As one of the ‘tiger’ economies of South-East Asia, Singapore has weathered several financial crises well and is enjoying an industry boom. A modern hi-tech ‘garden’ city state, the demand for expatriate professional skills remains high in many sectors, with finance, engineering, IT and communications leading the way. This is a place where dynamic achievers can really make their mark.
Salaries are healthy for those with qualifications but increasingly, transport, accommodation and education have to be self-financed. Despite this, Singapore remains an attractive place to work, with over 600,000 expats already residing in this modern, flourishing little city nation. The work ethic here is strong, and the culture more formal than other neighbouring destinations.
Being a top country of choice for relocation over the decade have recently put a little plug into the number of employment passes issued by the Ministry of Manpower. As a stance to manage population influxes, new workforce laws have indicated a mandatory for companies of certain industries to publish their hiring requirements on a National Job Board. A 14 day waiting period will be adhered to, allowing Singaporeans and permanent residents to have first-hand access to apply before accepting other overseas applications.
Non-resident rates of income tax range from 2% up to 20%, the latter kicking in if you’re earning a 6 figure onwards. This indicates a relatively benign tax regime compared to other countries of similar living standard. However, you should consider the rules for fiscal residency and taxable non-salary benefits.
Surprisingly, housing costs have actually reduced in recent years – but as with all major global financial centres – they do remain high. Most Singaporeans live in high-rise developments owned by the government or private developers and this applies to all but the superrich since land is both scare and costly.
Living in Singapore
Singapore has a reputation as a beautiful city. Amongst the many apartment blocks, there are plenty of green areas with lush vegetation. Eating-out ranges from truly excellent international cuisine, to exciting street stalls providing far eastern delights.
A short drive north, over the causeway, will take you to the Malay Peninsula, with fabulous beaches on both the east and west coasts. Further north, Thailand beckons.
Singapore is a regular stop-off for those flying between Australasia and Europe, making it a great place from which to explore.
There are dozens of international schools at all levels, from pre-school to secondary and beyond. Fees for secondary schools can be upwards of 30,000 Singapore dollars a year – and double that for boarders. Standards are excellent, and the best schools are subject to recognised inspection regimes.
Salaries are on the rise, especially within the digital industry. You can view the 2016/2017 salary benchmark here, the information has been gathered from the industry, based on the range of digital roles we’ve worked on in the past one year.
With excellent life expectancy, the standards of healthcare are impressive in Singapore. Private comprehensive medical cover ranges from 2600 to over 4000 Singapore dollars a year. Government healthcare facilities are primarily designed to provide subsidised healthcare services to Singaporeans, and consist of a number of government hospitals for inpatient services and clinics serving outpatients. They are a far cry from ‘government’ hospitals in other countries, as the facilities not only provide very good healthcare services to the populace, but also handle the most complicated cases referred from other hospitals and neighbouring countries. Charges for public health services are subsidised.
Singapore is 1° north of the equator, meaning little seasonal variation in daylight hours or weather. Hot, wet and humid, March and September are the most uncomfortable months, when the winds are light and the monsoon winds switch direction. Expect a tropical downpour on 40% of days. Cooler periods of the year tend to fall between December and February.
There is a likelihood to experience some brief periods of hazy weather, largely contributed due to the deforestation smoke from nearby Indonesia. Overall it’s largely described as ‘July every day of the year’ here. Wicked.
Singapore has much to offer as a country. It can be a highly competitive market for those without Asian experience or niche credentials but with real opportunity and an enjoyable lifestyle, the city has many attractions and will no doubt continue to attract those looking for adventure, but with a secure job and comfortable apartment to return to every evening!
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