Chinatown to the futuristic district of Marina Bay, the city-state multiplies the contrasts, which sometimes border on anachronism. 

Many Americans choose to settle in Singapore, attracted by a prosperous economy and a truly multicultural society. Despite its limited area, the city-state is one of the most developed and prosperous countries in the world, which has earned it the nickname “country, or city of the future”. From the alleys of Chinatown to the futuristic architecture of Marina Bay through the jungle, Singapore multiplies the contrasts.

If you are thinking of moving to Singapore, you will discover an exceptional quality of life, between luxury shopping malls and lush jungle. Although the island of Pulau Ujong is the densest, Singapore is actually made up of 64 islands that invite exploration. Idyllic beaches, casinos, water parks, industries, the islands of Singapore are also a real melting pot!

5 Islands near Singapore - Singapore's Best Island Escapes

What should I do to actually live in Singapore?

A residence permit is required for any stay longer than three months. There are different types of work permits, all subject to a minimum wage:

  • Employment permit (P): it can be requested by entrepreneurs or liberal professions, particularly in the fields of administration or management. A P1 or P2 permit is awarded according to salary. The P permit is initially valid for two years, then renewable every three years.
  • Employment permit (Q): this type of permit can be requested by workers who can attest to their very specific qualifications (for example a jeweler or a baker).
  • Employment permit (S): granted to some workers and technicians.

Also, families of workers who have a P or Q permit must apply for an independent permit. In any case, you will have to go to the Ministry of Social Affairs. There are many formalities, and the queues might be very long.

In practice, many Americans extend their tourist visa for 90 days while waiting to find a job. To do this, you just have to leave the territory for a few hours and then come back. This practice, called “visa-run”, is not officially offered by the authorities but it seems to work for many people. Anyway, our recommendation is to always keep updated about the new legal frames about migration that you might encounter. Note that visa laws change very frequently, and we advise you to consult the information in force at the time of your move to Singapore.

In addition, if you wish to live in Singapore permanently, it is possible to apply for Singaporean nationality in the following situations:

  • blood relationship: child of Singaporean parent or naturalized Singaporean
  • sustainable establishment in Singapore (permanent resident)
  • marriage bond: foreigner married to a Singaporean citizen.

However, you will have to renounce your American nationality because Singapore does not accept dual nationality.

What should I do as soon as I arrive in Singapore?

When arriving in Singapore, it is recommended that you register your arrival at the American embassy in order to facilitate your procedures in the country.

To open a bank account, you will need your passport, a letter from your Singapore employer or work permit, and a statement from your home bank. All banks will also ask you to deposit a minimum amount. You will have no trouble getting a debit card (the NETS card, accepted in shops and ATMs), but some banks refuse credit cards to foreigners.

On the communications side, as in many countries, mobile telephony continues to increase to the detriment of fixed telephony. The main mobile operators are SingTel Mobile, StarHub, and Mobile One. If you still want to open a landline, you can go to one of the branches of the operator of your choice with a passport and proof of address. The main fixed-line provider is SingTel, which offers packages with international calls.

As for the Internet, Singapore has over three million subscribers. You might as well say that you will have no problem finding a connection at competitive rates! If you already have a landline, you will only need your passport. Otherwise, you will also need to provide proof of address. Small peculiarity, the Singapore Internet network is controlled by the Media Development Authority. Access to certain unwanted sites is strictly prohibited.

The cost of living in Singapore

In general, life in Singapore is more expensive than in the US. The good news is that the wages are much higher too! Furthermore, this difference does not apply to all aspects of daily life. For example, calculate only 2% more than in the US for your groceries at the supermarket, except for alcohol which is up to 200% more expensive.

A restaurant meal will cost you less than in the US, and you will pay around $12 for a meal in a cheap restaurant. A meal in a slightly more upscale restaurant will cost you around S $60. In addition, the gastronomic variety offered is incredibly rich. Transport is also a little cheaper than in some American states. A single ticket will cost you $1.80. When it comes to entertainment, you’ll pay around $127 for a monthly gym membership, and $12 for a movie ticket.

Everything is relatively affordable. However, it becomes more difficult when it comes to rents, which are up to 190% higher than in most parts of the US. You will pay an average of $2,834 per month for a one-room apartment in the city center, and $1,906 for the same on the outskirts. A three-room apartment will cost you $5,312 in the city center, and $3,092 on the outskirts. Also, do not forget to consider around $155 more per month for other charges.

Working in Singapore

Singapore’s unemployment rate is 2%. Yes, you read that right! But beware, because many low-skilled jobs are poorly paid, and generally assigned to expatriates from neighboring countries. In contrast, salaries for skilled jobs are generally quite generous. Most Americans living in the country already have an employment contract when they arrive, but some try their luck once there. Singapore’s labor market is very open to expatriates, although some occupations are reserved for Singaporeans (ex: those in the medical sector).

