Owing to political turmoil and strict pandemic measures over the past few years, international businesses are shutting down offices in Hong Kong and shifting operations offshore. According to a recent Bloomberg report, nearly 50% of European companies in Hong Kong plan to move all or half of their workforces out of the city.
For a Hong Konger seeking greener pastures offshore, Singapore is probably one of the first countries that come to mind. Like Hong Kong, Singapore has been known as an international business hub and a bridge between the East and the West. Both cities are also recognised as two of the four Asian Tigers.
Hong Kongers who are considering a move to Singapore will find themselves in good company. March 2022 saw 137 scheduled flights from Hong Kong to Singapore, the highest number recorded since March 2020. Singapore was also the most popular global destination for outbound flights, second only to Shanghai.
In fact, according to Ohmyhome research, the number of Hong Kong arrivals to Singapore has been increasing exponentially since October 2021, doubling month-on-month between January and March 2022.
To be sure, Hong Kong residents aren’t coming to Singapore to sight-see. Director of marketing and communications at Singapore’s Tanglin Trust School has said that the number of Hong Kong applicants within the first two months of 2022 has already exceeded all of 2021, showing that Hong Kong families are actively looking to settle down in a new environment. CNBC also reported a major uptick of Hong Kong applicants at co-living spaces in Singapore, with an overwhelming majority of them comprising of Hong Kong families with children.
While Singapore is a vibrant city that holds much promise, starting a new life overseas is never easy. This article will cover everything expatriates need to know, from securing a work visa to school registration, among other things to expect, so that they can transition smoothly into life in Singapore.
Covid-19: A near complete return to normal with liberal quarantine and travel restrictions
LIfe in Singapore has largely returned to pre-pandemic norms. On April 26 2022, the Singapore government announced that safe distancing would no longer be required for group activities. Limits to group sizes, which were previously capped at 10, have also been lifted.
Although masks are still required for indoor activities, wearing a mask is now optional at well-ventilated outdoor venues such as bus stops and open-air corridors. Employees are also allowed to remove their masks when not interacting with one another or with customers. However, masks are still required at nightlife venues such as bars and clubs when capacity exceeds 75%.
Expatriates entering Singapore will also be excited to know that Covid-19 testing requirements have been removed for fully vaccinated travellers. This will allow people who are entering Singapore to avoid testing fees and pre-departure tests, which have been an administrative burden on travelling individuals in recent times.
Finally, Singapore is stepping down the use of its contact tracing app, TraceTogether. The app has been crucial for close contact tracing over the past two years, but will only be required for events with more than 500 people from 26 April 2022.
Work visa: How to access Singapore’s abundant job opportunities
It’s no secret that job opportunities abound in Singapore. With the world’s freest economy at 84.4 points (according to the 2022 Index of Economic Freedom), the Lion City’s thriving economy is led by manufacturing, wholesale trade, finance and other sectors, all of which are undergoing rapid digital transformation.
Singapore is also an excellent location for expatriate professionals thanks to its liberal tax regulations. Non-resident employment income is taxed at a flat rate of 15% or according to the prevailing progressive resident tax rate, whichever is higher.
All foreigners who intend to work in Singapore must obtain a valid work visa, which companies are obligated to screen for before formally inviting employees on board. The most recent ruling by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower on February 18 2022 also requires Employment Pass applicants to secure roles that pay a minimum of $5,000, or $5,500 if they work in financial services.
Mid-level skilled staff and technicians can also apply to work in Singapore via the S Pass, which has a lower minimum salary requirement of $3,000 or $3,500 for financial service employees. Work pass documentation and processing is largely handled by employers in Singapore, so Hong Kongers are highly advised to secure a job locally before booking a flight down.
World-class education: Bilingual, well-rounded curriculum raising holistic individuals
According to the Programme for International Student Assessment conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Singapore students consistently outperform their international peers in the skills of reading, maths, and science.
Although students are allowed to apply to be exempt from studying an official Mother Tongue Language (usually Chinese, Malay, or Tamil), students are strongly encouraged to learn a second language as part of Singapore’s bilingual curriculum. The result is that 9 in 10 Singaporeans are at least conversational in two languages.
Their exposure to multicultural environments from a young age also means that Singaporeans students are better able to embrace and include students from other countries and regions.
