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What living as an expat in Singapore is really like: 10 truths

It's always good to be prepared before moving to a new place. I have pulled together this list about what living as an expat in Singapore is really like so you know what you are getting into! 

Whether you are planning a move to Singapore or already live there, I'm sure these 10 truths about living as an expat in Singapore will make you smile!

What living as an expat in Singapore is really like - colourful flags

Prices will start off sounding crazy then become normal

S$10 for a glass of wine? Scandalous! A month later... oh wow a S$10 deal on wine, sounds great to me! The prices are crazy (but the low tax rate compensates somewhat) and at first you will be shocked every time you buy something.

Also the pesky 17% added onto prices for tax and service is annoying but after a while you'll mentally add it on every time anyway.

You will never be short of places to eat out

...but finding good fish and chips or a Sunday dinner is so hard! There is an abundance of 24 hour food courts which after a while you start to enjoy. I've never known somewhere with as many cuisines on your doorstep. Within 5 minutes of home I can get Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Singaporean, Western, and the list just goes on! If you're British like me, finding home comforts can sometimes be tricky. I have a separate blog post with where you can find all your British home comforts here.

You will never have good hair again

This sounds brutal but it's good to be prepared! The humidity and water are not a good combo for sleek, shiny locks and after a while you will realise that living as an expat in Singapore you will embrace having less perfect hair.

I spend ages getting mine perfectly curled or straightened for a night out but it goes to 'Monica in Barbados' within 5 minutes of leaving the house! You must be very careful with hairdressers, seek advice from other expats before booking and don't assume they'll all be fine.

I had a bit of a hair disaster a few weeks back so I am quite wary of this - I shared the full horrific experience over on my Instagram account.

What living as an expat in Singapore is really like - greenerv

Air con will be your bestie

With an average humidity of 83.4% (source: Weather.Gov.SG) you will dive into air-conditioned places whenever you get the chance. For the first week or two, if relocating from somewhere colder, you will enjoy the novelty of sitting outside to eat but after a while when the waiter asks you will prefer indoor seating for the air con! It also rains most days, so it might be hot but don't forget that umbrella. You can read my guide of things to do in Singapore when it's raining here.

Ladies night will be a regular occurrence

Wednesdays in Singapore means free drinks for ladies! I will write a full post soon on some of the best places to get your fix of free bevvies. Living as an expat in Singapore can be quite alcohol-fuelled at times and who can resist when it's free?

The novelty of this has never worn off for me but I'm sure my Thursday morning head doesn't agree. There are also some great ladies nights on a Thursday. I have loved making expat friendships in Singapore and have a great bunch of girls who I can always count on for a good ladies night. Read my post all about expat friendship here packed with loads of tips for you to settle in and meet people.

You will find getting around so easy

Transport just doesn't fail here. Whether it's the MRT (Singapore's tube), buses, taxis or Grab, everything runs smoothly and on time. This means you can't give the excuse to your friends that the bus was late if you're notoriously disorganised like me!

What living as an expat in Singapore is really like - Tanjong Pagar

Singlish will blow your mind

You will overhear locals talking English and might pick some of it up, then suddenly it sounds different - you will be so confused. The way locals communicate is really unique, it's English but with a touch of local words thrown in - hence the nickname 'Singlish'. Some common phrases:

Shiok - means 'great'
Can / cannot - same meaning as English, used in response to asking someone to do something. Sounds funny at first but you'll probably find yourself using it!
Lah - used as a suffix to a normal sentence e.g.'there's something here for everyone lah'.

You will hardly use your condo facilities

Maybe this is just us but when we moved into our flat with its gorgeous rooftop viewing deck, pool, hammocks and jacuzzis we thought we'd be there every night! Erm no... we've used things about once a month and from talking to other friends this is just what living as an expat in Singapore is really like.

What living as an expat in Singapore is really like - condo life

You will experience other cultures daily

I've never been somewhere as diverse as Singapore and my favourite thing about it is being able to get to Little India, or Chinatown, or the more western areas like Holland Village within half an hour.

I feel like you get a mini taster of other countries here. It's also lovely seeing people from all over the world mingling, and you get to meet people of so many different cultures.

Travelling to exotic places becomes normal!

This has to be my absolute favourite thing about living as an expat in Singapore. People jet off to exciting destinations without even taking annual leave! My friend went to Thailand last weekend, visited an elephant sanctuary, chilled on the beach and got back in time for work on Monday.

Public holidays are very useful for travelling as well - places like Maldives are literally a direct, inexpensive flight away.

Are you planning a move to Singapore soon? Pin this guide for later:


  1. Interesting read! I've never been to Singapore but I'd love to go there someday. :) By the way, your comment about 'Monica in Barbados' made me laugh out loud, haha.

    1. Ahh thanks I am glad you enjoyed reading it. I constantly compare my life to Friends, I am a bit of a fan haha! Singapore is so amazing and varied, I hope you get to go. Thanks for reading! Melis

  2. Enjoyed reading your post. Had not heard about Singlish. We only ever pass through Singapore, never stayed more than two days, but it's a neat place, especially the food I remember fondly.

    1. Thanks Stefan, I am glad you enjoyed it. Yes it has such great, unique food. Take me back!

  3. Thanks a lot for your article. I have a question: ¿What about the lenguage? I mean, an expat can live there only speaking English,or is really necessary learn another one. Thanks again.

  4. Thanks for this. We have just moved out to Singapore and are currently quarantining - but can't wait to get out and start exploring. We visited a few years ago, but this time, it's going be very different as this should be a permanent move! We have been looking at condos with nice facilities, but I bet we will be the same as you and not use them as much as we think - although, I think I will be at the gym every day just like I was at home. Will just be nice to not have to travel to it!


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