Get ready to embark on an exhilarating adventure in the vibrant city-state of Singapore! Whether you’re already considering or preparing to live and work in this multicultural haven, you’re in for a thrilling experience. To ensure you make the most of your journey, we’ve crafted 27 invaluable tips that will not only enhance your life as an expat but also help you seamlessly navigate the ins and outs of this incredible city. So, fasten your seatbelt and prepare to immerse yourself fully in the enchantment of living and working in Singapore!
Tips for Living and Working in Singapore
1. Embrace the Cultural Diversity
Welcome to Singapore, a vibrant melting pot of cultures! Open your heart and embrace the rich tapestry of traditions, languages, and cuisines that this multicultural haven has to offer. Immerse yourself in the diverse celebrations and festivals that showcase the beauty of Singapore’s cultural heritage. From the enchanting lights of Deepavali to the bustling Chinatown during Chinese New Year, each experience will deepen your appreciation for the vibrant tapestry of Singaporean culture.
2. Get Familiar with Singlish
Get ready to dive into the linguistic charm of Singlish, the unique English-based creole spoken in Singapore. Learning some key Singlish phrases will not only add a fun touch to your conversations but also help you connect with the locals on a deeper level. From “lah” to “shiok,” these colloquial expressions will bring a smile to your face and show your appreciation for the local language. So, jio your friends for a Singlish crash course and let the linguistic adventure begin!
3. Explore the Neighbourhoods
Beyond the well-known attractions, Singapore’s neighbourhoods offer a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Venture beyond the tourist spots and explore the distinct charm of each neighbourhood. Lose yourself in the bustling streets of Chinatown, where traditional shophouses and aromatic food stalls create an enchanting atmosphere. Stroll through the colourful streets of Little India, filled with vibrant textiles, aromatic spices, and stunning temples. Don’t forget to visit the trendy shops and cafes in Bugis, and immerse yourself in the youthful energy of this bustling district.
4. Sample the Local Cuisine
Singapore is a food lover’s paradise, where culinary delights from around the world converge. Dive into the diverse culinary landscape and treat your taste buds to a gastronomic adventure. Head to the bustling hawker centres, such as Maxwell Food Centre or Lau Pa Sat, and indulge in iconic dishes like Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak, laksa, and char kway teow. Don’t miss the chance to experience Michelin-starred restaurants, where renowned chefs fuse traditional flavours with modern culinary techniques. From street food to fine dining, Singapore’s culinary scene will leave you craving for more.
5. Stay Hydrated
With Singapore’s tropical climate, staying hydrated is essential so carry a trusty water bottle with you wherever you go. Stay refreshed by sipping on chilled coconut water or enjoying a refreshing iced kopi (local coffee). Remember, hydration is key to keeping your energy levels up as you explore the vibrant streets of Singapore.
6. Dress for the Humidity
Singapore’s year-round warm and humid weather calls for light, breathable clothing. Embrace the casual tropical vibe and opt for loose-fitting garments made of breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun’s rays by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and applying sunscreen. Embrace the laid-back style and stay comfortable as you soak up the sun and explore the city.
7. Embrace Public Transportation
Singapore’s public transportation system is a convenient and efficient way to get around the city. Hop on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) or catch a bus to navigate Singapore’s well-connected network. Purchase an EZ-Link card or use contactless options to enjoy seamless payment on all modes of public transportation. Embrace the ease of travel, sit back, and enjoy the journey as you zip through the city’s iconic landmarks.
8. Learn the Etiquette
Familiarise yourself with Singaporean etiquette to show respect for local customs and build meaningful connections. Remember to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, a cultural norm that signifies cleanliness and respect. When exchanging business cards, present and receive them with both hands as a gesture of politeness. It’s also customary to address someone by their formal title, such as Mr., Mrs., or Miss, followed by their surname. These simple gestures will make a positive impression and help you navigate social interactions with grace and respect.
9. Discover the Green Spaces
Escape the urban hustle and immerse yourself in Singapore’s lush greenery. Explore the iconic Gardens by the Bay, where towering Supertrees and vibrant flower domes create a mesmerising landscape. Take a leisurely stroll in the serene Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and discover rare orchids and picturesque lakes. For a fun day out, head to East Coast Park, where you can rent bikes and enjoy a scenic ride along the coast. Singapore’s green spaces provide a refreshing retreat and a chance to connect with nature amidst the bustling city.
