The Best Full Guide To Moving From UK To Singapore: A Quick 13-point Guide

Table of Contents

Singapore is an internationally renowned hotspot for tourism and expat employment, often ranking in the top five most desirable relocations. The world’s only island city-state since its independence in 1965, the Republic of Singapore currently has the world’s sixth-largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.

Making an international move from the UK to Singapore has its challenges. Knowing where to start is vital to align your expectations and preparations. Relocating is a huge decision; you must consider your health insurance, education, employment, security, and other things. Before relocating from the UK to Singapore, you should be well-informed and well-equipped.

1. Secure Your Employment Pass

Singapore has a healthy, vibrant, and highly competitive employment market. If you’re moving to Singapore from the United Kingdom, chances are you are going there for work. Singapore prioritises permanent residents, but expats with longer passes get the edge.

There are three types of work passes, Short Term Employment Pass (STEP), Long Term Employment Pass (LTE) and Temporary Employment Pass (TEP). STEP allows you to work for up to six months, while LTE allows work for up to 12 months. TEP lasts for up to 18 months. To obtain a work pass, you’ll need proof of sufficient funds and a letter of invitation from your prospective employer.

There are UK companies in Singapoe that you can apply to such as Barclays Investment Bank, British Telecommunication Company, Rolls-Royce, and other companies. If you have experience working for these companies or similar ones, then the best course of action would be to send applications as it is in line with your skillset.

2. Make Sure You’re Not Travelling With Controlled Items

You might be setting your sights on travelling after you have secured your work pass and got all your documents ready. Note that Singapore has a specific list of controlled items you should avoid carrying while travelling. The following are:

  • Chewing gum
  • Gun-shaped cigarette lighters
  • Fireworks of any type
  • Endangered species of wildlife and associated by-products
  • Chewing tobacco, imitation tobacco products and other tobacco products
  • Controlled drugs

3. Use Your Employment Pass To Secure A Bank Account

There are several ways to obtain a bank account in Singapore. You can apply directly at one of the banks’ branches. Alternatively, there are online applications where you fill out forms and upload documents. Some banks require proof of employment or income, and any work pass will serve as proof of employment. Others accept self-employed applicants without any documentation.

If you’re in a bind and need physical cash, you can use your existing card to withdraw money from ATMs. However, most ATMs belong to the M1 network, which uses MasterCard International Inc.’s Maestro system. Most banks issue their own plastic cards, called “local bank cards,” which usually work at ATMs within the same network. These cards are linked to a specific bank account and cannot be used anywhere else.

Credit cards and debit cards are also widely accepted. Visa Inc. and American Express Co. are among the major issuers of credit cards. Debit cards are tied to a particular bank account and can be used wherever contactless payments are accepted.

4. No Drop In Quality Of Education

Education is one of the biggest worries for students and parents alike. The UK is known for their excellent education system, and you might wonder if you or your student will have a drop in the type and quality of education you’ll receive. There are international schools that follow the British curriculum such as Dover Court International School, Dulwich College, Tanglin Trust School to mention a few.

Singapore is ranked 7th out of 50 countries in the Global Expat Survey 2018. In the education category, Singapore scored highly for having “an excellent education system”. This is because the country provides public and private schools for students aged 3 to 18. Their international schools are also open to all nationalities.

The government spends around 4 billion SGD (2.4 billion GBP) annually on education. This expenditure includes funding for primary and secondary schools, universities, and specialised institutions such as music conservatories and language institutes. So, don’t hesitate to enrol your student or enrol yourself, as your education is in good hands.

5. Singlish Will Shorten Your Conversation Time

As you enter Singapore, you’ll happily notice that most of them speak in English. At first, you might think that it’s a thick accent, but you’d notice words or phrases like “nehmind”, which means “nevermind”, or “dowan”, which means “I don’t want it”. These words and phrases are called Singlish, resulting from shortening common English words and phrases.

Singapore has four official languages: English, Singaporean Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. You can converse with the populace easily, as around 48% speak English. In comparison, about 30% speak Mandarin, followed by Malay at around 9% and Tamil at around 3%. With this amount of English speakers, it’s easy to find one just around the corner.

green trees in glass building

Image Credit: Unsplash

6. Clean, Spotless, And Affordable Public Transport

Singapore’s primary means of public transport are the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and the bus. During your first weeks in Singapore, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the place. Taking the bus might be a familiar sight as double-deckers and bendy buses grace the highways.

Around 40% of Singaporeans take the MRT, and you might want to take it too, as it usually costs 2.48 SGD (1.49 GPB) per journey compared to the UK’s 10.66 SGD (6.40 GPB) tickets. Owning an EZ-Link card helps ease transportation payments. Some shops and restaurants also accept this card as a mode of payment.

This might surprise you, but Singapore’s government doesn’t allow eating and drinking on their train. You might have been used to finding food wrappers or smelly food stains on trains, but Singapore keeps their subway cars clean. Also, don’t worry if you’re not used to the smell of durian, a local fruit, as it’s also prohibited on trains.

7. Private Transport Is Regulated To Help Traffic

Maybe all this talking about public transport makes you want your own car. Owning a vehicle is a necessity in most cases, especially if you prefer driving in the comfort of your car. To do that, you need to bid on a Certificate of Entitlement. This certificate entitles you to operate a vehicle for ten years. Singapore imposed this to incentivise people to own vehicles, thus lessening road congestion.

