With enviable standard of living, world-class healthcare, a great educational system and an economy that has a perpetual need for talented workers, Singapore is a great place for those with the right skillsets to work and develop their careers.
Whether you’re coming here for a few months on a work rotation, a few years on an extended stint, or planning to call Singapore your home for good, here’s a guide to get you started on the most important things to get you started on your new life on the right foot, including immigration matters, healthcare, and banking services.
If you already have a job secured in your home country, your employer will need to help you make an application for your Employment Pass (EP). You can take a look at the Ministry of Manpower website to find out what are the relevant documents you need to prepare in support of the application.
Once your online Employment Pass application is approved (around 3 weeks), you’ll receive an in-principle letter, which is valid for 6 months. You’ll then need to complete any medical examinations/declarations and collect your EP in person.
If you’re bringing your family with you, you need to apply for Dependant Passes, which allows them to stay in Singapore for 2 years, and are renewable.
Upon arrival, the main concern would be having a comfortable, affordable roof over your head that meets your needs. Proximity to your workplace will be one important consideration, though if your children will living with you in Singapore, their choice of school will perhaps be an equally important consideration as well.
Unless you’re staying in Singapore for good, you’re most likely going to be renting. Renting a home has its perks, since you can always move after a few months after you get a better feel of Singapore and are clearer on where you want your ideal home to be. PropertyGuru is one of the largest portals for Singapore property hunters, so you can do some research on your shortlisted locations and get a sense of the rental prices.
When you’re based overseas, you no longer have access to the healthcare system you’re used to in your home country. Singapore has a great private and public healthcare system with one of the best outcomes in the world, but it can be really expensive if you do not have the right insurance.
First check with your employer what medical and insurance benefits you’ll be enjoying. Next, international medical insurance should be another key area that you should look into prior to coming to Singapore for work.
Essentially, international medical insurance covers any healthcare costs that you incur overseas, including hospital bills, surgeon fee, specialists’ consultation, physiotherapy, among others. In addition to the medical insurance, expats can also opt for riders that cover international outpatient treatment, visual and dental treatment, health and wellness, and medical evacuation.
Get a local bank account set up as soon as you arrive so that you’ll be able to receive your salary, make bank transfers and ATM withdrawals, as well as gain access to a credit card without having to pay hefty overseas conversion fees when you use your existing cards.
Check with the bank on the specific documents you’ll need to open a local bank account, which typically includes your passport, Employment Pass, a certain minimum cash to deposit.
Major banks have remittance services, so you can inquire about them, though you can continue to use services like TransferWise to remit money back (or receive emergency funds) in a cost-effective way.
If time allows, making a trip to Singapore before your actual move might be helpful to allow you to see the place for yourself, and especially the neighbourhood you plan to live in. You’ll can also make appointments to settle any paperwork if you haven’t been able to do so online.
If you have any questions regarding personal finances in Singapore, DollarsAndSense is your definitive source of information. If you have a question, feel free to use JustAsk to ask your question and we’ll be glad to help.