The Ultimate Digital Nomad Guide to Singapore
Are you a digital nomad visiting Singapore? Singapore is a beautiful country rife with lush, vibrant greenery and home to an extraordinarily diverse array of local wildlife. This small, yet prosperous city-state is home to almost 6 million people from a host of colourful backgrounds.
The diversity of Singapore’s citizens and other residents has allowed a rare and unique cultural identity to flourish. The country is especially famous for its rich, colourful, and extensive variety of both national and regional cultural cuisines, which makes Singapore the perfect place to visit as a digital nomad!
A digital nomad's guide to Singapore - Topics covered:
Should you visit Singapore as a Digital Nomad?
Despite its small landmass, Singapore nonetheless has a remarkable global presence. The bustling metropolis is a hub for commercial activity in Southeast Asia and the Port of Singapore ranks as both the top maritime capital of the world and the second-busiest port worldwide. Singapore also houses both regional and global headquarters for many multinational corporations, making it an incredibly central location for workers.
Singapore’s emphasis on building a technologically advanced society has also installed efficient infrastructure that is crucial for traveling workers. Mass transit is both easy to navigate and cost-effective and high-speed, reliable internet is ubiquitous on the island.
The somewhat strict nature of Singapore’s government and their emphasis on justice and even application of the law make Singapore extremely safe. Crime is low and even the most oblivious tourists have little to fear. Over 94% of Singaporeans express that they are comfortable walking alone at night, compared to a worldwide average of only 69%.
Which Language is mostly spoken in Singapore?
Singapore prides itself on the multiculturality of its citizens and boasts not one, but four different official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. The historic and thus national language of Singapore is Malay. The most prominent language by far, however, is English and it serves as a lingua franca for the country, thus making it the most useful language to learn for navigating Singapore with minimal hiccups.
What is the climate in Singapore?
Located just north of the equator, Singapore enjoys a natural balmy, tropical rainforest climate. Generally speaking, the island experiences regular temperatures in the range of 23 to 32 °C (73 to 90 °F) and sees plenty of rainfall. There are no distinctive seasons, although there is generally a wetter monsoon season that begins around November and lasts through February. Locals are familiar with a hazy period from July to October when air quality visibly declines as smoke from bush fires in Indonesia blows over Singapore.
When is the best time to visit Singapore?
Taking into consideration the annual patterns of rainfall and haze, there is a golden period for about four months between March and June that is perfect for a short-term visit. You can bask in the warm tropical sunshine without worrying about the tropical storms that necessitate Singapore’s extensive storm drainage system.
Is there a Singapore Digital Nomad Visa?
If you’re planning a trip to Singapore, it is important to note that the Singapore Arrival Card (SGAC) is a new requirement for entry established in 2019. It serves as an electronic travel document that replaces traditional paper-based Disembarkation and Embarkation cards. The application involves submitting the usual documents for identity verification and you can apply for an SGAC online.
Note that the SGAC is not a visa! It does not serve as a replacement for a visa and without one, foreigners may still be barred from entry. Generally, long-term residence, work, and pursuing higher education in Singapore require you to first acquire a Singapore visa. (Children on a Dependant’s Pass are free to enroll in K-12 schools.)
Singapore Visa for Americans
American citizens may freely enter Singapore without a visa for a maximum of 90 days. If you wish to reside long-term, work, or study, you must acquire a Singapore visa.
Singapore Visa for EU Citizens
Just like Americans, citizens of the EU are also free to enter Singapore for a maximum of 90 days. If you wish to reside long-term, work, or study in Singapore, you must acquire a Singapore visa.
Singapore Visa for everyone else
There are three large categories into which everyone else falls. Most other foreigners may freely visit Singapore for a maximum of 30 days and acquire a Singapore visa for all other needs.
Singapore specifically groups the nations whose citizens require a visa for entry into two groups—Assessment Level I and Assessment Level II.
Assessment Level I
There are 15 Assessment Level I countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan[TRYS1]. Holders of the Hong Kong Document of Identity for Visa Purposes and the Macao Special Administrative Region Travel Permit have also grouped with the countries above.
Citizens of these countries (and holders of those documents) may apply for a Singaporean tourist visa online called an eVisa.
Assessment Level II
There are 21 Assessment Level II countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. Holders of temporary passports issued by the United Arab Emirates, refugee travel documents from any Middle East country, or stateless persons have also grouped with the countries above.
Citizens of these countries (and other applicable persons) may apply for a paper tourist visa through a Singaporean embassy or consulate abroad or an authorized local visa agent.
Singapore has its own currency—the Singapore Dollar (SGD or, locally, S$). Like most other developed nations, Singapore does not accept any foreign currencies for normal use.
Against the USD
At the time of writing, the US dollar trades at about 1:1.39 against the Singapore dollar. US$100 = S$139.
