Moving to Singapore

In Moving Guides by Steven Kane

We are pleased to provide you with our guide on moving to Singapore from Dubai, UAE. Please make note of the special links at the foot of this page.

Capital City: Singapore
Population: 5.8 million
Official Language(s): English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil
Currency: Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Time: GMT +8
Internet domain: .sg
International dialing code: +65


The name Singapore is derived from Singapura (meaning Lion City), which as legend has it, was founded when a Sumartran prince landed on the Island centuries ago and saw a lion.

From the 16th century, Singapura was a trading post with a small population, hardly a city, and it was not until 1819 that modern Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles. Between 1820 and 1870 the population grew rapidly to 100,000 people consisting of Chinese, Malay, Indian Arab and Europeans.

Singapore continued to prosper through the 20th century exporting, among other things, rubber and tin. After world war 2 a new constitution was established in 1955 and Singapore gained full independence in 1965.

Today Singapore is a thriving multi-cultured island city. As the original “Asian Tiger state” and with its strategic position in the Asia Pacific region it is a hub for numerous industries such as energy, technology, logistics, and finance to name a few. Added to this the relative stability and a pleasant (sub-tropical) climate, it is easy to see how even during the recent global financial impact, Singapore has remained resilient and continues to be an attractive posting for expats.

Expats in Singapore

Singapore is located off the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsular. With numerous foreign expats workers along with the local ethnic Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans the city-state is one of the most cosmopolitan places in Asia, which buzzes with a fascinating mix of cultures.

With its political stability, low crime rate, organization, cleanliness and high levels of infrastructure, not to mention low levels of income tax, Singapore is an ideal place to work, live and raise a family. Excellent public transport, good schooling, excellent healthcare facilities and a culture and values which promote tolerance, it is not hard to see why many expats aspire to live and work in place dubbed the “Switzerland of Asia”.

A large percentage of high earning expats (and an increasing number of locals) – the worlds 7th highest per capita GDP – has resulted in a high cost of living, and most expats would ideally factor in housing allowances and at least a percentage of schooling costs to remuneration from potential employers.

Respecting local customs and values is highly recommended. If you find yourself in a dispute or misunderstanding, avoid raising your voice or showing signs of frustration or aggression. This is generally viewed as a weakness and will almost certainly be detrimental to what you are trying to achieve. A degree of flexibility and an accommodating demeanor will make your experiences more enriching and enjoyable.

Situated just one degree North of the equator, Singapore does not have distinctive seasons. Temperatures are fairly similar all year round with average daily lows and highs between 23 and 33 degrees centigrade, with an average humidity of almost 80 percent. Rain is common, but it tends to arrive in heavy, but brief, tropical downpours and stop as quickly as it started. The rainier monsoon months are November through January.

Cost of living

A meal at a standard restaurant can range between USD 12-20 per person with a beer priced around USD 6-8 and soft drinks around USD 1.50 per can. A reasonable bottle of wine costs approximately USD 20-25 and a coffee typically sets you back around USD 4

At the local supermarkets a loaf of bread is priced around USD 2, a litre of milk approximately USD 2.20 and a dozen eggs roughly USD 2.50

Public transport is very good with monthly passes at around USD 80. Taxis start around is USD 2.50 and then around USD 0.50 per kilometer thereafter. Petrol is around USD 1.50 per litre.

Accommodation is generally expensive. A typical 1-2 bedroom apartment would be approximately USD 1,500 – 2,000 per month. A 3 bedroom house would start around USD 4,000. The choice is plentiful so prices can vary of course.

Basic utilities for an average two-bedroom apartment will be around USD 250 per month. Prepaid mobile phone charges are approximately USD 0.20 per minutes and broadband Internet us roughly USD 40-50 per month.


Primary education in the Singaporean system lasts from 5-11 or 12 years old. Students then graduate through a Primary school leaving examination. Children then have 5 years of secondary education and following GSE O level or N level exams can progress to 2 years junior college or a three year government course which prepares them for university. Local schools tend to charge an admission fee but generally the education is essentially free.

Many expat children attend private international schools. These are plentiful throughout Singapore with generally a very high level of education, however annual fees are likely to exceed USD 25,000 (even at primary level).

Admissions and availability is handled centrally though the ministry of education and happens annually in September/October.

Moving Documents

Importation of Household Goods and Personal Effects

  • Passport copy
  • GST form (Goods and services tax)
  • Declaration of facts form
  • Customs declaration form
  • Copy of employment pass
  • Detailed Packing list in English
  • Bill of lading / AWB
  • Wine/Liquor declaration form.

Helpful Website(s):

Note: This document is provided as a guide for people moving to Singapore from Dubai, UAE and for information purposes only. Customs regulations can and do change at any time, usually without notice. Your mover will provide you with more information.