Is life hard in Singapore

What’s It Like in Singapore?

Singapore is an intriguing blend of Western modernity and Asian culture. For first-timers, it’s an excellent way to get introduced to living in Asia. Within a total area of roughly 700 square kilometers, you’ll find gleaming skyscrapers, Chinese shophouses, Malay mosques, Hindu temples, and endless chains of airconditioned shopping malls. Singapore is safe, clean, and green – proud of its reputation as a Garden City.

Mercer’s cost of living survey last year showed Singapore moved up one rank to become the 13th most expensive city in the world, for expatriates. Within Asia, Singapore is ranked 5th, after Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Osaka. If you’re coming over on an internship or plan to work in Singapore, do some research on the cost of living here and what kind of lifestyle you can expect with your budget.

Rent is likely to be your biggest expense, along with schooling (if you have kids in international schools) and a car if you choose to buy one. Singapore has an excellent public transport system, which makes it easy to get around without a car.

To learn more about living in Singapore and preparing for your move, check the Moving to Singapore section for tips on employment pass paperwork, bringing in pets, and other things you should know before you arrive.

Wondering about the language? Most people speak English, and government signs are posted in Singapore’s four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay (Bahasa) and Tamil. At hawker food stalls, or once your colleagues at work are comfortable with you, you’ll soon be exposed to a constant stream of Singapore’s unique brand of English: Singlish. For a fun take on Singlish, check out one expat’s perspective on Singlish and browse through The Coxford Singlish Dictionary.

Still curious about the country? Read on for some fun facts and figures, and our recommended list of books about Singapore.

Facts and Figures

According to Wikipedia, Singapore has a population of roughly 4.7 million. Of this number, about 3.7 million are Singaporeans and permanent residents. 75% of the local population is Chinese. The other two large ethnic groups are Malay and Indian. As a result, Singapore has four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. In addition to citizens and permanent residents, 1 million people are in Singapore on long- or short-term passes; they are often referred to as ‘foreign talent’ in the press.

The country’s total land area is 704 square kilometers… growing slightly every year due to Singapore’s steady land reclamation efforts. Singapore is 137 miles north of the equator, with all the hot and humid weather that implies. Temperatures range from 22 to 34 degrees Celsius, although the humidity can make it feel much hotter than that. Singapore is said to have two seasons – monsoon season and the rest of the year.

The highest natural point in Singapore is Bukit Timah hill, at a grand altitude of 167 meters. Not much mountain climbing here!

Singapore is among the top 20 countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, and has a standard of living to match. As you can imagine, it’s a shopper’s heaven. Singapore’s largest mall, VivoCity, has over a million square feet of retail space. Amazing.

Recommended Reading

Want to find out more about Singapore before you go? Try some of these books about Singapore life and culture.

Our very own ebook and Audio Book series  Check out the Ultimate Guide to Living in Singapore here.

We would also recommend The Rough Guide to Singapore. We have found this to be a very guide book for Singapore. There are lots of positive reviews on Amazon.

If you have a Kindle here is the Kindle version of the same title The Rough Guide to Singapore – Kindle Version

The latest relocation tips are usually found online (on sites like this one!), but sometimes it’s handy having a printed reference to browse through.

A few other excellent books to check out:

Singapore Complete Residents’ Guide

Singapore – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

Malaysia and Singapore Handbook (Footprint Handbooks)

Time Out Singapore – 1st Edition


Singapore Blog Buzz – Local Perspectives

Singapore has a lively local blog scene, and we expats like to chime in with our stories every now and then. Learn more about life in Singapore from these interesting perspectives by local and expat bloggers in Singapore.

What’s next?

Looking for more colorful observations of life in Singapore? Visit these expat blogs by folks who’ve moved to Singapore from all over the world.

Thinking of coming over to Singapore? Check out the sections on Moving to Singapore and Househunting.

Already here or just arrived? Check out the Practicalities page for useful info, browse through restaurant recommendations and a list of good delis on the Food page, or check out our suggested list of Things to Do in Singapore.

Didn’t find what you were looking for?

For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information check out The Ultimate Guide to Living in Singapore