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We are so excited that you are planning to study at Tisch Asia. We think the following information is vital to your success:

  • Cost of Living

    Singapore has one of the highest standards of living in Asia. Costs of living can vary greatly, depending on your lifestyle. It is possible to live economically, for instance by living further away from the city centre, sharing an HDB* flat with two or three other housemates, using public buses or the subway (MRT) as your main mode of transport, and eating local food at hawker centres and coffee shops.

    Your monthly expenses would be significantly higher if you lived alone or in a condominium, lived in the prime districts close to the city centre, ate out at restaurants frequently, and took taxis most of the time.

    *HDB = Housing Development Board, a Singapore government agency which develops and builds high-rise apartments. The majority of Singaporeans live in HDB flats.

    In February 2010, students at Tisch Asia reported the following estimated monthly expenses in Singapore:

    Amounts indicated in Singapore dollars (see exchange rates here):
    Rent (per person, sharing a flat)
    S$800 - 1300
    UtiltiesS$90 - 150
    Internet, phone, etc.
    S$50 - 100
    MRT & bus
    S$80 - 160
    S$50 - 150
    School Supplies
    S$50 - 200
    S$350 - 650
    S$50 - 100
    S$50 - 100
    S$150 - 250
    S$30 - 100
     Total Monthly Expenses
    S$1800 - 3260
  • Food

    Singapore offers an impressive variety of culinary options, reflecting both local traditions as well as cosmopolitan and international influences.  The most common cuisines include Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Peranakan, and Thai.  Students will find a variety of inexpensive options easily accessible within the city.  Food courts, known locally as “hawker centres,” are very popular with prices ranging from S$2.50 – S$6.00. For fine dining, expect to pay at least S$15.00 for a main course. 

    Cold Storage and NTUC Fair Price are two prevalent supermarket chains. Food chains, in an attempt to become environmentally conscious, may charge for plastic bags. Reusable canvass bags are usually available for purchase.

    Water is safe to drink from the tap. Local customs include boiling tap water first and drinking it while still warm.

    More information:

    Expat Singapore Web Site: Eating in Singapore

    Fodors Hawker Center Information Page

    Uniquely Singapore Web Site: Singapore - The Food Capital of Asia

  • Health

    There are few endemic health risks in Singapore. The only required vaccination applies to those traveling to Singapore from (or through) countries with a high prevalence of yellow fever. More information about yellow fever vaccination requirements can be found on the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority Web Site.

    Heat stroke and dehydration can pose a significant threat to those not acclimated to Singapore’s tropical climate. Water is safe to drink from the tap, and it is advised to keep a bottle of water with you on excursions.

    Students should prepare to bring adequate supplies of regular medication with them to Singapore and to provide doctor’s notes and proof of prescription for customs purposes.

    Students planning to travel outside Singapore are encouraged to talk with their doctor about necessary precautions.

    Pharmacies are located in every hospital. Common drugs can also be found in chain pharmacies located in most big shopping malls. Hours of operation vary, but one can expect most stores to be open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

  • Important Contact Information

    Fire/Ambulance (life-threatening situations): 995
    Mount Elizabeth Hospital 24 hour Ambulance Service: +65 6473 2222
    Singapore Civil Defense Force Ambulance (non life-threatening situations): 1777
    Police: 999
    Directory information: 100
    Flight information (arrivals and departures): 1-800-542 4422
    24-hour tourist information line: 1-800-736 2000
    CitySearch (operator-assisted Yellow Pages) Tel: +65 1900 777 7777
    U.S. Embassy (for U.S. citizens): +65 6476-9100
    Tisch Asia: +65  6887-2297
  • Languages

    Singapore’s official languages are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. English is the language of communication in school, business and daily life in Singapore, thus most of the time you would not need to know any other languages. However, while quite rare, on occasion you may encounter a foreigner or some very old seniors who may not speak or understand English.
  • Religion

    Singapore is home to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, and Muslims.  Religious traditions play a large part in Singaporean culture, as evidenced by the many religious celebrations and festivals throughout the year.
  • Safety, Laws & Customs

    Singapore is one of the safest places to live in the world. Although crime rate is very low, students should be prepared to take common safety precautions associated with living in any metropolitan setting.

