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Have you wondered about the pros and cons of living in Singapore? You have come to the right place.
As someone who has lived in over 18 countries in the last 10 years and experienced all that this vibrant city-state has to offer, I’ve got you covered with this detailed guide!
From healthcare services and rent prices, through to food availability and work-life balance – I will cover everything you need to know before deciding whether or not this is the right move for you.
Let’s dive into the reasons you might love and might hate Singapore so you can decide if it’s the right place for you to move to.
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1. Pro: Summer is H-O-T
If you are looking to live somewhere with guaranteed sunshine, Singapore is the place for you. The temperatures rarely dip below 25°C and summer months are especially hot!
When I first visited at the end of their summer, I was shocked at how hot it was. It was over 30°C almost every day!
I melt in the heat, but I know most people adore it. So if you’re looking to escape snowy Canada, then Singapore is a great place for you to move to.
2. Con: Humidity and rain
Living in a tropical rainforest climate can be challenging for expats, especially during the end of the year. Humidity levels typically peak during this time, with high humidity and excessive rainfall making life difficult.
You may find yourself taking multiple showers a day just to cope with the heat, while temperatures can rise up to 70%.
I used malls as my walking routes everywhere to try and stay in the air conditioning for as long as possible.
The monsoon season also brings with it thunderstorms which can be a problem during the end of the year. The rain is usually so heavy that even umbrellas cannot protect you, and you could find yourself drenched if you don’t take precautions.
However, with some general knowledge about the weather conditions in Singapore, it is easy to navigate this weather and still enjoy your time in the city.
Be sure to pack an umbrella, and perhaps a few extra sets of clothes just in case the downpour catches you by surprise!
3. Pro: Great healthcare
For expats, this means access to a high quality and reliable health service.
What makes Singapore’s healthcare so great? For starters, services are affordable and widely accessible.
All Singaporean citizens and permanent residents are automatically eligible for MediShield Life, a government-run health insurance scheme that covers up to 80% of medical bills.
Private healthcare is also available at competitive prices, with many employers providing it as part of their employment package.
Wait times are generally quite short – you can expect to be seen by a doctor or specialist within a few days of booking an appointment.
Singapore boasts some of the best hospitals in the world, with many ranked in the top 10 globally for their cutting-edge medical facilities and highly skilled doctors and nurses.
Overall, Singapore’s healthcare system offers expats all they need to stay healthy!
4. Con: Healthcare is expensive
For expats looking to move to a new country, healthcare is an important factor to consider. One potential downside is that it may come with a hefty price tag.
Without insurance, individuals may need to pay more for the same quality of care as locals.
However, for those coming from countries like the United States, medical tourism can present a great opportunity. Procedures like bypasses, which can cost upwards of $140,000 USD in the US, may only cost around 20% of that in Singapore or other places with lower medical costs.
For those looking to move for a longer period of time, it is important to look into the healthcare options available and make sure they are able to access high quality care without breaking the bank.
It is beneficial to research any insurance requirements or other regulations that may be in place for expats.
Taking the time to understand these factors will help ensure a smooth transition and give peace of mind when it comes to one’s health and well-being.
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5. Pro: Accommodation is plentiful
Singapore is an amazing place that offers plenty of accommodation options for those looking to rent or buy.
Renting here is quite simple and straightforward with tenancy agreements starting a minimum of three months.
Tenants can negotiate the length of their agreement, depending on the preferences of both tenant and owner. You will need to stay a minimum of 3 months to start.
When signing a tenancy agreement, you may be required to pay Stamp Duty or other taxes associated with it.
The Inland Revenue Board of Singapore has plenty of resources available to address these concerns.
If you are looking to purchase a landed property in Singapore, then the approval of the Singapore Land Authority is needed before doing so.
Expats wishing to buy a condominium must pay an additional 20% stamp duty and submit a substantial deposit.
They’ve also got some of the best hotels in the world!
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6.Con: Costly rent
Living in Singapore comes with a challenge that is familiar to many people across the world: costly rent.
Renting a property in desirable expat locations such as Orchard Road and Holland Village will inevitably be more expensive than those located further away.
In addition, when looking for a place to live it is important to consider not only the monthly rental cost but also what kind of amenities the property offers. Do you need access to a swimming pool, gym, or tennis court? Or perhaps a balcony for some much-needed outdoor space? Listing out these needs and wants beforehand can help in narrowing down your search.
Most people have these luxuries because their offices pay for their accommodations. This means that more of these luxury apartments exist across Singapore instead of low cost accommodations.
Don’t forget to factor in the convenience of public transportation such as the MRT and supermarkets, which are necessities for daily life in Singapore.
Take time to research and compare to get the best deal possible that meets your needs! With careful consideration, you may be able to find a place that fits your budget while still having access to all of the amenities you need.
