Adjusting to life in Singapore

2 minute read

Approximately, 2.2 million immigrants live in Singapore, a bustling city-island state in southeast Asia that represents one of Asia’s top hubs. It’s regularly featured as a top destination to visit, especially for food lovers, in popular international publications.

But COVID has also affected the Lion City. Although the numbers have largely reduced since the onset of the global pandemic, Singapore is still taking certain precautions and, therefore, requires an added adjustment beyond more typical ones if you’ve moved there.

We’ve compiled a list of tips to make your move to Singapore a bit more comfortable in 2020.

1. Keeping up with COVID

The situation in southeast Asia has been improving enough to create an air bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore. While those plans were recently paused due to a rise in cases in Hong Kong, this is a promising step.

There have been other improvements and positive statistics, but the most enlightening appears to be that the country has the lowest case fatality rate in the world at 0.05%. This could largely be due to the country’s fast and organized efforts to test its population, contact tracing apps, and a “circuit breaker” lockdown and isolation measures.

The Singaporean government is recording all COVID related updates via their health ministry and is also utilizing a contract tracing app called TraceTogether.

2. Money without borders

Expect your move to Singapore to cost several thousands of dollars, and relocation expenses can continue beyond the point when you’ve started unpacking your suitcases.

So, where possible, it’s important to avoid making things unnecessarily more expensive, such as by overpaying on transfer fees or exchange rates when you send money internationally. Wise’s online account lets you send money for a fraction of the price compared to banks, brokers and PayPal — no matter whether you’re transferring money for loans, a home, moving costs or to support family.

Wise’s multi-currency account also lets you hold balances in over 50 currencies, send and receive payments, and spend or shop internationally with its debit card. It means you won’t be charged the high international transaction fees or exchange rates that other providers charge.

3. Financial advice

Don’t let the affordability of the popular hawker centers fool you. You’ll still need to craft a budget around your new Singapore life.

Housing will likely be your top expense and, like most cities worldwide, the close you are to the center, expect to pay more. As real estate agents always say, “Location, location, location!”

If you haven’t arranged this yet, you’ll need to select a bank. DBS Bank, UOB, and Citibank are popular for both expats and Singaporeans.

One fun financial fact is that Singapore has a low income tax (though, for the Americans and Eritreans in the audience, you’ll still need to file with your national tax service).

4. Learn a new language — or two

Although English is one of Singapore’s official languages, so are Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.

While these are not exactly the easiest languages to learn, especially if your time in Singapore is limited, it will be beneficial to learn key phrases and it’s a great way to embrace Singapore’s multiculturalism.

5. Find a community

Living in a foreign country during a global pandemic is no easy feat — even if their official language is your native language.

You may well miss certain home comforts and feel like you’re struggling with a new culture, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to build a new network. You will increasingly meet more people — be it through language classes or through work — that can contribute to your new community. Always look into expat Facebook groups or classes for people with shared interests, as well. As you meet more people, you’ll feel increasingly more comfortable and confident in your new environment.


Moving to and immersing yourself into Singapore always requires baby steps. But Wise will make sure that you’re managing money across borders quickly, affordably and reliably.

Need to send or receive money internationally? Wise can help you manage your money across borders more cheaply and easily. Join our 9 million customers at, or through our Android or iOS app.

Wise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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