The Biggest Challenge of Moving to Work in Singapore?

Moving to a new country to work is a huge challenge, we talk to those who have taken the leap…


Singapore has undoubtedly got an appeal for digital professionals across the globe.  With over a 1 million foreign workers, it’s clear to see the attraction for the growing expat community; from its tropical climate, exceptional cleanliness, minimal crime rate not to mention the incredible architectural icons and art spaces. We’ve shared plenty of articles on ‘Setting up a business in Singapore‘ and even a ‘Guide to living in Singapore‘ but over the coming weeks we will be exploring the real challenges of moving to work in Singapore from the people who have done it:

Jason, a visual & UI design lead originally from New York now lives and works in Singapore, here he shares his experiences:

What first attracted you to a role in Singapore?

I travelled to Southeast Asia for the first time about 3 years ago and it blew me away! It totally changed the path I was on in life.  When I returned to New York City, I thought to myself “What am I doing here? What am I doing in NYC that I haven’t done already?” I was so over the New York City grind. No longer was I consumed by chasing titles and salary. I wanted that balance in life that would make me feel alive again… make me feel the way I felt during my time in SE Asia.

That’s when I started looking at international opportunities and the more I learned about the region, the more I knew Singapore was the right place to be for me.

There were 5 reasons Singapore was so attractive to me:

  • One, English is the first language. Moving to a foreign country on the other side of the world is never easy so being able to relocate to a place where you don’t have to learn a new language was a huge plus and made the transition a lot smoother for me.
  • Two, the travelling opportunities! The idea of putting in a solid week of work and then hopping on a plane on a Friday for a short flight to escape into a completely different world, whether it was Thailand or Bali or Hong Kong or the Philippines, (you get the idea) was a travellers’ dream!
  • Three, the diversity. Singapore is unique in that there are multiple cultures that all come together. Chinese, Malay, and Indian are the big 3, but you also have a large expat community that comes from Europe, Australia and the USA.
  • Four, the taxes. Coming from NYC, I was used to paying a large percentage of my income to the government. However, in Singapore the taxes are so ridiculously low, that I had no problem taking less money to relocate to Singapore.
  • Five, the weather. Yes it can get humid at times, but I’ll take that any day over a cold frigid NYC weather. Summer is my favourite season and in Singapore it’s summer all year round

What is the biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge for me was definitely finding the right role. Singapore is not that big of a place, especially compared to NYC where the opportunities are endless. So I had to be really patient until I found the role that I felt was the right next step in my career. I started networking a lot on LinkedIn with recruiters and talent managers in the region and after awhile my network grew. I was getting to know the right people in the industry and at that point the opportunities began to present themselves.

How long have you been in the role?

I joined Grab in July of 2016 as their Visual Design Lead.

What advice would you have for someone else making a similar move?

Visit the region first and see if this is something you really want. The idea of just coming out here for a year is not going to fly. It takes about a good 4-6 months just to get a hang of how Singapore works. Plus companies are not looking to relocate talent just so you can try it out. They want a 2-3 year commitment at least so during the interview process you really have to sell how much you’re committed to spending time in the region long term.

Also, as I mentioned above, the taxes are very low in Singapore so this shouldn’t be a money motivated relocation. Instead, you should look at the high quality of life Singapore has to offer and the experience of living in a city with so many amazing destinations around it.

The Cogs SG team helped Jason to find his current role, they have a wide network of talent both local and foreign and connection with the most amazing businesses and agencies across the country. If you want a challenge and are considering a move to Singapore, then explore our live opportunities.


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