In the wake of the digital era, Singapore provides an ideal spot for innovative technologies to be developed,
supported by strong governmental initiatives and the presence of a world-class educational system. The startup and tech scene has exploded over the years making the city rise up the ranks amongst the top global startup ecosystems. Being a leader in digital connectivity and innovation, however, doesn't mean the city is not challenged by tech talent shortage. We continuously engage with top talent internationally and here I am covering off some of the key questions that we often get asked by tech talent looking to have a career in Singapore.
To be able to work in Singapore, the employer should be in charge of applying for your work pass prior to your arrival in the country. There are 3 tiers of work passes that one needs to be aware of. While the requirements may seem pretty straightforward, there is a multitude of factors that goes behind which pass will be issued.
The most common pass issued for technology professionals is the Employment Pass. The pass is tied to the employer, so if later on you make a job switch, you will have to wait for the new employer to issue a new work pass.
Singapore is quite an expensive city to live in. The price of renting an apartment to stay in within the city is quite hefty. If you’re looking to rent a room in a shared HDB flat (public housing) or a condo apartment (private) with shared bathroom, you can expect to pay about SG$700 to SG$2,000 a month. And for a studio apartment, expect to pay between SG$1,500 to SG$4,500.
The big difference in cost depends on the property type – HDB flats are cheaper but basic, condo apartments are expensive but more luxurious and have gym/ pool facilities. Another factor is the distance to the city centre – obviously the more centrally located, the more expensive it is.
If you move to Singapore with your children, you will have two options for their education. You can choose an international school or local school. In both cases, as a foreigner in Singapore you will have to pay fees but there is a marked difference between the two choices.
Putting expatriate children through the local education system has been popular in the past five years, given the hike in education costs in Singapore, and a slump in employee packages for expatriates.
You can choose this if you want an excellent bilingual programme (Chinese and English), a focus on Mathematics and Science, your child to master content and retention skills and if you aren’t too fussed about transferability of qualifications.
International schools have no dominant culture or nationality group, and best support highly-mobile expatriate families.
You can choose this option if you want excellent learning opportunities for access to universities worldwide, diverse language programmes, as well as commitment to community and service, curriculum development that allows students to join part-way through, and to easily exit into any other educational programme and a balanced education through arts, sports and academics-based teaching methods. Regarding cost, you can check out this page to have an idea.
Public transport in Singapore is quite affordable and very smooth in the city. This makes it super convenient for one to move around the city while saving on their money. There are also taxis that are quite inexpensive that can take you from one place to the other.
However, if you would like to buy a car, the cost is very high: there are five main components that determine what is the price of buying a new car in Singapore (Open Market Value (OMV), Additional Registration Fee (ARF), Excise Duty & GST, Certificate of Entitlement (COE), Local Dealer’s Margin). If you check out this article, you will understand how a car in Singapore would cost up to 6 times its original price (sold in another country).
International restaurants are quite expensive in Singapore, especially if you go to trendy areas for expats. However you do have the option to eat for a very low price if you go to hawker centers where you could eat for a low as 3 SGD or 5 SGD if you go to food courts which offer a huge variety of cuisine.
Alcohol and alcoholic beverages are very expensive here. Singapore is ranked 70th when it comes to buying a beer, making it one of the most expensive cities in this aspect. Every purchase of alcoholic beverage is subjected to Goods and Services Tax (GST), similar to all other goods and services. Also, it is illegal to drink alcohol in public places after 10:30 PM and supermarkets / retail shops are not allowed to sell it after this time. This means only licensed restaurants and bars / clubs have the monopoly to sell alcohol past 10:30 PM therefore their prices are likely to be very expensive.
All in all, Singapore is an expensive place to live in, but don’t let potential changes to your routine completely change your mind from moving to the city. There are plenty of minor adjustments you can include in your routine without necessarily compromising on your quality of life while living there. And besides, it is a main IT Hub in Asia for IT professionals to develop their career.
If you are an IT professional looking for your next career move or would like to have more market information, please do not hesitate to contact me for a confidential discussion.