Living In Singapore
Singapore is a country in Southeast Asia that boasts of a geographical location between Malaysia and Indonesia, which effectively shields it from natural calamities. As a melting pot of different races, languages and cultures all co-existing harmoniously with one another, life in Singapore is exciting, pleasant and safe making it one of the best places to live in. In the Transparency International index of corruption, Singapore ranks among the highest of the most non-corrupt countries. And it is one of the cleanest places in the world. It does not get the name “fine city” for nothing; each unclean act goes with a severe fine.
Living In Singapore: Facts and Figures
As of 2011, Singapore has a population of a little over 5 million, with 3.77 million comprising Singapore residents (made up of the Singaporean citizens and the Permanent Residents) and 1.3 million comprising the non-residents (people on long- or short-term passes). The Chinese make up the bulk of the populace, roughly 76% while the two other large ethnic groups are the Malays (14%) and Indians (7.9%). Because of this diversity, there are four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.
The country’s total land area is now at 712.4 square kilometers and still growing because of the land reclamation that is steadily ongoing. The climate remains almost the same throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 22 to 34 degrees Celsius.
The predominant religions in Singapore are Buddhism, followed by Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Hinduism.
In terms of Gross Domestic Product per capita, Singapore ranks among the top ten out of 225 countries. As one of Asia’s Four Tigers, it has a vibrant economy that depends on exports and refining imported goods making it the world’s fourth leading financial center.
House Hunting in Singapore
When planning to live in Singapore or in any place outside your home country for that matter, it is best to find out as much about the place as possible to prepare yourself for your eventual move-in date. Here are some tips for moving out of your home country and living in Singapore.
First, make an analysis of the cost of living in Singapore. It is a relatively expensive place to live in, if you’re from a poorer country as most of the other Asian countries are. If you are coming in from Europe or the USA, the low taxes in Singapore will enable you to live the life you are accustomed to, or even better! If you have a job waiting for you, you can easily get your application for an employment pass endorsed with the help of the company whom you will be working for.
House hunting is obviously the first thing you’ll do once you arrive at one of your hotels in Singapore. There is a wide choice of living accommodations available for all types of budgets.
The HDB flat, a public housing service of the government, is the most affordable housing you can get. Unlike in other countries though, where public housing is generally for the poor, middle- and upper middle-income people in Singapore live here. HDB flats are located inside housing villages, which are autonomous in themselves. They have schools, groceries, clinics and gyms inside, making them similar to small towns.
Serviced apartments are suitable options for short-term stays while you are choosing between renting or buying your residential quarters. Aside from the common recreation and other facilities, serviced apartments also offer cleaning service, laundry and room services as well. These value-added features make them a popular choice of housing among expats.
Whatever you decide on, the cost of rental or purchase of housing accommodations depends largely on its location, size, amenities and the quality of the materials used in the building. Districts 9, 10 and 11 are centrally located and access to the shopping center that is Orchard Road is easy while Districts 1 and 2 are in the area of the Central Business District. Rental or purchase of housing spaces here is pricey. A convenient option is to live in the suburbs, like most Singaporeans do.
There are property guides and online property listings that will help you in choosing a place where you will be comfortable and where your needs will be met. Consider the distance to the nearest MRT or supermarket or clinic when you choose the place you will live in. Check too for its proximity to your place of work or to your children’s school. A good tip is to search online for such places a month before you leave for Singapore. Read forums and ask friends to look up housing places for you so things will be much easier when you do get to Singapore.
A Guide to Customs and Etiquette
Because of the diverse ethnic groups living in Singapore, this tiny city-state has more cultures than other large countries. Thus, customs and etiquette can be quite confusing for the newcomer. What works for the Chinese may not work for the Malay or Indian. A rule of thumb would be to maintain courtesy and politeness in all your business and personal dealings at all times. When in doubt, be on the conservative side in attire and behavior; the western way of dressing is common and good manners are universal.
There are many reading materials available on Singaporean etiquette and reading up on them will definitely help you determine your social and business actions when you will be living in Singapore.