5 financial tips for expats moving to Singapore

5 financial tips for expats moving to Singapore

Singapore is one of the most sought-after global financial hubs. Every year, many emigrants leave their native land to make the most of the economic opportunities in Singapore. According to the Department of Statistics Singapore, there are nearly 1.65 million non-residents out of a total population of 5.61 million people in Singapore as on 2017. These numbers have been increasing every year, making Singapore one of the most popular destinations for expats from across the world. A report published in The Straits Times has ranked Singapore as the world’s best expat destination for the third consecutive year. The findings are sourced from HSBC’s latest annual Expat Explorer report, which polled 27,587 expats from around the globe, including 476 foreign nationals in Singapore.

Considering the dominant presence of the expat community in Singapore, it is important that they are equipped with all the necessary information to survive in a place away from their native country.

Adjusting to the changes in a new country can be daunting, and you don’t want to end up with the added stress of dealing with financial issues. So here is a basic list of financial tips for expats in Singapore.

  1. Work on your finances in your home country

Depending on the length of your stay in Singapore, be sure to sort out your finances in your native country. Do you own property there? Are you going to sell it or give it out on rent? Decide on these matters before you leave for Singapore. In some countries, non-residents do not have to pay taxes, but the policies differ for different nations. In some cases, if you decide to rent your property, the resulting income might be taxable in some countries. So get a clear understanding of the tax-related legalities in your nation and settle all your finances. Also, it would be wise to look into your bank accounts and credit cards in your home country.

Check with your bank if they would categorize your account as ‘inactive’ if you don’t use it for a specified period. Find out the risks involved and make provisions to have at least one account active, so that you can make online transfers to this account from Singapore.

  1. Do your homework on our taxation system

The general perception is that the taxation system in Singapore is relatively simple as it does not involve capital gains tax, inheritance tax, etc. However, many people tend to miss the minute details and the terms and conditions binding on the taxation system. This perception could be an outcome of the fact that people do not have to pay as much tax as they would in some other countries. For example, for an annual salary of SG $100,000 you would have to pay about SG $5,650 in Singapore, whereas the in the U.S. you would have to pay about SG $15,000 or even more than that.

But, as expats, what you need to know is that there are many indirect sources of income that might be taxable. One of them is stocks. If your company has given you some stock options, then the earnings from those stocks will be taxable. If you plan on buying property, then you should be aware that foreigners have to pay an additional 15% in additional stamp duties.

  1. Have a good financial advisor

While you’re away from your native nation, it might get a little challenging to manage your taxes, investments, mortgages, and retirement planning. So, it is advisable that you hire a good financial advisor to help you manage your finances for the duration that you will be staying  in Singapore. You can ask your friends or colleagues to refer a trustworthy financial advisor. You can also do your research and understand the rules and processes in Singapore and use your prudence to choose a financial advisor.

  1. Avoid engaging with unlicensed financial advisors

Now we do recommend you to take financial advice from a professional, but that does not mean you seek advice from unregulated financial advisors. Many expats make the mistake of taking help from unlicensed financial advisors and become victims to scams. To avoid this, make sure you are aware of the investments you are making and don’t leave out everything to your financial advisor. Some of the commonly known licensed firms in Singapore are:

  • AAM Advisory PTE
  • Professional Investment Advisory Services Pte Ltd (PIAS)
  • Global Financial Consultants PTE LTD (GFC
  • Manulife Financial Advisers
  • Synergy Financial Advisers
  1. Pick a bank wisely

When it comes to banks in Singapore, you are usually spoiled for choices as there are over 100 renowned banks. But for expats, it is wise to have two bank accounts – one with an international bank. So that you can make your online transfers to your native country without using a non-bank remittance service from a local bank which could be more expensive. The second account should be with a local bank in Singapore; this could be the bank you use to avail your credit card and ATM card. Making withdrawals from a local bank account is a lot cheaper than doing so with your Forex card.

Also, you could choose a bank that could provide you with a global insurance policy. Many insurers tend to terminate your policy once you leave your country. So it’s best to opt for a global insurance policy.

So, these were some of the financial tips for expats in Singapore. We hope these tips guide you in making the right financial decisions all through your stay in Singapore.


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