10+ Challenges You'll Face in Singapore as Foreign Worker

Living in a foreign country with better pay is one of the best ways to kick - start your career, especially from a 3rd - World country that pays less and insufficient income to support your daily expenses. One good example is "Singapore," once a developing country, but now in just one generation one of the Asian Tiger economy based on labor and external trade - it's totally mind-blowing! It is also considered a global hub by many sectors such as education, finance, technology, human, capital, health, and many more. 

However, with this country's bountiful opportunity and good life to offer. There will always be barricades and challenges you will face as a foreigner in this country. You will also need to know the culture, religion, behaviors and much more to fit in and live in harmony. As a foreign worker here in Singapore, here are some of the following challenges that you might encounter:

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#1 Multiracial & Multicultural Population

As estimated last July 2017, Singapore has a population of nearly 5,888,926. The majority of the population is Chinese ethnic 76.2 percent, Malaysian 15 percent, and ethnic Indians 7.4 percent. You can also see Eurasian in Singapore making it a multiracial and multicultural country (2010 est). 

#2 Language Diversity

Based on the Singapore Demographic Profile 2018, the island country uses nearly 10 + languages. Mandarin is the most common language with 36.3 percent; English is 29.8 percent; Malay is 11.9 percent; Hokkien is 8.1 percent; Cantonese is 4.1 percent; Tamil is 3.2 percent ; Teochew is 3.2 percent ; other Indian languages are 1.2 percent ; other Chinese dialects are 1.1 percent ; and others are 1.1 percent (2010 est). Although most people speak Singapore English "Singlish" because of the hard accent, it's pretty hard to understand. Mandarin is the common language here.

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#3 Multiplicity of Religious Traditions

In Singapore, Buddhist has the largest population of 33.9 percent, Muslims 14.3 percent, Taoist 11.3 percent, Catholic 7.1 percent, Hindu 5.2 percent, other Christian religions 11 percent, other 0.7 percent and none 16.4 percent. People who have no religion considered themselves free - thinkers. As a tourist, you should be more careful about one that might be natural in your country, perhaps offending here.

#4 Cost of Living is Expensive

If you came from a third world country, the cost of living will be quite challenging for you. In my country, the Philippines, 1 Singaporean dollar is equivalent to 38.25 Philippine Peso. That means living here is much more expensive, especially for food, accommodation, and transportation.

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#5 Urban Population is 100% in Total Population

Yes, you heard correctly that Singapore is completely urbanized and that there are absolutely no rural areas. The country has a total land area of 721,5 square kilometers or 278,6 square mi not even close to Philippine, which is my home country with a total land size of 300,000 square kilometers. The addition of the Metro Manila population to Quezon City is roughly the same with Singapore.

#6 Transportation

People usually use EZLink Card for public transportation such as buses, MRT's and LRT's. You can top up the card thru 7-eleven, convenience store or MRT/LRT stations. Using the Grab / Uber app will cost you a lot in Singapore. Public transportation doesn't accept paper bills, so you should pay an exact coin amount or they won't be able to give you the change.
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#7 Quota to Hire Foreign Workers

Job hunting in Singapore is also elusive for foreigners as they have a quota for foreign workers. Each company should apply to the employee at the Ministry of Manpower for Work Permit / SPass / EPass. Some companies do not have a quota for foreigners so they are not allowed to hire foreign workers. If you are looking for a job in Singapore, please check this: 10 + Tips How to get a job for foreigners in Singapore. Work passes need to be renewed and is mostly contractual.

#8 Renting an HDB Flats

Foreigners are allowed to rent HDB flats by 2019 for up to two years, but previously it was only for 18 months excluding Malaysians. You can not buy HDB apartment as foreign workers, as this is meant only as subsidized housing for Singaporeans and PR's (Permanent Residents). Public housing is managed for only 99 years by the HDB (Housing and Development Board) under temporary leasehold. These housing developments are publicly governed and developed. 

#9 Humid Weather

Singapore is an island city-state off southern Malaysia with a tropical climate. But not like the Philippines, which is a tropical country as well. The weather in Singapore is humid, the air is dry, which causes dry skin and lip. When going outside, you should always put moisturizer and sunblock. I'm experiencing this personally. After a few days of staying here, I got my lips chapped so make sure you stay hydrated.

#10 Health Issues for Elders

One of the biggest issues Singapore is tackling is poor health among the elderly. The most common health issue is diabetes that affects almost 1/3 of those over 60 years of age, which can lead to disease ranging from kidney failure, heart disease, and more.

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#11 Eating Outside is Costly

Eating at restaurants and fast food here in Singapore is costly. For example, Jollibee in the Philippines, if you buy 1 pc of chicken rice meal + fries it will only cost you Php. 99.00 pesos or 2.50 SGD but here it will cost you around 6-7 SGD so if you are on a tight budget, it's better to cook and prepare your own meal. 

Data References:  

Singapore Demographic Profile 2018 via 
The Strait Times Singapore via


  1. Edgar Banggulan OntoyApril 3, 2019 at 7:09 PM

    Good luck bro....

  2. Edgar Banggulan OntoyApril 5, 2019 at 8:29 AM

    Kumuha ako ng idea sa mga places na napuntahan mo na para pupuntahan ko din in the near future. hehehe

  3. Hehe nice, medyo kunti pa nga lang ang mga travel blog ko need ko pa damihan. Salamat bro sa support hehe

  4. Edgar Banggulan OntoyApril 7, 2019 at 5:09 PM

    dadami din yan..hindi nanga mabilang sa kamay ko eh. hehehe