10. Experience the Festivals
Singapore is a city that loves to celebrate, and its calendar is filled with vibrant festivals all year round. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage by joining in the festivities of Chinese New Year, where lively lion dances and red lanterns fill the streets. Experience the colourful lights and delicious treats of Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights. Indulge in the vibrant decorations and festive feasts of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which marks the end of Ramadan. By embracing these celebrations, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Singapore’s diverse cultural tapestry.
11. Stay Connected
Staying connected with family and friends back home is essential, and Singapore’s excellent connectivity makes it a breeze. Set up a local SIM card to enjoy affordable and reliable mobile services. Alternatively, explore affordable roaming options provided by various telecommunications providers. With Singapore’s extensive network coverage, you’ll always be just a call or text away from your loved ones, sharing your exciting adventures and staying connected across the miles.
12. Embrace the Hawker Culture
One of Singapore’s greatest culinary delights is its vibrant hawker culture. Dive into the bustling hawker centres, where rows of food stalls beckon with tantalising aromas. Indulge in the must-try dishes like succulent Hainanese chicken rice, spicy laksa, and savoury satay. Discover hidden gems as you explore the local favourites, from char kway teow to crispy roti prata. With their affordable prices and authentic flavours, hawker centers provide an unforgettable culinary experience that will leave your taste buds yearning for more.
13. Explore the Surrounding Islands
Beyond the mainland, Singapore is surrounded by picturesque islands waiting to be explored. Take a trip to Sentosa Island, a popular destination known for its pristine beaches, thrilling attractions, and lush gardens. Unwind with a beachside picnic or plunge into the turquoise waters for a refreshing swim. For a taste of rustic island life, head to Pulau Ubin, where you can rent a bicycle and pedal through the idyllic countryside. These island getaways offer a perfect escape from the urban bustle and a chance to experience Singapore’s natural beauty.
14. Stay Active
Join the energetic lifestyle of Singaporeans and embrace the city’s love for fitness. Lace up your running shoes and join a local running group to explore the city’s picturesque parks and waterfront promenades. Engage in water sports like kayaking or paddleboarding at East Coast Park, where you can revel in the refreshing ocean breeze. Explore the lush trails of Singapore’s nature reserves for invigorating hikes amidst verdant foliage. From yoga in the park to hitting the gym, Singapore offers a myriad of options to keep you active and energized.
15. Explore the Nightlife
After a long day of work, unwind and embrace Singapore’s vibrant nightlife. From rooftop bars with stunning city views to lively night markets and live music venues, there’s something for everyone. Experience the energy of Clarke Quay, where you can find a mix of bars and clubs, or head to Arab Street for a more bohemian vibe. Dance the night away, enjoy live performances, or simply relax with friends over drinks and good conversation. Singapore’s nightlife scene caters to a wide range of tastes, ensuring you’ll find the perfect spot to create unforgettable memories.
16. Take Advantage of Work-Life Balance
Singaporeans value work-life balance, and as an expat, it’s important to embrace this philosophy too. Take time to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant social scene, where you can unwind with friends at charming cafes or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Marina Bay. Indulge in some retail therapy along the iconic Orchard Road, home to a plethora of shopping malls and boutiques. Find your own rhythm and strike a balance between work and leisure to fully enjoy the enriching experiences Singapore has to offer.
17. Embrace the Efficient Healthcare System
Singapore is renowned for its efficient and world-class healthcare system. Take the time to familiarise yourself with local hospitals and clinics, ensuring you know where to go in case of any medical needs. Consider obtaining medical insurance to provide yourself with peace of mind during your stay. With a robust healthcare infrastructure and highly skilled healthcare professionals, you can rest assured that your well-being is in good hands while living in Singapore.
18. Discover Local Markets
Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by exploring Singapore’s bustling markets. Visit the iconic Chinatown Complex, a treasure trove of culinary delights and fresh produce. Dive into the vibrant array of flavours, fragrances, and spices at Tekka Centre in Little India. These markets offer more than just shopping; they provide an opportunity to interact with local vendors, sample delicious street food, and find unique trinkets and souvenirs. Explore the stalls, engage in friendly banter, and discover hidden treasures that will add a touch of Singaporean charm to your home.
