Avoiding financial worries as an expat in Singapore

Published:  9 Mar at 6 PM
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Managing money as a newly arrived expat in Singapore has its inevitable pitfalls, but it’s easy to find ways around just about every aspect of budget control.

Singapore is one of the world’s most popular expat hubs, and is also one of the most expensive as regards maintaining a comfortable lifestyle, whatever your salary level. The old advice of 'save the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves' is a good way to start, and comes with the added bonus of feeling smug.

Most money worries suffered by expats in Singapore and many other world destinations concentrate on money itself, starting with the ongoing necessity of paying fees to banks when you move your funds. Newly arrived expats in the tropical city state have it easier than in most other Southeast Asian countries as the majority of Singaporean banks offer free, same-day iBanking transfers to banks in locations varying from the UK and USA through China, Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. You'll need to remember to consider currency rates and transfer times in order to get the best deal.

Opening a bank account in Singapore before checking out available options as regards both account packages and credit card rates is not a wise move, particularly as you'll need to match your lifestyle with your banking requirements. Cashback cards are a great idea if you’re planning to eat out a lot, and can save as much as eight percent globally, not just in Singapore. The unique OCBC Arts credit card gives up to 20 per cent off theatre tickets for both international and national performances. Perks like these may seem unimportant when you first arrive, but they’ll save you money in the long-term.

Living within a local community rather than in the city centre is an obvious way to save money, but the cultural immersion you’ll get is well worth the lack of upmarket ostentation. Singapore is a melting pot of ancient cultures, all of which are fascinating and fun, and living in a local area also saves money on rentals.

The last thing on most expats’ minds is income tax but, like death, it’s unavoidable, even in Singapore. It’s not deducted direct from salaries, but regular amounts should be set aside for when the dreaded bill comes in. Spending the tax portion is not the best idea if you want to keep enjoying your expat life is this amazing city.
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