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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Singapore — Comfy, but Costly

Singapore attracts thousands of expats, due to the safe environment and career opportunities. However, certain factors like the cost of living or work-life balance can make life harder than expected.
  • Praise for excellent transport infrastructure
  • Great economy, but lack of work-life balance
  • Exorbitant cost of living tempered by high wages
  • Easy to get by speaking English
  • Quality of education is excellent, but not cheap

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics for Singapore — infographic

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Excellent Infrastructure and Medical Care, but at a Price

Unsurprisingly, Singapore’s ranking in the Quality of Life Index is in the global top ten. Firstly, 64% of expats say that their opportunities to travel — due to the proximity to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, among others — are excellent, compared to 40% worldwide. Similarly, the transport infrastructure is deemed very good by an impressive 63% of expats, while a mere 29% think the same worldwide.

When it comes to medical care, about three-quarters (76%) judge its quality favorably. However, this quality comes at an expensive price, according to 36% of expats, compared to 24% worldwide. You may nonetheless be less likely to fall sick, thanks to the excellent quality of the environment, judged favorably by 81% of expats.

Furthermore, Singapore is known to be a very safe country, and the Expat Insider 2016 respondents agree: an overwhelming 80% of expats feel very safe in the country, compared to only 38% globally. Singapore also has a high degree of political stability, which is judged positively by 88% of expats, compared to 61% worldwide.

“The place has high standards of infrastructure as well as cleanliness, safety and respect for each other in the community.”

Excellent Wages, Little Leisure Time

Working in Singapore is good for your career prospects, according to 61% of expats. Moreover, the state of the country’s economy receives an impressive 86% of positive opinions from expats, compared to 56% globally. Also, 14% of the survey respondents who decided to share income-related information have a household income of more than 250,000 USD, which is a significant difference to just 3% worldwide.

However, the downside is the lack of work-life balance. In fact, Singapore is ranked 65th out of 67 when it comes to work-life balance. To illustrate this factor: an expat works 41.4 hours per week on average, while an expat in Singapore works 45.8.

Furthermore, living in Singapore is extremely expensive, and the city has already been ranked as the most expensive in the world. The survey respondents agree, since a mere 1% think that the cost of living is very low, compared to 14% worldwide. Also, the availability of affordable housing is judged favorably by only 14% of expats, compared to 45% globally.

No Need to Learn “Singlish”

The significant population of expatriates in Singapore may be an advantage when it comes to settling in. In fact, 77% of expats say that settling down in Singapore is easy, while only 58% worldwide think the same about their destination.

“It’s easy to make friends and meet new people, but the transitional nature of Singapore makes getting close and forming deep friendships difficult as people are here on a short-term basis.”

Moreover, it is generally difficult to live in a country where you do not speak the local language, but in Singapore, four in ten survey respondents (42%) say this is not the case at all. In fact, English is among the four official languages, and the government has created an association to promote bilingualism in English and the native languages.

Also, about three-quarters of the Expat Insider 2016 survey respondents (73%) say that it is easy to get used to Singapore’s culture, compared to 61% worldwide. A possible reason could be the relative ethnic and cultural heterogeneity, with Singapore’s population blending four ethnicities (Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Eurasian) and their heritage.

Family Rhymes with Tranquility

Singapore is ranked 16th in the Family Life Index, and this good performance is due to a lot of factors. First of all, 59% of expat parents say that childcare options are numerous, compared to 46% worldwide. However, they are deemed too expensive by 51% of expats with kids, while only 36% worldwide think that local childcare options aren’t affordable.

Furthermore, local residents invest a lot in their children’s education, which explains why for more than a decade, Singapore has been at or near the top of international league tables that measure children’s ability in science, reading, and math. In fact, an impressive 53% of expat parents also rate the quality of education as excellent, more than double than worldwide (21%). However, 58% of expats think that education is not easily affordable.

Finally, available leisure activities for kids are deemed abundant by 90% of expat parents. More importantly, nearly three-quarters (73%) think their children’s safety is very good, compared to a mere 35% worldwide, and 90% are satisfied with their children’s health.

Further Reading