Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Singapore: Best Place to Live and Work

Updated 23 Sep 2016: Singapore still the best country for expats

S'pore has topped the table of best expatriate destinations for the 2nd year running, but Sweden is the best place for raising children, while Switzerland offers the best wages, according to an influential global survey.

The UK & the US, meanwhile, languished around mid-table on HSBC's 9th annual Expat Explorer survey.

Almost two thirds of "expats" told HSBC that their overall quality of life improved after moving to Singapore. HSBC defines an expat as any adult currently living away from their country of origin, and interviewed almost 27,000 people in 190 countries to get its findings.

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Rich expats rank Singapore number 1 in the world

Rich expats rank Singapore the best place to live and work, according to a survey by HSBC Expat Explorer.

Financially, expats in Singapore earn the highest in the world at an average of US$159,000 a year as compared to the global average of US$104,000 a year.  65% said they have greater disposable income and 60% said they are able to save more as compared to where they were at their home country. Only 16% said they saved lesser in Singapore. As Singapore has the lowest income tax among the developed countries, these expats take home more cash as compared to countries like Australia and New Zealand.

In quality of life, 67% of the Singapore expats said they now enjoy a better quality of life. 65% of them also said the health and well-being of their children and themselves have also improved. 87% also praised Singapore for being a safe country.

related: DPM Tharman: Market forces will mean Sporeans have a lower standard of living

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Singapore: Classy Life in Southeast Asia
Singapore, regarded as one of the "Four Asian Tigers" for its rapid economic growth in the later decades of the 20th century, provides an attractive choice for expats looking for high income and living standards. The small city-state also ranks fourth in terms of family well-being, third in regard to the quality of education, and sixth for health, safety, and well-being in general; the impressive results in these subcategories should guarantee that expat parents, too, are satisfied with life in Singapore.

Moving to Singapore is made easier by a welcoming atmosphere (ranked 7th in the Feeling Welcome subcategory) and four official languages, including English (3rd in the Language subcategory). The friendliness of the local population, however, is below average, ranking 47th, affording the country an overall good 21st position in the Ease of Settling In Index.

Expats in Singapore do not have much to complain about regarding their living environment. Even though the city is one of the major commercial hubs in Asia and packed with people, an astonishing 71% of respondents in Singapore find the overall peacefulness to be very good, a score that only 39% of their global peers give to their corresponding host countries. The quality of the environment receives excellent grades, too, as 87% rate it positively compared to a global 64%.

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60% of financial services expats want to stay in Singapore for good: survey

The Singapore Business Review recently revealed that as much as 60% of foreign staff in financial services say they plan to apply for Singapore permanent residency. This compares with just 17% who said they did not intend to do so. The reason given by these expats for wanting to stay is the attractive pay rates.

According to the article, average salaries in the financial services sector top $138,000 while management consultants can earn almost $123,000 on average. 67% said they now enjoy better quality of life in Singapore while 65% said the health and well-being of they children have improved since they moved here. It is not difficult to imagine how high incomes lead to improved lifestyles and comforts. With the high cost of living, in fact the highest in the world (link), it takes a good amount of money to have good quality of life, improved health and improved well-being. Just basic groceries alone in Singapore cost 11% more than in New York.

Being a permanent resident of Singapore has many advantages. One would have no need to apply for and renew work visas hence, could more easily change jobs. Spouse and children will receive the same PR status while aged parents will be able to obtain long term stay visas to help families stay together. A permanent resident could also buy subsidized HDB flats, and enjoy subsidized health care. As a PR, the employer is now required to make monthly contributions to one’s Central Provident Fund (CPF).

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In the latest HSBC Expat Explorer poll, Singapore has been given the dubious honour of being one of the best places in the world to live and work for expatriates. Respondents said that Singapore offered the right balance of career opportunities, lifestyles, as well as a stable economy.

The poll sought the views of 21,950 individuals from 39 countries and asked them to rank countries based on career prospects, financial well being, quality of life and ease of settling for partners and children as expatriates.

Singapore beat all other countries in terms of expatriates' confidence for the country's economy, with 79% of expatriates expressing confidence in Singapore's economic fortunes.

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Singapore comes in 22nd on this list of the world’s foreign-born populations

Here’s a list that we aren’t number one on: the countries with the highest proportions of foreign-born people residing in them.

With all our complaints about the number of foreigners we’ve been letting in over the past decade or so, it’s worth seeing how we stack up against the rest of the world on this front.

Thankfully, the UN did estimates of the world’s population and where it resides from 2013 data, and the great folks at put it into a handy table, which you’ll see below:

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Best Places to Be an Expat Around the World
Singapore’s skyline is a jagged collection of business buildings. (Photo: Alexandra E. Petri)

Singapore offers “safety, economic stability, higher salary, career advancement,” one expat says. The country offers an improved quality of life, greater economic opportunities, incredible food, and a great environment to raise children.

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Great Places to Become an Expat
Singapore is a great getaway but not a cheap one. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Singapore is Southeast Asia’s best bet for a safe, convenient, and comfortable base for affluent professionals carving out a niche in the Far East. Easy air access from pretty much anywhere appeals to jet-set expats as does the sophisticated culinary scene, high-tech infrastructure, and global culture.

With one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets as well as rising rental prices and cost of living, Singapore isn’t for expats on a budget.

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Should You Apply to Become a Permanent Resident of Singapore?
Ready to Become a Singapore PR?

Perhaps it’s the sunshine, or the food, or the shopping, or the idyllic location in SE Asia or some combination, but many expats will consider becoming a permanent resident of Singapore (PR).

Designed as a step between foreigner and citizen, becoming a PR allows expats to show a strong commitment to living and working in Singapore. While it can be a stepping stone to citizenship, many expats choose to become PRs without ever applying for citizenship.

Are the benefits worth the application and vetting process? To help you decide if permanent residency is for you, we’ve laid out the major benefits and cons to consider before deciding.

related: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me (About Living in Singapore)

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Chasing the Singapore Dream
Yes, I'm for it

We belong to a fortunate generation that is reaping the prodigious benefits of globalisation and technology. It's so easy to move from one part of the world to another these days. And everyone's doing it.

With all my heart, I would love to take on the adventure that comes with living overseas, too. I would love the independence, the freedom, the change. To be young and reckless - yes, I'd like that very much.

Yet, in the long run, I'd still like some place to which I can return.

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