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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.
Singapore's Little India has colorful houses and traditional shops and food stalls.

The majority 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 fact, members of different races, cultures and religions coexist in Singapore in rarely achieved harmony. This is partly due to the fact that most people are happy to subordinate some personal freedom to 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 here’s a short overview of residential areas which are particularly popular among foreigners.

The demand is high and rents are not cheap, but accommodation tends to be spacious and of superior quality. New condominiums are currently being built on the west and south coasts to satisfy the increasing demand by those who have decided to spend their life in Singapore.

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

Living in the Suburbs

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 and the Singapore FreePort.

The west coast has been seeing some new developments. Expats who need to be near the industrial estates on Jurong Island, the shipyards, Biopolis or the National University of Singapore might consider this area. It is only a 15-minute drive to the Central Business District for people living in Singapore’s suburbs.

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 somewhat 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 living in Singapore might also be tempted by 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. 

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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