Are you curious about the advantages and disadvantages of residing in Singapore? Look no further.
As someone who has resided in Singapore for the past eight years, and fully explored the offerings of this dynamic city-state, I've got you covered with this comprehensive guide!
From healthcare facilities and housing costs to food accessibility and work-life balance, I will address all the essential information you require to make an informed decision regarding whether or not Singapore is the ideal destination for you.
When I found out I was moving to Singapore, there was not much information available about life in the Lion City and I had to figure out a lot of things by myself. In fact, that is one of the main reasons why I started doing YouTube videos so I could help existing and potential expats here-- hence, my Instagram, this blog page and eventually my Singapore eBook Guide- ‘The ‘S’ Word Guide’. In this blog post, I am covering some general but important things to know before moving to Singapore.
Let's delve into the reasons why you might find Singapore appealing or challenging, enabling you to determine if it's the right place for you to relocate to!
Pro: Summer All Year Round
If you yearn for a country with guaranteed sunshine, Singapore fits the bill perfectly. Here, temperatures seldom dip below 25°C, and the summer months bring scorching heat! There is no such thing as seasons, so if you're a fan of summer all year round, this place is for you. When I initially got off the plane at Changi Airport, I was taken aback by the intensity of the heat. It exceeds 30°C almost daily! While I may not thrive in such high temperatures, I understand that many people relish them. So, if you're looking to escape the snowy winters of Canada, Singapore could be an ideal destination for you.
Con: Humidity and Rain
Residing in a tropical rainforest climate can pose challenges for expatriates, especially towards the year's end. Humidity levels typically reach their peak during this period, resulting in sweltering conditions and frequent rainfall. (I can confidently say it rains here way more often than the UK!)
You might find yourself taking multiple showers a day just to cope with the relentless heat, as temperatures can soar up to 70%.
To maximize my exposure to air conditioning, I often used malls as my preferred routes when navigating the city. Additionally, the monsoon season ushers in thunderstorms towards the end of the year. The rain is often so torrential that even umbrellas offer little protection, leaving you drenched if you're not adequately prepared.
Nevertheless, armed with some basic knowledge about Singapore's weather patterns, you can easily adapt and still enjoy your time in the city.
Make sure to pack an umbrella and perhaps some extra clothing, just in case an unexpected downpour catches you off guard!
Pro: Widespread Use of English English enjoys broad usage in Singapore, owing to the nation's colonial history.
Approximately two-thirds of Singaporeans are proficient in English, simplifying communication for travelers and expatriates as they interact with the local population.
Because of its geographical proximity to Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries, English in Singapore has been influenced by regional languages, giving rise to the distinctive Singlish dialect.
Hence, don't be surprised if you find yourself adapting your accent and picking up some local slang (singlish) during your stay!
Not only will this enhance your travel experience, but it will also provide you with an insider's insight into the city.
Con: Poor Work-Life Balance
Being a highly productive country comes at a cost, with 7 out of 10 locals reporting overwhelming workloads. Factors contributing to this include extended working hours, demanding supervisors, and colleagues who may not be supportive.
Despite the existence of hybrid work arrangements, mental detachment from work is often challenging, as companies in Asia frequently do not adhere to the traditional 9-to-5 schedule. Work-life balance is a significant concern for many employees in Asia, particularly those employed by US companies.
It's not uncommon for employees to be asked or even expected to work long hours, extending well into the evenings and sometimes beyond the conventional nine-to-five shift.
This practice is often necessitated by the need for businesses to remain competitive in the global economy and stay on par with their competitors.
This ultimately takes a toll on employees, who often struggle to prioritize their personal lives over work-related commitments, resulting in a considerable challenge in managing the two.
Pro: Abundant Housing Options Singapore offers a wealth of housing choices for individuals seeking to rent or buy property.
Renting here is a straightforward process, typically involving tenancy agreements with a minimum duration of three months. The length of the agreement can be negotiated to align with the preferences of both the tenant and the property owner, with a minimum stay requirement of 3 months.
When entering into a tenancy agreement, there may be obligations such as paying Stamp Duty or other associated taxes. The Inland Revenue Board of Singapore provides ample resources to address these concerns.
For those interested in purchasing landed property in Singapore, approval from the Singapore Land Authority is a prerequisite.
Expatriates desiring to buy a condominium are subject to an additional 20% stamp duty and are required to submit a substantial deposit.
