Singapore #

Singapore is an island nation located in Southeast Asia and is known as the financial center of Asia. Singapore’s major industries include finance, aviation, technology, pharmaceuticals, and business services. Singapore is home to Chinese, Indian, Malay and other ethnic groups. The official language is English, but most people also speak Chinese, Malay or Hindi.

Singapore’s level of acceptance towards the LGBTQA+ community is not considered high. It was only in mid-2022 that Singapore decriminalized male same-sex sexual activity, while reaffirming in parliament that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman to avoid any challenges in that regard. The authorities also impose restrictions on the promotion of LGBTQA+ content, and public attitudes tend to lean towards conservatism. From certain perspectives, Singapore may appear to be legally open but still operates in a conservative manner in everyday life. 1

LGBT rights in Singapore from wikipedia

Transgender Resources #

Medical #

Singapore HRT Overview -

If you wish to bring in medications from outside Singapore, please check Bringing personal medications into Singapore - HSA. Specifically, as of January 2024, Singapore allows individuals to bring in non-controlled types of medicines for a period of up to three months. If the dosage is longer than three months or the type of medicine is controlled, an application is required, see Submit application for approval to bring in personal medications - HSA. It is also important to note that injectables are not allowed to be brought in.

As an international student, access to gender-affirming hormone medications is primarily through public healthcare, and more information can be found at Healthcare - TransgenderSG. Meanwhile, TransgenderSG also provides answers to frequently asked questions, such as document modification.

Organizations #

Based on feedback and cultural factors, it is generally observed that locals are given priority, which may result in limited support for non-locals. For instance, in the case of the T Shelter program, individuals who are not Singaporeans may face difficulties in accessing the training provided. 2

  • Oogachaga is one of the largest LGBTQA+ communities in Singapore, offering various services such as counseling, consultation, training, and social activities.
  • The T Project provides training, shelter, and other facilities.
  • Pink Dot is an annual LGBTQA+ celebration in Singapore aimed at promoting equality and inclusivity.
  • TransgenderSG provides counseling, consultation, and support groups, while also promoting awareness and understanding of transgender individuals.

Organizations providing assistance and counseling services:

If you encounter any violence-related situations, you can generally call the helpline numbers provided by the above organizations for consultation.

Education #

Both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are excellent choices. They have high international rankings and recognition.

In terms of academic difficulty, according to feedback from students, the level of difficulty is relatively high. Many students strive to achieve higher scores, leading to intense competition.

Costs and Finances #

NTU’s student apartments are strictly binary according to documentation. At the same time, the choice of housing is based on a lottery system, so there is a chance that you will be drawn into a single dormitory. A student apartment is about S$600-700/month. If you are renting a room, it is about S$800-1400/month. The price depends on the location of your school, e.g. NTU is more remote, while NUS is near the port and therefore more expensive.

If you wish to save expenses, it is important to consider participating in the monthly cashback program offered by the EZ-Link APP. This application allows you to earn up to 3% cashback on selected redemption items and is known as the application with the highest cashback available among Singapore’s stored value cards, without any preconditions. EZ-Link can be used for purchases at convenience stores or via a MasterCard wallet for transactions at POS terminals. However, it should be noted that not all places in Singapore support MasterCard/Visa payment methods. In hawker centers, it is more common to use QR code payments.

If your course requires compulsory internships, please carefully consider whether you want to choose a school with this requirement unless you are confident in your abilities to surpass local students, as local protectionism is strictly observed.

If the school accepts payment through Flywire and offers local payment options, you can choose to use your domestic Visa/MasterCard along with an international card to avoid high currency conversion fees charged by Flywire. If this is not possible, and if conditions permit, you can use Bank of China/Industrial and Commercial Bank of China for cross-border remittance between banks, which can waive remittance fees and provide the lowest exchange rate. Transfers are typically completed on the same day for morning transactions and the next business day for afternoon transactions.

For users from mainland China who wish to use CNY, it is recommended to use WeChat for daily expenses (with a lower exchange rate). It is necessary to enter the mini-program to obtain the weekly exchange rate card, and WeChat Pay is more widely accepted. In some places such as Food Junction, they refer to it as NETS QR. Please note that support for WeChat Pay implies the use of NETS QR payment, but not all NETS QR terminals support WeChat Pay.

For informal payments, except at the post office (where Visa/MasterCard are separate payment methods), using Visa/MasterCard contactless payment is referred to as Paywave.

