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Family Life and Childcare for Expats in Singapore

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: June 2014

Family life in Singapore

Family life has been influenced by government policies over the last few decades in Singapore. Especially in the last 30 years, the government has adopted a lot of policies to stabilise the family unit. Unlike Hong Kong, Singapore has a good reputation with helping their citizens and permanent residents to own their properties in a relatively easy way. Financial help is provided to help people purchase public housing which is often in big blocks of apartments; roughly 80% of Singaporeans are living in such apartments. Many of these buildings are built with convenient daily living in mind as the first two levels are used as business areas for markets and shops.  

As Singapore is influenced by the Confucian culture Singaporeans are very family oriented, meaning many will go home and have dinner with their families after work rather going to bars or pubs. When a couple get married they may move out and establish their own home but it is still common for them to continue living with their parents, as this is convenient for them to provide care if it is needed.

Most families have dual working parents. Singaporeans are hard-working people and it is common to see them working from 9 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock in the evening. 

As an international financial centre, people all over the world come to the city-state to live and work. Singapore is now a mixing pot of different cultures enabling expatriates to settle in quickly without too much difficulty. Due to the family oriented way of life it might be difficult to build up social connections with colleagues after work. Many expatriates have suggested using local forums to set up connections, mainly with other expatriates. Due to the high level of expatriates in Singapore there are plenty of social groups to choose from.

Childcare in Singapore

Childcare services are mainly provided in childcare centres, although some parents choose to employ educated maids or babysitters. All childcare centres are regulated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). There are no free childcare centres and charges are set according to their own costs. The costs can range between a few hundred SG$ per month for standard childcare to a few thousand SG$ per month for centres that include enrichment courses. Singaporean citizens normally get subsidies from the government but being an expatriate, you will need to pay the full price.

Childcare centres normally offer services to children from two months to seven years old, at which children will go to primary school. However, childcare centres should obtain the Fundamentals Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education or the Certificate in Infant/Toddler Care to look after children below 18 months old. Services are quite flexible as you can choose full day services, half day services and hourly services. Children in childcare centres receive educational training through playing and lessons follow a national curriculum managed by the government.

You may decide to hire a maid to help you with the house work and looking after your children. Many expatriates prefer this as it is much cheaper than a childcare centre. Generally the monthly cost of a maid is SG$1,200, this includes a SG$700 salary to your maid with the rest going to the government and the agency.

To find a childcare centre in Singapore, or for further information about the childcare services in Singapore, the government website is www.childcarelink.gov.sg.



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