Against the Euro
At the time of writing, the Euro trades at about 1:1.47 against the Singapore dollar. €100 = S$147.
What are the best neighborhoods to stay in Singapore?
Low-Cost Neighbourhoods in Singapore
Generally speaking, the cheapest areas to rent a place to stay in Singapore are:
Bukit Panjang, Woodlands
Choa Chu Kang
They’re more out of the way relative to other neighborhoods make downtown more accessible but they’re quiet and still have plenty of nearby cafés or other workspaces.
Middle-Upper Class Singapore Neighbourhoods
The most expensive districts in Singapore tend to be more centrally located. They’re typically both more swanky and more convenient, but of course, that can make prices skyrocket:
Central Singapore (CBD)
The above neighborhoods are all popular because they’re close to downtown and the National University of Singapore. Perhaps the best value-for-money neighborhood is Kallang, offering easy access to the city center and logical prices.
What is the average rent price for a studio or 1-bed apartment in Singapore?
The average rent for a studio apartment on Airbnb is about S$140, whereas the average rent for a single bedroom AirBnB is S$90 per night. A single bedroom can go for as low as about S$50 per night.
Is Singapore Safe?
Singapore is one of the safest cities in the world, consistently ranking as one of the top 5 safest cities on the Safe Cities Index. In fact, until the recent addition of environmental safety in the face of climate change as a metric, Singapore was regularly ranked as the second safest city in the entire world. The Safe Cities Index considers a wide variety of parameters such as digital, health, infrastructural, personal, and now environmental security.
What is the plug type in Singapore?
Most power plugs and sockets in Singapore are type G and have a standard voltage of 230V and a standard frequency of 50Hz. This is the same type of plug as that used in the United Kingdom and remains the standard in former territories such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.
What is the internet speed in Singapore?
It’s generally quite feasible to source an internet connection that is both reliable and fast in Singapore. The median broadband download speeds in Singapore are about 200 Mbps and upload speeds run around 160 Mbps, with a median latency of 4ms.
What are the best coworking places in Singapore?
Coworking spaces are typically meant for remote workers, but sometimes start-ups or small businesses that don’t require a lot of floor space also take advantage of their offerings. Generally speaking, you’ll rent out blocks of time and a specific desk or another work area. Most coworking spaces also provide a slew of amenities like free high-speed internet connections, food and beverages on-site, and sometimes recreational or communal activities and spaces. There’s such a wide variety of offerings that it’s quite possible to find one that provides for your specific needs.
JustCo is a network of coworking spaces that are all accessible by all members. In Singapore alone, they have several centrally located coworking spaces that make it extremely convenient for members on the move. Their membership terms are also flexible, which is helpful for the average digital nomad, starting at S$398 per month.
Distrii is another popular coworking space in Singapore. They have only one location in Singapore, but it is very central, sitting at Republic Plaza 1 near Raffles Place. A hot desk at Distrii starts at S$400 per month.
WeWork designs fairly consistent coworking spaces across their various locations, emphasizing glass walls to maximize light flow for a comfortable working environment. Workers who move around between countries might want to consider their All-Access pass that literally grants you access to multiple locations worldwide.
The Great Room believes they’ve nailed down what makes a good working environment, and they aim to provide every element it can—including a beautiful workspace that is both inspiring and good for productivity. They believe an excellent workspace should cater to both thinking and communicating. A hot desk at The Great Room starts from S$750 monthly.
The Hive prides itself on customer service and they keep an on-site community manager present to address any pressing needs or concerns of its guests. They also have an incredible rooftop bar at their Carpenter location that makes for a great space to socialize and network. A hot desk at The Hive starts from as low as S$250 per month.
What are the best cafes to work remotely in Singapore?
Singapore is full of comfortable cafés with delicious food and beverages that do an excellent job of highlighting the rich flavors of local Singaporean cuisine. Many are fully equipped with high-speed WiFi with the expectation that a lot of their customers will be students or workers stopping to grab a bite because Singapore is such a bustling metropolis.
This coincidentally suits the needs of digital nomads perfectly. It’s a common practice to park yourself at a café and grind out some work with a hot coffee to keep you focused. The following cafés are especially popular hotspots for workers on the move and you should definitely give them a try if you need a place that’s good for working. There are literally dozens of other options no matter where in Singapore you are so if these don’t work out, you should experiment!
Interestingly, Genius Central is positioned somewhere between a café and coworking space. They have a rich menu that showcases plant-based or organic foods where possible. Unlike just about every other café, you can book dedicated work areas in the café that come with high-speed internet access and a dedicated workstation, but you’ll have to pay per hour of course to ensure that the tables are actively being used.
Located in the popular Holland Village, d’Good café offers a wide variety of specialty coffees and teas and vibrant cocktails so you have something to sip on while you work. They also serve an array of light food items to keep you energized and your brain running at full capacity.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter because that’s how you like to work, Atlas is a great destination. Their coffeehouse is well known for their delicious coffees and breakfast foods and early birds will be especially grateful for their 8AM opening times.