The most dynamic sectors are:

  • Manufacturing sector
  • Finance
  • Information technology
  • Biotechnology
  • Education
  • Restoration
  • Tourism
  • Petrochemical industry

If you want to work in Singapore, know that we are far from the 40 hours and the Western Unions! In fact, the legal weekly working time is 44 hours, with only fourteen days of vacation per year. Foreigners cannot benefit from unemployment, nor health insurance. Besides, no minimum wage is imposed.

To find a job in Singapore, you can look at newspapers, headhunting firms (highly skilled jobs), temp agencies, consular services, binational chambers of commerce, and of course the internet.

In Singapore, social security does not exist. Social protection (Central Provident Fund), a compulsory individual capitalization system for Singaporeans, is not available to non-permanent resident foreigners. If you move to Singapore, you will need to purchase private or voluntary insurance. The quality of care is excellent in both the public and private sectors, and the price difference is not huge. Despite its small size, Singapore has 8 public hospitals as well as many specialized health centers, private hospitals, and clinics. In fact, patients from all over Asia come to Singapore for treatment. Note that foreign medical prescriptions are not valid.

Studying in Singapore

Recognized internationally for its excellent results, Singapore’s school system is one of the strictest and most difficult in the world. Competition is at the heart of teaching, sometimes putting questionable pressure on young students. Wearing a uniform is compulsory in all establishments. The first language taught at schools is English, followed by a second compulsory language (Chinese, Malay, or Tamil) and later an optional third (French, German or Japanese). The system is organized as follows:

  • Pre-school: from three years old
  • Primary school: from six years old
  • Secondary school: from the age of eleven, ends with the O-level exam
  • Junior college: after O-level, ends with the Singapore Cambridge A-level exam.

Expats with a work permit can enroll their children in a public school or a private international school. In addition, Singapore’s universities are internationally recognized and attract students and teachers from all over the world. The main ones are the National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University, or the Singapore Management University.

How Much Does It Cost to Study in Singapore?

Driving and housing in Singapore

You can use an international license for one year. Beyond that, you will need to obtain a local driver’s license. After five years of possessing a Singaporean driver’s license, you will be able to obtain a driver’s license valid for life. Even if you already have an American driving license, you will have to pass the aptitude tests in one of the three approved driving schools in order to convert it. Be careful, in Singapore, we drive on the left, and drivers do not always show good citizenship!

Due to the small size of the city-state, the low cost of taxis, and the extensive network of buses and subways, most residents prefer not to drive. In Singapore, space is limited. Add in cohorts of foreigners from all over the world, and you will understand the price hikes! However, the government has put in place measures to curb this trend, both for purchase and rental. There are three main categories of accommodation:

  • HDBs: Popular living options at big building all around the city-state, they represent 85% of the housing stock.

Condominiums: private buildings with facilities such as swimming pools, a caretaker, etc. They represent 10% of the market.

Detached houses: due to lack of space, they represent only 5% of the market and are reserved for Singaporeans and wealthy permanent residents. Non-permanent residents are not allowed to purchase them except in the Sentosa Cove neighborhood.

If you are lucky enough to be able to afford real estate, know that the average purchase price per square meter is $25,176 in the city center, and $12,325 on the outskirts.

The 10 Best Things To Do in Singapore

What to do in Singapore?

Wondering what to do in Singapore? Despite its small size, the country offers many activities. Modern wonders of the city-state include the Gardens By the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, and the Singapore City Gallery. Do not miss the more traditional districts of Chinatown, Kampong Bahru and its shophouses, Haji Lane and Little India. On the nature side, escape to the Botanical Garden, Palau Ubin or the beaches of Sentosa.

One third of the country’s population is of foreign origin. As much to say to you that the expatriates are rather well received, and quickly integrated! If you are homesick, you can easily get in touch with the nearly 26,000 American citizens who have chosen to settle in Singapore. In addition, the city-state has more than 4,200 American companies.

Singapore is considered the best destination for emigrating, according to HSBC Expat Explorer. With a life expectancy of 82.5 years, it is also one of the countries where people live the longest. The country is also recognized internationally for the quality of its education and health care system. Finally, it is the fifth country with the highest cost of living.

Some additional information

Here is essential information to know if you are moving to Singapore.