    Citizens of Singapore are very law abiding; laws in Singapore are strictly enforced, and criminal penalties can be severe.  Singapore laws and penalties apply to all people, no matter their country of citizenship.  Fines can be given for offenses that include jaywalking, spitting in public, smoking in unauthorized areas and littering.  The punishments for drug offenses are severe. Drug trafficking carries a death sentence.  It is incumbent on all students to familiarize themselves with the laws of Singapore.

    More Information:

    US State Department Consular Information Page - Singapore

    Government of Australia Web Site – Travel Advice: Singapore

  • Telecommunications

    Cell Phones

    Singapore has one of the highest percentages of cell phone (known locally as ‘handphone’) ownership in the world. Mobile services operate on standard GSM 900 and GSM 1800 networks. Cell phones are everywhere in Singapore, and they are used for everything from paying bills, to confirming appointments to receiving information updates. 

    NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia recommends that students arrange to have a cell phone while living in Singapore. There are several options available to students, including both prepaid and subscription plans. The three major service providers are SingTel, MobileOne, and StarHub.


    Singapore’s country code is 65. All phone numbers are eight digits long. Toll-free numbers begin with 1800 and are followed by seven or eight digits. Phone cards are the most cost-effective means of making international calls. You may purchase phone cards at the airport, upon arrival, at any ‘Singpost’ local post office, or at various convenience stores, including 7-11.


    Singapore is also one of the most wired cities in the world, and Internet access is widely available.  Wireless hotspots exist throughout the city, internet cafes are abundant, and most apartments can be wired for high speed internet.  StarHub is the major internet provider in Singapore.

    More Information:

    Expat Singapore Web Site: Telephone Services in Singapore

    Expat Singapore Web Site: The Internet in Singapore

  • Transportation

    Public Transportation
    Singapore boasts a clean, modern and efficient public transportation system, comprising public buses and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains (subway/metro).

    The Tisch Asia campus is located about 15 minutes from the Redhill MRT Station (EW18). The average train fare is between S$1.20 and S$2.50. SBS Bus services 111 and 132 stop close to the campus.

    Bus service route information and timetables are available at and

    MRT website:
    SBS Transit website:

    Taxis are abundant in Singapore.  They are a safe, clean, and are a more expensive alternative to the M.R.T. Tipping your taxi driver is not customary. While most taxis accept credit cards (with a surcharge), it is best to check first, if this is your only available means of payment.  Taxis can be found at designated taxi stands or can be hailed from most roads day or night. A taxi can also be ordered via phone at the following numbers:

    Comfort CabLink: 6552 1111
    CityCab: 6552 2222
    Comfort Premier Cabs: 6552 2828


    More Information:

    MRT Web Site

    SBS Transit Web Site

    SMRT Corporation Web Site

    Uniquely Singapore Web Site: Taxi Rates
  • Travel Documents

    Students who are neither Singapore Citizens nor Singapore Permanent Residents are required to obtain a Student Pass, issued by Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. In order to apply for a Student Pass, we recommend that you posses a passport that is valid at least until May 2011. More details on applying for visas and the Student Pass will be provided upon acceptance to Tisch Asia.
  • Voltage

    Voltage in Singapore is 220volts, 50Hz. Outlets generally fit 3 pin square plugs – the same type used in the United Kingdom.  Adaptors can be easily purchased in Singapore, however it is best to make sure your electronic equipment will work on the 220V Singapore system.
  • Weather

    Singapore is a tropical island nation. The country is warm, wet and humid most of the year. Average temperatures fall between 28 to 32C / 82F to 90F all year round. Rainy seasons fall between December and March, and between June and September. Air conditioning is provided in most indoor locations to provide relief from the heat.
  • Working in Singapore

    International students who hold valid Student Passes are permitted to work part-time up to 16 hours a week during the semester, and full-time during semester breaks. However, we would strongly advise that you first ascertain what demands will be made on your time and energies vis-a-vis your MFA program, before deciding whether to work while studying.

    Because Tisch Asia only offers graduate programs, Graduate Assistant (GA) and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions are not available. There are, however, a limited number of Technical Assistant positions available each Academic Year. Information regarding these on-campus jobs will be available at the beginning of each Academic Year, and all Tisch Asia students are welcome to apply.