Moving to Singapore: Relocating Business as an Expat | Expatland

Moving to Singapore

Moving to Singapore is a big change, no matter which country you’re moving from. It is one of the most modern cities in the world, but the culture can be challenging for new expats. Nonetheless, Singapore is quickly becoming one of the most exciting places to move to for expats who consider relocating to Singapore or moving their business to Singapore.

What to Expect After Relocating to Singapore

  • A metropolis will admire expats after their relocation to Singapore with one of the best well-developed infrastructures in the world. The modern amenities in Singapore are a step above most other cities in the world.
  • Multicultural expat communities, healthy business environment, warm weather, and a wide variety of in-residence recreational amenities. This includes pools, BBQ pits, tennis courts, and gardens.
  • Topclass healthcare system, available also for expats after they move to Singapore, that constantly ranks among the best in the world. Both private and public are available, though new expats should expect to opt for the public at first after they move to Singapore.

Why Should You Move to Singapore?

Simply put, moving to Singapore for work will grant you one of the highest living standards in the world. Singapore consistently ranks at the top of most lists for personal safety, political stability, economic growth, and amenities. Economic growth is consistent, and the city enjoys a pro-business environment with attractive tax structures for expats moving their businesses to Singapore.

Aside from business potential, expats moving from US to Singapore should expect warm relaxing weather and plenty of recreational activities. ECA International ranks Singapore as the best Asian city for work-life balance, recreational and leisure options, sports events, arts and theater spots, tourist destinations, and multicultural restaurants.

  • Tax & Accounting
  • Relocation & Shipping
  • Visa & Immigration
  • Property & Real Estate
  • Language & Culture
  • Health & Wellness
Tax & Accounting

Tax & Accounting in Singapre

Before moving business to Singapore it’s essential for expat entrepreneurs to be aware of taxes for expats in Singapore.

Singapore’s corporate tax rate is just 17 percent, making it one of the lowest in the world. This is the major reason expat entrepreneurs move their businesses to Singapore in increasing numbers.

Taxes in Singapore for expats work on a progressive scale. There is no capital gains tax or taxes on inheritance. Taxes on incomes are only for money earned in Singapore, change depending on where the income was made in Singapore, and taxes do not apply to individuals working overseas. The progressive tax rates are:

  • 0% on the first 20,000 earned
  • 2% on the following 10,000 (30,000)
  • 5% at 40,000
  • 7% at 80,000
  • 5% at 120,000
  • 15% at 160,000
  • 18% at 200,000
  • 19% at 240,000
  • 5% at 280,000
  • 20% at 320,000
  • 22% on any income after 320,000

The best expat banks account in Singapore are ones that have reasonably good interest rates which include savings accounts from CIMB FastSaver, DBS Multiplier, UOB One, OCBC 360, Maybank Save Up, SCB Bonus Saver, and BOC Smart Saver. Some of these account types have interest rates of up to 2.75% and best fit a wide variety of goals and customers.

Check our “Moving to Expatland: The Journey to Singapore” podcast and get an overview of the tax considerations in moving to Singapore as well as get professional tips on relocating business to Singapore, living and doing business in Singapore, taxation nuances and cultural differences shared by our Singapore E-Team leader.

Tax & Accounting

Tax & Accounting in Singapre

Relocation & Shipping

Relocation & Shipping to Singapore

When moving to Singapore keep in mind that affordable residences are usually unfurnished, so, while moving your business to Singapore,  moving your furniture is recommended. If you find the prices of shipping furniture untenable, know that popular furnishing outlets like IKEA operate in the city-state. Leave the heavy winter clothing behind when you move to Singapore, as the temperature rarely drops below 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

The land border is busy so shipping by sea is preferable and usually quicker. Air freight is also possible, but not recommended as costs quickly mount when moving heavier items like furniture.

Be sure to investigate any hidden costs from cheaper relocators, as shipping companies often surprise Singapore expats with these fees after documentation is finalized.

Finally, your goods will face a Goods and Services Tax (GST) though expats moving to Singapore can apply for GST Relief to mitigate this cost.

Before relocating to Singapore be sure you are aware of some things that are prohibited in Singapore or restricted for import.

  • Tobacco, drugs, and chewing gum cannot be brought from outside the country.
  • Items created from ivory, rhino horn, or other endangered animals are prohibited.
  • Some breeds of animal are banned including pit bulls, Akita, other large dogs, Bengal cats, and savannah cats.

