Retiring in Singapore | Local Spotlight

Retiring in Singapore

Singapore Provides Luxurious Living in Southeast Asia

By Tan Yi Zhou- Singapore Resident

Retiring in Singapore is something that a lot of people dream of. I've been an official resident of Singapore since early 2018 and I love living here.

I chose to live in Singapore for long term because of its high level of public safety and security, efficient public transport system and it's free from catastrophic natural disasters. So, if you are looking for a city for retirement, Singapore could be the one for you!

General Info about Singapore

Singapore is country located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in the Southeast Asia region. Other than Singapore main island, its land area covers as many as 64 offshore islands such as Sentosa (the largest of the offshore islands), Pulau Ubin, St John’s Island and Sisters’ Islands.

Singapore is better known as the “Little Red Dot” or “Lion City” which are often used in the media. Singapore Changi International Airport serves more than 100 airlines flying to 380 cities in around 100 countries. 

Singapore is also a free market, stable economy which attracts numerous foreign talents and enterprises to contribute to local economy. There are hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign direct investment in Singapore which is attributed to its strategic location, financial and political stability, and many other positive factors.

My 6 Favorite Things about Singapore

  • English is the main language used in Singapore. Basically, anyone who knows how to speak in simple English can adapt quickly and move around easily. Signs are written in short and simple English. You just need to ask around and you will find your way out if you are lost.
  • Free public WiFi is available at many locations. If you do not need to constantly make calls or send messages on your mobile phone, you can enjoy free public WiFi at many locations, from malls and museums, to MRT stations and public libraries. 
  • You can choose to connect to Wireless@SG WiFi network when you are in the public area. At Changi Airport, you will need to scan and verify your passport before you can connect to #WiFi@Changi network. At some shopping malls, free WiFi service is also available when you enquire directly at the malls’ information counters.
  • Efficient, well connected and wheelchair-friendly public transport system. Singapore’s public transport system is primarily made up of rail network and bus network.
  •  Bus fares typically range from S$0.73 to S$1.66, while MRT fares range from S$0.83 to S$1.95, for a single trip journey when paying with an EZ-link card. You can type in your origin and destination on “Google Maps” mobile application, and then Google Maps will recommend the fastest route for using the public transport system
  • Safest city for Personal and Infrastructure security. The Economist Intelligence Unit 2019 Safe Cities Index indicates that Singapore is the world’s safest city for Personal and Infrastructure security. On top of that, the 2019 Gallup Global Law and Order report ranked Singapore first on the list. 
  • On daily basis, you can see policemen patrolling different places. Surveillance cameras are widely installed in Singapore as well. However, I do not recommend walking alone in the dark or remote areas – better safe than sorry.
  • Strict restrictions on chewing gum, smoking, littering, and spitting in the public for clean surrounding. This could be a con for some but for me, it's part of what makes Singapore a great place to live.
  • Chewing gum, except for nicotine gum, is generally banned in Singapore since 2004. If you are caught selling chewing gum, you could be charged up to SGD 100,000. 
  • Smoking in public areas are only allowed at certain established smoking zones. Smokers who violate such rule is liable for SGD 200 worth of fine. Littering in the public could be fined for SGD 2,000. For people who spit or expel mucus from the nose in public, they could be charged up to SGD 1,000 for first offence.

My 3 Least Favorite Things about Singapore

While I would love to say retiring in Singapore is excellent for long-term, but there are something unfavourable which I believe most people living in Singapore will agree well with me.

