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Retire in Singapore Guide

If Singapore is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Singapore Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.
|-Retire in Singapore Guide

Singapore, a vibrant city-state located at the heart of Southeast Asia, has become a popular destination for international retirees. Known for its high standard of living, excellent healthcare, and diverse culture, Singapore offers a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences. However, retiring in Singapore also presents its own set of challenges, such as the high cost of living and the need to adapt to a new culture and language.

Cost of Living

One of the biggest challenges for retirees in Singapore is the high cost of living. The city is often ranked among the most expensive in the world. Housing, in particular, can be quite costly, especially in popular expat areas. However, retirees can find more affordable options in the heartlands or suburbs. Groceries and dining out can also be expensive, but there are cheaper alternatives such as hawker centres, where locals enjoy a variety of dishes at reasonable prices.


Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate with no distinct seasons. The weather is warm and humid throughout the year, with temperatures typically ranging from 25 to 31 degrees Celsius. Rainfall is abundant, especially during the monsoon season from November to January. While the lack of seasonal variation can be a downside for some, many retirees enjoy the constant summer-like weather.


Singapore boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world. There are numerous top-notch hospitals and clinics throughout the city, staffed by highly trained doctors and nurses. Many healthcare professionals in Singapore are fluent in English, which is a plus for international retirees.

Public Healthcare System

While Singapore’s public healthcare system is excellent, it is primarily designed for citizens and permanent residents. International retirees can use the public healthcare system, but they will not be eligible for government subsidies and may face higher costs. Therefore, many retirees opt for private healthcare or international health insurance.

Residency Options for Retirees

Obtaining residency in Singapore can be challenging for retirees. The most common route is through the Global Investor Programme, which requires a substantial investment in the country. Alternatively, retirees can apply for a long-term visit pass if they have a family member who is a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Singapore offers a wide range of recreational activities for retirees. The city is known for its beautiful parks, such as the Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. There are also numerous golf courses, tennis courts, and swimming pools. For those interested in culture, there are plenty of museums, art galleries, and theatres.


Food is a big part of Singaporean culture, and the city offers a wide range of dining options. From Michelin-starred restaurants like Odette and Les Amis to local hawker centres like Maxwell Food Centre and Tiong Bahru Market, there’s something for every palate and budget.

Learning the Language

While English is widely spoken in Singapore, learning Mandarin or Malay can enhance your experience. There are several language schools in the city, such as the British Council and Inlingua School of Languages.

Local Culture

Singaporeans are generally friendly and welcoming to foreigners. The city is a melting pot of cultures, with a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western influences. This diversity is reflected in the local customs, festivals, and food.

Meeting People and Volunteering

There are numerous clubs and organizations where retirees can meet people and get involved in the community. Volunteering is also a great way to make connections. Organizations like the Singapore Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity offer various opportunities for volunteers.

Housing and Neighborhoods

Most retirees in Singapore live in private condominiums or public housing flats known as HDBs. Popular neighborhoods for retirees include Holland Village, Tiong Bahru, and East Coast. These areas offer a mix of local culture and expat-friendly amenities.


Singapore has an excellent public transportation system, and most places are easily accessible by bus or MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). Taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab are also widely available. Therefore, owning a car is not necessary for most retirees.

In conclusion, retiring in Singapore offers a high quality of life, but it also requires careful planning and adjustment. Despite the challenges, many international retirees find the city’s vibrant culture, excellent amenities, and warm climate well worth it.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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