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Moving to Singapore in 2021: Visa, housing, and living costs explained

Singapore’s position as a global business center and financial hub makes it a magnet for expats. With its efficient handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s highly likely that foreigners will continue to flock to the Lion City this year and going forward. However, there is a downside – it’s bank-breakingly high living costs, especially when compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, etc. Looking to relocate to the city-state? Worry not – this Pacific Prime Singapore will break down the costs for you so that you can be prepared.

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Visa costs

If you plan on working in the city-state, or even just accompanying your partner, you’ll need to apply for a visa from the nearest Singapore embassy. Make sure to check the requirements beforehand – as some have specific eligibility criteria like nationality.

Most likely, you’ll be applying for one of the following Singapore visas and will need to fork out about a couple of hundred bucks for them.

S Pass

The S Pass allows mid-level skilled foreign staff to work in Singapore. Candidates will need to earn a minimum of SGD $2,500 a month and have the relevant qualifications and work experience.

Cost: You need to pay SGD $105 for each pass when you submit the application, and another SGD $100 for each pass when it is issued.

Employment Pass

The Employment Pass allows foreign professionals, managers, and executives to work in Singapore. Candidates will need to earn a minimum of SGD $4,500 a month and have suitable qualifications. Employers must show that they have fairly considered all jobseekers.

Cost: You need to pay SGD $105 for each pass when you submit the application, and another SGD $225 for each pass when it is issued. What’s more, you may also need to pay SGD $30 for each multiple journey visa (if applicable).

Dependant Pass

The Dependant’s Pass allows legally married spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of eligible Employment Pass or S Pass holders to join them in Singapore. They do not automatically have a right to work.

Cost: You need to pay SGD $105 for each pass when you submit the application, and another SGD $225 for each pass when it is issued. What’s more, you may also need to pay SGD $30 for each multiple journey visa (if applicable).

EntrePass

The EntrePass allows eligible foreign entrepreneurs to start and operate a business in Singapore that is venture-backed or possesses innovative technologies. There is no stipulated minimum salary.

Cost: You need to pay SGD $105 for each pass when you submit the application, and another SGD $225 for each pass when it is issued. What’s more, you may also need to pay SGD $30 for each multiple journey visa (if applicable).

Training Employment Pass

The Training Employment Pass allows foreign professionals, executives, and specialists to undergo practical training in Singapore. Candidates will need to earn a minimum of SGD $3,000 a month.

Cost: You need to pay SGD $105 for each pass when you submit the application, and another SGD $225 for each pass when it is used. What’s more, you may also need to pay SGD $30 for each multiple journey visa (if applicable).

Working Holiday Pass

The Working Holiday Pass, under the Working Holiday Program, allows students and graduates aged 18 to 25 to work in Singapore for 6 months. There are restrictions on the nationalities that can apply for this pass.

Cost: You need to pay SGD $175 for each pass when it is issued. What’s more, you may also need to pay SGD $30 for each multiple journey visa (if applicable).

Housing costs

Housing in Singapore is where you’ll need to bite the bullet, as the costs are one of the highest in the world. That being said, as the island-nation is relatively small and has excellent public transport, you can stay a bit further out to save on costs.

Did you know that it’s more expensive than the likes of London, Toronto, Sydney, and Dubai? Here are a few different examples of rental costs in Singapore per month:

  • 1 bedroom apartment in the city center: SGD $2,000-SGD $4,000
  • 1 bedroom apartment outside of the city center: SGD $1,200-SGD $2,800
  • 3 bedroom apartment in the city center: SGD $3,500-SGD $8,500
  • 3 bedroom apartment outside of the city center: SGD $2,400-SGD $5,000

Read more: Not sure which area to live in? Check out this guide on the most popular neighborhoods for expats in Singapore.

Living costs – food

Unless you’re into shopping or other expensive activities, the remainder of your expenses will come from food. Given that Singapore imports the vast majority of produce, the cost of groceries tend to be on the higher side. That being said, it’s possible to find cheap, street eats as well.

You can expect to pay on average SGD $14 for a meal for two people in an inexpensive restaurant and SGD $70 for a three-course meal for two people in a mid-ranged restaurant. In comparison, here are the average prices for common groceries to give you an idea:

  • White rice (1 kg) – SGD $2.79
  • White bread (1 loaf) – SGD $2.29
  • Milk (1 liter) – SGD $3.15
  • Eggs (1 dozen) – SGD $3.20
  • Local cheese (1 kg) – SGD$ 24.55
  • Chicken fillet (1 kg) – SGD $10.10
  • Ground beef (1 kg) – SGD $22.01
  • Potato (1 kg) – SGD $2.49
  • Onion (1 kg) -SGD $2.60
  • Tomato (1 kg) – SGD $2.83
  • Lettuce (1 kg) – SGD $2.25
  • Apples (1 kg) – SGD $4.60
  • Bananas (1 kg) – SGD $3.06
  • Oranges (1 kg) – SGD $4.27

Healthcare costs

While healthcare in Singapore is of a very high standard, it can be very heavy on your pocket. This is especially because public healthcare schemes and subsidies aren’t available to expats (unless they have permanent residency in the city-state).

To get a rough estimate of how much various treatments and procedures may cost, at both public and private healthcare providers, you can have a look at the fee benchmark published by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Tip: Many expats in Singapore prefer to secure private health insurance to avoid paying for healthcare out of pocket. Learn how to compare expat health insurance before you buy a plan!

Get in touch with Pacific Prime Singapore today!

If you’d like to lower your healthcare expenses in the Lion City, Pacific Prime Singapore can definitely help. Whether you’re looking for individual or family health insurance, we’ve got a range of plans from top insurers in the region. In addition to this, we’ve also got highly-trained advisors on hand that take into account your needs and budgets to make sure you find the best-value plan. What’s more, we also provide a whole host of value-added services like administration assistance, insurer liaison, hospital recommendations, claims and renewal support, and so much more!

Contact us today to get started!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Singapore
Suphanida aims to demystify the world of insurance by creating informative and engaging content. As a wordsmith, she spends the majority of her day writing and editing website content, blog posts, in-depth guides, and more.

Outside of work, Suphanida enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
Suphanida
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