There are many things about living in Singapore that make it an attractive place to relocate with family – low crime rate, high standard of living, great schooling options, and one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world. However, as with moving to any country, there are balancing factors that may need extra consideration. Here are four that are frequently mentioned by newly settled expats and old hands alike.
#1 The climate can be taxing
Due to Singapore’s close proximity to the equator, the country experiences year-long summers with average temperatures of 24 to 34 degrees Celsius. While you may enjoy the warmth and sunny days – particularly those who’ve come from much colder climes – bear in mind that the heat can bring additional risks to your health. Common heat-related illnesses to watch out for include heat stroke, dehydration and sunburn, while the conditions can also be conducive to illnesses such as food poisoning.
#2 The cost of living is high
The high standard of living in Singapore can come at a price. You will find, for example, that opting to live your life here under similar conditions to those you’ve previously enjoyed in your home country can end up eating into your money. Property costs are among the highest in the world, for one thing! And, if you enjoy kicking back with a pint of beer or a glass of wine over the weekend, you’ll need to take account of the relatively high alcohol tax.
#3 It’s expensive to raise a family
If you have children or plan on starting a family when you move to Singapore, it’s important to estimate how much you might spend on this. The cost of raising a child depends on a wide range of factors, including where you deliver your baby, where your child goes to school, extracurricular activities, childcare and healthcare. It has been estimated that raising one child up to the age of 21 years can set parents back anywhere between S$200,000 to nearly S$1 million (Today Online)!
To offset some of the expenditure, find out if you’re eligible for tax relief and rebates. The main options here include:
- Parenthood Tax Rebate
- Qualifying Child Relief and Handicapped Child Relief
- Working Mother’s Child Relief
- Foreign Maid Levy
In addition to those offsets, having the right family medical plan can also help reduce the financial burden. Family medical plans are entirely customisable, with the option of including maternity and newborn coverage.
#4 Healthcare can be costly
Speaking of health, you’ll be in good hands with Singapore’s healthcare system; it ranks among the best in the world. Basic healthcare at public hospitals is affordable and sometimes even free for Singaporean citizens. Permanent residents (PRs) and Singaporean citizens have access to Medishield Life, a basic health insurance plan designed to offset large hospital bills and expensive outpatient treatments like kidney dialysis. Foreigners, including those on Employment Passes, are not eligible for this, and without subsidisation the prices can be hefty, especially at private facilities. For example, a private GP visit can set you back as much as S$200.
Top tip: Get health insurance!
Unlike the weather, managing the healthcare costs of you and your family is something you do have control over, and you should plan ahead for it before moving to Singapore. To find the best private health insurance that addresses your medical needs, you’ll need to consider the available options.
Private health insurance options
- Local health insurance: This covers policyholders in one country only, though some do cover medical emergencies that arise during short trips abroad. Every plan is different, though, so it’s important to read the fine print.
- International health insurance: This is a popular (but more expensive) option for globally mobile expats. The reason is simple: it covers you both at home and internationally. These plans also tend to have more comprehensive benefits, higher coverage limits and more options for pre-existing conditions coverage.
Comparing local and international health insurance
- Consider the insurer’s reputation: Do your research or talk to a broker before purchasing coverage from an insurer so that you have a better idea about their service and claims processing.
- Understand your options and needs: Are you looking for the best hospitalisation insurance plan in Singapore that covers inpatient treatment only or a plan that has comprehensive benefits such as dental and maternity treatment?
- Learn about your plan’s network of providers: Many insurance plans have a list of approved providers in Singapore to make processing claims faster. You can seek care beyond these, but sometimes treatments are only partially covered, or not covered at all.
Moving to Singapore and need some help?
The team at Pacific Prime Singapore have years of experience matching expats and their families with ideal plans for their healthcare needs and budget. For a quote or advice, contact them now.