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The Ultimate Handbook to Living the Singaporean Expat Life (With Tips on Making Friends and Finding Accommodation!)

The Ultimate Handbook to Living the Singaporean Expat Life (With Tips on Making Friends and Finding Accommodation!)

While Hollywood loves to romanticize the idea of moving to another country, we know that in reality, it has its fair share of challenges. In fact, some of our very own team members are expats themselves, so been there, and done that! 

During our discussion on the toughest parts of the whole relocating process, the answer was synonymous: finding reliable resources to assist with your move or help you decide if a country is the right fit can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

But, worry not! From weighing up the pros and cons of living in your prospective new home to providing crucial insights like average salaries and cost of living breakdowns, consider us your go-to source for all things related to relocating to Lion City. 

We even added tips on how to make friends and find the perfect accommodation for you, so you can feel right at home in no time!  

Is Singapore a good place to live for expats? 

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With stellar healthcare ranked 1st, efficient public transportation at 6th, and outstanding safety levels ranking 6th globally, Singapore is a good place to live for expats. 

This is based on data from the Legatum Prosperity Index, Urban Mobility Readiness Index of 2023, and World Justice Project

That said, like any other place, it also has its fair share of disadvantages. 

Below, we listed the pros and cons of living in Singapore for expats, so you can make an informed decision about relocating. 

Advantages of Living in Singapore as an Expat

According to the 2023 Legatum Prosperity Index, which measures prosperity across countries, Singapore ranked first in a list with 166 other nations.

This result indicates that Singaporean citizens are generally in good health, and the country has the resources to help maintain it. 

In support of this, the International Trade Administration states that Singaporeans enjoy universal coverage of healthcare, which means that healthcare services are easily accessible regardless of financial status. 

Based on the Urban Mobility Readiness Index of 2023 by Oliver Wyman Forum, Singapore ranked 6th in terms of preparedness for mobility, which means it’s fairly easy to get from one place to another. 

As soon as you step foot in Singapore, you’ll immediately notice the notable ease and efficiency of its public transportation system. 

Even if you’re coming from the less bustling spots of the country, your journey is sure to be seamless and hassle-free. 

Singapore ranked 17th in the 2023 World Justice Project for the Rule of Law Index. This index ranked different countries based on their level of adherence to the laws. 

Meanwhile, based on the 2023 Global Peace Index, which studies the peacefulness of each country, Singapore received a ranking of 6 in terms of safety, highlighting its reputation of being a safe country to live in. 

According to World Data, Singapore not only boasts the 11th spot in the global average income rankings but also secures the 2nd position in Asia. 

This means that Singaporeans enjoy relatively high earning potential compared to their counterparts in many other countries globally, and within the Asian region specifically. 

The population in Singapore is pretty diverse in terms of ethnic groups, which we’re sure expats will find welcoming. 

Index Mundi states that Singapore is composed of 74.3% Chinese, 13.5% Malays, 9% Indians, and 3.2% that are classified as others. 

In 2022, expatriate salaries and benefits increased by 4% when computed in USD. These packages usually include accommodation, utilities, cash salary, and such. 

The information above is based on a report by ICA International

Disadvantages of Living in Singapore as an Expat

It’s no secret – the cost of living in Singapore is high. Expats, especially those coming from a country with a low cost of living, might not be enticed by this fact. 

The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Singapore as the 9th highest cost of living in Singapore for 11 years now. 

This means that Singapore is the 9th most expensive place in the world! Living here is certainly not for the faint-hearted. 

The good news? It’s not totally impossible! With careful planning, willingness to adapt, and awareness of cultural factors, anyone can thrive in a different country. 

This is the recipe for how to make the dream of living abroad possible for a lot of individuals.

In fact, according to Statista, there were approximately 1.77 million expats in 2023, which means there’s a sizable community of individuals successfully navigating life abroad, proving that expatriation is feasible. 

Singapore is small, that’s an undeniable fact. You can even travel from one end to another in less than an hour’s drive. 

People coming from big cities might find it suffocating to live in a country with a total land area of 750 square kilometers. 

To give you an image of how small that is, New York City is even bigger, with a total land area of 141,297 square kilometers! 

Dating in Singapore can be a challenge for some expats, especially if you’re new to the scene and have no connections. That said, the experience can vary greatly depending on what you’re looking for. 

According to a report by Strait Times, 70% of Singaporeans aged 21 to 34 believe that getting married is unnecessary. If you’re dating to marry, and you’re looking to date someone within that age range, you might have a harder time. 

Meanwhile, if you’re part of the LGBT community, it might be harder, which is unfortunately not surprising. 

Singapore just started decriminalizing sex between men in 2022. While this is obviously a huge step towards progress, it’s still far behind. 

Factors like this might make it hard for LGBT people to date because they may still encounter discrimination. 

On a positive note, there are certain laws in place towards the protection of LGBT individuals such as the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, which was changed to safeguard the community from violence driven by religion. 

Additionally, the LGBT community is protected against threats or violence. 

If dating in Singapore really poses a challenge for you, we suggest reading our article about the best dating sites in Singapore(singapore dating site). 