Con: Expensive Rental Costs
Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. Rent, food, and other necessities can be costly, and Expats may find it difficult to adjust to the high cost of living. The cost of living in Singapore is particularly high for housing, with high property prices and rentals. I was recently quoted in a CNA article, where I shared my first-hand experience with regard to the recent housing rent surge, where rental properties have faced up to a 70% increase in price, hitting new record highs. Securing a rental property in sought-after expatriate hubs like Orchard Road and Holland Village inevitably carries a steeper price compared to areas located farther from the city center.
Furthermore, when searching for a place to live, it's essential to factor in not only the monthly rental fee but also the array of amenities provided by the property. Do you require access to a swimming pool, gym, or tennis court? Or perhaps a balcony for much-needed outdoor space? Making a list of these requirements and preferences in advance can streamline your housing search.
Many individuals enjoy these amenities because their employers cover their housing costs. Consequently, Singapore features a higher prevalence of luxury apartments and a relatively limited supply of budget-friendly housing options.
It's important not to overlook the convenience of proximity to public transportation options like the MRT and nearby supermarkets, as these are essential aspects of daily life in Singapore.
Devote time to diligent research and comparisons to secure the best possible housing deal that aligns with your needs. With thoughtful consideration, you may discover a place that suits your budget while still granting access to the amenities you desire.
Pro: Efficient Public Transportation
Residing in Singapore offers expatriates a multitude of advantages, with one of the most notable being its highly efficient public transportation network.
Equipped with an EZ-Link card, traveling to and from any destination within Singapore becomes a seamless and hassle-free experience – whether it's commuting to the workplace, heading to the airport, or even visiting a neighboring town.
During my first week in Singapore, getting to Sentosa was remarkably straightforward. Navigating the public transport system was noticeably more convenient than maneuvering the underground rail systems in New York or London.
Furthermore, Singapore's strategic location in Southeast Asia positions it as an ideal travel hub for exploring neighboring countries. With competitive airfare offers and budget-friendly vacation packages, destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are just a few hours away!
This accessibility not only makes international getaways easier on your budget but also allows you to explore more distant locales. However, long-haul travel beyond Asia can be expensive, but the premium airline experience often justifies the price of the ticket.
Con: High Costs of Private Vehicle Ownership
Owning a car in Singapore can incur expenses that are reportedly up to six times greater than anywhere else in the world, primarily due to the requirement of a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) imposed by the government to regulate population density and road usage.
The estimated cost for obtaining a COE can reach as high as USD $107,000.
Moreover, the government has introduced various taxes on car ownership as a means to dissuade the use of private vehicles.
Furthermore, there is an additional fine imposed on cars that exceed 10 years of age, intended to uphold the island's image as an affluent society. Collectively, these factors contribute to the exorbitant cost of owning a car in Singapore, rendering it a financially challenging pursuit for many individuals.
In contrast, public transportation in Singapore is typically more cost-effective and convenient compared to the expenses associated with private vehicle ownership.
Pro: Progressive Taxation System
Singapore boasts one of the world's most progressive tax systems. For foreign residents, the highest tax rate stands at 20%, excluding capital gains tax.
It's easy to see why Singapore is such an attractive destination for foreigners!
Additionally, expatriates find filing their taxes in Singapore to be a hassle-free experience, thanks to the government's efficiency. Pro: Family-Oriented Environment
Singapore embraces a family-friendly atmosphere, offering a plethora of activities that cater to all age groups. From visiting the renowned Singapore Zoo and Universal Studios to exploring numerous water parks, there's no shortage of entertainment options.
For those seeking ideas to keep their kids engaged, a valuable resource offers more than 70 activities to choose from. Keep in mind that these venues often reach full capacity during the frequent public holidays.
Pro: Emphasis on Safety
Residing in Singapore comes with numerous enticing advantages, with its most appealing feature being its reputation as the world's safest country (although Chiang Mai recently surpassed Singapore as the safest city in Southeast Asia!).
Singapore consistently earns high safety rankings, making it an exceptionally appealing choice for travelers seeking peace of mind and security throughout their journey.
Through a combination of cutting-edge security measures and well-trained law enforcement personnel, Singapore delivers an exceptional level of safety. This is further reinforced by a robust legal system that ensures swift and effective prosecution of wrongdoers.
In Singapore, I felt entirely secure whether strolling alone during the day or at night. It is the ideal destination for women seeking a safe and secure place to call home.
Pro: Exceptional Healthcare Singapore's healthcare system enjoys a global reputation for excellence, earning it the 6th position in the World Health Organization's global healthcare system rankings.
