living in singapore

Moving to Singapore

Singapore Score
Shithole Paradise

What is Singapore?

life in singapore for foreigners

Singapore is a sovereign island state at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula.

The Republic of Singapore is an advanced, modern metropolis and one of the greatest success stories in Asian history.

Singapore is a sovereign island country and city-state at the southern end of continental Malaysia.

It was founded in 1819 and was a British colony until 1959.

In the beginning of its independence, there were some significantly turbulent years, but despite the lack of natural resources, this tiny nation developed at a rapid pace and became one of the Four Asian Tigers (together with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan).

It did this by focusing on international trade and economic globalization, free trade and very minimal trade barriers or tariffs.

It’s now a highly developed country, and one could successfully argue it’s the most advanced nation in this region – and even more so than most Western nations.

It has the second highest GDP per capita IN THE WORLD, is a major financial hub, a tax haven, a top performer in education, quality of life, safety, healthcare, fast internet connection, life expectancy, and so on.

Yes, it’s really, really good in many aspects.

It’s governed as a unitary parliamentary republic, based on common law. While it technically is a multi-party democracy, in reality the People’s Action Party has been in charge of the nation since its inception.

Singapore is a member of several leagues, such as ASEAN, APEC, the UN, WTO, and the Commonwealth of Nations.

It boasts a highly efficient public transportation system, a quality of life which cannot be equaled by many other larger nations and, unfortunately, an expected and concomitant high cost of living.

There are 4 official languages in Singapore: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, attesting to the great cultural diversity (the good kind) in this little state.

Despite its moderate size, Singapore consists of 63 islands, and because of land reclamation projects, Singapore’s land area has increased by over 25%.

Unfortunately, due to urbanization it has lost nearly all of its historical forests, and it’s basically just a city now, with some nature reserves and parks strewn about.

Climate wise, you can expect a uniform average temperature, high humidity and plenty of rain. A typical tropical rainforest climate, in other words.

expats in singapore
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Requirements for moving to Singapore

The requirements for moving to Singapore are unfortunately a bit more restrictive than in many other Asian countries.

For starters, you do need to get a visa in advance before traveling here. This will then allow you to stay for 30 days, extendable for up to 90 days in total.

Permanent residence is possible via employment, investment or a familial connection.

You can also start a business here, and attain it that way. However, as with everything else in Singapore, this will cost a pretty penny.

If you so desire, you can get citizenship after only two years of permanent residence. That is certainly not a bad deal!

You also won’t have to learn Spanish or Arabic (like in Dubai) or any other language, because English is an official language.

As with every other country I talk about on this website, the only true requirement for moving to Singapore is the ability to earn money online, from wherever you want, whenever you want, on your own terms.

Yes, you could get a job in Singapore and work for a company … but this leaves you very vulnerable, because if you get fired, your income dries up and it could even lead to your visa/residence being revoked.

You need to have your location independent business, for reasons I’ve talked about in detail in my article Location independent income.

In Singapore this comes with an additional threshold: your income needs to be quite high, because the cost of living in Singapore is rather steep.

What is the cost of living in Singapore?

Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in Asia, comparable to Tokyo, Japan.

According to Numbeo, the average monthly cost of a single person is around $1,000, excluding rent.

If you include rent, you’re looking at nearly $4,000 per month for a single person. If you have a family, this number could easily double.

Yes, this isn’t a large amount if you make a decent Western-sized income, but it is at least triple that of other Southeast-Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

Moving to any other neighboring nation will decrease your cost of living significantly – but will also come with a lower “quality” of life, depending on what you value in life.

For example, moving to the Philippines means you’d be paying about 25% of what you were in Singapore, but you’d give up living in a modern metropolis.