  • Official language: English, Malay, Chinese
  • Currency: Singapore dollar
  • Time zone: UTC +8
  • International dialing code: +65
  • Emergency numbers: 999 (police), 995 (fire brigade and ambulance)
  • Population: 5,469,700 inhabitants
  • Electricity: SP services
  • They drive in the left side of the street
  • Tip: unusual
  • Internet domain: .sg

Other: Singapore is a clean nation. The sale of chewing gum is banned throughout the country. In addition, avoid spitting or throwing rubbish on the ground otherwise you will be fined!


Singapore a city with architectural wonders

The Republic of Singapore is a sovereign country of Asia, formed by sixty-three islands. And although it’s the smallest country in Southeast Asia, its territory has constantly grown with land reclaimed from the sea. And it’s undoubtedly one of the most extravagant and fantastic tourist places you will find in the world.

Singapore is a very popular tourist destination, which is why this is the leading sector in the country. It is estimated that 12.5 million tourists visited this place in 2018.

To attract many more visitors, the Singapore government legalized betting in 2005. In addition to allowing the construction of two casinos or tourist centers in the Marina South area and Sentosa Island.

For the same purpose, and to compete with regional rivals such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, the government also gave permission to use extremely striking lights on the facades of public and private buildings. In order to make the central area an exciting and attractive place.

And last but not least, Singapore annually hosts the Singapore Food Festival in July. Which has made it a great gastronomic attraction worldwide.

Ingenhoven architects: Marina One in Singapore | Floornature

Singapore a city with architectural wonders

Could this country be better? We think so.

As it turns out, one of the most wonderful things you can find in this modern country is its architecture!

It presents its visitors with a wide range of influences and styles from different places and times. These can transport you from the colonial era with its hybrid shapes and eclectic styles to the most modern of today incorporating elements from various parts of the world.

Its fascinating diversity of architectural styles includes vernacular Malaysian houses, black and white bungalows, and hybrid businesses or premises. In addition to sacred sites where its inhabitants can pray, reflecting their support for the city’s ethnic and religious diversity.

And we cannot forget, its incredible ability to combine colonial architecture with European, Gothic, Neoclassical, Renaissance, and Palladian styles.

Furthermore, this country is characterized by its architectural efforts based on its concerns for the environment!

Thus, being a fantastic fusion between the wonders of the east and the fantastic of the west, Singapore offers its visitors endless opportunities and places to see.

This is mainly reflected in the city center and its surroundings, where you can see an impressive mix of modernity and tradition.

Due to its wide variety of shops in central Singapore, anyone who wants to can discover both modern fashion and local culture.

Without a doubt, in Singapore, you can be sure that you will find endless things.

10 highest shopping malls in Singapore that you cannot miss!

If you are a faithful fan of the mix between culture and modern, and also you cannot resist foreign temptations. These places will definitely be your dream paradise.

1. Ngee Ann City

It is colloquially known as Takashimaya and is definitely a must-see in the world of commerce in Singapore. This majestic building complex is located on Orchard Road, the main shopping area of the city. At the main entrance, you will be welcomed by the proud golden lions that protect the building. And naturally, in stores, you will find everything you can imagine or want.

2. ION Orchard

Known for being one of the most elaborate shopping malls in all of Singapore, ION Orchard is huge. It is eight stories high and is located at the end of Orchard Road, just a short walk from Ngee Ann City. Do not miss it! It is located partially underground, and the center offers an extensive variety of products ranging from the highest category to the most basic brand.

At ground level, you can feast on polished floors to look like mirrors and a very luxurious setting. Which of course, matches the couture brands located there.

3. Bugis

In the Bugis hood, you will not only find two large shopping centers, but also a busy street market. These shopping malls lead to famous retail chains on the lower floors and small boutiques on the upper levels. In the general market, among the smallest stalls and crowded aisles, you will find copies of the latest trends in Asian culture and fashion. As well as an extensive variety of sweets, fresh fruit, and plastic shoes. A true wonder!

4. VivoCity

This is the biggest shopping mall in Singapore, believe it or not. It is located near to the popular Sentosa island complex. This huge place has a balcony where you can go out and enjoy the view of the surroundings. The center offers a wide variety of stores, but focusing more on modern and trendy stores. As well as contemporary brands. In addition, you can find spas, food courts, cinemas, and playgrounds.

5. Chinatown

As you enter the center of the city, you can find the lively Chinatown district. Going shopping becomes an extraordinary adventure, surrounded by its bright lights, delicious smells, and striking decorations. You will be able to walk between the stalls and shops, to discover a very extensive variety of producers that you can acquire. From cheap souvenirs and traditional clothing to beautiful fabrics and fantastic food. And of course, you cannot overlook the beautiful architecture that surrounds it.

