Expat concerns rise over cost of living in Singapore

by Ray Clancy on October 14, 2014

British and European expats are becoming concerned about the rising cost of living in Singapore, which has been named the world’s most expensive city.

They are having to prioritise what they are spending their money on and face choices over saving for retirement and the education of their children, it is claimed.

Singapore

Singapore was named the world’s most expensive city to live in earlier this year

Singapore was named the world’s most expensive city to live in earlier this year by the Economist Intelligent Unit.

Now, a survey of expats living in Singapore by savings and investment company Standard Life reveals that they are worried about spending. While many enjoy a very good lifestyle, some 47% of expats said they are nervous about their retirement financial situation, and nearly half of respondents set aside 10% of their monthly income on long term savings.

Rising costs of living appear to be outpacing expat salary growth in Singapore, with 50% of survey respondents saying that they do not feel their salary matches the cost of living there, even though 80% earn more and 70% save more than they did before moving here.

Continuing a trend seen in last year’s survey findings, those who do save more place retirement and property purchase above family commitments. More than 50% of respondents prioritise savings for pension/retirement and property over children’s education or marriage/starting a family.

Standard Life said that despite a palpable anxiety amongst expats, a year-on-year decline in the number of expats making an effort to save regularly indicates that this has not translated into direct action.

The survey also said the climbing cost of living in the city was outpacing expat growth, with 50% of people saying their salary did not match the cost of living.

Neal Armstrong, chief executive and principal officer for Standard Life in Hong Kong and Singapore, said the results revealed an ‘interesting dichotomy’ for expat savers in Singapore.

‘The increase in earning power and disposable income coupled with greater saving potential have unexpectedly been offset by rising costs of living. From our point of view, although easily overlooked, this makes smart financial planning even more important, particularly when those living for today are anxious for what tomorrow might have in store,’ he explained.

The Economist study published in March saw Singapore overtake Tokyo to become the world’s most expensive city. It said that high car ownership taxes, strong currency and high property prices have made it more costly.

Tokyo, which topped the list in 2013, dropped to sixth place, in the wake of depreciation in the value of the yen. Paris was in second place, followed by Oslo, Zurich, and Sydney.

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