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Living in Singapore

Living in Singapore

The city-state of Singapore is a multicultural, multi-ethnic island. It attracts international workers from companies around the world. Living in Singapore means a mix of cuisines and cultures, hearing languages from Mandarin to Malay to Tamil, and having access to all of Southeast Asia.

What is it known for?

The home of the Singapore Slings has a reputation as a corruption-free (and chewing-gum-free) economic powerhouse. In power since 1963, The People’s Action Party, has engineered civil society. The payoff has been a well-ordered, clean and financially robust place to live.

Here one can find a melting pot of religion and culture. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus in addition to other Asian cultures are expressed through the delicious foods sold at the open-air centres. Orchard Road has great shopping and the city’s skyline is a bold expression of its outward-looking economy.

Merlions – fish-body, lion-head statues are the city’s mascots and are some of the most important structures are the city. Marina Bay is full of hotels, theatres and a floating, multi-use stadium with a 30,000-person capacity.

Which neighbourhood to choose?

Singapore is split into 28 districts. Generally, expats have clustered in central areas on the east coast and near downtown. These areas are still very popular, however recently less employers are paying for housing and people are moving farther out of the center.

No place is really remote with the efficient Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). Many of the foreign schools, like the American School, are located to the north and some families have relocated there for convenience. However, there will always be some districts that remain popular due to proximity to the Central Business District, shopping and restaurants. These are mainly the central districts of 9, 10 and 11, from Orchard Road to Bukit Timah Road. And, district 15 on the East Coast along with the high-end condos near the Central Business District remain in high demand.

Side trips

With the exception of Sentosa Island, most trips from Singapore, require an international flight. But, Changi International Airport is one of the best in the world.

The southern Thailand islands and Phuket are only a 90-minute flight from Singapore and are some of the most favoured destinations.

Many expats own a second home in Bali, which is three hours away. All other Asian destinations, from Hong Kong to Luang Prabang — even the Maldives — are easily accessible. Ski trips to Hokkaido island in Japan are popular in winter.

Practical information

Purchasing a home as an expat is quite difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, most expats rent here. One must be a permanent resident and have approval from the government to buy. And, it’s quite difficult to become a permanent resident. In addition to buying property, the benefit of permanent residency is that one can send their children to a local school. Local schools are excellent and charge very low fees opposed to private foreign schools.

Generally speaking, rents are expensive however the homeowners pay the housing agent’s commission, not the tenants.

Foreigners may purchase condos though because there aren’t any restrictions there. You need to be prepared to put a minimum of 40% down though.

Singapore is a truly international location. Here you can meet the locals and learn different ways of doing business. Local people are quite accessible and you can easily get involved in anything you want to.

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  1. If you are now living in Singapore and have previously lived an worked in the UK it is possible that at retirement age you may be entitled to a partial UK State pension. This income, although not large, will supplement your retirement income. The only problem with this is that once it commences being paid to you in Singapore and in most Commonwealth nations, this UK State pension never increases, it freezes. What annoys us Commonwealth based expats is that in many countries like the USA the EEA the Philippines Israel etc.this UK pension is uprated annually. as it is in the UK. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/oct/25/frozen-basic-state-pension-australia-canada

    BPiA.org.au can help you discover the UK pension for which you can apply and are engaged in an International campaign with many commonwealth nations to have the UK change its pension policy, so that all UK pensions are paid equally and fairly irrespective of in which country you are retired. Visit http://www.pensionjustice.org

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