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There are many things to consider when moving to Singapore. As you are entering a new phase of life it is imperative to start off organised and prepared to face new and exciting challenges. Understanding the motivations behind why you want to move will help you make a better decision. Make sure that you and your family are all aware and are of the same understanding of the next steps. Below are some key things to consider when thinking about relocating to Singapore.
It is imperative you have some set aside for relocating, even if you are being relocated by your company. How much you will need depends on the location and the reason for why you are moving. You will need money for the move itself (if self funded) and then to set up in the new location. You may need to buy furniture, pay rent, set up accounts, pay school fees and join clubs. The list goes on. To better prepare yourself for these costs, get rid of any outstanding debt, pay off loans and set up an ‘emergency fund’ so you know you have some money set aside for any potential surprises.
Some factors to consider when choosing Singapore as a location are the distance from family and friends, climate, culture and lifestyle. Singapore can offer you great opportunities for work, family and safety, and its vast multiculturalism will allow you and your family to assimilate well into it. It is also a hub in South East Asia, with easy access into surrounding countries for work or holiday purposes. Do keep in mind the tropical climate however, as it is not everyone’s cup of tea!
Understanding the local laws and processes will give you a better understanding of how the local residents operate in both a social and working capacity. Singapore has recently put in place stricter regulations for foreigners entering the country for work purposes. But rest assured, foreigners are still very much welcomed. Ensure that you have all the information required before making a decision.
In many instances in Singapore, work permits can be processed in 1-2 weeks, however there are occasions when it can take up to 2 months. Preparing yourself for the latter is best as requirements and processing can vary greatly from one nationality to the next. Make sure you are fully aware of the requirements in place for your particular nationality.
Keep in mind that as a foreigner you are most likely not entitled to the same healthcare benefits as a Singapore citizen. Healthcare can be very costly in Singapore and is a very important factor to consider, particularly if you have a family. You need to ensure you have some key questions answered, such as: What is the level of healthcare available in Singapore? How expensive is healthcare and what type of plan does an expatriate need to take out to ensure full coverage? Most companies provide healthcare cover for their employees, but you should check whether that particular coverage extends to your family members as well.
Remember to keep in mind cost of earning in Singapore; it may become relative the way you live in the local economy. Ensure you are fully aware of the local taxes and how you can best benefit from the situation. There can be personal implications when paying tax, as there may not be a tax treaty between Singapore and your home country. Although Singapore generally has a very low rate of tax, the clauses of your employment agreement and your country of citizenship may mean you pay taxation in two countries at once. It is also important to take out life insurance to protect your spouse/family financially.
If you choose to buy property in Singapore, there are often restrictions and additional fees placed on expatriates. Most expatriates moving to Singapore will rent initially, and there are many rental options available to foreigners. Although rental or sale property costs may seem high in Singapore, it is relative to the cost of earning vs. cost of living.