Are you wondering about the pros and cons of living in Singapore? I’ve got you covered!
Singapore is one of the most progressive countries in the world, with excellent infrastructure, world-famous landmarks, a food scene like no other, and, of course, extremely safe. Since Singapore has so much going for it, it is no wonder many ex-pats decide to take the leap and move there. The country is ideally located in Asia, allowing for plenty of travel. Still, there are also disadvantages to living in Singapore, which many people don’t find out until they’ve made the big move.
With crazy rental costs for small living spaces and strict regulations, Singapore can be difficult to get used to. Still, many are drawn to the ample work opportunities and excellent education system. If you have been thinking about what it might be like to move to one of South East Asia’s most vibrant countries, you need to know a few essential things to help you make that decision.
So, let’s be honest, shall we?
The Pros And Cons Of Living In Singapore
If you weren’t already familiar with the location of Singapore – which is, in fact, a city-state in Southeast Asia, then let us explain. Singapore is located on the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia, which makes it ideal for quick trips abroad; however, the country is just 721.5 square kilometers (278.6 square miles).
It is a melting pot of cultures and boasts a strategic location that has enticed businesses and ex-pats worldwide to set up a base here. Its location is a huge pro, but it is also a con, and we will delve deeper into this aspect of Singapore further along.
Overview & Comparison
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The Pros of Living in Singapore
One of the main things people consider when moving abroad is safety, especially if you are a family starting a new life in a new country. Luckily, Singapore has very few issues regarding safety, and it is regarded as one of the safest cities in the world, with meager crime rates, which appeals to potential migrants.
One of the reasons that Singapore is so safe is that it has some of the strictest penalties for offenders and still carries out capital punishment for crimes such as murder and the illegal possession of firearms. Because of these laws, crime is sporadic, but that is not to say that petty theft or scams don’t occur occasionally.
2. Standard of Living
Singapore is one of the best countries in the world for education and employment opportunities, so of course, one of the pros of living in Singapore is that you have access to the best of the best. Some companies pay for your children’s education since it is valued and considered a worthwhile investment.
In addition, the infrastructure, variety of modern amenities, shopping opportunities, and healthcare system stand out as top-class compared to other countries worldwide. The healthcare system is well developed, which ex-pats appreciate when needing quick and efficient medical care. On top of this, the social scene, public transport, and dining options add to Singapore’s already excellent quality of life.
3. Multicultural Diversity
If there is one thing that Singapore is known for, it has to be its diversity. The country is vibrant due to its multicultural society, and English is widely spoken among those living there; it is the primary language used in business. The city-state has a host of other languages, and you can hear Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil, as well as plenty of Indian and Chinese dialects.
The country’s diversity is also apparent just by walking around and witnessing the contrast of religious monuments, eateries, and a mix of citizens of all backgrounds. Singapore mainly comprises Chinese, Indian, and Malay descendants, with foreigners accounting for 30% of the population. Laws exist to protect people against racism and encourage multiculturalism, one of the country’s main characteristics.
4. Great Location
Singapore has always been known to have a very strategic location, which has been particularly valuable for trade between East and West. While this is still the case, one of the pros of living in Singapore is the convenience of being close to many exciting destinations in Asia, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, which can be visited at the drop of a hat.
As well as this, the country is ideally located to venture off to far-flung destinations; for instance, a non-stop flight to Sydney, Australia, takes just 7hr 40 min, while a flight to London takes just under 14 hours. Singapore boasts the longest non-stop flight in the world, with a route to New York, which takes 18hr 40 minutes, shorter than getting from London to Sydney. It goes without saying that this is a huge plus when living in Singapore.
5. Incredible Cuisine
Singapore is well known for its food, and food lovers from all over the world almost always stop here to try a variety of cuisines. Unlike other countries where various themed restaurants exist, the eateries in Singapore are all genuinely authentic, and you can find a host of traditional food options from Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China, and local Singapore, all under one roof.
Known for its markets, which are called Hawker Centres, Singapore caters to those looking to tickle their taste buds while admiring insatiable views across the city. Hawker Centres offer a variety of authentic dishes at affordable prices and are an integral part of Singaporean culture. If you want to eat like the locals, visit a Hawker Centre in Singapore, and don’t miss Little India for Indian delights.
6. Tax System
While we can get carried away with how beautiful Singapore is and how many great food options there are – which are true, of course, it is wise to consider other things necessary for living in Singapore. And that is taxes! Singapore boasts one of the most progressive tax systems in the world, and the highest tax bracket for resident taxpayers is just 22%, which is appealing for many who make the move there.
While filing your taxes in other countries can be so daunting that you need to hire an accountant each year, it is the opposite in Singapore, where the government has made the process effortless for foreigners. So, is it any wonder ex-pats are drawn to live in Singapore?
7. Great Public Transport
The public transport system in Singapore is the second best in Asia, according to a recent survey. While Tokyo is the best in Asia, Singapore is ranked above Hong Kong and other progressive regions. With an excellent bus and MRT system in place, the convenience of getting around is so much easier than in other parts of the world, and it doesn’t stop there.
Yes, the city is well connected, but so is the country as a whole. With plenty of great flight connections to nearby cities and far-away destinations at affordable prices, holidays abroad have become a lot easier. Singapore Airlines is among the best airlines in the world for excellent reasons, and living in Singapore will allow you to visit many exciting locations.
8. Nature & Green Spaces
For one of the smallest countries in the world, Singapore does its best to make sure there are plenty of green spaces and natural areas for its citizens and residents to enjoy. 40% of Singapore has green space, including nature reserves, parks, and gardens, which is incredible for its size.