7. Pro: Public transportation
Living in Singapore offers expats a wide range of benefits, one of the most significant being its efficient public transportation system.
With an EZ-Link card, travelling to and from any destination within Singapore is made easy and convenient – whether it’s to the office, the airport or even a neighbouring town.
Getting to Sentosa when I went during my first week in Singapore was incredibly easy. I was able to navigate much with much more ease than New York or London’s underground rail systems.
In addition to the convenience of using public transport, Singapore’s strategic location in South East Asia makes it the perfect hub for travelling to nearby countries. With great airfare deals and cheap holiday packages, countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are just a few hours away!
This makes taking holidays abroad easier on your wallet – allowing you to go further.
However, travel outside of Asia is expensive. But the luxury airlines make the price ticket worth it.
8. Con: Private vehicles are expensive
The costs of owning a car here can be up to 6 times more expensive than anywhere in the world. Why?
The island’s space is minimal, so you will need a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) as the government works hard to manage the population and road density. According to a local motorist guide, the estimated cost for COEs can range up to USD 107,000.
In addition, the authorities have also introduced different taxes on car ownership to deter private vehicle usage.
>actually it’s largely to keep up an appearance of a wealthy society. That’s why cars that are over 10 years old incur a fine
The cost of owning a car in Singapore has been estimated to be up to six times more expensive than anywhere else in the world, largely due to the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) that is required by the government in order to manage population density and road use.
The estimated cost for COEs can range up to USD $107,000.
Not only that, but the government has implemented various taxes on car ownership in an effort to discourage private vehicle usage.
There is also an additional fine imposed on cars over 10 years old in order to maintain the island’s reputation as a wealthy society.
All of these factors contribute to the high cost of owning a car in Singapore, making it an expensive endeavor for many people.
Meanwhile, public transportation is generally cheaper and more convenient than driving privately owned vehicles in Singapore.
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9. Con: Unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists
Because of how small the country is, bikers and pedestrians often have to share the same sidewalk. If you prefer to walk around the city, you may have to exercise some caution when doing so.
There is even a code of conduct issued by the authorities to foster responsible path-sharing!
10. Pro: Safety is key
Living in Singapore has many wonderful advantages, but the most attractive one of all is its status as the world’s safest country (although Chiang Mai recently beat Singapore as the safest city in Southeast Asia!) .
Singapore regularly ranked highly for safety, meaning that it is an incredibly attractive destination for travelers who are looking for peace of mind and security on their journey.
With a mix of high-tech security measures and well-trained police officers, Singapore offers an exceptional level of safety. This is backed up by a strong legal system that ensures criminals are prosecuted quickly and efficiently.
I felt completely safe walking around alone during the day and at night in Singapore. It’s the perfect destination for women who want to feel safe and secure where they’re living.
11. Con: Strict laws
Singapore is known for its prohibition on the sale of chewing gum. It might sound strange to outsiders like us, b But it was once a big reason why the MRT services came to a halt because vandals placed gum between the doors.
Smoking in public areas, jaywalking, and vandalism may result in hefty fines, prison, or even caning. Random drug tests are carried out on local and international visitors at the airport and may carry the heavy death penalty if convicted.
12. Pro: Diverse food options
Singapore’s population mainly comprises Malay, Chinese and Indian people. That means diverse local cuisines are bound to tantalize your taste buds.
For ideas on what to eat first and what to do, try checking out this 7 day itinerary, which includes delicious food options ranging from the infamous chili crab to chicken satay.
One of the other benefits of living in Singapore is that the local food trends change rapidly. You can find anything from Taiwanese fried chicken to bubble tea or frozen yogurt.
These seasonal shops often pop up like mushrooms and stagnate once the trend dies.
13. Con: Socialising is expensive
Singapore places a higher tax on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. This is also known as “sin tax” to moderate excessive drinking and the social impact of smoking in society.
BBut you can be on the lookout for places that offer decent drink deals, such as happy hour specials, when you want to unwind in this busy city.
14. Pro: English is widely spoken
English is a widely spoken language in Singapore due to the country’s colonial past.
It has been estimated that around two-thirds of Singaporeans are English speakers, which makes it easy for travelers and expatriates to get around and communicate with locals.
With its close proximity to Malaysia, Indonesia, and other countries in Southeast Asia, the English language has been heavily influenced by other regional languages, resulting in a unique Singlish dialect.
So don’t be surprised if you start to adjust your accent and pick up some local slang words during your stay!
Not only will it make traveling easier, but also give you an insider’s understanding of the city.
15. Con: Work-life balance is poor
Being a highly productive country comes with a high price, as 7 out of 10 locals report overwhelming workloads. Reasons stem from long working hours to unreasonable bosses and even colleagues that are not supportive.
Although there are hybrid working arrangements, workers cannot detach mentally from their jobs because companies in Asia often do not adhere to traditional 9 to 5 working hours.
