I'm a younger US citizen with a higher-tier job in the tech sector. My fiance and I have decided that we would like to explore the idea of moving to Singapore in the next five years or so. By that time we will be married, have no children, and be bringing our dog (or two if we get another).

We are at the very beginning stages of the planning process so I have very little hard information on Singapore and what it's like to emigrate there. What I am looking for here is anyone that can share personal experiences or can point me to good resources about the process of being a US citizen and moving there. Here are some specific questions, though they are just the tip of the iceberg and I'm also looking for questions I didn't even know to ask:

  • I've heard it's (relatively) easy to emigrate to Singapore if you can find a job there, which is also not terribly difficult if you're in one of their major sectors like finance. Being a tech infrastructure expert it's usually not hard to find a place in any sort of business. Does that logic hold true in this instance?
  • How easy is it to bring a pet (specifically a dog)? I'm assuming I'll be living in a high-rise apartment because that is the majority of the housing available, but are they generally accepting of dogs there?
  • Are there any hurdles to citizenship other than finding a job? For example, I know that Japan is fairly restrictive of whom they make citizens, but I have heard no such reports about Singapore.
  • How long should I expect the process to take from start to finish (excluding finances, finding a job, and any travel planning)? As in, from the moment I decide it's time to start whatever paperwork or requests are necessary to the time I am finally able to relax in my new home with my family.
  • What are the major hurdles I must overcome (socially, financially, government-wise, etc) to complete this process? This is the one question where I specifically want discussion of finances (but don't forget the rest of the hurdles!), because while I am confident in being able to muster up the change to make this happen sooner or later, I am not unfortunately made of money, so it has to be discussed at some point. Specifically, how much does each piece of the puzzle cost (visas, living expenses, travel, etc)?
  • What are the major differences between the US and Singapore in social and federal responsibility? As in, what kinds of personal rights would I lose or gain, what behaviors are considered acceptable or unacceptable, etc.

Of course if you have any other recommendations or questions I should be asking feel free to contribute!

  • 4
    This should probably be split into a few different questions, to better fit the normal StackExchange Q&A format
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:03
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    Do you specifically want to become a citizen? You don't necessarily need that to live in a country.
    – Gala
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:09
  • @Gala What would be the benefits of doing so (or not)? I've never lived outside the US so I don't know what all is involved, honestly.
    – thanby
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:21
  • @Gagravarr I thought about that but felt like that might be spamming the site, especially since the context would have to be repeated for most of them. However if the community/moderators feel that is the better course of action I will gladly comply.
    – thanby
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:22
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    It is common practice to ask for one specific thing per question, so I agree with Gagravarr, you should definitely split it up. Some interesting questions though, some of which I probably could answer and some of which I am really interested in the answer.
    – drat
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


I lived in Singapore for some years until 2009. Things might have changed since, and I am not a US citizen, but I will try to answer some of your questions to the best of my knowledge.

[Edits by LCR. I lived in Singapore 27 years and only left in Dec 2015.]

I would say that it is relatively easy to emigrate to Singapore, if you can find a job there, especially one that is in high demand. Contact Singapore is catered mainly for professionals looking for work in Singapore. It has links to job vacancies, and in fact nearly all other things you need to know about working and living in Singapore. Note however that the website is promotional in nature.

For importing of personal pets, I have no experience, but you may find useful information from AVA.

[Pets are VERY EASY. Just have all your inoculations signed by a licensed veterinarian and get a pet import service or a major moving and relocations company to handle this for you for pet permits, etc. Your pets from the USA will have to serve 2 weeks in quarantine being current info still in 2014.]

To become a citizen, you first need to become a Permanent Resident. To apply for a Permanent Resident status, you must hold an Employment Pass. This is generally the default route. You get more benefits by becoming a citizen, but you may be required to renounce other citizenship you may have. LCR: You MUST renounce your other citizenship.

Accommodation in Singapore is expensive. For the first few years after moving, you may have no other choice but to rent a flat. Usually this is done through an agent, so there is an agent fee involved. Only Permanent Resident couples who have been Permanent Residents for at least 3 years are eligible to buy a resale HDB flat. LCR: The agent fees are a percentage of your rental fee deposit generally being 1-2 months rent. You must also pay what is called a "stamp duty" for your accommodation to be completed as a filing fee with the government basically.

Other than accommodation, I think other things are not so expensive. Food is relatively cheap, and hawker centres are everywhere. So are buses and trains. Immigration fees are relatively cheap.

LCR: However, for Western foods, you pay about 35-40% higher than say in the USA or UK and Europe. There are Michelin star restaurants there that are as costly as NYC or London. Hawker Centres are generally outdoor food courts with 97-99% local ethnic foods...if that will always be your desire along with GREAT food though with additives! Singapore was listed as the top three or most expensive city in which to live in 2013 or 14.

If you are a Permanent Resident and you have a son, he will need to enlist for two-year compulsory military training, known as the National Service.

LCR: Above is not 100% correct. Your male children do not have to become a PR or citizen and can apply for a student's pass when old enough or just be a Dependent until then.

LCR: Taxes are a dream as it's a tax haven. Maximum 22% of your income. Banking required a reasonable sized deposit but local banks much lower. Most everything can be done online as opposed to the red tape in the USA.

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    Singapore does not permit dual citizenship, so you will be required to renounced other citizenships. This also makes your children liable for military service, so it's not an option most people take. Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 22:28
  • @jpatokal but you can still be a Permanent Resident while maintaining your nationality. Also children of PR also have to serve military service, so it doesn't really make a difference on that front.
    – drat
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 6:08
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    Sure, I was just pointing out that it's not a "you may be required to renounce" your citizenship(s), it's a "you will be required". Also, while you can opt not to make your children PR (we didn't), opting your kids out of citizenship is harder. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 7:17

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