Pros and Cons of Moving to Singapore

All places have their own pluses and minuses. For expats who still need to make a decision about relocating to the Lion City, here’s a list of some of the pros and cons of moving to Singapore.

Accomodation in Singapore
Pro: Lots of choices – Whether renting an HDB (government-owned) flat or a privately owned condo, there are lots of choices. High-rise developments are springing up all over Singapore. Most of the privately owned condos and apartments, especially the new ones, have amenities such as pools, playgrounds, gyms and function rooms included on site. Landed homes (similar to single family homes in the US) can be found in the suburbs.

Con: High rental – Because land and space on the island are scarce, rent in Singapore is expensive. Expect to pay more for a place closer to the city centre, Orchard Road, Holland Village, and other desirable neighbourhoods. Expats willing to move farther away from the central parts of town might score a good deal.

Transportation around Singapore
Pro: Great public transportation – Getting around Singapore by bus or MRT is a piece of cake. Public transportation is cheap, too. More train lines are expected to be built over the next decade, making even the farthest corners of the island easily accessible. Cabs, which are also extremely affordable, are an alternative mode of transportation.

Con: Owning a car in Singapore is a seriously expensive. Between heavy customs duties, taxes and insurance fees, as well as the price of tolls and parking, the convenience of owning a car comes at a high price.

Travel out of Singapore
Pro: Expats looking to get away for a weekend, Singapore is an ideal jumping-off spot for travel in Southeast Asia. Several budget airlines offer affordable fares to neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Planning a trip at the last minute may result in extremely cheap airfare.

Safety in Singapore
Pro: Singapore is a very safe country with low crime rates and a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs.

Con: Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Singapore, so it’s a smart idea to use crosswalks whenever possible. Sometimes bikes share the sidewalks with pedestrians, but sidewalks tend to be really small so this can be dangerous. There is limited cycling infrastructure in Singapore and most cars and trucks do not look out for bikes on the road. Anyone who is going to ride a bike should wear a helmet and be as predictable on the road as possible. Use the Park Connector pathways when possible to avoid the dangerous roads.  

Social scene in Singapore
There are several online forums and Facebook groups that provide both expats and locals with the opportunity to come together over shared interests.

Con: Singapore puts a heavy tax on alcoholic beverages, making a night out on the town a costly experience. The nicer clubs and bars sell drinks at a premium.

Healthcare in Singapore
Pro: Good quality healthcare in Singapore is affordable, for those with health insurance and not. Even those without access to the city-state’s subsidised healthcare system, healthcare in Singapore is still reasonably priced as long as expats are insured.

Con: Upfront costs – An unexpected trip to the doctor can be a bit expensive. If they don’t accept direct bill settlement from the insurance company, and the patient is left having to pay the bill on the spot. If the doctor does not accept direct bill settlement, the patient is expected to pay for the consultation and any other services provided at the time of visit, including prescriptions for medication. These medical bills can usually be reimbursed by the insurance company, but that surprise medical bill can come as a shock for those living on a budget.

Education in Singapore
Pro: There are many good public schools in Singapore which are affordable and provide high-quality education. Private international schools are also a great choice, especially with expats who want their child to continue with the school curriculum from their home country.

Con: Expensive school and hard to get into – though public education is still affordable in Singapore, most expats are required to pay more than the locals for school fees. Private international schools are far more expensive. Both public and private schools in Singapore tend to be oversubscribed, so expat parents should start the application process well in advance of the move.

Climate in Singapore
Pro: It’s warm all year round
Con: There are no seasons and it rains alot.