So you are contemplating moving to Singapore and becoming an Orient-expat? Or maybe you are already here and are looking for a few pointers to make your transition hassle-free! Look no further, for this handy guide will surely provide a few friendly tips to make your stay in The Lion City a truly memorable one!
Singapore is not just any other tropical outpost; it is one of Asia’s finest, most exuberant countries that offer an eclectic mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Western cultures. Loaded to the brim with exciting tourist attractions for both children and adults, old colonial architecture, snazzy new skyscrapers, as well as a multitude of options for shopping, dining, clubbing, Singapore seems to grow on you pleasantly as the days go by.
Located a few degrees off of the equator, Singapore is hot and humid all year round just like the rest of South East Asia. So are the rains. The temperature ranges between 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F) and the humidity is generally over 90%.
Singapore has a population of nearly 5 million. The major religions are Buddhism and Christianity. While the official languages of Singaporeans’ are English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil, English is the language of administration and used in academic and professional circles. ‘Singlish’, a mash-up of English, Chinese and Malay syntax and idiom combination, is also widely spoken. Singapore lies at the tip of the Malay Peninsula and is 8 hours ahead of the Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT +8). The currency is the Singapore dollar (SGD), which is divided into 100 cents. The international dialing code is +65.
Working in Singapore
Working in Singapore requires an Employment Pass (EP); this is issued similar to a work permit in other countries. The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) makes it easy to get this pass through an online system, which reduces the waiting time and streamlines the entire process. Expats may only have to apply for their own employment pass if they are starting a business in Singapore. Else, an employer sponsor is mandatory.
Healthcare in Singapore is exemplary. Both public and private sector services are available and functions efficiently. Expatriates in Singapore will use public hospitals for complex and emergency services and private entities for primary care. Private care is more expensive. Doctors and staff are proficient in English and facilities are terrific. International prescriptions are not valid in Singapore.
Travelling in Singapore is hassle-free as the public transport system comprising of MRTs, buses and taxis is near perfect. Four MRT lines with immaculate, air-conditioned trains provide connectivity to all parts of the country. The country is also friendly to pedestrians – with sidewalks, bridges and escalators, crossing the busy streets as a breeze. A number of buses run throughout Singapore and provide connectivity up to midnight. Taxis are also convenient to travel in and around Singapore.
Shopping, Nightlife and Eating Out
Food in Singapore is huge, with nearly everyone being a self-proclaimed foodie. There are hundreds of restaurants and food stalls (makan places) to choose from. Most hotels and restaurants include a standard 10 percent service charge. An additional gratuity is always appreciated but not necessary.
Singapore is also considered a shopping Mecca, with both locals and expats regularly indulging in shopping therapy. Malls in Singapore include restaurants, arcades and even skating rinks.Orchard Road and its neighborhood are known for the designer outlets whereas Bugis Street seems to exist solely for bargains, affordable goodies, value-for-money clothing and great deals on shoes, bags and gloves. All malls and stores take part in the Great Singapore Sale that happens from May through July. Though the prices of alcohol are quite prohibitive, watering holes along with live music, along Clarke Quay and Boat Quay are tourist hotspots, bars in and around the CBD cater to crowds looking for a bit of R&R after a hectic day’s work. Head to any of the clubs around the Marina or to one of Singapore’s rooftop bars, such as 1-Altitude for special occasions. Else, try Butter Factory or Filter where International and local DJs alike perform nearly every day.