After living in Singapore for almost 2 years, today I’m going to share my impression about various aspects of life in Singapore.
There are many things to talk about Singapore so I will only pick the ones that are most common.
This is going to be a multi-part blog which I will try to explain the details first and then come to the answer to “whether it is worth it to live in Singapore” at the very end.
- Working visa
- The most difficult part is to find a job here. After you have the offer, the process is pretty fast. It takes between 1-4 weeks to get the visa. Normally, the visa lasts for 1-2 years and can be extended to another 1-2 years as long as you’re employed.
- If you change jobs, you have to request for another visa.
- Once you get the visa, you’re free to travel in and out of Singapore without having to fill in any immigration form or booking a return flight.
- If your salary is above SGD 6000, you can sponsor your spouse to come to Singapore to live with you and have all the same privileges.
- Majority of the people in Singapore stay in apartments. They call it “HDB”, which stands for “Housing and Development Board”.
- HDB is usually big with 2-5 bedrooms with a shared living room, kitchen, dining area, and toilets. Some rooms have a separate toilet and are called “master room”. Other rooms are called “common room”.
- The rent is expensive. A master room in an HDB that is 40 minutes away from the downtown area costs about SGD 1000 a month. That’s only for the room, not the entire apartment. And of course we can share the room with 1-2 other people.
- Since there is no small HDB with 1 bedroom, people have to share the apartment and learn to live together.
- Around each HDB, you have everything you need within walking distance: parks, food courts, wet market, supermarket, ATM, kids playground, kindergarten, hospital, train/bus station, etc. It’s very convenient.
- If you want more privacy and a higher standard of living, you can choose to live in a condo. A couple can find a one-bedroom condo for about SGD 1800-2000. A condo looks better with a more beautiful interior & exterior design. There’s a gym and a swimming pool downstair to use for free. There’s also a BBQ area where you can invite friends to come and party.
- Landed houses are available in Singapore too but I guess only the super rich people can afford it. I haven’t seen anyone of my friends live there.
- Singaporean eat out more than they cook.
- They mostly eat at nearby food courts where there is a variety of cuisines to choose from: indian, malay, indo, chinese, mexican, vietnamese, etc.
- Prices depend on the type of food court you’re eating at. It varies from SGD 3-15.
- Coming to Singapore, I’m not sure why but I start to acquire a taste for Indian food. Every time I go to a mall or a food court, I would try to look for an Indian cuisine and see what they have to offer. It’s often delicious to me. I like curries with strong taste.
- Having been here for some time, we still have only a few options when it comes to food, like fast food (McDonald, Subway), steak, sushi, chicken/duck/pork/beef rice, Korean food, Vietnamese food.
- In terms of cooking at home, we can buy all the Vietnamese ingredients we need in Singapore. It’s a bit cheaper and taste way better.
- Public transport
- Public transport is amazing in Singapore.
- Buses are clean with cameras and air conditioners equipped. Many buses are double so you can go to the second floor and enjoy the scenery along the way. I love looking out of the window of a bus while thinking about something interesting. It has always been a pleasant experience riding a bus in Singapore.
- Trains are great too. They’re cheap, fast and efficient. I go to work by train every day. It is usually very crowded during rush hours but that doesn’t cause much problems. A trip costs around SGD 0.7 - 1.2.
- Everything is fully automated. You buy a public transport card. You top up using a machine. You tap the card when you go in, and tap again on the way out to pay the fare. It’s a seamless experience.
- This depends on each company so I will only talk about my own experience.
- My working hours is from 10 am to 7 pm.
- I work with people from all parts of the world: Chinese, Singaporean, Indian, Malay, Korean, Japanese, European, American, British, Australian, Filipino, Brazilian, Thai, etc.
- Everyone speaks English. They’re smart, educated, and always strive for success.
- There are many types of leave days: annual leave, sick leave, hospitalisation leave, maternal leave, family care leave, child care leave, … So basically I have a lot of opportunities to take leave. It’s common here to see people taking leave for 1-3 weeks straight.
- The work is challenging yet interesting. I get to see the impact of my work and how it makes a difference to other people.
- Salary is paid on time to the bank. Bonus are given twice a year. There’s no 13th month salary. There’s no Lunar New Year bonus of course 😄
That’s it for today. See you at part 2 tomorrow.