New Australian Expat’s Guide to Singapore

It’s a brand new year, you’ve landed in the ‘Lion City’ of Singapore on your Australian Expat journey and it’s time to start exploring how you can make the most of living and working in this city state.

Let me first tell that that you’ve made an excellent first choice and deserve a pat on the back…and that’s the choice to move to Singapore.

There are currently over one million Australian expats living and working all over the globe, and approximately 25,000 of these are living in Singapore. With the diverse travel opportunities from this Asian hub to the incredible dining options and low tax rates, it’s no wonder that Singapore remains an attractive destination, and was in fact voted #1 in 2018. You can read more about this here.

Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience, particularly if you’ve not lived outside of Australia before. This can often mean living away from family and friends, and having to create a whole new network from scratch. Not only this, but it means finding the grocery store, how the public transport system works, what sporting and social activities are available and even the basics of how to set up a bank account and a credit card.

Having the pleasure of working closely with a wide range of Australian expats who have made the jump to Singapore, from those who have just landed, to those who’ve been Australian expats for decades. It is by drawing on their experiences, as well as my own, that I have put together the following checklist of my top eight tips to ensure that you too can make the most of your time abroad.

After all, it’s often much faster and less costly to learn from the mistakes of others, rather than having to go through the ordeal of making them yourself.

1. Update your contact details with your bank and stockbroker

Once you’ve found your new home in Singapore, ensure that you get in touch with your Australian banks to provide them with your overseas address. If they state that you can’t have an overseas address, consider having the postal address as a friend or family member’s home in Australia, but ensure your account address is in Singapore.

It’s important that they withhold the right amount of tax on any interest earned on your savings in Australia. You can read more about withholding tax for Australian expats in my recent article here. It’s also important that you tell your financial planner or stockbroker in Australia that you are living offshore and ensure that they have your overseas address. Any unfranked dividends that are paid by Australian companies also incur withholding tax.

You can find out more about withholding tax for Australian expats in my recent post here.

2. Set up your superannuation / retirement savings strategy

Working as an Aussie expat in Singapore will typically mean that your employer is no longer contributing to your superannuation fund. To put this in perspective, if your salary in Australia is A$150,000, then this would mean that A$14,250 is no longer being contributed to your long-term retirement savings. You should therefore consider how you will continue to save for your retirement while you’re living in Singapore.

After all, a two-year plan to live and work in Singapore, can quickly turn into six, which could also mean you spend the next decade or more here, and this can be quite devastating for your retirement if you’re not saving while you’re working abroad.

3. Get involved with the Australian networks

Living and working in Singapore can often mean that you start to miss certain things about life back at home. You will quickly find in Singapore that Australian expats are very open and happy to connect with like-minded people so building your new network of friends won’t be too difficult. The Australian and New Zealand Association (ANZA) and Australian Chamber of Commerce (AustCham) are great places to start to connect with the Aussie expat community.

You can check them both out at the links below:

For those who are on Facebook, get involved in the ‘Aussies in Singapore’ Facebook group, which will keep you abreast of key tips for Australian expats in Singapore and an instant community to connect with.

4. Ensure your family is covered with health insurance

Having the right private health insurance for you and your family is important as an expat. Private health insurance in Singapore can appear quite expensive, particularly when compared to insurance premiums in Australia if the Medicare levy isn’t factored in. There are a large number of international health insurers so it’s important to shop around and compare the features to ensure that you have the right cover in place.

5. Review your insurance cover in Singapore

For many Australians, personal insurance is typically held within superannuation, so it’s important that you review whether this cover is actually valid while you’re living and working in Singapore. Don’t simply assume that because you’re paying the insurance premiums your insurances will be valid. If you’re unsure of whether your cover is actually valid for you as a non-resident of Australia and you don’t quite know where to start, feel free to contact me and I can guide you through exactly how to check. After all, you don’t want to be paying insurance premiums for cover that’s not even valid.

It’s also important that your insurance is appropriate for your new level of income as well as any changes to your personal financial situation.

6. Review your existing shares and managed funds

If you retained any of your shares or managed funds when you moved to Singapore, it’s important that you consider any tax implications. If you haven’t reviewed whether a deemed disposal would be an appropriate strategy, you should discuss this with your accountant or financial planner to review the best strategy based on your own financial circumstances. If you’re not quite sure what a deemed disposal is but you do own shares or managed funds, then reach out to a financial planner and / or accountant to explore the best options for you.

7. Ensure that your guardianship nominations are in place

As an Australian expat in Singapore, it’s important that you have both a Temporary and Permanent Guardianship nomination in place. You can find out more about these nominations and how you can ensure they’re in place in my recent article here.

8. Try a Singapore Sunday brunch

As a new Australian expat in Singapore, you’ll quickly notice the quality of the fresh produce at some of the top restaurants and butchers in town. One of the best ways to ensure the quality of the food is one of the famous Singapore Sunday Brunches. With free-flow champagne and cocktails, it’s a good idea to set the rest of the day aside and enjoy the first class seafood and other delights. The W Sentosa and Kwee-Zeen at Sofitel are two excellent options on Sentosa that are definitely worth checking out. Garibaldi is also superb for a more intimate Italian dining experience with free-flow Prosecco.

One of the key attributes of being an Australian expat in Singapore is just how friendly the expat community really is. Everybody is open and willing to help having been through the experience of moving to a new country ourselves. Feel free to reach out with any questions you have, and I wish you a successful and enjoyable expat experience in Singapore.

To Your Financial Success!

Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner with Australian Expatriate Group of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd – No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

Australian Expatriate Group is a division of Global Financial Consultants in Singapore providing specialist advice to Australians living abroad.

To learn more about how we may be able to help you, please contact us:

✆         +65 8282 5702

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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.

*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.

Jarrad Brown is the trusted fee-based financial adviser in Singapore working with professional expats in the region. An Australian qualified and experienced Financial Adviser, Jarrad provides specialist advice to Australian expats as well as other nationalities.

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