Information for International Students


Studying in Singapore

Singapore is a bustling cosmopolitan city of high-rise buildings, landscaped gardens and heritage-rich precincts. In fact, you would find that Singapore embodies aspects of both East and West in many interesting ways.

Located in Southeast Asia, it has a land area of about 710 square kilometers. Singapore's population stands at slightly over 5 million people, with English as the main language of instruction, and a mother tongue for each major ethnicity. One of the distinctly Singaporean things you will notice on our island is a collage of cultures. Coming together as a society and living in harmony, there are 4 major races - namely the Chinese (majority), Malays, Indians and Eurasians & Asians. Each community offers a different perspective of life in Singapore in terms of culture, religion, food and language.

As a reflection of its collage of cultures, Singapore has adopted 1 representative language for each of the 4 major ethnic or 'racial' groups. The 4 official languages in Singapore's constitution are English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Although Malay is the national language, English is the common language used for business, government and medium of instruction in schools.

The synergistic mix of ethnic groups offers international students a wide spectrum of choices for living and playing in Singapore. Studying in Singapore allows students to experience a unique social, cultural and educational exposure. Students can immerse in the rich multicultural heritage of Singapore and also enjoy the thriving arts and cultural scene. It is truly a vibrant cosmopolitan city.

Singapore has an excellent education system that enables students to realise their fullest potential and stay relevant in the current knowledge-based economy. It is a safe city with a low crime rate and a stable political environment.

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Singapore Laws

Singapore law is very strict with harsh punishments for offences which may be minor in your country but can attract heavy penalty in Singapore.

You may not know this, but our clean and green country is very strict on littering and most places are smoke-free.

For more information, please refer to or contact our Student Affairs Department at +65 6333 3888 or email for more guidance.

Relevant Singapore Laws especially those relating to Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM). This include, but are not limited to, immigration requirements, laws on driving, drugs and alcohol abuse, employment, smoking, traffic and littering.

Immigration All international students studying in Singapore must have a valid passport and a Student Pass from ICA.
Employment International Students are not allowed to work in Singapore without a 'Work Pass Exemption' from MOM.
Driving All drivers must be in possession of a valid Singapore driving license and the vehicle must be insured.
Drugs Possession of Controlled Drugs is presumed to be for trafficking, an offence which can carry the death penalty.
Alcohol Abuse Any Offence committed while being intoxicated (drunk) is punishable under the law. Drunk driving is a serious offence.
Smoking Smoking is specific public places and indoor restaurants is prohibited.
Traffic Jay walking is an offence.
Littering Littering, splitting and vandalism (with graffiti) in public areas are serious offences.
Other Areas of Singapore Law Please visit

Please Note: Ignorance of the law is no excuse to break the law, the responsibility lies on everyone to know the law. If in doubt, please check with the relevant authorities or seek legal counsel.


Cost of Living in Singapore

The standard of living in Singapore can be vastly different from the country you are from.

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Healthcare Services in Singapore

Singapore's well-established healthcare system comprises of private hospitals, public (government) hospitals and specialist clinics, each specialising in and catering to different patient needs, at varying costs.

Patients are free to choose the providers within the government or private healthcare delivery system and can walk in for a consultation at any private clinic or any government polyclinic. For emergency services, patients can go at any time to the 24-hour Accident & Emergency Departments located in the government hospitals.

Singapore's medical facilities are among the finest in the world, with over 11,500 well-qualified doctors and dentists, many trained overseas.

Primary healthcare services are provided by professionals - usually general practitioners and nurses - in the community. These healthcare professionals are often the first point of contact with patients, who can then be referred to medical specialists and hospitals for further checks and treatment. In Singapore, primary health care is provided through an island network of outpatient polyclinics and private medical practitioner's clinics.

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Student Accommodation

Choosing a suitable accommodation to stay is one of the most important decisions you will make if you are an international student coming to Singapore to study. You are advised to make arrangements for accommodation before you arrive in Singapore. There are several options available when it comes to accommodation, depending on your budget and personal circumstances.

The most common types of accommodations are:

  • Rental of Housing Development Board (HDB) flat/room
  • Rental of private housing / room (Landed Property, Apartments & Condominiums)
  • Rental of serviced apartment
  • Student Hostels


Rental of Housing Development Board (HDB) Flat/Room

The majority of Singaporeans live in HDB flats, which are government-subsidised housing. This is the most common type of housing for international students. They are abundantly located across the island in convenient, self-contained estates with plenty of amenities such as supermarkets, food centres, clinics, schools, libraries and MRT station. 

It is possible to rent a room in a HDB flat or the entire flat. A group of students can get together to rent a HDB flat and share amenities such as living room, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. You will be required to negotiate with the owner on the use of amenities like washing machine, cooking facilities, telephone, television, internet access, etc.


Rental of Private House/Apartment/Condominium/Room

You may rent a privately owned housing directly from the owner. Private housing is typically pricier than HDB accommodation and may include a swimming pool, gym, BBQ pits or tennis courts. This can be an expensive option, so sharing with fellow students helps to spread the cost.


Rental of Serviced Apartment

For those on a higher budget and who are staying for a longer period accompanied by family requiring the comforts of home, serviced apartments make a convenient option. These are comfortable apartments owned and managed by a property company and fully furnished like a normal home, but with hotel-style services provided such as house keeping. You will find a complete range of choices from the luxurious to the basic, from studios to penthouses, within the city centre or in suburban districts.


Private Student Hostel

Living in a hostel may also be an alternative. These often offer cheap housing from single to four-bedded rooms, with basic amenities such as meals, laundry services, TV and internet services. The added bonus is that you will be able to socialise with students of similar ages and interests.  You are advised to contact the hostel directly for rental charges.


Preferred Provider


Useful Resources



  • SMA has no special arrangement for housing services and does not profit in any way or sponsor any of the contacts listed.
  • Please check the quality of facilities and read the terms and conditions carefully before you sign any contract or tenancy agreement.
  • Make sure you have fully understood the terms and conditions/contents of the lease and have settled any uncertain terms with the landlord before signing the tenancy agreement.
  • SMA is not liable for any agreements made between the student(s) and the landlords/housing agents. International students will deal directly with the housing agents and hostels to find suitable accommodation. 
  • For more information on accommodation, please email us at


Click here for the Committee for Private Education's International Student Guide or visit for more information.