6. Raffles City

Located on the opposite side of the street from the old Raffles Hotel, and right in the middle of two subway stations, Raffles City is a treasure among Singapore’s shopping malls. The lower floors have busy food stalls, while the upper floors offer a large section of basic and luxury shops. And its main feature is that you can continue the journey of buying from another site without having to leave it. This is because it is connected by underground passes through MRT stations to Marina Square Mall, CityLink and Suntec City Mall.

7. Plaza Singapura

This square can be found at the beginning of Orchard Road, which is a very notable shopping center. This is conveniently located in the less crowded part of Orchard. Because of this, this nine-story center is not as crowded as others in the area but has the same number of stores.

It is perfect to spend a family day watching movies in the cinema on the top floor and then eat in the large gastronomic patio on the lower floors.

It is also ideal if you need a break and wants to relax. This offers well-kept benches outside, or in the green Istana Park.

8. Lucky Plaza

This center has managed to capture the essence of Chinatown’s intense market and encapsulate it in a shopping center. Located right in front of the majestic Ngee Ann City, this mall is the opposite. Stocked with small stores offering everything from boxes of chocolates and imported jewelry to handmade shoes. In particular, this place is perfect if you want the crowded stores on the market, but with air conditioning and much more personal space.

9. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

If you are looking for the fantastic luxury without having to walk in and out of boutiques, then Marina Bay sands will be perfect for you. This shopping complex opened in 2011 and has a diversity of fashion brand stores in the shopping center section. It also has a casino and an open park next to the hotel complex.

10. Mustafa Center

It is an extremely bustling mall, which remains open 24 hours a day. Located in the Little India area. A shopping complex that never sleeps, which is very accurate if you only have time to shop late at night. Here you can get different electronic products, as well as food and clothing. All in the same place. Don’t be fooled by the ordinary outside, this will be a fantastic experience for you and your family.

Over the years and the evolution of the modern era, Singapore has become a center of global design. As an island country in Southeast Asia, Singapore is home to a new class of iconic high-rise buildings, sites, and gardens. Furthermore, this country stands out for its wide range of new constructions in public and civic buildings with monumental land reclamation projects.

With a long and strong history of ethnic and cultural diversity, Singapore’s architecture has been the result of all its multiple influences. Its contemporary architecture has a dynamic focus on sustainability, with many integrated landscape projects introduced to high-rise buildings.

Its most striking feature is that green architecture and ventilation are important to the country due to the humid climate.

8 most iconic architectural projects in Singapore.

  1. Learning Hub The Learning Hub at NTU Singapore (Nanyang University of Technology) was designed by Heatherwick Studio and executed by the architect of CPG Consultants. This became a new point of reference in the educational field of the country.
  2. Bishan Public Library For the conceptualization of this particular design, the idea of a treehouse was used. Its particular architecture allows the use of lattices, stained glass, and skylights to transform the incoming daylight into a wide range of tones and colors. Creating a warm light environment inside the library that simulates light through trees.
  1. UOL Edge Galery The MOD design for the gallery redefines the typology of the Singapore condo exhibition gallery. The design features a sales gallery and two exhibition floors of a 244-unit residential development. It is located at an intersection along the eastern part of the city.
  2. SUTD Library Pavilion This pavilion of the library of the University of Technology and Design of Singapore is located on a slope on the Dover campus. With capacity for three adult trees that form a noise barrier towards the Ayer Raja highway to the north.
  1. The Star The project promises to become a civic hub with a 5,000 seat cultural theater and less dedicated food and beverage sector. The project is located within the northern largest plan in Buona Vista. Established to create a space for a variety of civic and cultural activities and to promote creativity.
  2. AirMesh Pavilion

AirMesh revolutionizes as the world’s first architectural structure, made from 3D printed stainless steel components. Evidence of innovative fully digital design and manufacturing technologies developed by AirLab. This monument is both a gathering space and a light sculpture.

7. The Esplanade – Theatres on The Bay

The Esplanade Opera House is one of the most prominent icons on the Singapore skyline. It was opened in 2002, at a cost of Singapore $ 600 million. But what a wonder! The peculiar shape of the dome of the theater led locals to nickname the place with the name of, Great Durian, in honor of the country’s local fruit.

8. Singapore Flyer

At the moment, the world tour of Singapore is the largest in the world. It is 165 meters high from which you can get extremely extraordinary views of the city. Even, on clear days you can also see neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. This was inaugurated on March 1, 2008, surpassing in height the Star of Nanchang in China, and earning the first place in the ranking of the world’s highest Ferris wheels by just 5 meters.

So as you have already seen, Singapore is at the forefront of super modern and environmentally friendly buildings. And if you want to discover an extremely surprising, multicultural, and distant destination, the best bet is and will be, Singapore.

Things to do in Singapore: Design and architecture - Curbed