Settling In

In this section, you’ll find information on everyday living in Singapore and tips to help you get settled into you’re the local community quickly. You will also get information on everything from getting around, to helpful hints on eating out, and discovering more about how to be a good neighbour.

Feeling at home

Top Tips for Settling into Your Local Community

In multicultural Singapore, it’s easier to settle in than you might think. Here are our top tips for feeling at home, fast.

Top tips for settling in


Do you know that the Housing and Development Board, or HDB, has built more than a million flats in Singapore?

HDB estates in Singapore

The HDB flat has become a Singapore icon synonymous with quality and affordable public housing which Singaporeans are proud to own. Clustered into towns, HDB neighbourhoods are vibrant living environments where different communities come together. Today, 80% of Singaporean households live in HDB flats.

In void decks, lift landings and other common areas, neighbours came to recognise each other and make friendly exchanges a daily habit. They may have a chat after a day of work, discover common interests and hobbies, or share what they were cooking for dinner. As neighbours from various backgrounds interacted on a daily basis, they picked up helpful phrases in different languages, sampled the cooking of their friends’ families and came to see how other Singaporeans celebrated the rites of life and rituals of passage.

Living in HDB Flats

Community Living

When you move into a HDB flat, you join over 80% of Singaporeans who live in public housing, a quintessential part of the Singaporean experience. Here’s what to expect as you live among neighbours and friends, and some tips to help you ease into your HDB experience.

Tips for your HDB experience


Most major housing estates are conveniently connected to the city and other parts of Singapore by a network of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains, buses and taxis. Another rail system, known as the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system, runs within selected HDB housing estates and links residents to the MRT station in their estate.

Take a trip around Singapore

If you need useful public transport information on the go, visit MyTransport.SG such as for more information or download the MyTransport App (available on iPhones and Android).

Besides taking public transport, we can also cycle and walk to our destination. There are many green parks around Singapore, and the interactive maps at the NParks website help cyclists plan their journey.


Situated as we are at the crossroads of the world, you’ll find many languages spoken here. Helping us understand each other are four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English.

Learn about our languages

Learn more about the four official languages in Singapore.

Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, English

…and then there’s Singlish

Just when you think your conversation is flowing smoothly, your Singaporean friend suddenly uses a phrase that throws you off. What was that—Malay? A Chinese dialect? Or an Indian one? Chances are it could be any of those or even a mash-up of all. When you’re in a society that’s as much of a ’salad bowl’ as we are, it’s not surprising that the language takes on a life of its own. In Singapore, Singlish is the mainstay of casual talk, a frequent source of amusement and a sure-fire way to break the ice with locals.

However, don’t let the lingo let you down — the use of Standard English is expected in formal situations. Get on board the Speak Good English movement to communicate effectively in a global setting.


Know your “lah” and “leh”

Singlish, or English infused with Chinese dialects, Mandarin, Malay and Indian languages, is a unique product of Singapore’s multi-cultural environment. It baffles visitors but is endearing to locals. Whether in a hawker centre, on the MRT or in local neighbourhoods, Singlish is the informal language commonly used.

What are some common Singlish terms?


Eating is sometimes jokingly referred to as Singapore’s favourite pastime, and for good reason! Food is a big part of our national identity, and living in multicultural Singapore means we can enjoy a variety of  cuisines.

Eating in our hawker centres

Eat like a local

Whether you’re new to hawker centres or an old hand at queuing, get to know Singapore’s food culture better through these quirky local practices.

Understanding our food culture


Schooling in Singapore is compulsory for Singaporean children aged six up to 15. In school, students have good educational opportunities, both within and outside the classroom.
Our schools play a big role in inculcating values and building competencies in our students to develop them into good individuals and useful citizens. As students understand and respect the customs and traditions of the many different races and faiths in Singapore, they appreciate Singapore’s socio-cultural diversity and strive to preserve our social harmony. There are festivals to celebrate and also learning journeys to cultural heritage sites, making them a fun part of school life. One example is the annual Racial Harmony Day on 21 Jul, when students reflect on and celebrate Singapore as a harmonious society built on a rich diversity of cultures.
Visit the Ministry of Education website to learn about the educational opportunities available for your child and admission requirements for our national schools. For an overview of educational options in Singapore, including foreign-system schools and privately funded schools, visit Education in SG.

Studying in Singapore 

Law & Order

Singapore’s unique multicultural harmony and stability are valued by its people. The principles of the rule of law and fairness to all are key pillars of our society.

The Supreme Court 
Drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder carry the death penalty, while other serious offences such as armed robbery carry long prison sentences. Other laws protect the environment, maintain racial and religious harmony, and govern the proper use of computers and the Internet. All of us can pay our part to ensure continued peace and stability by being law-abiding.

Last updated on 05 April 2021