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Living in Singapore

People living in Singapore often come from diverse cultural backgrounds, making for a multi-ethnic society. As an expat, you’ll enjoy Singapore’s diversity and its luxurious lifestyle. InterNations gives you a brief insight into neighborhoods, education, and other aspects of being an expat in Singapore.

At a Glance:

  • Singapore is a largely peaceful country, meaning expats and locals of various races, cultures, and religions can coexist without the fear of conflict.
  • There are a great number of expats residing in Singapore, and the various housing options mean you can decide how much of a community life you would like to live.
  • Singapore’s transportation system has been rated the second best in the world, offering easy and affordable connections to all around the island.
  • Expat families moving to Singapore needn’t worry about schooling; Singapore boasts plenty of private international school options or alternatively state-funded schools.


The majority of people in Singapore stem from three main ethnic and cultural backgrounds: Chinese, Malay, and Indian. However, over a century of British administration did not go by without leaving its mark on the people of Singapore as well as the city-state itself. Still, Singaporean society remains Asian in its outlook and values.

Singaporeans often tend to place the good of the nation before everything else — certainly before the individual. The idea of community and society, though not as important as national welfare, is an important aspect of life in Singapore. The same is true for family values, reverence for one’s elders, and then respect for the individual.

Consensus above Conflict

To most citizens, consensus is always preferable to conflict. In fact, losing one’s temper may even be regarded as a personal weakness.

In Singapore, members of different races, cultures, and religions coexist in harmony. This is partly because most people are happy to give up some of their personal freedom in return for social order and the economic prosperity of the nation.

Expats living in Singapore — and there are many — have come to appreciate the pleasant and safe environment the city-state has to offer. As long as they respect local customs, they can be sure to receive a kind welcome from the people of Singapore.

Nevertheless, if you feel like you should read up more on this issue, as well as get more information on safety in Singapore in general, then take a look at the various articles on Safety and Security that can be found in our Extended Guide to Singapore.

The Most Popular Residential Areas

Expats can be found in most parts of the island, so we have devised a short overview of residential areas which are particularly popular among foreigners.

The demand for accommodation is high, and rent is not cheap, however, apartments tend to be spacious and of superior quality. Expats can also expect to find modern condominiums, which have been built in recent years to satisfy the demands of the increasing population.

In the center of the island, the Orchard, Tanglin, Holland village, and Bukit Timah areas are immensely attractive for expats. The upsides of life in Singapore’s central areas are the very good public transportation links as well as their close proximity to the Central Business District and to most of the city’s international schools.

Suburban Life: A Feasible Option?

Those who favor a less hectic lifestyle might choose to live in suburban areas, which are also connected to the city center by public transportation as well as expressways. There is Katong village on the east coast, very conveniently located near Changi International Airport.

The west coast has in recent years seen some new developments, with areas such as Faber Park and Pasir Panjang becoming popular expat destinations. Expats who need to be near the industrial estates on Jurong Island, the shipyards, Biopolis, or the National University of Singapore might consider these areas. Please note, however, that public transportation is less convenient in the south of the island and expats thinking about moving here should consider owning a car. Although the commute is only a 15-minute drive to the Central Business District, public transportation via bus can take up to an hour.

Woodlands: A City in Itself

Woodlands is a suburban town in the north of Singapore with very good access to the city and to Malaysia, to which it is connected by the Johor-Singapore Causeway. People living in Singapore’s Woodlands district benefit from a calmer lifestyle, exemplary modern town planning, and large areas of public parkland and communal gardens.

Apart from their commute to work, there is no reason why people living in Singapore’s Woodlands community should have to travel to the center of town on a daily basis. Woodlands has its own nightlife with restaurants and bars, convenient shopping facilities — including one of Singapore’s largest shopping malls — and a large public library.

And yet, Woodlands residents can count on good and reliable public transportation services to take them to central Singapore in 45 minutes. Some US expats might also be tempted to live here due to Woodlands’ close proximity to the Singapore American School.

You can also read more about Singapore's various neighborhoods and what criteria you should factor in during your search for accommodation in our extended article on Expat Neighborhoods in Singapore.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Donald Moore

"I moved to Singapore to build up my own business. In fact, it was easier than expected. With InterNations I quickly got in touch with the lively expat community here."

Barbara Sciera

"Settling as an expat woman in a different culture is always hard. But with InterNations I got to know many other expat spouses that helped me."

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