Benefits of living in Singapore

  • Prosperous metropolis

    Singapore is a thriving, multicultural nation. A very modern and advanced city, with all the comforts and quality of life-elements you could want

  • Very safe

    Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world, with good scores on just about every metric

  • Excellent public transportation

    Singapore has a state-of-the-art public transportation system in the form of a subway/metro. Comparable to those of Tokyo and Shanghai, it works nearly flawlessly and is a cheap and efficient way to get citizens across the city

  • Always warm

    Singapore lies near the equator, so the average temperature is around 27 C (80F), nearly perfect for human beings

  • High English proficiency

    English is one of Singapore’s official languages, and as such its citizens have a very high proficiency. In Asia, Singapore is without a doubt the best option if you only speak English (with Philippines and Malaysia good options too)

  • Doing well economically

    While Singapore has already had its major economic growth spurt, it is still rising economically every single year

  • No taxes on international income

    The only true requirement for moving to Singapore is having a location independent income, so having to pay no taxes on this is absolutely wonderful. This certainly offsets in part Singapore’s high cost of living

living in singapore as an american

Downsides of living in Singapore

  • Way too humid

    An average humidity of 84% isn’t awesome. I like a lot of sunshine and a warm climate, but sweating my ass off every time I walk outside for 5 minutes can seriously fuck off. This is without a doubt one of the major reasons why Singapore isn’t for me

  • Visa process isn’t the best

    Singapore requires you to apply for a visa in advance of moving there, which is always a hassle – especially compared to countries with a “visa on arrival” system such as the Philippines. In additional, you cannot extend it for very long, which means that you’ll have to either get residence after 90 days, or leave and return (by applying for another visa)

  • High cost of living

    Singapore is one of the most expensive countries in the region, and its cost of living is rather high

Moving to Singapore - by the numbers

Singapore Score
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 5.6/10

Hours of sunshine (5/10) Temperature (9.5/10) Rainy days (5/10) Humidity (3/10)
27 C – 80 F

Level of English: 10/10

Very High Proficiency

Cost of Living: 3/10

There is no actual minimum wage in Singapore, except for some low-paying jobs.

For this reason, I cannot base this metric only on the annual wage, and I had to look at how much a single average person would need to live reasonably comfortable.

This comes down to roughly $3,770 per month, and $45,000 per year.

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person

Taxes on international income: 10/10

Foreign-based income is not taxable. This includes worldwide income paid into a Singapore bank account.

Absolutely amazing, and this factor alone makes Singapore worth looking into.

Remember: it could be better to have a high cost of living with 0% taxes than a moderate cost of living with 50% taxes, depending on your income.

Do the maths, and see what moving to Singapore would do for your financial situation.

It could be that your theoretical cost of living goes up, but because your taxes get reduces so drastically, you'd still be better off.

Economic growth: 7/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 4%

Safety: 10/10

Global Terrorism Index (10/10) Intentional homicide rate (10/10) Rape rate (10/10)

Visa: 7.7/10

  • Visa (7/10)

    You need to get a visa in advance (a 30 day Visit Pass), which is extendable up to 90 days

  • Permanent Residence (8/10)

    Possible, either through employment or through investment, through a familial connection, or if you aim to start a business there

  • Citizenship (8/10)

    Possible, but you need to have Permanent residence for at least two years

How is life for expats in Singapore?

Life in Singapore for foreigners can be truly awesome.

Singapore is a thriving, bustling city, an economic power-house both regionally and internationally.

One of the greatest success stories in the region, a combination of all the modern conveniences and the typical Asian culture.

If you’re at all interested in living in Asia, but you prefer to not give up any of the niceties of living in a modern city, Singapore is for you.

You’d of course need to make a decent, location independent income, and you’d need to be able to deal with the humidity.

To me, Singapore is a combination of Dubai and the Philippines:

It has the Asian thing going, and it’s basically a more expensive, modern, efficient, prosperous and luxurious version of the Philippines.

Everyone speaks English and it’s hot as fuck in both countries.

Singapore gets you a higher standard of living, with all the modern amenities, but the Philippines is a way cheaper country, and it has beautiful beaches.

And you can say Singapore is like Dubai with regards to no taxes on your foreign income and the high cost of living.

Singapore is ideal for people who want to escape the collapsing West to an Asian country, but aren’t willing to give up on their expected high-cost, high-quality-of-life lifestyle.

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Check out my new book, available on Amazon!

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One thought on “Moving to Singapore

  1. Nick S.

    Probably one of the best banking/brokerage flags in the world (tied with Dubai imo).

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