Singapore, the Lion City, has been one of the most thriving commercial and tourist destinations in Asia. No wonder a lot of people have considered this place as one of their top locations where they would like to work.
Singapore is considered as one of Asia’s most stable economic and business districts for quite some time now. So if you’ve been playing with the idea of working here, we have come up with a list of things every OFW should know before working in Singapore.
12 Things OFWs need to know when working in Singapore
- Singapore is a first-world country.
That, being only one of the many reasons why the Lion City is an ideal place for work, OFWs should also keep in mind that Singapore is well-maintained, clean and operates under strict and systematic governance. Sounds intimidating? That’s right. But the best way to go about it is to understand how this city works and be familiar with laws that regulate how the people living in SG should conduct themselves, most especially in public. There are plenty of rules to follow in the city, and first-timers should learn that breaking any of these rules would cost them a significant amount of money. Take note that even the smallest offences such as chewing gum, littering, jaywalking, and vandalism can easily be fined for hundreds up to thousands of Singapore dollars and could also be a legal ground for someone to be jailed or be made to serve time doing community service.
- Choose an affordable neighbourhood to live in.
Yes, Singapore is a first-world city, and yes, the cost of living there can be quite too much especially for OFWs who’re just starting out; but interestingly, there are places you can look into which offer a more affordable rent. Check out the East Coast area, as the rent there starts at SGD 3,500 for a basic condo unit and SGD 5,000 for a newer unit. Many expats have taken a liking to this area not just for practical reasons, but also because the place is near the beach and is surrounded with refreshing parks with lots of trees and greens. If that’s not really your thing, try going to the other side of the city- the West Coast area where you can also find affordable places to live in- rent also starts at SGD 3,000. This should be more convenient for those who are working near Jurong Industrial Town. And finally, to the north of the island, areas such as Tao Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, and Yishun and Woodlands, offer places to live in at prices starting at SGD 2,500. Although these areas are a bit far from the major city districts, Residents in the area can easily take the train via Orchard Road Station. These places are also quite near the Malaysian border where people in the area can get their daily goods at a cheap price.
- Singapore is a multicultural melting pot.
One of the main things OFWs should prepare for when working in Singapore is to learn how to deal with different nationalities. Of course, as in any part of the world, people from all walks of life can be found in the Lion City. So, for the first-time traveller, it is necessary to understand the people’s culture and way of doing things when visiting a new country such as Singapore. It helps if one can communicate with other people effectively, and know how to deal with others in different kinds of situations.
- Learn how to communicate using “Singlish”.
Singapore is a multicultural city, that being said, foreigners encounter a variety of languages used by the locals of the city which are English, Mandarin Chinese, Tamil and Malay. Historically, Singapore has been a colony of the British Empire that’s why English has been the most predominant language in the country. However, it is noticeably different and has been termed “Singlish” for Singapore English. Singlish is essentially regular English infused with some borrowed words from Indian, Malay and Chinese languages. This sometimes can cause confusion as Singlish is spoken casually and quite fast, so for the first-time OFWs in SG, it pays to listen very carefully when speaking with the locals and one shouldn’t hesitate to ask them to repeat a sentence to avoid any misunderstanding.
- Singapore tastes closer to home than you’d think.
There’s no denying that Filipinos are happy eaters. Singapore cuisine is composed of various dishes such as satay, Malay, Indian and Chinese- all of which can be found in local spots known as hawkers which serve these dishes at a cheap price. So, for the happy Filipino eater in SG there are plenty of different food choices they can try every now and then. There’s even good news for those who’re craving for good ‘ol Pinoy food, you don’t need to look too far, you’ll be surprised to know that there are nearby food joints which serve traditional Filipino dishes. Notably, a few big Filipino franchises such as Jollibee, Tapa King and Gerry’s Grill have also made their way to the shores of the Lion City. The most famous Filipino restaurant in SG is called 7,107 Flavours which come from the fact that the Philippines is made up of over 7,100 islands. If you’re in a festive appetite, why don’t you try their famous pit-fire roasted Lechon which comes with bountiful sides as in a Filipino feast.
