Living in Singapore

American Association of Singapore
expatriate living guide

Expat vs Local: If you're living outside your own country you're an expatriate, right? Well, not quite.

Here in Singapore a high proportion of expatriates are sent by their companies with what is known as an 'Expat Package'. This can be the minimum of rent allowance, medical insurance and airfares at the beginning and end of their contract. Note the 'minimum'.

The term 'expatriate' generally denotes a company-paid lifestyle that includes not only the above minimum but also school fees for international schools, car(s) with fuel allowance, business-class airfares, utility bills paid, relocation costs for furniture and personal items, personal relocation and orientation services, settling-in allowance for new furnishing and sometimes more.

Sounds like a good deal, right? The flip side is that the company can say, 'We need you to take over the Baku office by the end of next month.' And off they go again, furniture, kids and all. Friends are left behind and they have to start again in a new location.

The 'Local Package' is just that. Someone applies for a job in Singapore and is paid the same as a Singaporean. For a few, such as medical- or teaching-related jobs, there might be subsidised housing, but you don't necessarily get to choose where you live. Usually there is also hospitalisation insurance. Changing jobs might prove difficult as the Employment Pass is linked to the employer.

The majority of IGAS members are Singaporean citizens or Singaporean permanent residents. We have many members who are in mixed-marriages, having met in university or met here in Singapore, where they have made a permanent home. We also have short-term, expatriate members who enjoy their time in Singapore and get to know Singaporeans through our events.

Singapore Map
Singapore: the little red dot