The decision to move to another country can be exciting and scary at the same time, especially when you're moving with your children. While you want to choose a location that supports your professional and career goals, you also want to select a child-friendly location that helps your child achieve his or her full potential.
Singapore has been a top destination for expats for quite some time. It's a thriving international hub with top schools and family-friendly activities.
We often hear stories of people who planned to relocate to Singapore for only two years and then stayed for longer!
Here are some things to consider while you're still thinking about relocating:
[Information updated as of May 2022]
Singapore has relaxed most of its Covid-19 Safe Management Measures.
Expatriates can look forward to relocating to Singapore after obtaining necessary permissions and approvals.
Selecting a school is one of the most important decisions you'll make when relocating to Singapore. The right school environment supports your child's academic, social, emotional and physical development. With a good education, your child will learn essential skills that prepare him or her to succeed in the global economy.
Talk to friends or colleagues, search online or ask an educational consulting service to help you find the right school fit for your child and family. Here’s a broad overview of the schooling options in Singapore.
Prioritised for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents; expats can take the admission tests and try for admission
Mainly cater to international / expat families in Singapore
Local schools are known for offering a competitive education for children from preschool through secondary school. Ranked highly in maths and science, public school systems and teachers promote subject content mastery in a disciplined environment.
Each school chooses its curriculum and approach. Common curriculum pathways are IB PYP, modified Cambridge, Cambridge IGCSE, IB MYP, IB DP, and country-specific curriculum. Focus is largely on whole child development and globally recognised academic qualifications.
Common admission tests for primary and secondary
Different schools have different assessment criteria
Typically have a lower tuition fee
Vary from moderately priced to premium
Immerses children in local Singaporean culture
Introduces children to the diversity and different nationalities of the world
Typically about 40 students in a class with large teacher to student ratios
Typically smaller class sizes with lower teacher to student ratio
Typically the Mother Tongue Language (Mandarin, Malay or Tamil) is offered as a second language
Wider options of second languages
Singapore isn't massive, but most people still find it necessary to live close to either their office location or the school, particularly for young children. While you are still in your current country, you can research neighbourhoods online around your office location and the potential school for your children to get a fair idea of the residential landscape of the country.
The following websites would be of use for identifying potential areas to live in:
While Singapore offers many picturesque locations to live in, keeping the school commute easy for your children would be the best bet. So it would be practical to find a house or condominium within easy distance of your child’s potential school.
Private schools sometimes offer door-to-door school bus pick up and drop off for an additional fee.
The well-connected public transport system and transport services, such as Grab, Gojek and Comfort Delgro, can be used for travel to your office location. You will also have the option to rent or purchase a car to make moving around easy.
Start thinking well in advance about your entry approval into Singapore. Your employer will help you with some of the documents, but other documentation you'll be responsible for yourself. Due to COVID-19, some applications are taking longer than usual, so start working on these passes as soon as possible.
Please note that due to Covid-19, it is most likely your family will have to quarantine at a dedicated facility or your own home, depending on the country you are relocating from.
As the situation is constantly changing due to Covid-19, please check the latest travel guidelines at https://www.ica.gov.sg/ before your move.
To enrol your child in a school in Singapore, you'll need:
At this point, start reaching out to schools and attend virtual tours of the campuses that you're considering for your child.
Most international schools offer webinars where parents can learn about the curriculum, school culture, what the school looks like and more. Virtual tours are an inexpensive way to view what schools have to offer and also give you a feel for what each school is like in person.
Here are some key considerations to help you narrow down your search:
You can start reaching out to schools for details, ask friends, family and acquaintances for recommendations or join Facebook expat groups for other families’ experiences of schools in Singapore.
Once your relocation plans are confirmed, inform the school that your child is currently attending. The teachers and staff can help your child successfully wrap up classwork and prepare for academic success in the new school.
Your child’s teachers may also offer additional educational and psychological support before the move. Be sure to ask for transcripts, records and other documents that the new school may need.
Your child will need support during the relocation. Depending on their age, they may need help saying goodbye to their friends. Help your child with their farewells through virtual or real parties (whatever is allowed in the location you're planning to leave). Stay safe!
Today’s technology offers your child dozens of ways to stay in touch with family members and friends. They can use Zoom, Facetime, snail mail, seasonal presents and family traditions to maintain links. Young children may need help gathering the contact details of their friends to stay connected when they move.
Your child may feel more excited about the move when he or she knows details about where you’re moving. Access Singapore’s official websites and social media pages, local news blogs and local events pages to discover more about the country’s history, culture, traditions and weather. Expat Arrivals, Expat Living and SassyMama also offer helpful information that ignites excitement and relieves your child’s stress before the move.
As you prepare for your move, here’s a handy guide for essential services in Singapore during and post-quarantine.
Smaller supermarkets and mom & pop shops
DBS / POSB / UOB / Standard Chartered / Citibank / HSBC
Various international banks
Apps for information on public transport
International School Database
Planning and packing for an international relocation can be more complicated than a domestic relocation.
At this time, inbound travellers are required to quarantine in their place of residence or a dedicated facility after arriving in Singapore. It's good to have a plan for this:
Guidance on this issue changes regularly, as does the COVID situation in Singapore and worldwide. Find the latest and most up to date information at https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg.