Singapore is an island city-state, so laws like these should be in place. City planning is challenging as there is little landmass to work around. Thus, their government tries to work around traffic and eliminate the chances of road congestion.

8. Plan Your Way Around The City

After you have chosen a mode of transportation, make sure you plan your way around the city. Note where local food outlets are, shopping malls, and maybe market stalls. You might want to try every local dish on your first week, but note that you will stay for quite a bit; you still have time to do everything you want.

In case you’re still in your comfort zone, you can try British restaurants such as Windsor Arms, The Grand Lobby, The British Club, Smiths Fish and Chips, among others. All these provide you with a hint of the UK while in Singapore.

There are countless exciting things just waiting around the corner, and getting distracted is easy. Making a simple plan or marking locations on your map will help simplify your itineraries for the first few weeks in Singapore.

people walking on street near building during daytime

Image Credit: Unsplash

9. Predictable Year-Round Weather

One degree north of the equatorial region, Singapore’s geography makes it an ideal jumping-off point for travel to the rest of Southeast Asia. Nothing’s stopping you from taking a weekend off at neighbouring places such as Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Singapore has a hot and humid tropical climate (84% average humidity) with two annual monsoons. The Northeast Monsoon Season occurs from December to March, while the Southwest Monsoon Season is from June to September.

You might have been used to wearing jackets during UK’s colder temperatures which range from 18 to 25 °C and can reach lows of up to negative 26 °C. Singapore has a predictable weather that ranges around 25 to 31 °C, so, no need to pack your thickest winter jackets as you’ll enjoy the tropics.

The Northeast Monsoon also has a wet phase from December to January and a dry phase from February to March. During the wet phase, you would witness continuous moderate to heavy rainfall during the afternoons as well as early evenings, while the dry phase is pleasant with little or no rain. It’s easier to plan your outings as the weather is more predictable.

10. Full Control Of Health Care

The NHS (National Health Service) has issues regarding its long waiting lists for special treatments when you want to use your health insurance card. Singapore has MediShield, a type of health insurance for larger hospital bills. MediSave is a mandatory savings plan, and MediFund is for citizens who cannot cover their hospital bills. Processing is smoother because of the multiple programs available.

Once you get your PR (Permanent Residency) you will be entitled to enjoy Singapore’s healthcare benefits. If you’re on a short term visit, you will receive coverage through international health insurance plans provided by either your employer or purchased privately.

All of Singapore’s healthcare is funded by taxes, and the Singapore government aims to give you more control over the care given to you. You get full control of the medical services you receive and make the decisions on your healthcare, such as which medications you prefer and which treatments you’re ready to undergo.

11. Singapore Is Ideal For Expats

The expat population in Singapore is around 29% of the total population. With over a quarter of the population as non-locals, many expats try to find solace by creating their communities. If you’re moving to Singapore alone, you might want to visit these communities.

Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures, and this diversity is further empowered by Singapore being one of the safest countries for expats. You can join any expat community and be on your way to making friends and learning more about living in Singapore.

green-leafed trees under clear sky

Image Credit: Unsplash

12. Contact A Mover Beforehand

One of your nightmares might be packing all your household items like your kitchen appliances, maybe you have pots passed down from your grandparents. You might have kitchen knives that you want to bring everywhere or your comfortable pillows that will take up all your precious luggage space.

One of the only solutions for this dilemma is to engage with a professional mover.

Sanelo has years of experience helping people change their lives by relocating to new places moving locally or moving internationally. No matter where you start, moving with Sanelo includes a comprehensive set of moving services to cover everything from packing for your move to ocean & air freight to storage for your belongings.

You won’t have to worry about your belongings as they will be well taken care of by Sanelo’s shipment protection services. You’ll just sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight to a new life that awaits you!

13. Ask For A Quote Before Moving

On Average, moving to Singapore is estimated to be around 2,498 SGD (1,500 GBP) and 5,828 SGD (3,500 GBP). Finding the right mover is crucial, as you might incur additional fees that would ruin your budget. You can contact Sanelo to request a quote or even talk to their professionals if you have unique requests or special considerations.

Conclusion On Moving From UK To Singapore

Singapore has a lot to offer, from its rich culture and unique status as an island city-state to its fantastic weather. It’s a country full of opportunities and possibilities for people who are up for it.

Going into an unfamiliar country might seem daunting, but starting your new life is made smoother as Singapore is warm and welcoming to expats. All this information will equip you with your move, and good luck with your new adventure.

For more information about other Southeast Asian countries, check out our articles about Malaysia or the Philippines.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moving From UK To Singapore

Can A UK Citizen Move To Singapore?

Travelling to Singapore doesn’t require a visa for UK citizens, but moving for work-related reasons requires its corresponding employment pass. Make sure you secure this document before moving for work-related reasons.

Is Singapore Friendly To Foreigners?

Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures, with a quarter of its population being expats, and around half of the populace speaking English. Singapore is also one of the safest countries for expats.

Is It Hard To Live In Singapore?

Transitioning from the UK to Singapore is easy as Singapore is considered the easiest city in Asia for expats to fit into.

Can Sanelo Help Me Relocate From the UK To Singapore?

You can call or email Sanelo with the info found on their website. A representative will gladly assist you through the whole process.


For what moves you