Most vaccinations are not required for Singapore, but when traveling to Asia some are recommended, including:

  • Rabies
  • Covid-19
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
Relocation & Shipping

Relocation & Shipping to Singapore

Visa & Immigration

Visa & Immigration for Singapore

Expats need to apply for visas to move to Singapore or to move a business to Singapore.

There are three main entry routes for expats trying to figure out how to move to Singapore; Employment passes, Entrepreneur Passes, and Student Passes.

  • Employment Passes require an employer to apply on behalf of the expat and the expat will need to meet certain requirements including a monthly salary of at least S$4,500 ($3,250). If expat is moving to Singapore with a family, spouses and children of the expat can join through a Dependent’s Pass but the expat earning requirement increases to S$6,000 ($4,412).
  • Entrepreneur Passes and Personalized Employment Passes allow expat entrepreneurs to enter or apply directly to Singapore without employer sponsorship.
  • Student Passes are available to students who are already accepted by an educational institution to pursue full-time study. Students must meet different requirements depending on what institution they attend and what studies they pursue.

Expats in Singapore typically apply for Employment and Entrepreneur passes before relocating to Singapore.

Visa & Immigration

Visa & Immigration for Singapore

Property & Real Estate

Property & Real Estate in Singapore

Singapore’s housing market is largely owned by the Housing and Development Board with around 80% of residences sold by the government agency. There are four types of general housing.

  • Condominium – Condos are mostly found in the many highrises in Singapore and have facilities like pools, gardens, playgrounds, gyms, and more. These can come fully furnished for a higher price and usually rent between S$3,000 to S$12,000 a month.
  • Landed property – These residences consist of detached houses, terraced homes, and bungalows. Maintenance is usually higher for these types of property. They typically rent for between S$8,000 and S$35,000 a month.
  • Serviced apartments – Targeted at short term stays, these are a favorite among expats newly relocated to Singapore. They are fully furnished and may share the same amenities as the condos. They usually consist of a single bedroom and rent prices for an apartment in Singapore are between S$7,000 and S$14,000 per month.
  • Public housing – Also known as HDB houses, they are built and maintained by the Singapore government. The monthly rent price for these is comparatively cheap, between S$2,200 and S$3,000. They are built close to public amenities like banks, malls, clinics, and public transport, but do not have the luxury amenities of condos or apartments.
Property & Real Estate

Property & Real Estate in Singapore

Language & Culture

Language & Culture of Singapore

Singapore is a contemporary and modern Asian city with influences from South Asian, East Asian, and Eurasian communities. The primary language is Singaporean English, though most people in Singapore are bilingual and speak Mandarin Chinese, Malay, or Tamil.

The city has its fair share of popular culture including music, media, and creative writing, but in recent years the government has made efforts to increase the number of murals in the city. Parks are common, and the performing arts are encouraged, including a growing stand-up comedy scene. Festivals are common, and cuisine is traditionally seafood centric.

Singapore does maintain a tight grasp on cultural performances however, and the Singapore government must vet most work in advance or face a penalty.

Language & Culture

Language & Culture of Singapore

Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness in Singapore

Singapore’s average life expectancy is among the best in the world sitting between 81 and nearly 86 years old on average.

Sport Singapore sponsors an all inclusive movement for sports for all residences of the city-state. They claim to have more than 1,600 free workout sessions for nearly 150,000 residents, Move It programs, virtual exercise programs, a national steps challenge, and a well networked health service through their HealthHub service.

Singapore has universal healthcare in the form of their MediShield Life insurance system. Residents pay premiums and deductibles but large bills from hospital care are covered via this system.

Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness in Singapore

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does it cost to live comfortably in Singapore?

    The average cost for a single person living in Singapore is about S$1,350 a month without rent. A family of four can expect this to quadruple to about S$5000 without rent after relocating to Singapore. Rent price can range from just above S$2,000 to as much as S$35,000 or more.

  • Is Singapore Safe?

    Singapore claims to be the second safest city in the world, while occupying the first spot for quality of living. Nearly 95% of people living in Singapore feel safe walking alone at night which is supported by a transparent legal system and active police force.

  • Which Languages Are Spoken in Singapore?

    While many languages are spoken in Singapore, the most common are English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Technically Malay is the city’s native tongue, but Singapore English, which is similar in many ways to British English, is the de facto language.

  • Can Expat Children Attend Local Schools?

    Yes, but the applications for academic school years are competitive. 2022 applications were closed by January 7 for non-permanent residences.

  • How Is Life in Singapore for Expats?

    For those with a good enough income, expat life in Singapore is considered some of the best. Expats that secure a residence, health care options, and an income before moving to Sinagpore can expect a vibrant cultural scene, diverse food, and rich economic opportunity.