The work-life balance in Asia is a major issue for many employees, especially those employed by US companies.
It is not uncommon for workers to be asked or even expected to work long hours, sometimes lasting late into the evenings or even beyond the traditional nine-to-five shift.
This is often due to the fact that these businesses need to stay competitive in a global economy and must ensure they are able keep up with their rivals.
This ultimately has an effect on employees, who often find themselves unable to prioritize their personal life above work-related duties.
It can be very challenging to manage.
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16. Pro: Tax system
The tax system here is one of the more progressive in the world. The highest tax bracket for foreigners is 20%, which does not include the tax on capital gains.
You can certainly understand why Singapore is such a gateway for foreigners!
Filing your taxes as an expat here is also effortless, thanks to the government’s efficiency.
17. Pro: Family friendly
Singapore is a family-friendly country. There is a host of activities ranging from visiting the infamous Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios or to the many water parks on offer.
Here’s a useful resource with over 70 activities to help you entertain your kids. Occupancy is usually full at these places during its frequent public holidays.
18. Con: High costs of education
The education available here is world-class. However, the fees to attend international schools will take a massive chunk of your salary every month.
Some companies provide or even pay for your children’s education because they value the contribution of employees.
This isn’t super common, but it does happen with the right employer!
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19. Pro: Helpful locals
For expats who are looking to move to Singapore, one of the most positive aspects is the helpful locals.
Singaporeans have a strong tradition of courtesy, with the Prime Minister launching a National Courtesy Campaign back in 1979 to remind citizens to be respectful and considerate towards each other.
This friendly attitude towards migrants has made Singapore renowned globally for its welcoming, open culture.
Whether you need directions, tips on the best places to go, or even just someone to talk to, locals are always ready and willing to help!
This is certainly something that makes moving to this vibrant city a much easier experience for expats.
20. Con: People are not as warm
Although Singaporeans may be known for their courtesy, don’t expect the same level of friendliness that you’re used to in your home country.
Some locals may not be as open or welcoming to newcomers as others might expect, and this can make it difficult for expats to fully immerse themselves into the culture.
It can also be difficult to build relationships with locals outside of work, as most people tend to keep their social circle quite small.
This may make it hard for expats to find a sense of belonging in the country, which can be an issue if they intend on staying long-term.
21. Pro: Unique culture
For expats, the unique culture of this country is an amazing experience. Three distinct races, Hindu, Islamic and Chinese, create a vibrant mix of cultures and traditions that can be seen in the streets of the cities and towns.
You may visit a Hindu temple just down the street from an Islamic mosque, or find delicious Chinese food being served up in a market stall.
On holidays, festivals are celebrated with mixed crowds of people from all backgrounds, and everyone is welcomed with open arms. It’s truly an amazing sight to behold!
22. Con: Small in size
Living in Singapore can be a unique experience, as its small size means there is only so much to explore on the weekends.
Although some may find that the dense population of the country brings about a sense of comfort and security, for others it can be a bit too overwhelming.
Those who are used to having spaciousness and freedom of movement around them, may find Singapore to be too restricting.
23. Pro: Political stability
The Singaporean government is highly stable, with law and order maintained through strict regulations.
This means that expats coming to the country can feel safe and secure in their new home.
The well-developed infrastructure makes life easy for those living here, allowing them to focus on other aspects of life rather than worrying about political unrest or instability.
This provides a sense of assurance that one can have when living in Singapore.
24. Con: Restriction on civil liberties
Due to its political stability, Singaporeans have fewer civil liberties than citizens of other countries.
Certain laws are in place to keep the peace and order in the country, such as restrictions on public assembly or speech.
This may be seen as a negative aspect for some expats who are used to more freedom of expression back home.
As someone in the LGBTQ+ community, I don’t feel full safe in Singapore.
They recently decriminalized homosexuality among men, but have not made any mention of women.
It is still deeply frowned upon in Asian societies, which makes it a challenge for people who want to visit with their non-heteronormative families.
25. Pro: Quality of life
Singapore is known for its outstanding quality of life, with a high standard of living and modern amenities.
The healthcare system is well-developed, making it easy for expats to access the medical care they need quickly and efficiently.
Public transportation is also widely available and efficient, allowing people to get around easily and quickly.
The food scene is also top-notch, with a wide variety of local and international cuisine.
All these factors combine to make Singapore an ideal place for expats who are looking for an enjoyable living experience.
Wrap-Up: Pros and Cons of Living in Singapore
Living in Singapore is an amazing experience for expats, with its unique culture, political stability and quality of life.
Although there are some restrictions on civil liberties due to the government’s strict regulations, this ensures a safe and secure environment for those who choose to live here.
For anyone looking for a new home abroad that offers both modern amenities and cultural diversity, Singapore may be just the place they need.
With careful consideration of all aspects involved, living in Singapore can be an incredibly rewarding journey.
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