The Ritual is another quiet coffeehouse that opens its doors early for all the morning people out there. Their simple and clean menu compliments the comfortable, minimalist space that is just excellent for some peaceful work.
Grids is a café located in Chinatown that has an attached community space meant for all manner of events called Flex. They specifically invite workers to come and try using Grids as a workspace but require a minimum spend of S$30. You can also bulk purchase sessions for future use if you really enjoy what they have to offer.
What are the best Co-Living Spaces in Singapore?
A co-living space is basically an apartment, usually centrally located, that usually comes furnished along with amenities (that may be optional depending on the specific co-living company). They’re typically meant to be temporary living spaces—usually for traveling businesspeople, so many run on a month-to-month lease. Depending on the space, it’s a common expectation that you’ll have a private room but probably have to share a living area, kitchen, or even a bathroom.
Cove’s founders started building Cove after numerous frustrated experiences as renters. Their vision as a company is to make comfortable, usable urban living spaces that are affordable and stylish. They believe that the experience of renting a living space should be smooth and painless. The cheapest living spaces available under Cove run for just under $1000/month.
The vision at hamlet is to provide fuss-free co-living options that allow you to make your living space work for you. Every possible option is as adjustable as possible so that you pay for the exact services you want, down to how much furniture you need. Except for cleaning—that’s a default service with Hmlet.
Commontown is another coliving space that provides as straightforward and painless a process as possible. They also encourage members to build relationships with each other and provide opportunities for communal socializing as part of their service.
Just as their name suggests, MyPoshPad is luxurious living embodied. If you’re drawn in by class and beautiful aesthetics, you’re definitely going to want to take a look at the options MyPoshPad provides. Fair warning, their glamorous spaces cost more than a pretty penny (over $7,000/month at the minimum).
What are the must-do activities in Singapore?
As far as fun activities, it’s hard to find a city that’s livelier and more welcoming than Singapore. The entire island is littered with diversions that are fun for just about anyone. Whether you’re looking for something family-friendly or a little more mature, there’s definitely something enjoyable to experience. The shortlist below barely scratches the surface of what’s available and doesn’t even cover the huge array of exciting experiences offered by local businesses.
Gardens by the Bay
Perhaps one of Singapore’s most famous attractions, the Gardens by the Bay is a testament to Singapore’s moniker as the Garden City. They’re an unforgettable dedication to the natural beauty of Singapore and its lush wildlife and the biodiversity of the tropics. Towering, almost alien structures house some of the tallest vertical gardens in the world and every square inch of space is covered in greenery and flowers of literally every color.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the botanic gardens are not to be missed; they are the only tropical garden in the world to have been granted the status. There is little question that their establishment was the first great milestone along Singapore’s colorful path toward becoming known as the Garden City, but the gardens also serve another function as a pioneer in the practice of orchid cultivation—a tribute to Singapore’s national flower, the hybrid climbing orchid the Vanda Miss Joaquim.
Located in central Singapore, Orchard Road is a major hub known worldwide for its upscale shops, including numerous luxury brands. The entire street bustles with activity from dawn, constantly luring throngs of shoppers from every corner of Singapore and, indeed, many other countries. Orchard is well known for its unique architecture and the numerous malls that decorate the street.
Ever wanted to visit a theme park on an island? Now you can. Sentosa is probably Singapore’s top destination for family fun and it’s home to a variety of activities that appeal to the young (or the young at heart), such as the S.E.A. Aquarium, Universal Studios Singapore, and the Trickeye Museum. There’s enough fun on the small island for several days of activities and it’s connected to the mainland by a short walkway and train system that are both actually quite enjoyable experiences by themselves.
The National Gallery
More formally known as the National Gallery Singapore, the National Gallery is home to the largest public collection of Southeast Asian art, boasting over 9,000 items. It is an unmissable experience for art and history enthusiasts and highlights much of the history of not just Singapore, but its neighboring Southeast Asian nations.
Clarke Quay is a riverfront district in Singapore that’s famed for its nightlife. The waterfront is home to an array of thriving nightclubs and bars that come to life in the wee hours of the night. The party doesn’t stop until the sun comes up in Clarke Quay and it’s a must-try experience for adults looking to let their hair down.
Final thoughts on living in Singapore as a digital nomad
For the digital nomad, Singapore’s a top-tier city. Everything you need to get your work done is very accessible and for the most part, very cost-effective. There are plenty of recreational activities, and unbelievably delicious food, entry into Singapore is fairly easy, and the presence of so many large companies makes it very easy to find work within Singapore itself. Not to mention the beautiful and consistent tropical weather. With so much to offer and so little to lose, why not take a chance on Singapore?