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8 Need-To-Know Facts For Expatriates Coming To Singapore

We understand that coming to live and work in a new country may be daunting, or even scary sometimes. Even if you’re just planning a short holiday, knowing some key essentials about the country you’re heading to might just be what you need to ease your worries. , Regardless whether you’re just visiting or planning to live here, Here’s 8 facts we thought you should know if you were intending to visit Singapore for the first time!

1) Singapore Is Not Part Of China

Singapore is a city-state with an area of slightly over 700km² and is only two-third the size of Hong Kong, Asia’s other city-state!

2) English Is Our Official Language!

English is Singapore’s official language and we’re ranked 5th out of 80 countries in our proficiency of the language! While Singapore has other national languages like Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, most of the population use English on a day to day basis! It’ll be fun to know that we have two forms of English practiced here - Singapore English and its colloquial form, Singlish. The latter has received mixed opinions even among locals who either hate it or love it, yet it acts as a representation of the diversity in Singapore. A good speaker will be able to code-switch between both forms for effective communication, so don’t worry about any language barrier if you have plans to reside and work in Singapore. Most foreigners have been intrigued by the charm of Singlish and so might you!

3) The Weather Is Hot. Period.

It wouldn’t take long for you to realise most Singaporeans have slipped into the ‘flip flop’ culture. Apart from the warm temperatures ranging from 24 to 32°C in this tropical climate, there is also a high level of humidity that has made flip flops or slippers the obvious footwear-to-go. If you’re into beach weather, this is the place for you to be! Although we experience summer all year round, you might want to check the weather forecast before planning for a beach day to avoid (occasional) heavy rainfall!

4) The Locals’ Way of Getting Around

The most common mode of transport in our country would be the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and public buses - since almost everywhere in Singapore is a stone’s throw away from a MRT station and bus stop. Even with alternative modes of transport such as taxis, or Grab (our version of Uber), we find ourselves spoilt for choice when commuting to and fro work. With minimal waiting time and at a much lower cost, the MRT has been the most popular mode of transport among locals and foreigners. But if you’re feeling especially indulgent, taxis and ride-hailing services have widely expanded in the past couple of years so you don’t have to worry about getting a ride that fits your needs and budget!

5) Singaporean Quirks

Singaporeans are generally gracious, especially in extending help to those in need. You may notice priority seats on the train, although not necessary to shun those seats, passengers are encouraged to give up the seats to those in need.

Another thing we do is to keep left on escalators. In a fast-paced society like Singapore, people are constantly rushing or doing something. As a matter of fact, Singaporeans are the fastest walkers on the planet with an average walking speed of 6.15km/h. Keeping left has thus become a practice to allow people rushing for time to walk ahead, while maintaining order, yet again. Just think of it as an “overtaking lane”.

You may also come across tissue packets placed on the tables at food places but, they aren’t free to use! This is an indication that the table has already been reserved, or “chope-d”, in our words. We’re not sure how this chope-ing trend began but it’s a sign you’ve got to look elsewhere for a table!

6) Singapore’s Must-try Food: We Can’t Just Name One

We’d give you advice on the best local foods to try, but quite frankly, we can’t. Singapore’s food culture is a melting pot of the diverse races and cultures here. With the wide range of cuisines made available, Singaporeans are probably conflicted on what they consider indispensable in the local food scene. But one thing we can agree on, as proven by the nomination for UNESCO listing, is the hawker centres in Singapore. This is the locals’ go-to for a wide array of affordable food without burning a hole in your pocket for lunch especially in the central business district. Be prepared to queue (especially if you face the rest of the working crowd)!

No tipping is required in Singapore generally - it would be nice to still do so but, it is not common practice. All prices are nett, without additional surcharge at hawker centres. Although cashless payment methods are on the rise, it would still be safer to bring some cash on your trips to hawker centres, just in case. You may also see a ‘self-service’ notice placed at the stalls - even in its absence, customers are generally expected to self-serve (unless being told by the vendors to wait for the food to be brought over).

On the topic of food, tap water in Singapore is safe for consumption. (Judge its source though! You wouldn’t want to drink from old, rusty taps...)

7) Singapore Is A Fine City.

Singapore first earned her name as a ‘fine city’ (pun intended) because of the sheer number of acts that you could land having a fine imposed on. This is ensure compliance with the strict regulations put in place to maintain order and safety in the country. These regulations include smoking in designated areas and purchase of alcohol. So don’t be surprised if sale of alcohol is prohibited at your nearest convenience stores after 10.30pm, with stricter rules applying to Liquor Control Zones, namely Chinatown and Little India. That being said, you can still enjoy drinks at licensed premises such as pubs, restaurants or even coffee shops.

8) The Chewing Gum Ban

Yes, sale of chewing gum is banned in Singapore to prevent gum vandalism that was tied with exorbitant cleaning costs and malfunction of automatic door sensors. However, the ban does not not include gum for dental and medical purposes. Contrary to popular beliefs, consumption of gum is not illegal. Visitors of the country are allowed to bring up to two packs of chewing gum per person, but it’s best to check local immigration policies before doing so - just in case.

So, that’s 8 things we thought you should know about Singapore. If you already knew these facts, you’re pretty much an insider yourself for knowing this much!

Keen on working and living in Singapore?

Contact our certified consultants at +65 6338 8600 or and we will be happy to assist you with all your immigration needs.

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