Regarding physical banks, DBS/Standard Chartered does not have a minimum monthly deposit requirement, UOB/OCBC requires 1000 SGD, Bank of China requires 200 SGD, and HSBC requires 2000 SGD. Other banks are not recommended because although they may not have a minimum deposit requirement, they might close your account if your spending is insufficient after 6 months. The first deposit must meet the minimum deposit requirement, and subsequent failure to meet the minimum deposit requirement may incur a monthly fee of 2-5 SGD. OCBC exempts individuals below 26 years of age from transaction fees.

Living #

  • One downside of living in Singapore is the relatively high cost of living. You can gather more information about this through the consumer price index and other sources. Specifically, the cost of food, housing, and transportation in Singapore is relatively high, while the prices of entertainment and electronic products are relatively low.
  • There are many accessible toilets available in Singapore, so you don’t need to worry too much about this issue.
  • However, it has been reported that individuals from diverse sexual orientations and gender identities may encounter conservative comments and discrimination in society. Please note that this information is subjective and should be taken as a reference only.
  • Students with a valid student pass can enjoy a 50% discount on movie tickets at Singapore cinemas on weekdays before 5 PM (e.g.,, Golden Village).
  • [This information is time-sensitive] If you take a taxi late at night, unlucky drivers may insist on cash payment only. If you experience social anxiety, you can use Grab’s “quiet ride” option for taxi bookings.

Accommodation #

A significant portion of the living expenses in Singapore comes from rental housing. According to data, the average monthly rental price ranges from SGD 2,000 to SGD 3,500.

For new students who are unsure about accommodation options, some schools may recommend housing choices (excluding schools like NTU that have their own dormitories and offer lower rental rates to students). These accommodations often come with a binding condition of paying a high rental amount for the first three months. If possible, it is advisable to rent an entire apartment or studio with 2-3 people, which can help reduce costs to an average of 600-800 SGD per person (depending on the number of tenants). If you are renting a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat instead of a private residence, you will need to pay a stamp duty of 0.4%. Unless you are a Singaporean or Malaysian citizen (including permanent residents, PR), the maximum rental duration for the same person at an HDB address is 2 years. However, HDB flats, being managed by the government, generally maintain a higher quality. The minimum rental period should not be less than 6 months.

If you come across an HDB flat where the owner or authorized occupier is “not staying with the tenant,” meaning they are renting out individual rooms rather than living with the tenant, it is highly likely that the rental is illegal or involves a subletting situation. This is because Singaporean law requires the owner to supervise the tenant and all visitors must be registered in the HDB database. You can decide whether to report such cases based on your personal choice.3 According to HDB regulations, the flat owners and all authorized occupants must continue to live in the flat with the tenants during the rental period. If the flat owners and authorized occupants do not reside in the flat, the approval for renting out the bedroom(s) will be automatically revoked. These regulations do not apply to private residences.

Employment #

The issue of employment in Singapore is indeed challenging. According to feedback from a peer who studied at the mentioned schools, even with various internships, there is no guarantee of being able to stay in Singapore after graduation.

In Singapore, especially when considering the prospect of working locally, public universities are the preferable choice. This is because private institutions do not allow part-time work, and Singapore requires non-locals to have a minimum amount of work experience. Unless you can demonstrate a significant advantage in a specific project, it can be difficult to surpass local talents. Non-public university students only have one month after graduation to seek job opportunities.

The typical recruitment process is as follows:

  1. For hiring fresh graduates, recruitment websites limited to Singaporeans or permanent residents (PR), such as My Careers Future, are commonly used.
  2. For hiring non-fresh graduates, candidates are generally expected to have 3 to 5 years of work experience.
  3. It is challenging to find job positions for fresh graduates who are not listed on platforms like My Careers Future. If you come across a job posting on another website, it is likely to indicate that the company will not provide work visa application support.

In summary, employment prospects for fresh graduates may be challenging.

NOTE! If you eventually apply for a Work Permit for employment, please note that the applicant must not be in Singapore during the application process. Furthermore, in the current post-pandemic period, Singapore requires individuals to have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to apply for a work visa.

Acknowledgements #

  • The community life, employment, and education aspects of this article are provided by ❄️.
  • The medical and lodging portion of this entry was provided by Beiyan Qingmei.

  1. Transgender Healthcare Intervention Threat by Singapore Ministry of Education (in Chinese) ↩︎

  2. The eligibility for participation in this program is limited to individuals aged 21 and above, who hold permanent residency (PR) or Singaporean citizenship. This information is based on feedback from applicants, and I have screenshots of email replies as evidence. However, the actual need for such shelters among residents is still subject to further discussion. - ❄️ ↩︎

  3. Regulations for Renting Out Flats - HDB The flat owners and all the authorised occupiers must continue to live in the flat with the tenants during the period of rental. If the flat owners and the authorised occupiers do not live in the flat, the approval for renting out bedroom(s) shall be revoked automatically. ↩︎

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