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Living in Singapore

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Singapore is sometimes described as Asia for beginners, a tongue in cheek way of saying that is a clean, safe, air conditioned haven where expatriates never gets to experience the so called real Asia. Even so, it is a key regional expatriate destination, attracting professionals from all kinds of backgrounds. One of the most diverse mix of ethnicities and cultures is to be found here. The safe, crime free environment, combined with stable employment and the prospect of their children getting the best education available means many expatriates make Singapore their home.

On the other hand, some argue that there are more stimulating places to live and that Singapore has become a facsimile of the west, with country clubs, western corporations, shopping malls etcetera and that it lacks the buzz of places like Bangkok, or other cities in the developing world.

It has to be said however that in our experience, expatriates that have spent time in various Asian cities will usually prefer to settle somewhere like Singapore in the long term. The highly developed infrastructure, clean streets and high standard of living will nearly always trump the 'edgy' cities, especially with families.

Hong Kong is Singapore's big competitor when attracting expatriates. A question often asked is how do the two cities compare. This is too broad a subject to cover on this introductory page and we have many threads on our forum that address this question but in brief, Singapore's is a garden city, with plenty of greenery and many parks, making it very attractive indeed. It's clinically clean. Everything works. You know that when you pick up a telephone to make an international call, it will connect within a few seconds. You can take a taxi without having to look suspiciously at the meter. You even see women walking alone or jogging in the park at night without fear of being attacked.

The people are cosmopolitan, hard working and the government protects everyone, whatever their race, background or income. No matter which way you look at it, culturally, socially, economically, education, health care, Singapore is a complete success.

It is also a popular tourist destination. Millions of tourists visit every year, attracted by two centuries of colonial history and the resulting mix of cultures. Nearly everyone speaks English and Singapore has no less than four official languages: English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Government signs are often written in all of those languages.

This page contains key practical information most often sought by expatriates living in Singapore.

Need advice? Got a question? Go to our Singapore Forum