Introduction to Living in Singapore
What to Wear
Singapore has a warm and humid climate throughout the year with a daily average temperature range of 24 degrees Celsius to 31 degrees Celsius. Light and summer clothing made from natural fabrics like cotton is best for everyday wear. Casual dress is acceptable for most situations but some hotels may require a more formal dress code.
Singapore’s population of around 5.8 million (as of March 2020) comprises of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and people of other descent. Though inter-marriages have taken place over the years, each racial group within Singapore has retained its own cultural identity while developing as an integral part of Singapore community.
There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, and speak their mother tongue as well as English.
With its ethnic mix also comes its diverse set of religions. The main religions are Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism.
Cost of Living
The standard of living in Singapore is amongst the highest in Asia. Compared to countries in western continents, the cost of living here is relatively low, and basic items like food and clothing are very reasonably priced.
When planning your budget, you will need to cater for these items:
- Books & Stationery
- Medical/Hospitalisation Insurance
- Personal Expenses
An international student in Singapore spends on average about S$750 to S$2,000 a month on living expenses. This amount of course, varies depending on your individual lifestyle and course of study. These estimated cost ranges in the table below gives a rough guide of the basic expenditure an international student may incur per month.
|Type of room||1-2 months (per month)|
|Accommodation||$400 – $1,500|
(rental varies with geographical area, type of accommodation, demand, facilities provided and the number of people sharing)
|Ultilities||$80 – $100|
(not applicable for boarding schools)
|Food||$300 – $450|
(Based on $10-$15 a day for 3 meals)
Note: Boarding schools usually provide 2 meals a day and Halls of Residence provide meals at extra charge.
|Public Transport||$20 – $150|
(varies with usage and promotional packages subscribed)
|Books & Stationery||$30 – $100|
(varies with course of studies)
|Medical Hospitalisation Insurance||$50 – $300|
(depending on insurance policy)
|Personal expenses||$100 – $300|
(varies with individuals)
(clothes, toiletries, entertainment, haircut, miscellaneous)
*Please note that the average estimates serve as a reference only.
There are number of student hostels in Singapore that offer to student’s accommodation at modest rates. Depending on the requirements of students, some of these hostels may offer laundry, meal, and other optional service.
Typically hostels charge $350 to $550 on twin-sharing. This will depend on whether they require laundry service and meal (lunch, or dinner or both). Of course, the wider the range of services provided, the greater the charge. The rates may be 15-20% cheaper if more students share the room e.g. 3 or 4 to a room. But this may be at the expense of individual comfort since some may not be accustomed to having too many students around while they are studying. All these factors would have to be considered by the student in deciding his/her accommodation option.
For other option, students could generally rent a Housing & Development Board (HDB) accommodation between S$600 – S$800 on twin sharing per room depending on locality, size, transport convenience and proximity to food centres and other amenities. For private apartments and condominiums, this could rise to S$1,000 and above with meals and laundry services charged separately.
Most accommodation are let out to students on 3-month; 6 month and 12 months’ lease agreement. More often, the landlord will demand an advance payment or deposit to cover for 3 months or more.
While in Singapore, it is advised to open a savings or checking account. The minimum initial deposit is usually S$500 if you are below 21 years of age. Your passport and Student Pass or letter of admission to your educational institution may be required as well. Upon opening your account, you will receive an ATM card for your convenience of withdrawing cash from any ATM machines operated by the individual bank. The ATM card also entitles you to make payments via NETS (a cashless system similar to a value-stored card).
Most banking hours are usually Mondays to Fridays 9.00am-4.30pm and Saturdays 9.00am-11.30am. However, each individual bank offers different opening times. It is best to check for their specific hours.
The local currency is in Singapore dollars and cents. Apart from banks or hotels, you may change your currency at outlets that displays the sign “Licensed Money Changer”.
Public Pay Phones
Public payphones are located at most public places including: shopping malls, food centres, and other establishments. Users can pay either by cash, credit card, or stored-value phone-cards depending on the telephone system. Charges for local calls are 10cents per three-minute blocks. Besides local calls, public payphones using stored-value phone-cards are also able to connect international calls.
ICC International Calling Cards
International Calling Cards are pre-paid phone-card that enable you to make international calls with any phone. Charges of the call are deducted from the value of the card according to individual calls. International Calling Cards can be purchased at all post offices, convenient stores and other retail outlets.
