Preparing to move to Singapore
“Please be advised that while every effort is made to keep this information up to date, OFX does not provide employment, immigration or tax advice or the like, and you should always consult an employment, immigration or tax professional about your unique circumstances.”
Singapore offers a tropical climate, delicious cuisine, and a good health care system, economy, and education system. It is also considered a safe place to live and work, and it’s a popular tourist destination, thanks to its many beautiful places to see and fun things to do. So it’s no wonder that many people from around the world choose to move there every year.
Despite how exciting a move to a new country can be, moving abroad could be a daunting process, so we’ve compiled some helpful tips to help you get ready for such a big change.
As you prepare to move to Singapore, you should do the following:
- Figure out where you will work before you move
- Apply for the appropriate visas for yourself and your family
- Work with a real estate agent to find the perfect home to rent or buy
- Visit your doctor for necessary vaccines
- Pack what you’ll take with you or ship to your new home
- Prepare to take your pets with you
- Open a new bank account and transfer your money.
Searching for employment
Fair warning: the job market in Singapore is highly competitive, so finding work could be challenging. Plus, if you are thinking about moving to the country and then searching for a job, you might be disappointed by the strict laws that regulate foreigners’ ability to find employment. That’s why experts generally recommend having an offer for work prior to making your move. If you have what’s known as an offer in principle, or you are already a part of a company that is asking you to move, and that’s helping you make the transition, you could qualify for an Employment Pass through the Ministry of Manpower more easily.
If you already have a job waiting for you in Singapore, your employer might provide you with some assistance in acquiring your Employment Pass. But if you’re planning on looking for employment after you move to Singapore, you have the option of applying for an Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate instead. This, too, will come from the Ministry of Manpower, and it will allow you to get a Social Visit Pass that could be valid for a year and give you the chance to land a job.
Whether you already have a job lined up or you’re hoping to find employment after you arrive in the country, the Ministry of Manpower’s website could help you determine which employment pass is right for you, and it could also help you figure out which documents you’ll need to provide in order to receive the pass that you need.
Getting your visas in order
There are several different types of passes that you can apply for when preparing to move to Singapore, and the documents that you’ll need to obtain will depend upon your situation.
Here is a breakdown of some of the documents that might be required if you plan on moving to Singapore:
An employment pass, which could also be referred to as a work visa or work pass, will prove that you have a job lined up in the country, and your employer could help you with applying for this pass. Also, this pass will typically be given to those who are going to earn more than S$3,300 per month.
An S pass could be an option for individuals who aren’t working within the corporate world, such as mid-level skilled workers from abroad. This pass would apply to workers who are able to earn at least S$2,200 per month.
If you are legally married and you have qualified for an employment pass or an S pass, you could apply for a dependant’s pass for your spouse. And if you have children, you could also apply for dependant’s passes for them, provided that they are under 21 years of age and unmarried.
If you are hoping to start a business after moving to Singapore, you could apply for an Entrepass, which is for entrepreneurs.
Finding your new home
Some employers might be willing to help you find housing as you transition into your new life abroad, and that could certainly make the process easier on you. But if you are going about it all on your own, consider starting your search well in advance of your actual moving date.
Rather than staying in a hotel and stressing about finding a place to live after you’ve arrived in Singapore, working with a real estate agent in advance could help you locate the perfect neighborhood and property. Plus, the right agent might even help you locate an area that is filled with fellow expats whom you can befriend and turn to for support.
As you search for your new home, just keep in mind that, because of Singapore’s growing population and small size, there might be a shortage in available properties for sale or rent. And the properties that are available might come with high prices, so budgeting appropriately is key.
Tip: Use a service like OFX to transfer money internationally if you need to place a deposit or down payment on a property. In this way, your home will be waiting for you when you arrive.
Seeing your doctor for vaccines
Before moving to Singapore, it is a good idea to see your doctor for an exam and to receive any necessary vaccines that could help protect you against diseases that are common abroad. Plus, when you see your doctor, you could also ask for a copy of your medical records that you could take with you when you move.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following vaccines are recommended for individuals who will be traveling to Singapore4:
- Routine vaccines that include diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
Rest assured that you might not need all of these vaccines—so if you’re afraid of needles, you can breathe a sigh of relief! Basically, your doctor could talk to you about where you will be living and working in Singapore, as well as what you will be doing while you are there, in order to determine your risk for different diseases. This simple conversation will help him or her decide which vaccines will be best for you.
