Uniquely an island, city and state, Singapore, the ‘Lion City’ sits at the southern tip of Malaysia and is joined to the mainland by the Johor-Singapore Causeway Bridge. Once an important port on the spice route, it developed into one of the most important commercial and military centers of the British Empire, becoming an independent nation in 1965. Its modern economy, hard working ethos and drive make it the 5th wealthiest country in the world for GDP with high foreign exchange reserves and an enviable standard of living. The currency is the Singapore dollar.
Singapore has less than 5 million population who are mostly Malay, Chinese and Indian and the official languages are English, which is used in schools; Malay, Tamil and Chinese (mainly Mandarin) reflecting the diversity of the country. Singapore is very densely populated with many high-rise apartment buildings and 23% is protected forest or green space, but the city is smart, modern and immaculate. Criminal activity is severely punished and capital punishment is used for murder and drug trafficking.
Jobs are based on the busy port, exports, finance and manufacturing although Singapore is suffering with the economic downturn. Thousands of ex-Pats live and work in Singapore for multi-national companies. Unemployment currently stands at 2.8% but could rise as high as 5% by the end of 2009. Visas may be required for some nationalities and a Social Visit Pass may be issued for 3 months. However no employment may be undertaken with a Social Visit Pass. Student passes and Employment passes should be applied for well in advance.
Visitors come to Singapore for its famous shopping on Orchard Road, gambling, and medical tourism. The medical services in Singapore are excellent and serve a million foreign patients annually. Medical insurance is necessary for immigrants and visitors alike as Singapore is an expensive place to live and do business. Immigrants are currently being encouraged to settle in Singapore as a solution to its declining population, a reversal of former strict birth control policies.
Standards of education in Singapore are high and foreign schools are encouraged in order to attract foreign students. Real estate prices and rentals have risen sharply in recent years but have now leveled off. It is advisable to research the various different areas and get an idea of costs in each in order to identify the most affordable area for you. Rents can be over $2500 month in the better areas. You may also need an international removal company to quote a price for shipping your household goods to Singapore.