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Living in Singapore – Travel & Accommodation

For an international student to stay in a new country involves a variety of things to be taken care of. This is especially when living in Singapore is considered to be one of the most expensive places, given its high standard of living. From traveling to a new place to renting or buying an accommodation there, everything needs planning. So, while you travel to Singapore, it is important to make a checklist of what all you need to carry along and where you would live & eat. Given below is the plan you may refer to while making your own itinerary for living in Singapore.

Let us divide the total travel and accommodation in Singapore into two parts:

Must-Have International Travel Essentials Before Departure :

Pre- Departure Checklist

Before you leave your country on the day of your travel to Singapore, make sure you have the following things:

  1. Your passport with minimum 6 months of validity.
  2. Have the original documents intact such as your birth certificate, academic transcripts, awards, passport. If your documents are in your native language, then have them translated to English through a notary public or official translator.
  3. Carry your In-Principal Approval (IPA) letter, medical reports and other relevant reports.
  4. Take along sufficient local cash so that you can pay for your local travel and living expenses. It is advisable that you carry along a traveller’s cheque and a credit card.

What to Pack in The Bag

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Student Pass
  3. Passport
  4. Passport size photograph (35mm x 43mm)
  5. IPA Letter
  6. Flight Ticket
  7. Sufficient Cash
  8. Original and English translated copies of transcripts and other certificates. Sufficient amount of foreign currency along with credit cards.
  9. Suitable clothing, toiletries, bath towel, etc.
  10. Prescribed medication
  11. Writing and studying material

Other stuff to include:

  1. Sports items such as running shoes.
  2. Language translation dictionary
  3. Calculator
  4. Camera

What NOT to Pack!

  1. Any kind of controlled drug
  2. CDs/VCDs/ DVDs or any copyright material

On the Go and After Arrival in Singapore

At the airport

  1. Once you board the plane to Singapore, you will be given Disembarkation/ Embarkation form on the plane. Or, it can also be given at the Immigration Checkpoint at Singapore Changi International Airport.
  2. Fill the form and present it, along with your IPA letter and passport to the Immigration Officer.
  3. A portion of this form, referred to as White card, will be returned to you with your passport. You have to return this white card at ICA, while you collect your Student’s Pass.
  4. Exchange your home country’s currency with Singapore Currency at the Money Changer counter of the Airport.

Now talking about how to travel in Singapore. Getting around in Singapore is easy and convenient. You can take any of the following transportation services:

  1. Trains and Buses

Singapore’s train service includes MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and LRT (Light Rapid Transit), which is one of the fastest modes of transportation. You can also take up bus service to move around in Singapore on daily basis. Everyday commuters can get Ex – link card made. It is a thin, stored – value card which allows you unlimited travel for 1 or 2 or 3 days.

  1. Taxis 

They are convenient and easy, with electronic meters and air – conditioners. It can take you to places where train and bus services might not. The payment can be made by cash/credit card/NETS, subject to availability in each taxi.


International students can choose between two types of accommodations:

  1. On-Campus accommodation
  2. Off-Campus accommodation

On – Campus (Hostel)

Universities in Singapore provide on-campus facility to its international students. These on-campus hostels include Halls of Residence and Student Residences. But due to the shortage of these halls, in comparison to high demand, not all the students can opt for this service. Universities like NUS, NTU and SMU are termed as “campus universities”. Some of these hostels also offer a meal or two to its students at reasonable rates. You can also opt between compulsory and non-compulsory meal plan hostels, depending upon your dietary needs.

Off – campus

  1. Housing Development Board (HDB) flats

These are the government - subsidized apartments which an international student can take on rent for their stay in Singapore at an affordable price. Take the services of a housing agent to rent a flat. The rates of these flats would depend upon the type of room, location and condition of it. Though the average cost of renting HDB flat in Singapore is approximately between USD 1590 to USD 2022.

  1. Private Accommodation

It is of two types – private shared flats and buying your own flat. Both of these are the most expensive options. Renting a shared flat might cost you USD 290 per person per month. Buying your own flat would totally depend upon how much you want to shell for that flat.


  1. As maximum students prefer to live in the university’s hostel, it is advisable to apply for it as early as possible.
  2. In case you want to rent a private house, you can contact an ex-student or a senior beforehand so that you get a reasonable deal that too without much hassle.
  3. Reach Singapore before the commencement of the course in case you have not rented a house yet so that you can have an ample amount of time to search for a house.
  4. If you have someone known already living in Singapore, then you must contact that person to help you find a place to live in.
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