Garden by the Bay, Singapore Expat Advice

7 Expat tips for Singapore

Singapore can seem a bit strange for expats making the move for the first time. Here are a few fun facts to keep in mind if culture shock begins to take over.

Insects are a problem and fridges are your friend.

It’s not uncommon to keep things like rice and even cosmetics in the fridge (or at least somewhere out of the reach of insects). It’s a tropical climate, perfect for raising little ant and cockroach families. You’ll need to be careful how you store products to keep the insects away. For some products, a fridge is also a great counter to humidity and heat.

Enjoy some of the world’s cleanest public toilets.

A non-profit called Restroom Association Singapore started in 1998 to advocate clean toilets across the country. They work with the public and private sector to promote the maintenance of public toilets. That’s why you can expect a clean, high-quality bathroom experience in almost any public loo.

Forget Christmas – Chinese New Year is the big festival.

Christmas isn’t a big celebration in Singapore, despite the increasing number of expats from Western areas. Instead, all the excitement and revelry is reserved for Chinese New Year. It starts on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar and lasts for 23 days. The biggest celebration is the Spring Festival, which takes place on the first day of the new year.

Air con is everywhere.

The humidity in Singapore is extremely high. This can make a 24 degree day, which might be quite pleasant in other areas of the world, a sweaty affair. Luckily almost every building and vehicle you step into will have air conditioning. If you’re walking outside, make like a local and find the route that provides the most shade.

Get your therapeutic gum from the pharmacy.

Just make sure you dispose of it properly, unless you want to risk a fine of around $300. The ideal of a total ban on chewing gum started in 1983, when the Minister for National Development suggested this as a way to stop people gumming up lift buttons and keyholes, and disrupting trains. Yes, train delays were caused by gum stuck over door sensors. From 2004 the ban was reduced. Gum can now be brought prescription-style over pharmacy counters for therapeutic and medicinal purposes.

Acquaint yourself with Feng Shui.

The principles of Feng Shui show themselves throughout this beautiful city, from its design incorporating nature and careful placement of objects, through to interiors of offices, and of course homes. It can be a great way to engage in some local culture while also focusing on making your life simple and aesthetically pleasing.

Try the local food.

Singapore is well known for being an expensive city, but a lot of the local street food is affordable. It’s also incredibly delicious. This is an excellent combination in our opinion.


If you’re relocating to Singapore, why not take a look at our moving to Singapore guide?