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A Guide to Working Abroad in Singapore

An island city-state, Singapore is a small but perfectly formed haven for anyone looking for a job abroad. Expats from all over the world choose to work and live in Singapore because life here is considered by many to be life at its best. As an efficient and clean city with a strong authoritarian state, the country is perceived to be one of the safest, cleanest, and most well-ordered in Asia. Strategically located in the tip of Malaysian Peninsula, Singapore has easily became a hub port of the nearby Southeast Asian countries and has developed into one of the most important trade and finance centers in Asia. 

Why Work Abroad in Singapore

Singapore is a great location to base yourself in, and even to raise a family. The high quality of education, the ease of access, convenient lifestyle, and modern amenities make moving to Singapore a great choice.

People living in Singapore often come from diverse cultures and backgrounds. As a business hub in Asia, Singapore houses various industrial businesses in all sectors making it one of the most preferred places to settle for expats.

More than 100,000 foreigners are currently enjoying expat life in Singapore, and more than 7,000 multinational companies operate in the island state. Expats in Singapore are continuously contributing to the success story of the country. On top of that, the wide array of housing options, good healthcare services, advanced education system, and convenient transportation systems, not to mention the wide variety of job opportunities in Singapore, make moving there an excellent choice. 

Jobs Abroad in Singapore

If you’re still wondering how to get a job in Singapore, you’ve jumped to the right section. Work in Singapore for foreigners is highly competitive, since you’re often at odds with locals. Most jobs available are offered to competitive professionals with strong work experience.

IT. The fast growing economy and advancements of technology in Singapore is well known, and it is now one of the major industries in the country. These IT jobs include but not limited to software development, web development, hardware and software industries, search engine optimization, social media, and digital marketing services.

Banking and Finance. A large number of expats in Singapore are in the banking and finance sector. For aspiring graduates hoping to work in this field, and seasoned bankers, there are lots of exciting opportunities in Singapore. 

Electronics. A large number of well-known electronics manufacturers are strategically housed in Singapore for easier access. Positions in this field for engineers, designers, and other electronic-related roles are readily available.

In any industry, it may take several months to adjust to working life in Singapore. Business culture is quite strict. Normal hours are Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sometimes, there is half day on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., but the maximum required work hours per week are 44. 

You can find specific openings based on your nationality — for instance, there are many jobs in Singapore for Americans. Singapore recognizes public holidays and major festivals. Most holidays are in relation to religious and cultural diversity throughout the country.

Accommodation & Visas

There’s a wide selection of accommodation choices that await the successful completion of your hunt for Singapore jobs for foreigners. Finding a place to settle in can be a daunting task, and hunting for a place to stay will be a top priority when you first arrive. Depending on the area of neighborhood you prefer, there are various options to choose from.

Housing estates are scattered throughout Singapore, consisting of a mix of both public and private apartments, houses, and condominiums The majority of Singaporeans live in flats that are mostly self-contained, with basic amenities like access to public transport, supermarkets, shops, parks and libraries. Private housing apartments are popular among expatriates as they come with facilities such as common sports and leisure areas, swimming pools, gardens, play areas, indoor gyms, and so on.

Renting in Singapore requires a signed lease of agreement with all the correct papers. Expats should meet all requirements upon signing. It is prohibited to rent an apartment without proper residency status. Expats who want to work in Singapore need to apply for the relevant visa or work permit. Monthly salary determine what kind of work permit or visa should the applicant get.

An Employment Pass is work pass for foreign nationals seeking managerial, executive, or specialized jobs in Singapore with a salary of at least 3,300 SGD, and possessing the appropriate qualification. The Employment Pass should be applied for by the employer or an employment agency before arriving in the country. The duration of this work permit is up to two years for first time applicants, and can be renewed up to three years.

Applicants applying for mid-skilled positions earning a fixed monthly salary of at least 2,200 SGD should apply for an S Pass. Sponsors or companies hiring foreign workers should apply on their employees’ behalf before they arrive in the country. S Passes are valid up to two years and can be renewed for up to three years at a time.

Work Permits for foreign workers in Singapore should be applied by semi-skilled workers in fields like construction, manufacturing, and services. Certain fields may require different applications process and requirement depending on the country of origin and their sector. A Work Permit is valid up to two years and can be renewed depending on the contract or the individual’s expat life in Singapore.

There are different kinds of visas and permits depending on the particular kind of employment expats are applying for and their country of origin. It is best to use the GoAbroad Embassy Directory to refer to the embassies nearest you for the most accurate information. 

Salaries & Costs

Depending on your individual skillset and work experience, companies can offer enticing incentives and generous salaries to foreigners. An IT manager can earn up to SGD 6,000 while industrial engineer can make SGD 4,500. Anyone working in the high level banking and financial services sector can earn at least SGD 15000.  

Salaries and costs of living in Singapore are relatively proportional to each other, depending on the lifestyle you want to enjoy. So, if you live lavishly, find work in Singapore for foreigners that corresponds with high-level salaries. Singapore has appeared in top ten lists for the most expensive cities to live in the world; property costs are relatively high (whether renting or buying), and certain commodities, such as alcohol and owning a car, are highly taxed (#buzzkill). It is easy to spend up to 7,000 SGD a month while living a semi-luxurious lifestyle - involving a modern apartment, car, shopping, and eating out regularly. 

On the other hand, people can live on up to 3,000 SGD a month or less, by having a shared apartment, using public transport, and making their own meals. Buying food, and dining in local hawker stalls and shopping mall food courts, is a cheaper alternative to restaurants. Using a public transportation is also a great way to get around on a budget, with top of the line, convenient, and modern transportation technology. It all depends on the job opportunities in Singapore you seek!

Benefits & Challenges

Although the cost of living in Singapore is relatively high, the country has a low crime rate. Streets are safe, even in the middle of the night. Joining and finding expats groups around the city is pretty easy so you can rest assured that you will always be able to find fellow expats anywhere in Singapore.

The quality of healthcare services in Singapore is affordable. Even for non-permanent residents, healthcare is reasonably priced. It is one of the most heavily subsidized healthcare services for its citizens making Singapore a good place to live and work. 

The official language of Singapore is Mandarin Chinese. However, English is the most commonly spoken language and is the language used in school, business, and trade. Anyone pursuing a job abroad in Singapore won’t have any problems with communication.

Singapore remains as one of the top countries to live in by expats when talking about job opportunities and standard of living. If you are highly skilled and educated with strong work experience, potential opportunities are limitless once you learn how to get a job in Singapore (and follow through!).

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