4 tips to successfully expatriate in Singapore

Expatriation in Singapore

Expatriation is often a significant source of stress as it implies starting from scratch in all fields. Amongst others, expatriates in Singapore need to find a job, choose a new accommodation, sign up for a health insurance and think about which means of transportation they are going to use. How do you address those issues as a future expatriate? Here are our main tips that will surely help you to make the right decisions.

Seize the right job opportunity

There are many reasons for choosing Singapore in order to accelerate his career. Indeed, Singapore is one of the most dynamic City in South-East Asia in terms of economy in general and employment. The labor demand is high and job opportunities are therefore numerous for expatriates. Besides, the most commonly used language at work is English; hence, the integration for expats in the Singaporean firms can be very quick.

Capitalize on your network
The first thing to do when you are looking for a job opportunity is to capitalize on your network. Thus, if you have a relative, friend or colleague who has professional contacts in Singapore, you should try to get in touch again with this person. As the professional world in Singapore puts a great emphasis on professional network and word-of-mouth communications, this person might help you to find a vacant post which match with your skills.

Recruitment agencies
If you don’t know anyone in Singapore, you can also ask some recruitment agencies for help. They may put you in contact with the right people. In the same way, you can get assistance from the Human Resources department of the various Chambers of Commerce in Singapore. Besides, you can also look at the numerous job opportunities on www.manpower.com.sg or www.bestjobs.com.sg

Select the right district when it comes to finding an accommodation

It is well known that accommodation in Singapore is expensive whether you are thinking of buying or renting. Most of the expatriates are looking for apartment rentals when they arrive.

Do not focus on expatriates' areas
They are obviously less affordable than others. Real estate agents tend to show you directly apartments located in those districts. You should rather take the time to visit other flats in cheaper districts before making your decision. Basically, if you stay away from the 2nd,9th and 10th districts which are the most expensive ones, you can find something affordable with respect to your income level, as the range of prices is very large from the luxurious condos to the cheap HDBs. Therefore, even if the Singaporean cost of accommodation is high on average, it can be reduced by choosing the right districts and can also be offset by other lower expenses such as transportation and food.

Get advice from other expatriates
In addition you should try and join Facebook groups of expatriates living in Singapore (such as “Singafrog” and “Real Singapore Expat Wives”…). In those groups, lots of offers of apartment rentals are posted everyday, suitable to couples and families. They can also be an efficient way to meet your future roommates if you are looking for a shared apartment.

Acquire a qualitative private health insurance

Singapore provides local citizens and permanent residents with a public system of universal coverage (Central Provident Fund). The way it works is quite simple. Both the government and the individuals contribute to the national insurance scheme, and in return, patients get access to affordable healthcare that need to be completed by a private insurance.

Expatriates cannot benefit from the public system
Most of the expats need to get a good international health insuranceConsequently, you need to verify whether your company provides you with medical insurance in Singapore and to check what it does not cover, such as caps on chronic illness, very limited cover for condition such as cancer, no maternity benefits or the insurance scope is not international.  You will not be able to be treated in your country of nationality or the cover will not apply during holidays abroad or business trip. Coverage works on a reimbursement basis which means that whatever the cost of the hospitalization you will have to pay everything in advance and claim back. Keep in mind that this process can take up to 3 months before receiving funds on your bank account. You must also bear in mind that domestic policies in terms of medical coverage vary from company to company in Singapore.

Sign-up for a top-up insurance
Should you benefit from a local insurance provided by your company, you will need to consider an International health insurance to bring you peace of mind. It is actually possible to sign up for a “top-up” insurance to address those inadequacies. If your company does not provide health insurance at all, you should definitely choose a private company and look at solutions to get you cover. Do not neglect it, especially in Singapore where medical costs are among the most expensive in the world.

Take advantage of the public transportation system

Owning a car in Singapore is extremely expensive, which is why you should rather focus on public means of transportation such as underground and bus, which are very efficient and quite cheap. The underground called the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is reliable, comfortable and safe. As an expatriate, you should opt for the Ezlink card instead of buying single transportation tickets. This card works for the bus and train as well and is much cheaper than single tickets. In addition, the use of taxis is widespread in Singapore, but you might encounter some issues during peak hours. Anyway, public transportation remains the most reliable solution.

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Look at MyHEALTH product to benefit from a comprehensive international health insurance, which protects you from any disaster wherever you are.

Date of publication Jul 29 2016