- Singapore has a tight Filipino community.
Since 2014, there has been over 170,000 Filipinos based in Singapore and this number keeps on growing every year. Because of this, it’s not at all surprising to find a large Filipino community in the city where a lot of professionals thrive. It is also worth noting that a lot of Filipinos in Singapore belong to a church community. One of biggest Filipino churches in Singapore is the Cornerstone Community Church where a lot of Filipinos go to seek counsel and meet their kababayan. Moreover, many Pinoy artists and bands also hold gigs and concerts for their kababayan in Singapore. Truly, it doesn’t feel all too different when Filipinos gather together and do what they love to do back at home, especially in places such as the Lucky Plaza along Orchard Road. The Lucky Plaza is one of the most popular malls where OFWs love to hang out mainly because there are lots of Filipino items available in this place which are popular in the Philippines.
- Singapore is a shopping haven.
For those of you who often visit the country, you’d know why Singapore is well-loved by many tourists all around the world – it’s the perfect place to go shopping. Especially if you plan your trip around end of May up to June, you’d see a swarm of people flocking Orchard Road headed towards some of the biggest shopping plazas in the city. You’ll know what’s up – it’s the Great Singapore Sale. From peculiar trinkets to designer items, you can find the perfect pasalubong at a much affordable prices for your friends and loved ones back home.
- There are lots of Singapore holidays.
When you’re living in a country like Singapore, holidays are a big thing. This can be attributed to the fact that Singapore is a multicultural city. So, religious holidays are freely observed in the country.Some of the national holidays in Singapore are Vesak Day which is celebrated in May, Hari Raya which is observed in July and September, and Deepavali in November.
- Get used to the weather in Singapore.
Similar to what Filipinos have in the Philippines, Singapore also has two seasons- the wet and dry seasons. The thing with the Singapore climate is that it is affected by the Northeast monsoon which occurs in from March to December, this brings about rainfall around this time. However, the Southwest monsoon happens from May to September and this brings about drier, more humid weather during this period and also causes early morning rainfall. As the weather in Singapore can get quite extreme, locals are used to bringing light jackets and umbrellas to prepare for the unexpected changes in the weather.
- Singaporeans are known to be a highly analytical and straight-forward people.
Some surveys have shown that only 36% of Singaporeans express their emotions openly, while majority fall under the “stoic” category. This is quite opposite from how Filipinos as a race are known for. Filipinos value openness and hospitality which focus on dealing with how others feel. So it is not awkward to find some Filipinos being overly helpful and friendly towards others because that’s how they were raised and that’s the same reasoning that should be considered to understand Singaporeans better. This stark difference in personality types can be a common cause of misunderstandings so it’s important for OFWs to understand the kind of people Singaporeans are whom they will be working or dealing with on a regular basis.
- Paying tax in Singapore is a serious business.
Running a highly efficient city such as Singapore is no easy task and the government takes serious measures to keep it so. Of course, residents do have shared responsibility in the form of law compliance which includes paying their taxes on time. It is important for OFWs to understand how the tax system and the law work in this country so that you may be guided on the things you should invest on when living in this country because it could help you save up more efficiently.
- Different visa types are given depending on one’s employment status and field of work.
This is probably one of the first work-related things that you must know when you’re headed to Singapore. First is the Singapore Employment Pass (Singapore EP Pass), which is given to people who work as directors, entrepreneurs, managers and other skilled professionals whose monthly income is at least SGD 3,300. For those who are applying for a Singapore EP Pass for the first time, once granted, their visa will be valid for up to 2 years, but it has to be renewed after three years . There are also other forms of visa in SG such as the Singapore EntrePass as is usually applicable to foreign entrepreneurs who would like to put up a business in the country. The Ministry of Manpower of Singapore has released certain guidelines for this type of Visa grant so it is best to check with the department for more information. For mid-level skilled workers who are in the field of marine, manufacturing, process or sevice branches, as well as construction work who earn a minimum of SGD 2,200 per month, they can apply for an S Pass. Take note that there are separate visa types for domestic helpers, those who will receive their training in Singapore, as well as entertainers.