Singapore is an amazing place both to live and to work. One of the world’s most globalized economies, the small city-state has long found strength in looking beyond its own borders.
There’s a constant interest in acquiring new talent from around the world, to boost its relatively small workforce – the population is just 5 million – so if you’re looking to leave Australia behind for a new destination, Singapore may well be a great place to pick. Especially if you work in finance, IT, or manufacturing, especially electronics.
How do you find a job there, though? Read on for some words of advice.
Singapore boasts a super high quality of life, great public transport, delicious food, and many wonderfully glamorous places to live and to visit. The catch? Prices: it’s one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Which just makes it all the more important to get that perfect – or at least well-paying – job.
The expat community is lively, and English speakers will be able to get by – though you’ll have to get used to the ‘Singlish’ spoken by locals.
Singapore is renowned as a very safe country, but the flipside to that is that law enforcement is very strict. The famous ban on selling chewing gum is just the start of it: drug laws are very harsh too, and it’s even illegal to be naked in your own home, if you’re exposed to public view.
Australians don’t need a visa to visit Singapore as a tourist¹, but if you want to work there, you’ll need what they call a work pass².
There are various options, but most professionals will likely need to consider either an “Employment Pass” – for qualified professionals earning at least $3,600 each month – or an “S Pass” – for those at a somewhat lower level, earning at least $2,300 ($2,400 from January 2020⁴). Singapore’s dramatically named Ministry of Manpower has more info: they even have a self-assessment tool, although it still might be best to get some individual advice.
Check this carefully against the visa type that you need: no age restrictions are mentioned for the Employment Pass or S Pass³,⁴, but other types of pass may have different criteria.
Singapore has a progressive taxation system that shouldn’t cause you too many headaches, although you will have to submit a tax return each year. Different rules apply if you’re not going to be a Singaporean resident⁵.
There is a double taxation agreement between Australia and Singapore, so you should never have to pay tax on the same income twice⁶.
Here are some tips for how to best find a job in your future country of residence.
No surprises here, but the internet may well prove to be the best place to focus your search. Here are some particularly useful sites focused on Singapore.
It never hurts to look for job sites that are specifically tailored towards your own specialism. For instance, financiers should consider browsing sites like efinancialcareers, and developers might want to look at Singapore IT Jobs. There’s also a specialist job site for expats at Singapore Expats.
Don’t forget about LinkedIn too – especially useful for corporate positions.
LinkedIn is also useful for networking, of course, which is always a highly recommendable way to find work: a personal connection is worth a thousand cold calls.
Try and spread your net as wide as you can: attend any useful events, whether in Singapore or Australia, and be sure to follow up on any links you have to people already working in Singapore. You never know where your best lead is going to come from.
Don’t forget about recruitment agencies. Singapore’s official Ministry of Manpower has a directory of employment agencies that could certainly come in handy.
Singaporean bank accounts aren’t too hard to get, as you’d expect in a country so up to date when it comes to financial services. You will, though, need to present your new bank with documentation including your passport and your employment pass (or whatever sort of visa you have). There’s always the possibility you’ll need to give proof of address, as well. Which means that it might be tricky for people who haven’t yet moved there, or for new arrivals stepping straight off the plane.
What to do about that? Well, it could be worth finding out if your Australian bank is able to help you out: ANZ, for instance, operates in Singapore⁷. But there’s a decent chance that you’ll simply need to wait until you live in Singapore, before you can properly sort out your bank account.
There are options for the interim period. TransferWise is one of them, making international transfers better value by always charging the mid-market rate. A borderless account can even let you hold money in 40+ international currencies – including Singaporean dollars. It could be just the solution you need in the early days of your move.
Don’t be daunted by the thought of finding a job in Singapore. With some good planning, and by looking for help in the right places, you should be able to find the perfect opportunity in this fantastic and vibrant city. Good luck!
All sources accurate as of 19 September 2019
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