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Transport and Housing 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 public transport network has been voted the 2nd best in the world.

Everything You Need: Reliable and Efficient Public Transportation

Public transportation in Singapore is reliable and efficient. It has been voted the second best in the world by expats, losing out only to Hong Kong. Several service providers are grouped within TransitLink, Singapore’s integrated public transportation system consisting of trains, buses, and taxis.

Most trains are so-called MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) services, but more recently an LRT (Light Rapid Transit) network has started its operation. Several premium commuter bus services are linking residential areas and estates to Singapore’s Central Business District.

The ticketing system is fairly simple, thanks to tap-and-go rechargeable smart cards (ez-link and NETS) which can be used on all forms of public transportation. They can be purchased at TransitLink ticket offices. Check the PublicTransport@SG website of the Land Transport Authority for information on fares and timetables.

If you are looking for a more in-depth introduction to public transportation, check out our extended article on Singapore's public transportation network.

A Good Alternative: Taking a Taxi

Taxis are a popular and affordable means of transportation in Singapore. Fares have been standardized across all taxi companies and are charged by the taxi meter. They can be hailed from the street or at a taxi stand, or they can be pre-booked by phone or text message.

Payment is by cash or credit card, although there might be a surcharge for the latter. Taxis operated by SMRT, one of the public transportation providers, also accept payment by ez-link card. Tipping the driver is not common, but fares can be rounded up to the next dollar.

Please note that taxis are not exempted from the congestion charging system. A top-up fee may apply if you are travelling within the restricted zone during rush hour. Taxi Singapore is a useful website for cross-company information on several taxi services.

The Expensive Option: Driving Yourself

Keeping, purchasing, and importing a car to Singapore is not cheap. Most expats find they can get by without their own motorized vehicle. Roads are generally in very good condition, albeit heavily congested during rush hours.

In order to drive through the Central Business District, motorists need to acquire a daily license. In addition, an Electronic Road Pricing system is in place during peak hours; it works via a small device installed on each vehicle.

You do not believe us yet that owning a car in Singapore is typically not worth the trouble? Check out our extended article on Traffic and Driving if you would like to read more on this topic.

Finding Accommodation

Most expats in Singapore choose to rent rather than buy, as there are some restrictions on foreigners’ purchasing property. It is common practice for employers to either provide company housing or assist with the search for suitable accommodation.

However, there are sufficient internet resources to help those who have to find their own place in Singapore. Estate agents work with a multiple listings service, meaning that one and the same property can be listed by several different agents. Read on to find out about the types of accommodation which are commonly available to expatriates in Singapore.

Choosing the Type of Accommodation You Like Best

Apartments, also referred to as condos (short for condominium), come in all sizes. A lot of them are located in modern high-rise buildings with integrated gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, etc.

Many expats prefer this lifestyle to more individual housing as it is a great opportunity for newcomers to meet other expats and become part of a little community. Interaction with locals, however, remains very sporadic in such an environment. Expats with families might be interested in more spacious accommodation available in form of individual bungalows, semi-detached housing or terraced houses. Accommodation can be rented furnished, partly furnished or unfurnished.

If the place is not in impeccable order at the time of viewing, don’t be put off, but make sure that all necessary repairs and cleaning will be completed before you move in. A deposit plus one month’s rent in advance are usually required for a one-year contract. The agent’s fee is paid by the landlord in most cases.

No matter your preferred type of accommodation, though, in our Housing and Accommodation extended articles we tell you what to look out for when renting or buying in Singapore, as well as what utilities you typically need to sign up for after moving in.

 

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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