Moving to Australia from Singapore involves much more than just sitting on a plane for 8 hours. It’s a huge life decision that leaves you with a lot to consider. You’ll have to find a place to live, get to know your way around, and find a new school for your children - to name a few. While you may miss home comforts when you first arrive, the Lion City has so much to offer and enjoy that you’ll settle in before you know it.
One great thing about relocating to Singapore is that many Australian expats have done the same, giving you access to a growing community. Instead of having to spend time and effort looking for tips on how to settle into your new home, we’ve created this comprehensive guide just for our Aussie clients and curious readers as a one-stop source.
You don’t need a tourist visa to visit Singapore as an Australian citizen, though you will need to apply for the right visa if you’re going to live, work, or study in the city-state. You’ll likely be applying for one of the following Singapore visas and will have to spend a couple of hundred Singaporean dollars for them:
This pass allows mid-level skilled foreign staff who earn a minimum of SGD $2,500 a month (and have relevant qualifications and work experience) to work in Singapore.
Foreign professionals, managers, and executives earning at least SGD $4,500 a month (with suitable qualifications) work in Singapore under the pass.
This pass permits legally married spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to join eligible S or Employment Pass holders in Singapore.
This pass has no stipulated minimum salary and is suitable if you’re moving to Singapore to start and operate a business that’s venture-backed or possesses innovative technologies.
Foreign professionals, managers, and executives heading to Singapore to undergo practical training and earn a minimum of SGD $3,000 use this pass.
To apply for the right of permanent residence, you must have held a work visa or Employee Pass for a minimum of six months. Note that your employer must approve this. Most people tend to wait until they’ve been living and working in Singapore for a few years before applying.
Finding a nice place to live is essential for any Australian expat moving to Singapore. Singapore may be a small place, but don’t underestimate its size as there are plenty of options for accommodations based on your needs and preferences. Fortunately, the size of Singapore makes it easy to travel from one side of the city-state to the other in under an hour - giving you many options for where to call home.
Every neighborhood has something different to offer, so be sure to consider that when you’re narrowing down your selection. You may want a more family-friendly environment further out of the city center and closer to schools and activities if you’re relocating with children. Or perhaps you want to live near the central business district (CBD) to be in the heart of the action and have a shorter commute to the office.
For example, those moving to the Lion City for work will find that Marina Bay, Orchard, Robertson Quay, and River Valley are some of the best areas to live as an expat in Singapore. On the contrary, the East Coast is perfect for raising a family. If possible, visit the areas you’re most interested in before signing the lease to get a feel for your potential new home.
Thinking about bringing your family over from Australia? Many other expats have done the same and watched their loved ones easily settle into their new life. It’s always comforting to know that there are lots of other expats around, as well as organizations, activities, and communities that come with that.
A major concern for expats moving with their families is education. Fortunately, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to excellent educational institutions in Singapore as there are many expat international schools across the island. The curriculum in most international schools is primarily taught in English. But since Singapore is multicultural, your children will also have the opportunity to learn other languages and be exposed to different cultures.
Aside from curriculum and language, there are a few other factors to help you choose the best international school for your children in Singapore. These include facilities (such as sports), extra-curricular activities, and class sizes. If possible, arrange for a campus tour if possible or even a trial day for your child before committing to a school.
Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Zoo, and the Botanic Gardens may be the most popular tourist attractions, but there’s more to local culture than that. To really get a feel for the local way of life, it’s important to form connections with Singaporeans and live in a similar way. This can be something as simple as eating hawker food instead of solely sticking to Western eateries or grocery shopping in local street markets as well as international supermarkets.
If you have Singaporean colleagues, you could go out for a meal or invite them over for a barbeque at your place. This will not only help you build relationships, but also help you become more familiar with the normal way of life in Singapore. Let your curiosity guide you and absorb any information about local culture as it comes. Remember that it’s always better to be (respectfully) inquisitive than ignorant.
One of the perks of being an Australian expat in Singapore is that there’s already a large community for you to join. Even if you want to immerse yourself in local culture, it can be helpful (and comforting) to be part of a community. Perhaps you want to join an Australian expats group online for localized tips and advice or be part of a sports team. You could find your new friends in Singapore through a fun game of rugby or at a casual get-together.
Australian expats and Singaporean locals are known to be friendly and hospitable, which can help you feel at ease in no time. Whichever way you choose to go about it, having a local support network can make your time in Singapore that much more special.
Singapore’s healthcare system constantly ranks as one of the world’s best. Standard care at public hospitals is heavily subsidized, and even free for Singaporeans at a basic level. As an Australian expat living in Singapore, however, you’re not eligible for the affordable costs that Singaporean citizens and permanent residents have access to.
Temporary residents tend to fill the gaps with a robust expat health insurance plan so that they can access the city-state’s excellent healthcare without paying exorbitant out-of-pocket fees. Without it, you’re looking at costs like SGD $23,348 for appendix removal or SGD $75,398 for a heart bypass.
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).
Singapore is home to around 10 private hospitals, 11 public/government hospitals, and 7 specialist clinics. You can register with a general practitioner (GP) in a public or private clinic once you arrive in Singapore - though vaccinations and other healthcare needs may require you to visit a polyclinic.
Generally, Australian expats opt for private facilities since the cost of visiting them compared to public ones isn’t that much different for non-permanent residents. On top of that, private healthcare gives you access to shorter wait times, better customer service, and a more luxurious experience overall.
Private medical insurance is your best bet to offset the high costs of medical care in Singapore. Expatriate insurance for Australians living abroad gives you peace of mind knowing that your health and medical expenses are covered during your time abroad. It’s particularly important for expats to secure the right health insurance policy since medical expenses like outpatient, dental, vision, and maternity care can quickly add up.
For instance, maternity care in Singapore is costly and therefore best planned in advance. Check out our free Singapore Maternity Insurance Guide for more information.
More often than not, group health insurance plans cover the basics at best. Top-up health insurance plans can help supplement your existing plan, or you may find that securing family health insurance or another form of health insurance is a better option.
You may also be wondering what to do with your insurance plan back home. Depending on your length of stay, simply suspending your existing insurance policy may be enough. You may also find Australian health insurance plans for foreigners and expats to be a good fit. Some Aussies enroll in an international plan when they move abroad and either cancel or transition it to a domestic plan once they return.
Whatever you choose, know that every insurer and policy is unique so it’s advisable to carefully go over your options with your insurance provider or, better yet, a reputable insurance broker who can offer unbiased advice. Also, always review your policy before renewal to ensure it still matches your needs - and look for a better fit if it doesn’t.
Whether you’re looking for local or international health insurance, finding the right plan for your requirements and budget can be challenging. Cheap plans may seem enticing at first, but keep in mind that an ideal policy balances the benefits and costs. There is no point in paying less at the start to be met with more fees and stress down the line.
Some of the most important factors to consider when shopping around for health insurance include:
Unless you’re familiar with insurance jargon and the ins and outs of Singapore’s healthcare system, you may want expert help before making your final decision. Whatever health insurance plan you’re after, Pacific Prime Singapore is your one-stop health insurance broker of choice. With over 20 years of industry experience and a global footprint, we know how to help expats make the best selection and offer value-added services that you won’t get from most insurers.