19. Stay Informed About Singaporean Laws
Singapore has strict laws to maintain its clean and orderly environment. It’s essential to familiarise yourself with these laws to avoid any unintended consequences. Take note of regulations regarding littering, jaywalking, smoking in public areas, and drug offenses. Respecting and abiding by these laws will ensure a harmonious experience during your time in Singapore. Be a responsible visitor, help keep the city clean, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with living in a safe and well-regulated environment.
20. Make Friends and Join Communities
Building a strong support network is key to thriving as an expat in Singapore. Take the initiative to join expat communities, attend networking events, and make an effort to connect with locals. Singaporeans are known for their friendliness and welcoming nature. By forging meaningful relationships, you’ll not only enhance your social life but also gain valuable insights into the local culture, traditions, and hidden gems. Engage in activities and hobbies that interest you, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a diverse group of friends who will enrich your experience in this vibrant city-state.
21. Embrace the Art Scene
Singapore is home to a thriving art scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and art events. Immerse yourself in the local creative scene by visiting iconic art institutions like the National Gallery Singapore or exploring independent art spaces in neighborhoods like Gillman Barracks. Attend art exhibitions, art fairs, and cultural festivals to discover the diverse range of contemporary and traditional art forms. Engage with local artists and art enthusiasts, and let the vibrant art scene ignite your creativity and appreciation for visual arts.
22. Volunteer for a Good Cause
Make a positive impact on the community and broaden your horizons by volunteering for a local charity or non-profit organisation. Singapore has a vibrant volunteer culture, with numerous opportunities to contribute your time and skills. Whether it’s supporting underprivileged communities, environmental conservation, or animal welfare, there are various initiatives that can benefit from your involvement. Volunteering not only allows you to give back to society but also provides a chance to connect with like-minded individuals and gain a deeper understanding of the local community.
23. Attend Networking Events
Expand your professional network and connect with like-minded individuals by attending networking events in Singapore. These events provide valuable opportunities to meet professionals from various industries, exchange ideas, and establish meaningful connections. Keep an eye out for industry-specific conferences, business forums, and social gatherings. Engage in conversations, share your expertise, and seize the chance to build relationships that can enhance your career prospects and open doors to new opportunities.
24. Enjoy Weekend Brunches
Weekend brunches have become a beloved tradition in Singapore, offering a delightful combination of delicious food and a relaxed atmosphere. Indulge in a leisurely brunch at one of the city’s trendy cafes or restaurants, where you can savour an array of delectable dishes, from classic eggs benedict to innovative fusion creations. Gather with friends or family, unwind over a cup of artisanal coffee, and savour the flavours while enjoying quality time together. Weekend brunches are a perfect way to recharge and treat yourself to a leisurely culinary experience.
25. Discover Hidden Cafes
Singapore is a haven for café enthusiasts, with a vibrant coffee culture that extends beyond the mainstream chains. Venture off the beaten path and explore hidden gems tucked away in charming neighbourhoods. Discover quirky and Instagram-worthy cafes that offer unique aesthetics, artisanal coffees, and delectable pastries. From cosy nooks with rustic charm to chic spaces with contemporary designs, these hidden cafes provide the perfect setting for catching up with friends, indulging in a good book, or simply enjoying a peaceful moment of solitude while sipping your favourite brew.
26. Attend Workshops and Classes
Expand your horizons and develop new skills by participating in workshops and classes offered across Singapore. From cooking classes that teach you the secrets of local cuisine to art workshops that allow you to express your creativity, there’s a wide range of educational and hands-on experiences available. Learn traditional crafts, practice mindfulness through yoga or meditation sessions, or even join language classes to further enhance your cultural immersion. Engaging in these workshops not only equips you with valuable knowledge but also provides opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and forge new connections.
27. Venture Beyond Singapore
While Singapore has much to offer, take advantage of its strategic location and explore nearby destinations. Embark on weekend getaways to neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, or Thailand, which are just a short flight away. Discover the beauty of Bali‘s beaches, the cultural wonders of Kuala Lumpur, or the bustling streets of Bangkok. These excursions provide a chance to experience different cultures, landscapes, and cuisines, adding even more richness to your expat journey in Singapore.
Congratulations on embarking on this exciting chapter of living and working in Singapore! By embracing the cultural diversity, exploring the neighbourhoods, and immersing yourself in the local experiences, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories. With these 27 valuable tips, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the vibrant streets, savour the delicious cuisine, and embrace the unique lifestyle of this multicultural haven. Enjoy your journey and make the most of your time in Singapore!