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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Enjoying a Modern, Digital Life in Singapore

Expats love the transit options and career opportunities with no language barriers.

Singapore performs best in the Expat Essentials Index (3rd), only beaten by Bahrain (1st) and the UAE (2nd). Expats vote Singapore fifth in the Admin Topics Subcategory, and 63% find it easy to deal with the local bureaucracy/authorities, compared to 40% globally. A French expat says that “the efficiency of the administration” is one of the things he likes most about life in Singapore. According to more than four in five expats (81%), it is also easy to open a local bank account (vs. 64% globally).

Digital Life (4th) is another highlight for expats. The vast majority (91%) is happy with the availability of administrative services online (vs. 61% globally). An Indonesian expat enjoys the “fast, organized online services for many administrative purposes”. The country ranks first overall for access to high-speed internet at home, as well as fourth for paying without cash.

Easy to Get Around by Car, on Foot, or by Train

In the Quality of Life Index (10th), Singapore performs best in the Travel & Transit Subcategory, where it ranks first overall. Expats say there is a great infrastructure for cars (2nd) and that it is also easy to get around on foot or by bicycle (9th). Nearly all respondents (97%) are happy with the availability of public transportation, 24 percentage points more than the global average (73%). “There is an easy access to transportation,” says an expat from Indonesia. Additionally, most expats (95%) enjoy the affordability of public transportation (vs. 70% globally). The only lowlight is probably due to Singapore’s geographical location, which places the country in the bottom 10 for the opportunity to travel (46th).

Happy with Healthcare

Expats are also extremely satisfied with the healthcare system, but not with its costs, ranking Singapore 15th in the Health & Well-Being Subcategory. They are pleased with the availability of healthcare (88% happy vs. 73% globally), and 84% say that it is easy to access all the healthcare services that they need (vs. 67% globally). Additionally, over four in five (84%) are happy with the quality of medical care, twelve percentage points more than the global average (72%).

However, the country falls into the bottom 3 (50th) for affordability of healthcare: 39% find it unaffordable (vs. 21% globally). Only expats in the USA and Ireland are less satisfied with this factor.

A Safe Destination, but Not an Open Society

Nearly all expats (99%) feel personally safe in Singapore (vs. 81% globally). Expats are also happy with the political stability (89% satisfied vs. 64% globally). An Indian expat explains that “there is a stable government in Singapore; it is a safe place”. However, only 40% feel that that they can openly express themselves and their opinions, 24 percentage points below the global average (64%).

Contrasting Views on Getting Settled

When it comes to the Ease of Settling In Index (31st), expats have varied opinions. They rank the Local Friendliness (40th) quite poorly — 22% consider the local residents to be generally unfriendly towards foreign residents (vs. 18% globally). Expats seem to be able to push through this initial barrier, though, as nearly half (48%) say it is easy to make local friends (vs. 42% globally).

The Culture & Welcome Subcategory (27th) gets particularly mixed results: expats vote the country in the bottom 10 for feeling welcome (44th), while they rank the ease of getting used to the local culture among the top 10 (8th).

A High Cost of Living

Expats in Singapore are quite happy with their financial situation, ranking the country sixth for this factor. The majority (87%) feels that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally). Still, 56% rate the general cost of living poorly, compared to 35% globally. “It is expensive,” says a US American expat. “Without the right job you cannot live here”. In fact, salaries are very high in Singapore: close to three in five (57%) have a yearly income of 100,000 USD or more, compared to 21% globally.

Bright Opportunities

Close to three-quarters of expats (74%) feel paid fairly for their work (vs. 62% globally), which is one of the reasons for Singapore’s good rank in the Working Abroad Index (18th). The city-state even makes it into the top 10 of the Career Prospects Subcategory (8th). Nearly four in five (78%) say that moving to Singapore has improved their career prospects, compared to 60% globally. About two in three (67%) are also satisfied with their personal career opportunities (vs. 58% globally).

This may be one reason why 77% say they are satisfied with their job in general, compared to 64% globally. “It is a great place for working,” says an expat from Malaysia. On the other hand, expats vote Singapore in the bottom 10 for seeing a purpose in their work (43rd).

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