Is it hard to get a job in Singapore as an expat? 

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Firstpost reports upcoming employment regulations changes in Singapore will make it harder to find a job as an expat.

In 2025, the minimum salary required for an employee pass will increase, posing an added challenge for the expats to meet the criteria. 

What’s a good salary in Singapore for expats?

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A good salary in Singapore for expats ultimately depends on your educational background, past related experiences, and such. 

As a reference, the Ministry of Manpower reports a median gross monthly income of SGD6,147 for full-time workers. 

How much does it cost to live in Singapore for expats?

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Based on data found on Numbeo, it costs approximately SGD 5,198 for a single person to live in Singapore. This includes rent, basic groceries, utilities, and transportation. 

Expense CategoryAverage Monthly Cost
Rent per month (1 bedroom in the city center) $ 3,692.87
Rent per month (1 bedroom outside the city center)$ 2,711.32
Utilities $ 202.67
Transportation (monthly pass) $ 128.00
Basic Groceries$ 114.83

How can I find accommodation in Singapore as an expat? 

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You can find accommodation in Singapore as an expat by finding a neighborhood with a sizable expat community or using a trusted rental platform. 

1. Finding the expat community

Holland Village is a popular spot for the expat community in Singapore. Located in the central area, it boasts an unbeatable location for its accessibility. 

Expats who usually choose this location love a neighborhood characterized by significant European influences. 

2. Using a rental platform 

Using a rental platform is an easy way to find a space in Singapore. Several trusted platforms like Property Guru and offer a wide range of choices to cater to diverse tastes and preferences. 

How can I meet new people in Singapore as an expat? 

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To meet new people in Singapore as an expat, it’s important to put yourself out there by being proactive in attending social events, joining workshops and classes, and such. 

We crafted some suggestions below so you can start building your social network and feel right at home. 


Feeling ready to socialize and meet new people? Meetup is a website where you can join various events depending on your interests, tailor-made to help you find your own community. 

If you’re in search of some fellow expat friends who can hopefully share some meaningful insights with you, try joining Expat Friends Singapore


Address: 1 Raffles Quay, #08-01 One Raffles Quay 

Contact details: +65 6713 9120

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Saturday – 6 AM to 10 PM 
  • Sunday – closed

Fitness First is one of the most popular gyms in Singapore with multiple stores across the country. That said, we highly favor the one at One Raffles Quay because of the stunning views it offers. 

In fact, it’s quite famous for it, making it one of the top fitness destinations for a lot of expats and locals alike. 

Making a friend at a gym shouldn’t be too hard. Here’s a tip: try to compliment them for their form, but don’t make it sound creepy! 

Chances are, they’ll smile at you and it will be easy to make conversation from there. 


Address: 205 Hougang St 21, #03-31/32/33 Heartland Mall

Contact details: +65 6285 1822

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Friday – 9 AM to 10 PM 
  • Saturday and Sunday – 9 AM to 6:30 PM 

If you’re a woman, you might prefer to join Amore Fitness, a gym exclusive to ladies. Not only will you feel safe here, but the environment also feels supportive, making it ideal for socializing and reaching your fitness goals – at least in our experience! 


Address: 6 Woodlands Square, #01-01 Woods Square

Contact details: +65 8028 9780

Operating hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 12 PM to 1 AM 

Going to a bar is internationally recognized as one of the sure ways to make a new friend in a new city. In Singapore, there’s an exciting plethora of choices waiting for you, but let us help you jumpstart your journey. 

We suggest checking out Tipsy Panda, a cool, intimate hangout spot where you can unwind with their special drink concoctions, along with a variety of Asian plates. 

Tipsy Panda is far from the popular attractions in Singapore, but don’t let that deter you! 

There’s a bigger chance that you’ll meet locals here, instead of foreigners in places like Clarke Quay(CLARKE QUAY singapore things to do) and Orchard Road. 


Address: 3A River Valley Rd, #02-04 Blk A Clarke Quay

Contact details: +65 9231 4992

Operating hours: 

  • Sunday to Thursday – 5 PM to 1 AM
  • Friday and Saturday – 5 PM to 3 AM 

If making a new friend at a traditional bar setting seems too intimidating for you, why don’t we spice it up a bit? 

Surely, going to an arcade bar would make finding new friends a lot easier. 

Try going to Level Up, an exciting hangout spot where you can indulge in classic games while enjoying the live music in the background. 

Here’s a tip: maybe you can invite someone for a game or two. Find a fellow lonesome expat or spot a dynamic group of friends that looks the least intimidating. 

Gather some courage and get out there! 

The game serves as an icebreaker, so you can skip most of the awkward parts. 


Those with an affinity for non-fiction books will enjoy joining The Saturday Book Club. Here, you can easily meet people with the same interests, providing an easy way to approach an individual. 

You can start with something like “Hey, what do you think of the book we’ve read?’ It’s that easy! 

The Saturday Book Club meets every 3rd Saturday of the month, giving you ample time to read the assigned book, as well as garner the courage to approach people.