There are two types of services where users can sign up for mobile lines. Users may wish to either acquire a number through the purchase of a prepaid mobile card or by signing up for a fixed mobile line. Both services are available at all service operators while prepaid cards are available at all post-offices, convenient stores and other retail outlets.
Arts, Theatre and Cinema
Arts is all around you…a musical at the Esplanade, a performance at The Arts House, a ballet performance at Fort Canning, a film at The National Museum Gallery Theatre or an exhibition in the museums!
Singapore Dance Theatre
Be dazzled by brilliant performances throughout the year, including such highlights as Ballet Under the Stars. For more information, go to: https://singaporeballet.org/.
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Catch weekly performances, ranging from classical to contemporary, at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s newest arts complex. For more information, go to www.sso.org.sg.
Singapore Chinese Orchestra
Catch the Singapore Chinese Orchestra playing classical Chinese music with refreshing modern tunes. For more information, log on to www.sco.com.sg.
Concert in the Park
The National Arts Council organizes a series of concerts, usually performed by local arts companies, in various parks of Singapore like Botanic Gardens, West Coast Park, and Bishan Park. Prepare your picnic baskets and swing by the parks for a wonderful arts experience. For more information, log on to www.nac.gov.sg.
Here’s a listing of where you can make online cinema ticket bookings and check out what others say about the movie!
Cinema Directory (Booking Online):
Cathay Cineplexes: www.cathaycineplexes.com.sg
Eng Wah Cinemas: www.wecinemas.com.sg
Golden Village: www.gv.com.sg
Shaw Theatres: www.shaw.sg
Other Places of Interest
To know more about Singapore places of interest visit: www.visitsingapore.com
Singapore has one of the most extensive and efficient public systems in the world. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) operates a network of trains serving more than 130 stations. Trains operate from 5.30am -12.30am daily, every three to eight minutes. A ride on the MRT from Singapore Changi Airport to the city takes less than half an hour. Public buses run daily from 5.30am – midnight. Extended night services cost slightly more.
Rides on the MRT cost from 80 cents to S$1.80. For travel on the MRT, you need to purchase a one-trip farecard. Public buses accept cash.
The recommended mode of payment for both the MRT and public buses is using the EZ-link card which is a stored-value card giving discounted fare for multiple rides. The EZ-link card may be purchased and topped up at most MRT stations and bus interchanges. Each adult card is sold with a minimum value of S$10 plus a deposit of S$5.
Using ez-link card on MRT or LRT
You can use the ez-link card on the MRT or LRT by following these steps:
- Tap your ez-link card on the card reader mounted on the entry faregate.
- Wait for the green light to come on before passing through the faregate.
- When you get to your destination, tap your ez-link card on the card reader on the exit faregate. The correct fare will be automatically deducted from your card.
Things to note – MRT or LRT:
When the red light comes on or when there is no light:
Check that your ez-link card has sufficient stored value.
- Tap your ez-link card again.
- If you still see the red light or if there is still no light, your ez-link card may be faulty. Take your ez-link card to the MRT Passenger Service Centre or the TransitLink Ticket Office for assistance.
Using ez-link card on Buses
You can use the ez-link card on buses by following these steps:
- Tap your ez-link card on the entry card reader when boarding the bus.
- Proceed when you see the green light and hear a beep (or two beeps if you are a concession ez-link card holder).
- When alighting, tap your ez-link card on the exit card reader. The bus fare for your trip and the remaining stored value on your card will be displayed on the card reader.
It is important to tap the card on the exit reader when alighting. Otherwise, the system will assume your journey ends at the terminal station and will deduct the fare for that journey accordingly.
Taxis travel around the island 24 hours a day. You may queue for a Taxi at any designated Taxi stand, make a booking through a Taxi company’s hotline or flag one down. Taxis carry a maximum of four passengers and seat belts are compulsory by law for all passengers.
All taxis are metered, mostly with the standard fares of:
S$3.20 for the first 1km
Peak Hour Surcharges of 25% of metered fare (Mondays to Sundays, 6am – 9.30am and 6pm – 12 midnight)
City area surcharges of $3 for cabs hired within the Central Business District (CBD) area (Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays, 5pm -12 midnight)
Late Night Surcharge of 50% of metered fare (midnight to 5.59am)
Taxis departing from the Singapore Changi Airport, Seletar Airport, Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa or Singapore Expo, on the eve and on public holidays, as well as for trips passing through an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry incur extra charges.
Credit card payments incur a 10% surcharge on the fare.