Moving to Singapore

by Jose Marc Castro on August 4, 2009

movingtosingaporeIMAGEWhile relatively small with a population of only 4.4 million residents, Singapore has a massive tourism industry that continues to grow year annually. With approaching 10 million people a year visiting the country, it has also attracted a number of Expats living in Singapore who are impressed by the climate, the standard of living and the employment potential.

Formerly a British colony, Singapore still has strong links with the UK although this developing nation is attracting interest from all areas of the world. In 2009, Wikipedia reported that Singapore has one of the highest standards of living in the world because of the modern economy making it the fifth wealthiest country in the world.

Content: Culture in Singapore | Employment in Singapore | Property in Singapore | State Benefits in Singapore | Key Facts on Singapore

Culture in Singapore

While much of the economic activity in Singapore is centered on the large main island, there are in fact another 62 islands making up the country. Originally a fishing based country, much has changed over the years although many of the historical cultures that have influenced the country, remain to this day, from the ancient Malays and Chinese to the British developers of the country.

The country has long been popular with Indian and Arab immigrants and the original population can be traced back to third generation Chinese ancestors. Singapore, according to Wikipedia in 2009 is a mixture of an ethnic Malay population with a Chinese majority with Eurasian and Peranakan minorities.  This has effectively spawned a multi-cultural society taking in such delights as cuisine, arts and culture. The authorities are using the arts and culture angle to promote the country to the outside world. The architecture of the country is fairly varied, with many of the historic buildings still in tact, as well as a new breed of modern buildings, including some of the largest skyscrapers in the world.

Unfortunately for many of the country’s inhabitants the former governments thought it best to actually segregate the different cultures of Singapore, and they created what are commonly known as “Chinatown” and “Little India”, in order to separate out the main ethnic groups of the country. This policy has been reversed, although it is taking a little while to dismantle the barriers to integration.

As you would expect with the make up of the country, there are a number of popular religions although Buddhism (51%) and Christianity (15%) are the most popular.

Employment in Singapore

One of the original “tiger” economies, Singapore has done very well to convert itself from a mainly fishing economy to more of a manufacturing economy. As you would expect from a country the size of Singapore, the majority of goods are imported then refined and exported to other countries of the world. It is often found to be competing directly with the likes of Japan and Hong Kong.

However, there are more elements of the economy than just import and export, as the country has built up a substantial financial services presence in the Far East. The foreign exchange business has remained stable despite the current economic downturn. This is an area of business that has proved very lucrative for Singapore authorities, with a number of high profile Western companies and employees attracted to the area. There is a work hard and play hard attitude amongst many of the new professionals in the city, and this is more than catered for by the US and traditional Far Eastern influence.

Many market observers are expecting average growth over the next five years to be in the region of 5% per annum. There has been an increase in unemployment because of the financial turmoil, now standing at 5.4% of the population, and this figure is set to go down as the economy starts to pick up again. The country is constantly crying out for experienced professionals in a number of fields, and this is attracting good caliber employees to a country which continues to grow.

Property in Singapore

Like most of the Far Eastern economies, the performance of the housing market is very much aligned to the performance of local and regional stock markets.  Comparatively the Far Eastern Region is primed to for action for real estate development.

The market itself is not the most welcoming for Expats with a number of conditions attached to the process of purchasing a property, a process that often takes some time to complete.  The country has recently been caught short by a lack of new property coming to the market, and while extra capacity is on the way, this may take some time to filter through to the business end of the sector. This is compounded by the inflated prices of the property because of the short supply of available property in the island nation.

There are many beautiful buildings in the country, and these are complemented by the high number of “new builds” in progress.  Property occupancy rates are currently in the region of 95% and this is putting further pressure on the market.  As a result of this supply / demand imbalance, property has been and should continue to produce impressive returns for home owners / investors once the recession has receded.

State Benefits in Singapore

Singapore has perhaps one of the most efficient and productive welfare states in the world, where all members of the population are required to assist with the funding of their own requirements.  There are a number of state programs that ensure that bank accounts are opened for each and every member of the population, into which a certain amount of their income must be paid.

While these accounts are the property of the individual, they also receive various payments from employers (where applicable).  At preset ages various amounts of the account will be released for areas such as housing, pension, etc.  Those who cannot afford to contribute are the real winners because they will receive the assistance of the state – ensuring that state benefits actually go to the people who need it! The pressure though in these hard times has reached boiling point as liberal legislation providing generous health benefits have been heavily criticized by taxpayers burdened with the cost.

This is a direct and fairly hard line form of means testing, and while some countries have frowned on the practice, there is no doubting that it ensures a decent standard of life is maintained throughout a person life, and only the poor really benefit from state benefits.

Conclusion

Singapore has shown itself to be a nation that has been able to reinvent itself to keep up with the latest trends in business, and industry.  For a developing country like Singapore to be in a position to challenge the likes of Japan in the foreign exchange market is amazing, and something which was considered inconceivable twenty years ago.

There is a downside though as many prosperous countries have all throughout the world. The Singapore Expat Forum reported in August 4, 2009 posted:

“Singapore is a great place to live if you can afford it, I like it here but wouldn’t say I love it. I always dreamed of living here but now I do I’m not sure its what I expected and its not all I built it up to be.”

All in all, Singapore is still an expat haven as Singapore Expat Forum in a post dated January 20,2009

“political stability, low crime, multi-cultured society, great public transport system, good education system.

The economy is strong, the property market is even stronger (even though the imbalance of supply / demand will reduce in due course) and expats are being attracted to the country from many areas of the world. The country offers a good standard of living, good prospects and some great investment opportunities.

More facts about Singapore:-

Capital : Singapore City

Official Language : English, Standard Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

Government : Parliamentary Republic

Size : 704 km2

Population : 4.5 million

Currency : Singapore Dollar

International Dialling Code : +65

Economy : 57th largest in the world

Religion : Buddhism and Christianity

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan May 19, 2010 at 8:13 am

Hello,

My compliments on your comprehensive website. However, please note that with approximately 15% each, both Christianity and Islam share the number 2 position on the list of most common religions in Singapore.

Reply

Luke January 4, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Hi

I wonder if anyone knows a really good website which exposes all the job and career opportunities for a current undergraduate student whom is seeking to move to Singapore once completing their studies.

Thank You

Reply

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