  • A fast-paced society. Singapore is an international hub which makes it an attractive platform for talents from all over the world. With foreign talents competing for employment, local Singaporeans must remain competitive to emerge on top. 
  • Competitiveness requires more quality work to be accomplished within shorter period and utilising lesser resources. Consequently, this turns Singapore into a fast-paced society. According to the World Happiness Report 2019, Singapore is ranked 31st in terms of its population happiness level.
  • Children as young as three years old are already scheduled back-to-back “enrichment” activities because their parents would not want their children losing at the starting line. Working adults are nowhere better as they sleep the least and work among the longest hours in the world.
  • Buying property can be expensive. Due to scarcity of land resources, landed property is almost unreachable by average working-class families. The average asking price for resale terrace houses in Singapore would cost $1,675,000 and these terrace houses normally have 65 to 80 years of lease left. 
  • As a result, most working-class families would either go with HDB flats or private condominiums. A four-room new HDB flat would cost about $198,000; a four-room new private condominium would cost at least $1,020,000.
  • >>> Note that there are complicated laws around permanent residents and buying property. For instance, permanent residents can't buy new HDB flats but can buy private property. 
  • Strict rules and regulations. When you walk on any street in Singapore, you will notice surveillance cameras are being installed almost everywhere. Indeed, Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world. In exchange for such safety and security, certain privacy must be compromised.
  • Selling chewing gum, smoking, littering, and spitting in the public carry different amount of penalties. Other than that, vandalism and jaywalking carry heavy fines. Car drivers in Singapore must watch out for speed limit and red-light cameras installed along expressways and junctions. Demerit points and fines are tied to different tiers of traffic offences.

Things that Surpised Me about Singapore

  • Long-established building hidden in the modern concrete forest. When you are at Tanjong Pagar, Raffles Place or City Hall area, you will be surrounded by high-rise buildings. Reflective exterior mirrors, high first storey, classy lobbies, and many amenities are located within walking distance. 
  • For instance, you get to appreciate the beauty of the magnificent Marina Bay Sands and many financial institutions at Raffles Place. Within the same area, you also get to enjoy local delicacies at the Lau Pa Sat food court or known as the Telok Ayer Market. Lau Pa Sat food court is a historic building which was first built in 1824 as a fish market. It was then rebuilt and relocated to its current location in 1894. You can also pay a visit to Joo Chiat and Tiong Bahru for more historic buildings.
  • Natural greenery blending in the big city environment. On 11 May 1967, the former Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, introduced his vision of turning Singapore into the “garden city” through blending in more greeneries in the built environment and creating a clean environment for people to live a pleasant life. 
  • Today, “green” buildings are standing tall in the CBD area. Tree House, Oasia Hotel and Parkroyal on Pickering are excellent examples. On top of that, Gardens by the Bay is one of the most visited tourism spots where visitors get to witness different kinds of flora being planted and nurtured indoor. On the other hand, Singapore has made its effort in keeping its greeneries. You get to experience the wild and natural side of Singapore at Kranji Marshes, MacRitchie Reservoir Park and Pulau Ubin – just to name a few.
  • Shopping heaven for both big brands and bargain buys. Singapore has what it takes for you to indulge in shopping therapy. At Bugis Street, you will find a wide range of souvenirs such as magnets, silver accessories and T-shirts for you to bring home at reasonable prices. 
  • If you are looking for something more special, do pay a visit to Kampung Gelam nearby Haji Lane. If you are on the lookout for luxury items, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is a must-go. Over there, you will find Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Dior, Bottega Veneta, Boss, and many more. You can also pay a visit to Ion Orchard shopping mall which houses many branded stores.

Fun Fact

Singaporeans walk at a pace of almost 4 miles per hour.

Just try to keep up!

Is Singapore Dog Friendly?

Yes. Dogs are welcome in Singapore but you can't take them on public transportation and they are not accepted in restaurants. You are also required to pick up after your dog in public places. 

Also, if you're planning on bringing your dog with you if you retire in Singapore, there are certain breeds that are banned from coming into the country. Also, there are breeds that have restrictions such as required muzzles and obedience training. 

Banned breeds: Pit Bull, Akita, Boerboe, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Neopolitan Mastiff, Tosa, Perro de Prasa Canario and dogs mixed with these breeds. 

Restriction on these breeds: Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, German Shepard and related mixes, and also Mastiffs and related mixes. 

Foods You Must Try While in Singapore

The choices of local delicacies are overwhelming when you come to Singapore. So, I will recommend some of the mouth-drooling local delicacies to you. You definitely won't go hungry here!

