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8 Practical Tips To Make The Most Of Your Expat Life In Singapore

Singapore might be a little red dot on the world map but there are many things to see and do on this island. There are places to explore, sites to visit, food to eat, and things to learn. Here are some tips for you to make the most of your expat life in Singapore, whether it’s long or short.

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Expat life in Singapore

1. Try as many types of food as you can

expat life in singapore - chicken rice

It’s no secret that eating is one of Singaporeans’ favourite pastimes. Whether you’re looking for a classy dinner date at a fancy restaurant, or a quick bite that doesn’t cost much, you will be able to find it in Singapore.

From hawker centres to coffee shops and cafes to Michelin-starred restaurants, there are a variety of places you can dine at in Singapore. But if you’re looking for somewhere to immerse yourself in the local culture, the best place is undeniably the hawker centres.

expat life in singapore - hawker centre

Brimming with locals especially during mealtimes, a hawker centre is the go-to place for a variety of fuss-free and relatively affordable eats. As a multicultural country, Singapore’s hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts often sell more than one type of cuisine. You will be able to get chicken rice, fish and chips, nasi lemak and more, all in one place.

Pro tip: Don’t know what to go for? Join the stall with a queue, it’s hard to go wrong.

2. Explore the lesser known neighbourhoods of Singapore

expat life in singapore - yishun dam

Neighbourhoods like Tiong Bahru, Joo Chiat, and Holland Village are hotspots for expats so they might already be on your list of places to visit. But there are other lesser known neighbourhoods in Singapore such as Yishun and Punggol that are waiting for you to discover as well.

Yishun dam is one stunning example. Located in the North of Singapore, a heartland neighbourhood that even Singaporeans don’t really visit for leisure, Yishun dam is a gem where you can get Instagram-worthy shots of both the sky and the water. You can also cycle, have a picnic, bird-watch, or just chill.

expat life in singapore - punggol waterway park

Punggol is a young heartland area that is known for its waterfront housing. It now has the Punggol Waterway Park, which has glorious views of the sunset and many activities for the whole family, and the Punggol Settlement where there are a number of seafood restaurants.

You can rent a bike and cycle along the park or venture into Coney Island. Don’t forget to catch the sunset at the Sunset Strip in Punggol Waterway Park.

3. Pick up some Singlish

expat life in singapore - singlish broken down

Although English is widely spoken in school and at work in Singapore, you’ll find that there’s something different about the way Singaporeans speak English in their everyday lives. That’s Singlish, an informal, colloquial form of English. It’s a combination of English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, and even dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien.

Singaporeans also like to use words like “lah”, “leh”, “lor”, “meh” as sentence-final particles to add emphasis or emotion to sentences. It might take some time to get used to it but try it for yourself and have fun! It’s a surefire way to bond better with the locals as well.

4. Find a community

expat life in singapore - group of people chatting

Whether you’re alone or with your family, moving to Singapore can be disconcerting or isolating because you might not have a support system here in Singapore. But there are many expat Facebook groups where you can make friends with other expats from all over the world. They will be able to share tips and answer your burning questions or simply hang out.

5. Get to know the locals too

expat life in singapore - many waving singapore flags

Besides making friends with other expats in Singapore, chat with as many locals as you can. It’s the best way to learn more about Singapore and immerse yourself in the culture. Although Singaporeans tend to be shy when speaking to strangers, most of us are friendly and approachable people.

6. Enjoy the (all-year-round) summer

expat life in singapore - MBS rooftop swimming pool

Especially if you’re relocating to Singapore from a country with four seasons, it might take you a while to get used to the constant heat and humidity. But once you’ve settled in, enjoy the all-year-round summer in Singapore! Get a tan, swim, have a picnic, hit the beach and soak up that Vitamin D from the sun. (But remember your sunscreen.)

7. Take public transport

expat life in singapore - on the public bus in Singapore

Singapore boasts one of the most efficient and reliable public transport systems in the world. With the public buses and trains, it’s so easy to get around. Public transport is also how most Singaporeans get about so it’ll be a good experience hopping on a bus or train and exploring Singapore.

Of course, taxis are also readily available for when you’re in a rush or need a more convenient and comfy ride.

8. Participate in local celebrations and events

expat life in singapore - lanterns hanging

There are official public holidays in Singapore to celebrate festivals such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, and Deepavali. But there are also other smaller traditional festivals like Mid-Autumn Festival, Thaipusam and Easter which are celebrated by different groups.

If you get the chance, join in some of these festivities and celebrations and you’ll learn more about multicultural Singapore.

Being an expat in Singapore

Whether you’re planning to stay in Singapore for the long-haul or leaving your options open, we hope these tips will help you make the most of your time here! Singapore is a beautiful island with many things to see and do, as long as we know where to look. So start exploring!

New to Helpling? Helpling is the #1 trusted choice for home services among locals and expats in Singapore. Book a helper on-demand and save time on cleaning so that you can spend time with friends and explore Singapore. You’ve got to try it to experience it for yourself. Book now to enjoy $20 off your first clean!

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