Relocating to a new country is always tricky business. You’re literally uprooting your life for a new one across the ocean, with an entirely different culture and community. “What should you do? Where do you start?” should be at the foremost of your mind.
Regardless of whether you have a year before your move or a few months, without a to-do list or a handy relocation guide at your disposal, it’s easy to lose track of what’s important/procrastinate and end up panicking later. With that in mind, Team Expat has put together an awesome guide that answers some of the most common questions expat professionals have to help you navigate the currents of Singapore!
What is the first thing I should do before my relocation to Singapore?
Easy: Research, research, and research! It’s always a good idea to travel to Singapore beforehand to do an orientation recce—check out the amenities and desired residential areas before your actual move to get a feel of the land. Ideally, you’d want to fly there as soon as possible after your relocation has been confirmed, to give yourself more time to decide where you want to stay. Generally, we recommend that you book a short-term stay (7-10 days) in Singapore via Airbnb or a hotel even if you bought a brand new house/condo, while you find your sea legs. Staying at furnished rooms will save you time and money as you don’t need to worry about minor details like where to do your laundry, and concentrate on figuring out how you want to decorate your own place. Other alternatives to Airbnb are BudgetHotels.sg and Agoda.
Where should I stay in Singapore?
You can get advice on the best places to stay by asking your friends in Singapore for their landlord or plugging the question into Google – landlords prefer to rent to people who are vouched for by people they know, so you can easily get a good offer fast. However, if you’re really at a loss, take a look at our article on A Guide To The Best Neighbourhoods for Expats in Singapore. You might also want to try these sites:
- Flat & Flatmates in Singapore
- Find Your Room In SG
- Singapore Rent A Room/Hotel/Apartment/House/Condo/Property/Flat/Roommate
- Easy Roommate – Tip #1: We advise you not to put your number on the site as you may attract thousands of unwanted offers. Tip #2: Be very specific about the location and amenities you would like so that you don’t receive offers that are out of your area.
Last but not least, you can also organise for an agent, just don’t forget to haggle on the original offer!
I don’t work near the best expat neighbourhoods, so should I look for a place that’s nearer to my office or a better neighbourhood located further?
If you’re new to moving abroad, then we strongly advise that you rent a place that’s nearer to where you work in order to minimise travel fatigue. While Singapore’s transportation is accessible everywhere and operates efficiently, it can be quite confusing especially if you’re not used to it—the humid weather makes it harder travel long distances on foot or cycling! It’s worth taking note that Singapore is one of the safest countries to live in, so even if you’re not staying in one of the ‘better’ neighbourhoods, you’ll still experience considerably better conditions than you would in other countries.
When it comes to locating the best place to stay, Google Maps and Street View are your best friends. With Google Maps, you can obtain detailed instructions on getting to your destination (distance/estimated travel time), along with method of travelling by type (bus/train/walking/cycling). Meanwhile, Google Street View lets you view the house you intend to live in, as well as the condition of the streets in realistic 3D angles, so you’d know if you’re getting a bargain or getting conned. Additionally, you should check for the “Property Age” of your residence first so that you don’t end up living in a place that’s falling apart; the aforementionedPropertyGuru.sg offers the tools to do that here. For more tips in getting around in Singapore, check out our guide for First-Time Expat in Singapore: Tips for Getting Around!
Should I buy or rent a place in Singapore?
It depends on how long you’ll be staying in Singapore and how much you’ll be earning. If you’re moving to Singapore alone for just over a year or two, then you might want to consider renting a place instead as property in the island city-state is not cheap, and there are lot of hoops to jump through. However, if you’re relocating with your family including kids, then you definitely want to consider buying a house or renting the whole condo, so that your family can have their privacy. We’ve put together an article about The Best Homes To Rent In Singapore On A Budget, which lists down your best available options according to your budget.
Now that I’ve secured my residence, how do I move all my things from my home country in?
Congratulations, you’ve overcome one of the hardest parts of the BIG move yet. When it comes to relocating your belongings, you’d want to make sure that the moving company you’ve hired is trustworthy; otherwise you might end up with all your possessions broken, or worse, missing! We’ve previously written an article on the factors you should consider when it comes to hiring a relocation company, and included what we think are the best relocation companies (there are 6 in total, if you like options): International Move 101: Finding The Best Relocation Companies In Singapore.
It’s so expensive to live in Singapore! How can I save money?
It’s widely known that Singapore is the most expensive city for expatriates, so how can you live comfortably yet save money? For starters, we’ve compiled a list of budget-friendly ways you can live in Singapore without having to tighten up the purse strings! The island city-state is known for great food and entertainment—if you know how to find it. For example, coffee is expensive in Singapore, so if you’re an addict, it can cut into your budget quite a bit. Instead, opt for the tasty local alternative, kopi, to fuel your caffeine needs.
Aside from eating local, shopping online and making use of public transportation, there are also 5 financial mistakes that expats tend to make due to oversight, which you should avoid making! Do note that you cannot get a bank account in Singapore without a visa, so be prepared to use your credit card. If your bank offers it, get a Travel Money Card—debit cards provided by your bank where you can keep your Singaporean currency for a fixed rate and low transaction costs.
What places would you recommend for eating and shopping for expats in Singapore?
Ah, the beauty of retail and food therapy. Not only is Singapore a hotbed of cheap and delicious eats, but also a hub for international and artisan (read: hipster) cafes such as Jamie’s Italian and a majority of the cafes located at Haji Lane. These are two articles that you definitely don’t want to miss out on, especially if you’re craving for Western-style desserts or clothes appropriately-sized for expats:
- Sweet 2016: Don’t Miss Out On The Best 16 Desserts In Singapore!
- 6 Best Expat Fashion Finds in Singapore For Stylish Globetrotters
Could you recommend me apps that’ll make living in Singapore easier?
Sure! We definitely recommend you to have the following apps in your phone, if you don’t have them already:
Directions in Singapore
- Google Maps – When it comes to getting around Singapore, Google Maps is your best friend as Apple Maps is not reliable on the island city-state.
- Citymapper – Like Google Maps, this app provides you with detailed directions on how to get from A to B, but it also has tons of bells and whistles such as ‘Where to Get On the Train’ and real-time ETA on every journey. The app has been named one of the top 30 best apps for Singapore residents by Tech in Asia!
Transport in Singapore
- Grab (Grab Taxi / Grab Car)
- Singapore MRT – For real-time information on public transport
Food in Singapore
Shopping in Singapore
- Carousell – Use this to get great cheap furniture for your apartment
Communications in Singapore
- Slack – The best messaging app for teams and work as you can connect all the tools you use to Slack and avoid having to constantly switch between apps.
We hope our guide has been helpful for expat professionals moving into Singapore. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Relocation Experts or leave a comment below!
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