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Singapore: An Expat Utopia



Singapore is considered by many to be an expat metropolis. Companies from all around the world are sending their employees to Singapore, where four main ethnicities (Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian) co-exist in tropical tolerance. A large community of foreigners lives and raises their children in the country without fear of crime or even impolite comments. The parks, museums, art spaces, and architectural icons are all world class.  According to the BBC, Singapore ranks high on surveys of places to live and work. Richard Martin, an expat living in Singapore says, “Singapore is all about convenience… and it’s a brilliant location to cover Asia.” Out of the 5.6 million inhabitants of Singapore, 1.32 million were foreigners in 2014. Singapore is considered the foreign talent hub for marketing, finance, and IT, with the communications, engineering, and advertising industries still needing people to fill positions in upper levels.

While Singapore has a multitude of expats and resources, there is a downside to this utopia. . . the cost of living. In contrast to neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore was ranked the world’s most expensive city for 2015 according to the latest data by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Competition is also increasing in Singapore, as a new law now requires employers to seek local talent for two weeks before offering jobs to outsiders for positions paying under S$12,00 ($8,760) a month or less.

Since Singapore is such a popular destination, relocation paperwork can be straightforward, so long as you have an employment pass, formerly called a work visa.  With an employment pass in hand, all the basics, such as a local bank account, credit cards, and cable and internet services are quick to set up. The city is considered exceptionally safe by any measure. Part of Singapore’s big attraction is that it remains something of a tax haven. By all definitions, taxes are reasonable- none paid if you spend less than 183 days a year in the territory. Though, the rates can go up to 20% at the highest end. “That is the trade-off, of course, high costs, but much lower taxes than in the West” says Versace.

For more information on the utopian expat life in Singapore, visit http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150311-why-expats-call-this-utopia.