  • Bak Kut Teh, or the pork ribs soup. Most of the Bak Kut Teh soup base in Singapore are made up of heavy taste of pepper and mild use of herbs like star anise. Pay a visit to Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh located at 7 Keppel Road, #01-05/07.
  • The other variant that you probably want to try out is dark and highly flavoured herbal soup originating from Malaysia. Pay a visit to Leong Kee Klang Bak Kut Teh located at 321 Beach Road.
  • Kaya Toast & Soft-Boiled Eggs. This is the one and only traditional Singaporean breakfast which is made up of two slices of toast with kaya and molten butter, and two soft-boiled eggs mixed with soya sauce. Pay a visit to Ya Kun Kaya Toast at most shopping malls.
  • Chilli crabs. Chilli crabs in Singapore are usually eaten along with buns which are dipped in the crab chili sauce. Pay a visit to Red House Seafood Restaurant located at 60 Robertson Quay, The Quayside #01-14. Other than Singapore, I prefer to cross over to Johor Bahru, Malaysia or Batam Island, Indonesia to enjoy fresh and cheap seafood.
  • Laksa. Laksa normally comes with noodles, a thick broth, and a variety of ingredients. There are three types of Laksa available in Singapore. Curry Laksa is the most common one in Singapore. Pay a visit to 328 Katong Laksa located at 51 East Coast Road. 
  • The second type is Asam Laksa which is more commonly found in Pinang Island, Malaysia. Pay a visit to D’Laksa located at the Century Square, #01-36. The third type of Laksa is Sarawak Laksa which is originated from Sarawak, Malaysia. Pay a visit to Gold Kolomee located at 205 Bedok North Street 1.
  • Oyster omelettes. An Oyster omelette is prepared by frying oyster together with eggs and potato starch. This dish is also popular in Taiwan night markets. Pay a visit to Fengshan Market and Food Centre located at Bedok North 85 Street 4, #01-49.

Fun Fact

You can be fined for not flushing a public toilet after using it and males are banned from having long hair.  

Retiring in Singapore

If you ever thought of retiring in Singapore, this golden question probably has crossed your mind more than once– how much monthly income do you need to cover during your retirement? A study in 2015 showed that only 60% of the respondents started saving for retirement at age 45. This study also showed that 65% of retirees, ranging from 60 to 69 years old, are not confident that their savings will last throughout their retirement. The remaining 35% of retirees are still working to fund their retirement years.

In 2019, there were surveys conducted on retiree households in Singapore and showed that $1,005 as the minimum monthly income for a retiree is more realistic number. With an annual inflation rate of 3%, this amount will grow to a staggering $1,820 after 20 years!

Although this number is incredibly challenging for most people to meet, you can start saving for your retirement starting from today. By making use of retirement income calculator or approaching financial planner, you will know exactly how much money to save monthly and feel more confident about your retirement. 

Cost of Living Chart for Singapore



Cost of Living Rank

43rd out of 534

1 Bdr Apartment in City

$2200 per month

1 Bdr Apartment Outside City

$1420 per month

Meal for Two, Mid-Range


Bottom Line 

If you aren't on a tight budget and you're looking to live in Southeast Asia, retiring in Singapore may be for you. The glitz, glamor and amazing cuisine might be calling your name. But if Singapore isn't right for you and you're looking for a cooler climate, Melbourne, Australia could be the place. 

Quick Facts about Retiring in Singapore






49 ft


Hot and humid all year long and often overcast. Average temps are from 76°F and 89°F

Flight time to U.S.

16 to 24 hours by plane to Los Angeles


Singapore Dollar

Retirement Programs


Retirement Visa

No. Permanent Resident Investor visa available but requires a large investment of $2.5 million. 

Public Transportation

Robust subway system (MRT)

  • Please speak with a legal representative in regards to residency requirements. 
About the Author Guest Blogger

Our guest bloggers are retirees or residents living in cities around the world. They're giving insider perspective to what it's like to live and retire in various places.