Hurray! Your family has completed quarantine, and most probably, you would now be moving into a temporary accommodation or service apartment.
Now is a good time to start organising school visits in person and finalise a place to stay as well.
You can also start exploring the many attractions of Singapore with your children and start enjoying life in this beautiful country. (The Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and Sentosa are always nice places to start with!)
As you start exploring school options in person, think about the atmosphere and culture of the school for your child. A strong sense of belonging from the start will allow your child to settle into their new country and life. A dynamic school atmosphere keeps children excited about learning.
Here are some of the features you could ask the Admissions Team about:
An international school like OWIS offers a balanced curriculum combining inquiry-based academic learning with arts, physical education, cultural activities and fostering a value system based on kindness. Look for a well-rounded school because this can improve your child’s integration and pave the way for a smoother adjustment to a new country.
As a parent, you ultimately hold the responsibility for choosing the right school for your child. His or her opinion does count, though. Talk with your child about what type of school he or she wishes to attend.
Your child can take a virtual or in-person tour of potential schools, review the curriculum and academic requirements and consider extracurricular activities. If possible, select a school together as you increase your child’s engagement and excitement for this new opportunity.
The school you choose for your child will require you to complete and sign an application form, and there will be an application fee.
The school will also need documentation like a copy of your child's birth certificate, a photocopy of your child's and your passport, a photocopy of your child's student pass, a photocopy of your immigration status or visa, an employment letter guarantee and so on.
School requirements will vary, and the conditions will vary by grade level as well. For example, for IB DP admission, grade 11 students need two references from teachers.
Now that you’ve finalised a school, it’s time to look for the perfect home for your family. Since you now have an understanding of Singapore’s neighbourhoods, you can actively start looking at homes through an agent or by following up on leads yourself.
Until you’re eligible to buy a home as a Permanent Resident, you can rent HDB housing, a condominium unit or an independent house from a private landlord. These could be furnished or unfurnished.
Rentals would vary depending on the number of rooms, the amenities and the neighbourhood. Typically, a security deposit has to be paid to the homeowner to secure the rental unit.
The student experience is incredibly important, especially in those early days at a new school. Family involvement means a lot when a child is adjusting to a new school in a new country.
From volunteer opportunities within the classroom to various events where family members are welcome, you can help your child settle in by becoming a school community member where your child is attending class.
Hopefully, the school you choose supports the learning community by welcoming parents into the classroom. You can contribute as much of your time as you're able - there's no "one size fits all" approach to participating in your child's school.
Ask the school regularly for updates about your child's progress. Stay engaged with your child's learning. If your child is struggling in one or more areas, find out from the school what they would suggest to make your child's experience better.
Join parent associations to make friends with other parents and start building your support network. You're going to need as much support as your child during this time!
Encourage your child to join extracurricular activities to help them make friends and feel more welcome on their new campus. All the while, help your child maintain links with their old friends in their old hometown. This old support network will help your child feel connected to friends and family during the transition.
One World International School (OWIS) has been nurturing children to become lifelong learners since 2008. OWIS is part of the prestigious Global Schools Foundation, a Singaporean, not-for-profit organisation that has earned more than 200 awards in educational excellence in less than twenty years. We're proud to be a member of the GSF and to lead the way in international education in Singapore.
OWIS has two well-designed campuses:
21 Jurong West Street 81, Singapore 649075
Block G, #01-04/06, 231 Mountbatten Centre Access through, Guillemard Crescent, Singapore 397999
Our moderate fees, which range between SGD 17,500 to SGD 21,000 per year, enable us to provide affordable education to all students, emphasising values, 21st-century skills and a child-first environment. That does not mean that we are compromising in any way in our curriculum or extracurricular activities.
We are also deeply invested in having an international staff of teachers, teaching resources and the technology that we need to nurture our students into well-rounded global citizens.
OWIS follows these globally recognised and inquiry-based curricula:
We believe in inquiry-based learning and whole-child education that builds 21st-century skills in children, such as inquisitiveness, collaboration, creativity, resilience and leadership.
We also offer special programmes, such as English as an Additional Language and a Chinese-English Bilingual Programme.
We're proud that our school supports multiculturalism and diversity. No nationality dominates our student body - each child knows that they are an equally important citizen of our student body.
Kindness is an imperative value taught to all of our students. To ensure that our school supports these values, we've hired a multicultural staff, including teachers from different locations, who all have different skills and experiences to offer to our students.
Technology is also an essential part of everyday learning. We provide a host of sophisticated digital tools to our students, including the most up to date hardware and software for classroom projects, research, homework and more.
For the convenience of our students and their parents, we utilise a fair and streamlined admissions process. While our academic year runs from August to June, students can also start at any time of the year.
Since many of our students come from far, far away, we know how important it is for each child to feel included and supported during their time in school. This is why we offer students a buddy system. We also provide a parent liaison officer for new families adjusting to Singapore.
Want to know more about One World International School? See what our Head Of School has to say on our website at https://www.owis.org/about/welcome.
Please schedule a virtual tour or contact our admissions team today.
Welcome to Singapore! We hope to meet you soon.