Given the small size and intense urbanization, living in Singapore might seem overwhelming at times. Still, given that this city-state has plenty of spots to enjoy during your downtime, it is a pro when it comes to living in a country that prioritizes the well-being of its people.
Cons of Living in Singapore
9. Costly Rent
So, while Singapore has one of the best standards of living in the world, it certainly comes with a hefty price tag. Singapore is one of the most expensive countries in the world and the most expensive city to live in, which means there is no such thing as cheap rent here. While big houses are available for rent, which is a pro, the con is that the prices are extraordinary.
A three-bedroom private apartment in the center of Singapore will cost between $5,000 – $7,000, while the same on the city’s outskirts can cost $4,000 monthly. If you are searching for a condo with more facilities, you will need an even higher budget of $7,000 – $15,000, depending on how luxurious it is and which location you prefer. One thing is sure: living in Singapore is expensive no matter what, and you need to come to terms with this if planning your escape to South East Asia.
10. Rain & Humidity
Singapore is situated near the equator, which means it has a tropical climate – which might sound very exotic. While the summers can be glorious and sunny, one of the disadvantages of living in Singapore is that you will have to deal with the climate at its most uncomfortable, which means high humidity and monsoon rains.
Singapore’s climate features two monsoon seasons, one from December to early March and the Southwest Monsoon from June to September. With this comes unpredictable and heavy rainfall, humidity which can reach 90% at times, and let’s not forget the thunderstorms and prevailing winds. Of course, this can all be dealt with if you know what’s coming and are prepared for each season, but for those imagining Singapore to be sunny and exotic all year long, you might want to reconsider.
11. High Costs of Education/Healthcare
We have already established that Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive countries, but let’s delve deeper into the costs of healthcare and education, two of the main aspects of life. Without insurance, foreigners may find themselves paying hefty prices for medical care, and while it is one of the best healthcare systems in the world, it is worth knowing that it is not cheap.
The cost of healthcare in Singapore has risen by 53.6% since 2002 and is still on the rise. Of course, coming from a country like the United States, ex-pats may find the costs lower for certain surgeries. Still, overall, Singapore is not considered an affordable country for healthcare. Education, on the other hand, is just as astronomical, and schools can be pretty hard to get into in the first place.
12. Strict Laws
Yes, Singapore is considered a safe country, but we need to consider the strict laws in place to make it so safe. Singapore does not just have laws based on criminal offenses; like most other countries, the country goes as far as to restrict and regulate many parts of daily life, such as banning chewing gum and implementing strict rules for littering and jaywalking.
Vandalism and smoking in public are just two rules that can land you a fine or, worse still, in prison. International visitors and locals are subject to random drug tests at the international airport, which, if found, can lead to the death penalty. While having rules in place is critical for order in the community and overall safety, Singapore goes a little too far with its rules, including not being allowed to walk naked around your house, no eating on public transport, and no drinking after 10:30 pm.
13. Closed People
Don’t get me wrong, Singaporeans welcome people willing to help in a time of need, which is excellent if you visit. However, if you plan on living in Singapore, you might notice the people are not as warm as other countries such as Ireland, New Zealand or Mexico; in fact, they can come off as cold at times and hard to get to know.
Singaporeans have a strong tradition of helping each other and having a friendly attitude towards foreigners, but when it comes to a level of friendliness, you might be used to from home, Singapore will not match up. It can be difficult for people to build relationships, friendships and even feel like they belong in a country, so it is worth knowing this aspect of the culture before making a move.
14. Roads are Unsafe for Pedestrians/Cyclists
It works if they do this to encourage the use of their excellent public transport system. Pedestrians and cyclists need to be very brave to walk or cycle on the streets in Singapore, especially since pedestrians do not have the right of way in Singapore. There is minimal cycling infrastructure in the city, and when walking, it is best to stick to crosswalks and be aware of your surroundings when exploring on foot.
Most traffic doesn’t look out for pedestrians or cyclists, and generally, both share the same lane, so it can be very unsafe, and it might be wiser to stick to the buses or metro. Singapore authorities are doing what they can to make this side of things more accessible and safer, but who knows when this will happen?
15. The Size
Yes, the size of the country can have some advantages, since distances are not that big, but it also has many disadvantages. Living in a country this small can sometimes feel very limited, especially if you want a change of scenery. There are few places to venture to within the country without going over the borders.
The size also has negative impacts on the living space within the city, and large families might find it difficult to find big properties that are at all affordable or even available for that matter. If you want to live in the central area of Singapore City, do not expect to live in a big apartment, space is limited, so you may have to make do with whatever sized apartment you can find.
16. No Work-Life Balance
While the abundance of jobs and the high salaries make a living in Singapore appealing to many ex-pats, you must know that the work-life balance is very much off, like in many parts of Asia. Being as productive as Singapore is, it is no surprise that people work hard, with 7/10 people reporting overwhelming workloads.
In addition, with the rising living costs and the vast workloads, stress levels are soaring, and residents in Singapore have some of the highest compared to the global average. 86% of people claimed they are stressed, and 15% admitted they struggle to cope with the stresses of work and life in Singapore.
FAQs for living in Singapore
What is the best thing about living in Singapore?
The standard of living is the best thing about living in Singapore as the diverse culinary options.
What is the worst thing about living in Singapore?
The endless rain, constant humidity and limited space is one huge downside.
Is Singapore expensive?
Yes, from education and healthcare to rent and socialising, Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive countries.
Is it easy to get around?
Yes, by car, bus and metro it is easy and efficient, but on foot and by bike it is dangerous and not well set up.