Packing for the big move
Whether you’re moving to Singapore for a year or for good, you’ll need to decide upon what you’ll take with you and what you’ll leave behind or sell. After all, you can’t take everything that
you own when you move abroad.
A good strategy includes contacting your airline to find out how many suitcases you can take with you, as well as how much each suitcase could weigh. This will help you narrow down what you can pack in your luggage versus what you could ship in boxes via an international shipping company to your new home in Singapore.
If you’re planning on being gone for several years or for an indeterminate length of time, you might choose to sell your house. In this case, working with a real estate agent might help you sell your property more quickly and give you quicker access to the funds that you need to make your move. On the other hand, if you aren’t planning on selling your home, it’s a great idea to make arrangements with family or friends to check up on it routinely while you’re away.
For items that you aren’t planning on taking with you to Singapore, a storage unit could come in really handy—that is, if you aren’t planning on moving away permanently. There is a range of storage unit sizes that you can choose from, so you can store everything from your furniture to your smaller valuables that you don’t want to part with but you can’t take with you.
Thinking about importing your car? Well, there are some rules that you need to consider. For example, you might not be able to import your vehicle if it’s over three years old. Also, left-hand drive vehicles aren’t allowed in Singapore, as they only use right-hand drive cars.
Different countries have different rules regarding what’s allowed in at the border, and those rules could change over time. So, before you pack your bags and before you send anything to Singapore by air or by sea, confirm that what you’re taking with you will pass customs.
Collect all of your important documents, such as your IDs, passport, and visa, and pack them securely in a carry-on bag so that they’ll always be with you throughout your journey to Singapore.
In terms of climate, Singapore is known for its tropical weather all year long. This means that you won’t need your winter clothes and accessories (though you might still want to pack some if you’re planning on vacationing in colder climates while living in Singapore). Generally, the weather in Singapore includes temperatures ranging from 22°C to 34°C (72°F to 93°F). High humidity is common, and the monsoon seasons could bring a lot of rain. With this in mind, you can pack accordingly so you won’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe once you arrive.
Taking your pets with you
Your pets are a part of your family, so you’ll probably want to take them with you when you move to Singapore. But, as is the case when moving to any country, it’s highly recommended that you check Singapore’s guidelines for importing pets. Keep in mind that these rules could change over time.
Doing your research into Singapore’s rules for importing pets long before your actual moving date will give you the time to get all of the necessary paperwork together. For example, you might need to have your veterinarian provide you with your pet’s health and vaccination records, you might need to get a permit, and you might even need to quarantine your pet after you arrive in Singapore.
Also, be aware that there might even be restrictions set upon the size of the animals that are allowed in, as well as the number of pets that you can import. Restrictions might even depend upon where you are planning on living, such as if you are going to be moving into a one-family house or an apartment complex.
Once you have researched Singapore’s most recent rules regarding moving there with pets from abroad, you can then check with your airline to figure out what needs to be done to safely transport your pet.
Opening a bank account in Singapore
Rather than closing your bank account before your move, it might be a good idea to leave it open until you’re totally settled in at your new home in Singapore. In this way, you can open up a new bank account and simply transfer the savings that you need. And if you are planning on sending money back home, having your old bank account open will be necessary as well.
Transferring money internationally could result in high margins and fees every time you need to move your funds. But you could avoid those extra costs by sending your money with an OFX account. After you sign up with OFX, you could easily, quickly, and securely move money affordably between your bank accounts, giving you additional financial stability.
Make your dream of living in Singapore a reality!
With the right preparation, you could make your dream of living in tropical Singapore a reality before you know it. There might be quite a bit of paperwork and planning involved, but all of these steps will help ensure that the move will go as smoothly as possible. Whether you’re heading to Singapore on your own or with your family, you’ll be in for an unforgettable adventure, so enjoy every step!
IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. OzForex Limited (trading as OFX) and its affiliated entities make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.