For expatriates, this translates to access to high-quality and dependable healthcare services.
What sets Singapore's healthcare apart? Firstly, it's characterized by affordability and widespread accessibility.
All Singaporean citizens and permanent residents automatically qualify for MediShield Life, a government-administered health insurance program that covers up to 80% of medical expenses.
Moreover, private healthcare options are available at competitive rates, with many employers offering it as part of their employment packages.
Wait times are typically brief; you can expect to see a doctor or specialist within a few days of scheduling an appointment.
Singapore boasts some of the world's finest hospitals, with many ranking in the global top 10 due to their state-of-the-art medical facilities and highly skilled medical professionals.
In summary, Singapore's healthcare system provides expatriates with comprehensive support to maintain their well-being!
Con: High Healthcare Expense
When considering relocation to a different country, healthcare emerges as a critical factor for expatriates. One potential drawback is the possibility of encountering substantial costs.
Lacking insurance coverage, individuals may find themselves paying more for equivalent quality healthcare compared to local residents.
Nevertheless, for individuals originating from countries like the United States, the concept of medical tourism can offer an enticing opportunity. Procedures such as bypass surgeries, which can exceed $140,000 USD in the US, may cost only around 20% of that amount in Singapore or other destinations with more affordable healthcare.
For those contemplating a more extended overseas stay, it is imperative to explore the available healthcare options to ensure access to high-quality care without depleting financial resources.
Con: Stringent Regulations
Singapore is renowned for its stringent laws, including the infamous ban on chewing gum. While this may seem peculiar to outsiders, it was once a significant factor in disrupting MRT services when vandals wedged gum between the doors.
Engaging in activities like smoking in public areas, jaywalking, or vandalism can lead to substantial fines, imprisonment, or even corporal punishment. Moreover, random drug testing is conducted on both local and international travelers at the airport, and a conviction may result in the severe penalty of the death sentence.
Pro: Culinary Diversity Singapore's population is primarily composed of Malay, Chinese, and Indian communities, giving rise to a tantalizing array of local cuisines.
Another advantage of living in Singapore is the rapid evolution of local food trends. You can discover everything from Taiwanese fried chicken to bubble tea or frozen yogurt. These seasonal eateries often spring up like mushrooms and fade away once the trend wanes.
Pro: Rich Cultural Diversity For expatriates, Singapore's cultural tapestry offers a captivating experience. The fusion of three distinct ethnic groups—Hindu, Islamic, and Chinese—creates a vibrant blend of cultures and traditions that come alive on the streets of cities and towns.
You might encounter a Hindu temple just a stone's throw away from an Islamic mosque, or relish delicious Chinese cuisine served at a market stall.
During holidays and festivals, diverse crowds from various backgrounds come together in celebration, extending a warm and inclusive welcome to all. It's truly a remarkable spectacle! Con: Limited Size Residing in Singapore can be a unique experience due to its small geographical footprint, which restricts the extent of exploration on weekends.
While some individuals find comfort and security in the country's dense population, others may perceive it as somewhat overwhelming. Those accustomed to greater spaciousness and freedom of movement might find Singapore somewhat confining.
Pro: Political Stability
Singapore boasts a highly stable government that upholds law and order through stringent regulations. This provides expatriates relocating to the country with a sense of safety and security in their new surroundings.
The well-developed infrastructure streamlines daily life for residents, enabling them to focus on other aspects of their lives without concerns about political turmoil or instability.
This assurance is one of the benefits of living in Singapore.
Con: Restrictions on Civil Liberties Singapore's political stability comes with fewer civil liberties compared to some other nations.
Certain laws are in place to maintain peace and order, including limitations on public gatherings and freedom of speech.
For some expatriates, particularly those accustomed to greater freedom of expression in their home countries, these restrictions can be viewed negatively.
Homosexuality is still stigmatized in many Asian societies, posing challenges for individuals who wish to visit with their non-heteronormative families. Residing in Singapore presents an incredible opportunity for expatriates, marked by its distinctive culture, political stability, and high quality of life.
While there are certain civil liberties restrictions stemming from the government's stringent regulations, these measures contribute to creating a safe and secure living environment for those who opt for Singapore as their home.
For individuals seeking an overseas residence that combines modern amenities with cultural diversity, Singapore may be the ideal destination.
By thoroughly examining all facets of this decision, living in Singapore can evolve into an exceptionally rewarding and enriching journey.