There’s also the option of studying in private education institutions that cater to expatriate communities. All education providers in Singapore are required to register as a Private Education Institution so that they align sufficiently with a mainstream syllabus either in Singapore or abroad.
As for documentation requirements, all international students must obtain an official Student’s Pass to be eligible for registration at local institutions. Children aged 12 years and under must also be vaccinated for measles and diphtheria, and obtain a Verification of Vaccination Requirement from the Health Promotion Board before they can apply for a Student’s Pass.
Move to Singapore: Why choose Ohmyhome for relocation?
Searching for a job overseas is hard enough. You have to collate all your identity, financial and medical documents and allow time for visa processing and flight booking. It gets even harder if you’re a parent looking for a school that best fits your child. Hardly anyone has time to handle all the documentation and queries involved in home hunting between all of that.
That’s why Ohmyhome offers a full suite of home relocation services to take away a significant burden from expatriates such as yourself, so that you can fully focus on physically moving to your new home.
Ohmyhome was founded by sisters Rhonda and Race Wong; the latter was also part of 2R, a former cantopop duo in Hong Kong. We have a team of professionals that are familiar with the Hong Kong market and well-equipped to handle any concerns that Hong Kongers have with regard to their relocation needs. This includes finding a suitable home to rent, arranging virtual home tours (if needed), negotiating prices on their behalf, and securing the best deals for their needs.
Full-suite relocation services: What Ohmyhome offers expatriates
We can simplify your home-finding journey by arranging viewings at your convenience. Simply tell us about your specific housing needs and we will MATCH you with the right home!
Our smart-data matching technology will filter our available listings based on your preferences — from location and property type, to the number of rooms and budget — and we’ll WhatsApp them to you once we find a match. We’ll also send you relevant content that you can use for your own research, so you no longer have to spend hours searching online for the information that you need.
When you’re ready, you can book an appointment with us. Our Super Agents are always available to provide virtual or in-person tours and will walk you through the unit while answering all your questions.
We don’t call them Super Agents for nothing. Our agents are amongst the top 1% of over 30,000 CEA-certified agents in Singapore, with more than 10 of them ranking within the top 30. Through data-driven and customer-centric methods, our Super Agents have helped expatriates identify homes and seal the deal at affordable prices within just three to four weeks.
Dive Deeper: Condo Renting 101: Where to Look, Sizes and Cost
With such qualified agents, you won’t have to worry about negotiating tenancy terms or drafting a legally tight rental offer in your Letter of Intent. We’ll guide you through everything from lease signing, deposit payment coordination and legal stamping of documents. Because we know first hand how hard it is to move abroad, we’ll also throw in advice on how to apply for various services such as utilities, landline and the internet. As an icing on the cake, expatriates who relocate with us receive free cleaning and home contents insurance so that you can collapse into your bed immediately after your long journey. Because at Ohmyhome, we’re always on your side, always by your side.
Don’t put off your relocation plans any longer. Call us at 6886 9009 to secure an appointment with any of our Super Agents or message us in the chatbox at the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen. You can also WhatsApp us at 9755 1009!
Frequently asked questions about relocating to Singapore
What do I need to prepare before working in Singapore?
- Flight/travel tickets/itinerary papers
- Health, travel, contents/property insurance papers
- Visa papers/work passes and/or passes for family
- Birth certificates/adoption papers of children (if any) and photocopies
- Bank records
- Copies of credit card/bank card numbers and contact numbers
- Driving license and photocopies, if any
- Passport and photocopies, additional passport-sized photos
- Identity cards and photocopies
- Marriage certificates and photocopies, if applicable
- Medical and dental records and any medication details
- School and education records
- Pet passport, medical records, and travel documents, if applicable
How can your HR department help with your move to Singapore?
The most vital role for your Singapore-based company is to assist you in securing a work pass from the MOM, which lets you take residence in Singapore for business or professional reasons.
Expect the HR staff to coordinate with you for these:
- Requirements and process of application of the appropriate visa at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and work pass at the Ministry of Manpower
- List of required customs, duties, and taxes to be paid, as well as the contraband rules to be followed when moving to Singapore as required by Singapore Customs
- Medical and health insurance requirements, including vaccinations
- A home that suits your family’s needs
- Your signature on lease papers
- A transnational moving company to transport possessions
Whether you’re moving by yourself or relocating with your entire family, the immigration process is quite seamless once you have these requirements ready.